My Refrigerator Broke. Do I Really Need a Fancy, Stainless Steel, New One?

roseanne-2

So . . I was awakened by words no homeowner wants to hear,

“Mom, the refrigerator’s not working.”

Yes, sometime during the night my refrigerator just stopped.  Slipped away quietly in our sleep. Peaceful, really. We should all go like that, except for that pesky spoiled food, two days after I’d gone grocery shopping for actual perishable food.

Oh there’s a chance of revival, of resurrection.  But it will come at a cost. Possibly a deal with the devil, financed by American Express, or MasterCard, with a ridiculously high APR.

Now, I’ve made it clear how I feel about Open Floor Plans.  And I don’t have one anymore, don’t want one.  In my most popular post to date I only listed some of the reasons I don’t want one. There are more.  And in many of my comments readers have pointed them out.  But the reason that affects me right now is that because of HGTV and the Open Floor Plan we have all been conditioned — brainwashed — to desire and require fancy, shiny, state-of-the-art stainless steel appliances. Indeed, The Open Floor Plan, Granite Counter-Tops and Stainless Steel Appliances are the Holy Trinity of home improvement.

(I’ll wait for the moment of silence and for those religious folks to make the sign of the cross.)

Amen.

But I just need a working refrigerator.  The purpose of refrigerators is to  keep some foods chilled and others frozen. That’s it. Now I know many refrigerators also serve as dispensers for water and ice. Okay, that’s cool (no pun intended). But other than that .  . . we really just need them to keep food cold.  The magic happens when the food comes out of these beasts and the chef, host, or hostess then does his or her thing.

Is it because so many of our kitchens and the ones showcased on TV are open for all to see that now we feel we must have costly granite counter-tops and state-of-the-art stainless steel appliances?  And even worse, have we been conditioned to buy more than we need or spend more than we have even if we don’t have an open floor plan?

Now, it seems, we are supposed to want to show off our refrigerators, not just serve good food and make our guests feel welcome. We want to be the envy of our family and friends who should salivate over our appliances, not our dinner.

stainless steel kitchen

I get that some of the fancy refrigerators have neat features — don’t get me wrong — like keeping your drinks at a different temperature than your fruits or vegetables, or if there is easy access to the most used items  . .  . etc.   But really?  Those are amenities that happen inside a refrigerator.To show them off you have to have someone come into your kitchen –which happens automatically because the kitchen is now in the family, living, and dining room –  open the refrigerator door and show off all the many ways that you can chill your stuff.

These days when someone walks in your home you don’t just offer them a comfortable seat and a beverage, you usher them to the appliance that chills the drink as if to say,

Look at me, I’m getting your drink out of this beautiful thing. Pay no attention to my decor, artwork, hell my spouse or children.  And for the love of all resale value do not sit down! Come here. Watch me get your drink. Only then will we perch on stools at the granite countertop island and later you can watch me put the bottle back in the stainless steel refrigerator! This thing cost me two thousand dollars so please show some respect. How is your juice?

hmm

And then you close your refrigerator doors and immediately buff your thumbprint off the stainless steel shine of the thing while reading the digital display that gives you further information about how your refrigerator is doing its job —  information that you, apparently, must have.

I mean, if you are a gourmet cook, having a six burner gas stove and two ovens, etc.  those would be functions that directly lead to a desired result — a great meal. But a refrigerator?  Its job is to keep the food cool so that when when take it out to cook, prepare, or serve it, it does not kill you.  The refrigerator is a middle man.

It all seems a throw back doesn’t it — from a time before my time, when housewives of the 50’s would invite ladies over to show off their new washer dryer and yes, their Frigidaire?

Happy Housewife

hmm

Plus, gone is the Refrigerator Art of days long past — the report cards or prom pictures or “Things To Do” List that had traditionally been affixed to the refrigerator to give you a smile or a reminder. I wonder — Are kids these days getting dumbed down because no one would dare to put magnetic letters of the alphabet on a stainless steel appliance?  Are little feelings hurt because Mommy no longer hangs a school drawing on the refrigerator?

