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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
yet? basement wet bar reveal post
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 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!)
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.
“handle” we used comes in many 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
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
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
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
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.
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)
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
We’ve got dozens of creative, budget DIY projects! Below are just some of our Basement Makeover Projects…