How to Make a Cardboard Fridge

By Miranda Brumbaugh
Use the fridge magnets on your child-size fridge to encourage reading.
Use the fridge magnets on your child-size fridge to encourage reading.

Transform an oversized cardboard box into a child-size fridge that will inspire your child to play with his food — in a healthy way. Place this sturdy unit next to a cardboard stove and cabinetry made from cardboard boxes to create a play kitchen made entirely of cardboard. Stock the shelves of the fridge with faux foods constructed from cardboard, or invest in felted or plastic play foods. And then after your child has outgrown the cardboard structure, it can be flattened in minutes for convenient storage or disposal.

Tape up any openings on one cardboard box that was used to hold a kitchen appliance, such as an oven or refrigerator, using clear packing tape. Spray-paint each of the sides of the box. Use a color of paint typical of refrigerators, such as white or silver, or select an atypical color, such as red or blue, for a customized unit. Allow the paint to dry. Spray magnetic spray paint over each side of the unit. Allow the paint to dry.

Position the box upright on one end so it is taller rather than wider; this will vary depending on the type of box you have. Turn the box so you are looking at the side that will become the door of the fridge.

Measure the height of the box. Divide the height of the box vertically into three equal portions. Mark the sections on the inside of the box to use when adding the shelves.

Draw a horizontal line across the outside of the front of the box, using the mark for the top third of the box; this will create the freezer section. Cut across the horizontal line using a box cutter or pair of scissors.

Cut all the way down the seam on the right side of the front of the refrigerator. Open the two panels from the right side where you cut vertically down the box; the smaller one at the top is for the freezer door and the larger bottom panel is for the fridge. Bend the panels along the left side out toward you to form a crease that will become the hinge of the doors.

Cut out two panels from a second cardboard box — use a box that is equal to or greater in size than the box you used for the fridge — that are greater than the top side of the cardboard fridge. Place each panel on the top of the fridge. Use the top of the box as a template as you cut each of the panels to be one-quarter inch wider and longer than the top of the box.

Insert the first panel inside the fridge along the top of the bottom third of the fridge; you marked this box in a previous step. Position the panel so it fits horizontally inside the fridge to form a shelf. Push the panel in from above so the sides fit snuggly in the fridge. Apply a thick seam of hot glue along the edges of the top of the panel. Flip the refrigerator over and apply hot glue liberally to the bottom edges of the panel.

Position the remaining panel in the fridge so it divides the freezer and fridge compartments; use the line that marks the top third of the box, in between the two doors, as your guide. Place the panel in as you did with the first one. Apply glue liberally around the top and bottom seams around the edge of the panel.

Set the fridge upright. Use hot glue to attach a door handle vertically along the right side of the freezer and the fridge doors. Place an assortment of refrigerator magnets, such as ABC magnets, plastic foods or photo magnets, on the magnetized doors of the fridge.

Things You Will Need

  • 2 kitchen appliance-size cardboard boxes
  • Clear packing tape
  • 1 can spray paint
  • 1 can magnetic spray paint
  • Box cutter or scissors
  • 2 cabinet door handles
  • Hot glue gun
  • Refrigerator magnets

Warning

Don't allow your child to place heavy objects in the freezer compartment or on the fridge shelf or the panels will collapse; choose lightweight play food items rather than heavier, wooden ones.

About the Author

Miranda Brumbaugh enjoys covering travel, social issues, foster care, environmental topics, crafting and interior decorating. She has written for various websites, including National Geographic Green Living and Dremel. Brumbaugh studied in Mexico before graduating with a Master of Science in sociology from Valdosta State University.