Even impossible neat Jerry Seinfeld had stuff on his fridge. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Even impossibly neat Jerry Seinfeld had stuff on his fridge. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

It seems that the refrigerator itself, not the food that comes out of it, not the “Number One Best Mom” card your kid made you, not the latest picture of your new niece or nephew, is what is showcased.  And let me tell you, the show does not come cheap.  I have a (currently non-working) fancy, three door stainless steel refrigerator.  I didn’t pick it out.  I didn’t really pay for it.  How I got it is a story for another post, but it’s legal, I assure you. Suffice it to say I had no idea how much this thing costs on the open market.

And guess what, these  digital stainless steel refrigerators are quite expensive to repair, I’ve since found out, sadly.  Hell, tragically.  Something about a mother board.  (I ask you, did I need a motherboard to keep my milk cold?) But . . . I digress . . .

The repair guy said that these high end refrigerators often break down and the repairs are neither cheap nor guaranteed.  If I can live without the look and features of the current refrigerator, he suggested, I could buy a brand new one for only a little bit more than the cost of the repairs.

hmm

My first response in my head was — I don’t need another high end refrigerator.  I don’t need to show it off – I don’t even have an open floor plan.  The water dispenser hasn’t worked in a year anyway. I rarely consult the digital display.

But why, I ask, does it seem like a step down to purchase a large, white, two door refrigerator? The large, white, no frills, freezer on top models (which seem to hold more food) are now considered garage refrigerators suitable only to chill your beer. They are not to be seen by the general public, not ready for prime time, as they say. Maybe you’d have one at a beach house, or rental unit.  But they are not presentable enough to chill any respectable homeowner’s milk, butter, and eggs.  They are that cousin that gets seated way –WAY — in back at family weddings.

hmm

Right now, my beautiful large digital stainless steel refrigerator is useless, empty.  Truth be told, it’s not even that pretty.  It has two dents from two incidents with a bass drum (don’t ask).  Dented Stainless Steel is like a pregnant prom queen– unfortunate, because there had been so much potential.

Also, my stainless steel is not even completely visible. I felt as though my children and I were not doing enough accidental or subliminal reading of things important to us, meaning important to me. Visually, we only see what is fed to us on TV and social media, we don’t hang up enough calendars or maps or pictures or words with which we should be familiar.  Why can my teens spell Toshiba and Netflix?  Because they see those words all the time. But they don’t see the months of the year or school announcements or reminders from me and reading a map is — unthinkable. They see what’s new on Netflix as soon as they turn on the TV, but when they went to the fridge to get a cheese stick they were met only with their distorted reflection. Oh, don’t get me started.  Long story not really short, I defiled the gleam of my dented stainless steel and hung pictures and stuck word magnets on my refrigerator. One side English; the other side French.  I mean it can’t hurt, right? And it made my kitchen feel like a family kitchen, the heart of the home like at my Mom’s house — where she has photos of all her grandchildren to enjoy on her refrigerator. It gives me the warm fuzzies to be able to look at vintage baby pictures of my kids as they scowl at me in real time. My kitchen was no longer a showroom of gleaming appliances.

(Oh, the HGTV people would have my head on a spike, a stainless steel spike).

Bottom line:  I just don’t see spending my limited funds on a fancy refrigerator.  It’s an appliance.  It’s supposed to work for me.  I’m not supposed to work for it. It should give me features that make my food maintenance and preparation easier.  It does not define me; nor do I expect it to be beautiful, just functional.

We’re not going to hang out in it. We don’t sit on it.  It doesn’t entertain us.

But . . . still . . .

It seems like such a step down, in defeat. Did I drink the HGTV Kool-Aid, the properly chilled inside a stainless steel appliance HGTV Kool-Aid? I wondered (well my Mom pointed out) — What about resale value of my home?  Will people not buy my house if the refrigerator isn’t stainless steel?  Will they walk away from my home — not because it only has one bathroom, or because it’s on a busy street, or because there are sofas on the side of the road —  will the deal breaker be that the kitchen is not open and does not show off matching state-of-the-art stainless steel digital appliances?

