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Our DIY Chalkboard Paint Fridge (a Black Smeg Knockoff)

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Intro by Robin

We almost didn’t do this DIY chalkboard paint fridge project! We’re so glad we did – it makes our basement wet bar area really come together!

Have you seen our basement wet bar reveal post yet?

There are so many projects in there that we can’t wait to share with you. This is the first of many DIY tutorials from that makeover.

We knew something needed to be done. We wanted a fun, modern and moody feel to our basement bar area and our giant white upright freezer was not helping achieve that vibe.

For years I’ve had this sexy brass and matte black Smeg fridge look in mind:

black smeg fridge inspiration photo
Black Smeg Fridge Inspiration

Here’s it’s jaw dropping current price and as far as I can tell it’s not available in North America.

First we figured out how to get black paint to adhere really well to our freezer.

Then we sourced a convincing and affordable appliance handle alternative.

We knew we could achieve something pretty darn close to our inspiration.

As of today we can’t report on how well the chalk aspect of the fridge is working.

The kids are desperate to write on it! But I’m kind of wishing they didn’t even know about the chalk part. It looks so good I don’t want them writing “poo” and drawing goofy pictures on it just yet.

Ed is going to use the side closest to the sink to keep track of his beer and wine making projects. That I can get behind!

(When we’re done just looking lovingly at this project and finally use some chalk on it I’ll update this post with the results.)

Step by Step: How to Chalkboard Paint Fridge (a black Smeg Knockoff!)

Materials:

But what if you have a two-door appliance?

A game-changer in our plans for this Smeg fridge knock off was finding this substitute for the appliance handle – not hundreds of dollars!

Now we did our makeover on a single door upright freezer – so one handle was perfect.

Having a two door fridge doesn’t have to stop you from this project! In fact, two doors would make it look even more like the inspiration.

The “handle” we used comes in many sizes.

knock off appliance handle sizes
There are a variety of sizes to choose from for the “handles” (here). Just choose two – one for each door.

If you aren’t certain which sizes would look best – don’t forget about free returns! Order some sample sizes and visualize in person.

Steps by Ed

Step 1: Remove any decals and handles

diy chalkboard paint fridge white freezer before 2
We got lucky as we just had to peel off a Maytag badge and we just kept the small side handle and painted it.

You may need to remove some screws and fill the holes. Treat the face of your fridge like a wall you are painting and get it is as smooth & clear as possible.

Step 2: Clean your fridge really well

diy chalkboard paint fridge clean well to prepare
We cleaned all over – even the areas we weren’t going to paint because you never know when dust will sneak in and ruin your smooth paint finish.

Also, we didn’t want to give the paint any reason not to adhere well.

We washed with soap and water, used some GooGone on any really bad areas, washed again and gave everything a final rinse/wipe with clean water then let it all dry completely.

Step 3: Prime with a Maximum Adhesion Primer

diy chalkboard paint fridge prime with the right product
This Primer – so good!

Open the can and stir really well- it took more than just a shake to get things mixed.

We then painted everything (other than the gasket seal). Let the primer dry completely and cure.

Step 4: Apply First Coat of Chalkboard Paint

diy chalkboard paint fridge use brush on hard to reach places
Okay, this is the stage where you will question your life choices. The first coat will look bad. Really bad (see the next photo), but it gets so much better.

Paint your fridge completely. You can get a bit on the gasket seal (see the next photo), but not too much.

You want it to flex to seal the cold air in and too much paint will impact that.
diy chalkboard paint fridge use roller for large areas
Yeah, so, like I said, you will wonder what terrible decision you have made right around this point. Too late! You are committed.

Do a good job covering everything and trust that the next coat will turn out better. We used a foam roller and were careful about not leaving ridges or runs/drips in the coat.

You want smooth, though likely ugly, coverage

Step 5: Apply Second Coat (and Third, if needed)

diy chalkboard paint fridge it will need at least two coats
Subsequent coats will make you feel like everything is okay.

By the time we finished the second coat, we had gone from “What have we done?” to “LOOK WHAT WE’VE DONE!!!”.

We did a third coat to make it perfect.

Step 6: Cover Hard to Paint Area – Gasket

diy chalkboard paint fridge how to hide seals and seams
You can see paint will get on the gasket.

Between every coat, make sure you open the door and break any paint-seal that is forming. (Our freezer was still totally full and running when we did this project. Of course, the ideal would be to do the project with an empty appliance.)

