A Tiny Bit Of Pantry Progress — My Freezer Decision

I’ve been struggling with this decision for quite some time. And quite honestly, I think it is the one thing that has been holding up progress on my pantry for so long. And that decision is…

What kind of freezer should I get?

If I were using modular, movable storage in my pantry, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But my entire pantry of built-in cabinets will be built around the type of freezer I have.

My initial pantry design included an upright freezer on the wall to the left when you enter the pantry. I don’t think I ever did a drawing of that, but I did tape it off in the actual room before the drywall went up.

But then my overwhelming need for symmetry grabbed hold, and I decided to go with a chest freezer and center it under the window, and then either pretty it up or build a cabinet around it to disguise it. That layout would have looked like this…

And it just so happened that my brother had a small chest freezer in storage that he no longer needed, so he brought it over for me.

I’ve been using it for several months now, and let me just say that this pantry delay is probably a very good thing. I’ve learned a very valuable thing in the few months that I’ve been using that little chest freezer. That lesson is this…

Chest freezers aren’t a good option for short people.

I tried putting something in the bottom of the freezer once. Trying to get it out was ridiculous. So ever since then, I’ve just been sticking things in the top baskets and avoiding putting anything down in the bottom. Well, a chest freezer doesn’t hold much if you just stick to the baskets and avoid the deep part.

But at least now I know for sure that my original plan was the only option that will work for me. So I got online and started searching for upright freezers and reading reviews.

I finally selected one, purchased it, and it will be delivered tomorrow. It’s nothing fancy, but it has a 4.7 rating (out of 5) with over 600 reviews. I chose this Frigidaire 14.4 cubic foot freezer. It’s very plain, and doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it’ll get the job done.

I think it’ll be perfect. It’s not huge, but it’s not small either. (It’s over twice the capacity of the chest freezer I’ve been using.) And it’s not tall, so I’ll be able to easily reach things on the top shelf. (The struggle is real for us short people!)

It’s also a manual defrost. It seems to me that the manual defrost freezers have consistently better ratings than the automatic defrost. I don’t understand why that is (are they just more reliable?), but I figure that’s something I can handle.

So now that that decision has been made, the rest of it seems easy! Once it’s delivered tomorrow, I can put it where it needs to go (it’ll go in the corner where the pantry door wall and the left side wall meet), and then design around it.

Making that one decision seems to have gotten the ball rolling for me on this pantry. I can now envision the whole thing finished, and it seems pretty straightforward. It was just that darned freezer decision (and my obsessive need for symmetry) holding me back.

Now if it would just stop raining for a couple of days (it seems like it’s been raining for the better part of the last four weeks), I could head to Home Depot with the truck and pick up all of my plywood for the cabinets. Or should I use MDF? Oh, great. Another decision to obsess over. 😀

Just kidding. (Kind of.)


My pantry is finished! Want to see the entire project from start to finish? You can find every single post about the pantry build right here…

Or you can skip to the end and see how it turned out. Here’s a peek of the finished pantry…

Butler's pantry remodel with dark teal lower cabinets, floating corner shelves, and whitewashed wood countertop

You can see more pictures on the before and after post right here…



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  1. I’m tall, but still don’t like haunching over to get stuff out of my Mom’s chest freezer.

    I’ve also noticed it’s easier to forget about the older stuff in there because it’s covered with newer stuff! (you don’t really want to know how old some of it was, do you??) For this reason, I prefer an upright freezer, as well as a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer.

    I can’t wait to see your design and final outcome!

  2. We had a chest freezer for many, many years. It stored a lot of food for our large family BUT it was a giant pain to keep organized and stuff that went to the very bottom was often never seen again until clean out time. Now that its just my husband and I and our long time freezer died, we purchased an upright and I LOVE it! I can find things (It looks similar to yours but has two additional slide out drawers) and has plenty of storage. Why didn’t I come to my senses years ago? Glad you got your upright!

  3. Hi Kristi, I almost fell laughing at your comment of not reaching the bottom of the chest freezer. I’m vertically challenged myself, only reaching the height of 4ft 11 1/2 ins. Nature has been unkind in my advancing age (63), by taking one of my precious inches making me 4 ft 10 1/2 ins. Couldn’t take anything of my girth, oh no. It’s not the first time I have gotten stuck reaching into these monsters. Meaning family had to help me out. Needless to say, chest freezer went and in came an upright. Always had a fear of going fully in and the lid shutting. On a happier note, i’ve been following your home remodel from the beginning and you are a very talented women. Love your work, not forgetting your amazing Art work. I was a keen DIYer up until a few years ago myself. 😉👍

  4. Kristi, I’m with you on the “no chest freezer for short people” bandwagon. We just had a full kitchen renovation and my first request was that we get an upright freezer. Access is so easy. It’s amazed me how much of a difference it has made for me in meal planning.

    Congrats on deciding how you want your pantry laid out. It must be a wonderful feeling to know that once you make those decisions you can actually do all the work yourself. You amaze me! Looking forward to seeing your progress.