These are questions I asked myself, as I ate canned soup for dinner, because my top-of-the-line stainless steel refrigerator stopped doing its job, making my job as head of this household much, much harder.  You just don’t realize how few meals you can prepare without milk, butter, and eggs until you have nowhere to chill your milk butter and eggs.

But one to three grand to keep my milk butter and eggs cool in the matter to which I — we — Americans — HGTV –have become accustomed?

Seriously?

As my teens would say, “Can we just . . . not?”

Just Me With . . .  warm bottles of Gatorade.

Postscript: During the preparation of this overly long post, my refrigerator was partially repaired. It keeps food cold now, but the digital display and the interior are dark. The controls do not work.  I’m told the front board needs replacement.  There are no small repairs on these types of appliances. While he was there I had the repairman look at my stainless steel top-of-the-line two drawer dishwasher because it hasn’t been feeling well. My dishes came out dirty, crusty and the inside of the thing is corroding. (But on the outside, it looks good.)

I received bad news and will have to replace that appliance. The repair would cost more than a new one.  My fancy HGTV approved appliances (that I did not pick out) are turning on me, one by one.

The microwave, stove, and oven are still working like champs, though.  (Knock wood. Actual wood.)

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18 responses

  1. […] My Refrigerator Broke. Do I Really New A Fancy New Stainless Steel New One? […]

    1. Burnished steel looks like stainless and works with magnets.

  2. The simple fridge meaning no ice makers, water dispensers, side by side doors etc tend to break sooner than the simple freezer on top, fridge on the bottom 2 door models. I have a simple fridge in my basement that has outlasted 2 fancy ones in the kitchen. Buy the simple fridge, they come in white black and stainless. Pick your favorite.

    1. I ended up getting this one fixed (partially) because of insurance. But rest assured, when I need to buy a fridge, I’m going for a simple, reliable one. Thanks for reading.

    2. I ended up getting this one fixed (partially) because of insurance. But rest assured, when I need to buy a fridge, I’m going for a simple, reliable one. Thanks for reading.

  3. Sending this to a friend today- her refrigerators keep quitting

    1. Thank you. People need to know what they are getting for their money.

  4. Hear! Hear! Our house came with a 1950 General Electric Fridge that’s still truckin’. Yeah, we have a separate freezer in the basement because the freezer inside can barely hold a gallon of ice cream. Also, we have to defrost every couple of months, which is a pain, but means we never have any mystery food in the thing. Also, energy consumption’s not great, and it’s so heavy that they had to reinforce the floor when they installed it. But c’mon, it’s 65 years old and WORKS. No fridge on the market today will ever beat that! Last but not least, it looks super snazzy!

    1. Very cool. No pun intended. I don’t think the appliances made today will still be working in 65 years. No way.

  5. I always figure that Stainless Steel appliances look like something industrial, and not homelike or friendly. Cold and utilitarian. I’d want to shut them out of my sight! White or black is fine. I plan to get black when I move — the white handle on my current one is now yellow…

    1. The industrial look is clean, shiny. And I think it now it is a way of saying — high end, as in “Wow, you spent a lot of money and everything is updated to modern standards!” But the update doesn’t meant the appliances are reliable, I’ve found out, sadly.Funny that a feature that would seem very important in a commercial kitchen (out of sight of the patrons) has found it’s way into a residential kitchen that is open for viewing by guests. I have wooden cabinets and an old home. Enamel sinks, white or black appliances would have probably fit in better with the feel of the house. Plus, do people know that dead bodies are kept on stainless steel slabs and refrigerators as well? (Sorry, too many crime dramas . . . ) Our kitchens look like morgues — heh heh heh

  6. Ugh, I am sick to death of HGTV telling us what we like/need. Their taste is not rooted in classical design, real life function, or history. Not only that, I’ve heard rumors that copper is going to start being touted as the new metal cladding for high end appliances which will require everyone to buy new appliances to keep up. The only frill on my basic, off-white fridge is that it’s “freezer on the bottom” which keeps me from having to bend over for stuff I need more often. The freezer drawer is a little small but it encourages you to eat more fresh than frozen foods.