As long as you have painted up to the edge of the seal, the tape in the next step will hide many sins.
diy chalkboard paint fridge hiding seals hard to paint
Wrap the seal gasket in electrical tape.

Stretching it will help it stick better and get into the the creases in the gasket.

We used standard hardware store width tape and did a couple laps around the whole door, but you can buy thicker width tape if you prefer.

Opening the door will help you do the whole thing without having to cut the tape to work around the hinges.

NOTE: Yeah, there’s some paint mess inside the door. We weren’t terribly perfectionist about this project. Our plan is to use a razor blade or sharp scraper to remove the messy paint spots inside.

You can do a tidier job by taping the inside of your fridge off before starting.

Step 7: Attach Knockoff Appliance Handle to Chalkboard Painted Fridge

diy chalkboard paint fridge attaching diy appliance pull
The ‘handle’ we bought came with an adhesive, but rather than risk it not holding, we decided to use short metal screws to hold the mounting plate on.

We centered our handle on the door and carefully marked the locations for the anchor.
diy chalkboard paint fridge how to attach fridge pull hack
Pre-drill using a small, metal bit.

The door is foam filled and once you punch through it, you don’t need to drill any further, so keep the bit short too.

Be sure and use a bit that is smaller than your screws.
diy chalkboard paint fridge ready to attach rod 1
Use self-drilling metal screws to secure the anchors.

Don’t over-tighten or you risk stripping the threads and then the handle won’t hold and you will be very sad.

I hand-screwed them and tightened just to the point that the anchor plate wouldn’t move.

NOTE: This photo makes the chalkboard finish look streaky – it’s not! Those wipe marks are from us wiping the fridge down with a damp cloth.
painted buffet to bar and black fridge makeover
Attach the handle to the anchor plates. This is done with an Allen key.

Again, don’t over tighten because those little set screws can strip as well. You could use thread lock if you find your handle comes loose with use. Ours hasn’t and we’ve been using it for a month now.

Pictured: our old buffet to wet bar project

And You’re Finished! Your Chalkboard Paint Fridge looks like a Black Smeg at a fraction of the cost!

diy chalkboard paint fridge and smeg black fridge hack
diy chalkboard painted fridge black smeg before
Here’s that Before picture again – just to refresh your memory. How dramatic is this makeover!?!

What did our black Smeg fridge makeover cost?

We estimate this makeover cost about $50! We have plenty of primer left for more projects in the future too.

diy chalkboard painted fridge makeover
cozy rustic diy basement wet bar projects
Our basement wet bar projects have turned out so cool and fun – we can’t wait to be able to finally host a party here!

We’ve got dozens of creative, budget DIY projects! Below are just some of our Basement Makeover Projects

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Erica

Wednesday 13th of October 2021

I’m in the middle of picking the paint for my DIY fridge project and I really want matte black. I’m worried matte with shoe my small children’s endless hand smudges. How does the matte hold up with hand prints so far?

frugalfamilytimes

Sunday 12th of December 2021

So sorry for the delay, Erica! I didn't see your comment. So far so good with smudges - I think the matte may show them less? I don't have a comparator. :) Robin

Aubree Green

Sunday 24th of January 2021

Love this idea as my husband and I are planning budget-friendly updates for our kitchen as well! Question for you. How is the chalk paint holding up? Any scratches or hard to wipe down?

frugalfamilytimes

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Hi Aubree! The fridge paint is holding up really well. A couple caveats though - this door gets opened maybe twice a day - it's not used much at all so gets less wear and tear than a normal fridge. Also, we've yet to try chalk on it! I just love the clean matte black so I haven't let anyone try it yet. I should - and get back to you! :)

Sally Evans

Monday 7th of December 2020

I have never heard of a Black Smeg, but now I want one! Great job!

frugalfamilytimes

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Happy you like it too, Sally! :)

Lynn Spencer

Thursday 8th of October 2020

OK...such a phenomenal project and it looks FANTASTIC. Just a wee thought here...why not get letters and put 'hicken' where 'smeg' would be? Either way, it is totally so cool. Waiting for my invite for some homebrew!

frugalfamilytimes

Friday 9th of October 2020

That's great, Lynn! Our best idea was to get the letters and put "SMUG" for a joke. :) As soon as the border's open you can come one up for a drink! :) R

Mary Loveland

Wednesday 7th of October 2020

Looks really really nice! Well done.

frugalfamilytimes

Thursday 8th of October 2020

Thanks so much, Mary!