    This has been such a wonderful learning experience watching you work on your and Matt’s home and all the projects you do. You must be a math expert too. Thank you for letting us all into your home, teaching us so much and encouraging us to give it a try. God bless you, Matt and your sweet fur babies.

  5. I have a freezer like the one you have picked. You will not like it not being a self defrosting it is awful to have to defrost a freezer water is all over the place you have to find some other place to put the food. You will use every bath towel you have trying to keep the water from running all over the room sorry but I don’t think you will be happy with it.

    1. This says it has a “drain to conveniently remove water during defrosting.” I find it hard to believe that a freezer as awful as you describe would have such high ratings.

      1. Could you install a drain pan that drains to the outside (I was thinking this is on an outside wall) just in case? Similar to what they put in for my hot water heater? Just wondering…..

      2. I’ve never defrosted my frost upright freezer- and if you looked in it you would never believe it’s never been done because there is very little frost in it. Freezers work best when it is well stocked so maybe that’s it.

    2. I have almost the same freezer. I defrost mine without a mess in less than 30 minutes.

      The trick is to not let it sit there and slowly melt off, but to take the ice out in chunks.

      1) empty the freezer
      2) put a towel on the floor in front of the freezer, and in the bottom
      3) fill a spray bottle with salt water
      4) LIGHTLY spray the ice with salt water
      5) wait 5 minutes
      6) break the ice off in chunks and put in a bucket
      7) repeat as needed until all the ice is gone
      8) dry off the interior
      9) put stuff back

      Spraying the ice makes it detach from the freezer in big chunks to you can get it out quickly.
      There’s no need to wait for it to turn into water.

      And I don’t like automatic defrost freezers because they cause freezer burn. I hunt, we buy beef in bulk, and we grow our own vegetables. If I had an automatic defrost, all my meat and produce would be freezer burned 6 months in.

      Manual defrost = no freezer burn.

      1. Exactly Ishtar. We hunted enough years and I never had freezer burn even in the chest freezer and with a family of five I still only needed to clean up bad frost once a year at the most. Now in my upright freezer I use these mats and they really do seem to help. I just defrosted my manual freezer a short while ago and it didnt take any time at all. Better to tackle it before it gets to be a huge job. In case you didnt see this on the fb comments Kristi. https://www.amazon.com/Qualtex-Fridge-Freezer-Prevent-Defrost/dp/B00LZW5RLY/ref=sr_1_2?s=appliances&ie=UTF8&qid=1538070869&sr=1-2&keywords=anti+ice+freezer+mat&dpID=41j4GypamrL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

    3. Hello Kristi, well I’m sure you’ll hear a bunch of huffing and puffing because you chose the old fashioned manual defrost. After watching grandmothers, and my mother deal with that, I just knew if I ever bought one it would be auto defrost. I read Consumer reports as I always do, their reviews on freezers are worth reading and are perfect advice. They have Reasons why to buy either model.

      With enough tasks to do in our lives I cannot imagine adding a manual defrost to my list. I’m a modern technology girl and my neighbor adores her upright freezer, so much that she now has two! (She’s married to a doctor and can afford it! LOL) I truly wish you luck with this decision, and hope it’s not as bad as I imagine it may be. Good thing is, there are always people looking for second hand freezers, if you change your mind. I am not being rude, I’m supporting your decision, it’s not one I would make. I truly hope it works out for you alright and it’s not a big deal for you at all. I’d be bitching the whole time! 😊

    4. I bought a manual defrost because money was tight and it was a few hundred less. I’d pay $500 to trade it in right now. It’s a much bigger deal than I thought, and here’s why there might be a difference in the ratings:

      Humidity plays a HUGE factor. Those of us blessed with swamplike humidity will find frost building up much quicker. I have mine inside and it still needs to be defrosted 2-3 times a year.

      But I definitely think the upright is the way to go. Way easier to organize and access things. I have all my meats and veggies sorted into labeled bins. It’s very pleasing to open the door and be able to see at a glance you have no roasting hens, and an overabundance of breakfast sausage. You can still have symmetry if want it.

      I’d also like to say I hope you didn’t mean to sound the way you came across in your reply to Beverly. I’ve read you enough to think you didn’t. I hope so. Maybe you and Beverly have a history I don’t know about.

  6. 2 Cents- Plywood to make future repairs/adjustments easier. I find plywood easier to work with personally. I tried making picture ledges with MDF boards and had a frustrating time getting nice joints with a kreg jig. When you do adjust it, you want it to be easier to work with. The smoothness from MDF is less of a need. Plywood can have a texture, but you can handle it.

    Note on my woodworking skill/experince- When I was making my ledges, it was the 1st time I was making something out of MDF boards that was 1/2″. I figured out a way eventually (predrilling at 90 degrees vs an angled kreg jig) but it was more steps than I expected for each screw.