    1. Yes, we are encouraged to buy new appliances because of style, not function and that’s wasteful and a little crazy. I just saw on a local online posting someone selling their refrigerator and dishawasher that work perfectly and are not old and have nice features but the homeowners are simply “updating.” Really? Geez. Keeping up with the Jones on HGTV. You are so rights about the trends not taking into consideration real life function and history. As to history, the common rhetoric is that the reason why kitchens were closed before is because everyone had servants. Well, not everyone had servants. Even the homes of the “servants” had closed kitchens. My parents’ and grandparents’ homes had closed kitchens. They did not have servants. Kitchens were in the back of the house because of fire concerns (no one seems worried about kitchen fires anymore that would destroy the whole first floor because of the one room thing. Also, the common theme is that closed kitchens kept the ladies of the house in the kitchen cut off from the other people. Yet at the same time open floor plans are supposed to be good because the lady can still be in the kitchen yet see everyone else. Meh. And don’t get me started on kids and dogs. It’s unsafe to have a toddler crawling around a kitchen. Sometimes you need to just be done in there and close a door. And pets? Yeah, same thing. It would be nice to keep them out of the food preparation area or away from guests who are allergic or bothered by them. When it’s all one big room, the poor dog gets banished outside or locked in a bedroom more often. And when there is no food out, a closed kitchen is a nice place to banish a dog when people come over. Warm, floor is an easy cleanup, etc. Guests don’t need to go in there, etc.

      Copper? Copper is pretty. But not so pretty that I would spend thousands of dollars on it to replace an appliance that still works. Kitchens don’t really need to be trendy. They need to be a welcoming, safe place from which good food is stored and produced. The host is the most important in entertaining. I’ve been to the best parties where I didn’t give a second thought to the kitchen.

      When I had an open floor plan I had a big party once, catered wedding rehearsal dinner. Frankly, it was awkward, because the caterers were on display and we were on display to them. Everyone saw their prep and clean up. And I kept looking to make sure they were not breaking anything. And I could see them whispering to each other about the guests at the party. Awkward.

      Anyway, the servants argument annoys me. Not everyone had “servants.” And old-fashioned traditional housewives groomed to entertain knew to prepare the meal ahead of time and then spend time with guests, not make the guests watch her cook.

      Again, don’t get me started . . .
      I don’t like to spend all day in the kitchen. I’d like to get away from it. You can’t when it’s always there.

      1. I love your posts on the open kitchen and now in the shiny stainless steel appliances.
        I am currently house hunting and I am hard pressed to find a home with a closed off kitchen. And you are so right these shiny new stainless steel appliances are the new adult toys. Totally not necessary.
        Thank you for your perspective.

  7. As far as the type of refrigerator goes, I would go for one that does it’s job. The one that I have is old and it does give me some problems now and then. I think you are right that TV shows push us to go out and buy the fanciest ones with a ton of features. I could care less if it had a touch-screen or a water dispenser. If it does what it says it is supposed to do, I’ll be happy.

    1. That’s the way I feel. I got this one back to life, but without the bells and whistles. And I’m perfectly okay with that.

    2. That’s the way I feel. I got this one back to life, but without the bells and whistles. And I’m perfectly okay with that.

  8. Amen!!!!!! I like solitude. But, if your whole house is one big room, there is none. People need their privacy. I don’t want to listen to everyone’s noise.

    My father-in-law took a look at our 35 year old refrigerator, and insisted we needed a new shiny one. I insisted back that we did not. This one will keep on working past the time that everyone is dead. It is a great beige color that goes with the tile and the cabinets. I really dislike kitchens that look like a McDonalds restaurant. I don’t want commercial – industrial looking, I want warm and cozy.

    I don’t understand people that replace perfectly good things, just to “update”.

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