  7. Yaaaassss! My husband has brought up the idea of a chest freezer from time to time and I’ve always hard veto’ed it. I can clearly imagine the bottom goods never seeing the light of day again, unless it were with much cursing from short me folded over into the freezer, rummaging around in freezing blocks of food trying to get the oldest stuff languishing on the bottom. For this reason I have never considered getting one of those French door fridges with the freezer on the bottom. I go into my freezer on a near daily basis as a home cook and I loved my side by side fridge for that. We currently have an old style fridge below/freezer on top which is inconvenient as I have to hunch over to peer into the fridge for anything not right in front, and we will be replacing it with a side by side sometime in the next year, but I do like it better than I imagine liking the freezer on the bottom models.

  8. Oh yeah! I totally agree with you on chest freezers. I’m height challenged as well. You put the stuff on the bottom and it gets lost in the sauce. A stand-up is the way to go – in my book.

  9. I’m 5′ 10″ and I much prefer an upright. They are so much easier to keep organized. I love following all your designs and decisions on this blog.

  10. How do you defrost an upright freezer? Do you have to remove everything? I remember (about a thousand years ago) having to remove everything in my non-frost free fridge/freezer and put boiling pans of water in to hurry the defrosting job along…😳😕. Is there an easier way these days?
    I’m excited to see this finished pantry! How convenient it is to have such a large space!

    1. The description on this one says it has a drain to conveniently remove the water during defrost. But yes, you have to remove everything first. I imagine I’ll be much like my mom and keep a very strict “once every 15 years, or when the power goes out and automatically defrosts the freezer” type of schedule. 😂

      1. I have a chest freezer, but prefer the uprights, also. I think the fastest way to defrost a freezer is by using my hairdryer on it! Less time to try and keep the food frozen and the ice mostly comes off in chunks, so it isn’t as hard to control the water from melting ice. Looking forward to watching your progress!

      2. Lol. I had one and it’s true you don’t get freezer burn as bad with a manual defrost. Also, the less frequently you open the door the less frost you will have. Especially in the Texas humidity. I’m sure it being inside will help tremendously.

      3. I had a feeling I was going to be mentioned in this at some point! I’m surprised that you didn’t use the picture of me when I was cleaning out Mernie’s big chest type freezer. The one where all you could see were my hips and legs as I was reaching for things in the bottom. 🙂

        Love you, Kristi. You are doing a great job!

  11. Loving the progress you’re making. I wonder if the drawing indicates upper open shelves or full height. I have a tough time reaching things in corners.

  12. I have a pantry something like yours. Walking into the pantry with the freezer right in front of you is kind of unsightly. How about drawers between your shelving and the freezer off to the side??

    1. The freezer is going to be tucked into the corner where the pantry door wall and the left side wall meet. It won’t be straight ahead. I have a window there, so an upright freezer wouldn’t fit there anyway. 🙂

      1. I know your need for symmetry and now that you know where the freezer is going have you thought about full height cabinets on the left and right walls. That would really maximize storage! With roll out shelving! And counter on the back wall. It seems I think I recall you said you had a lot of appliances you would like to have accessible, those could go on the roll out shelves if you install plugs inside the cabinets.
        Birch ply for the cabinets!

  13. I so agree with you on chest freezers for “short” people. First freezer I had was a chest freezer. Never again! However I do have a French door refrigerator and love it! The freezer has a top sliding basket/drawer that makes access to both areas in the freezer very easy. I am looking forward to seeing you work on your pantry.

  14. I had a manual defrost freezer for 29 years! So they last, but are a pain and messy to defrost! I’m excited that you are moving forward with your pantry!

  15. Kristi,
    I haven’t seen all of your pantry “drawings”, so forgive me if this is one of the renditions – how about your drawers under the window? That would create a “pretty” staging spot that would be visible through your gorgeous double doors? I am amazed by your “can do” – keep up the fabulous work, girl!!

  16. On your next monthly “personal” post, can you tell me what you put in your freezer. Bulk meat? Veggies? Fruits? How do you package it? I have a small side by side fridge/freezer for a family of four and cook most meals at home and don’t feel like I need another freezer. However, maybe you’re doing something or saving money by having this extra space? Thanks!

    1. My main issue is that I need more refrigerator space. We eat mostly fresh veggies and meats, so I eventually want to get an all-refrigerator for the kitchen. So in preparation for that, I did need some freezer space, and needed to plan for it in the pantry. I do like to stock up on meat, and I also hope to do some batch cooking now that I’ll enough storage space in the freezer. And when I get my little tabletop Sonic ice machine (which will probably go into the pantry), I can just dump it in the freezer and stock up.

      But my main long-term goal is an all-refrigerator in the kitchen. 🙂

      1. Have you seen the fridge that has a top freezer that you can switch to a refrigerator with the flip of a switch? I was going to have to replace fridge, but once again hubby fixed it. In my backup plan if he couldn’t I saw a fridge that could do that. I think it was either an LG or Samsung. I thought it was a cool feature tho. Need more refrigerator room? No problem. Need a freezer? No problem. I love things with versatility.

        1. We bought this sort of refrigerator a year ago, a Samsung which has four doors.

          The top portion is a large French door refrigerator with shelves that are full width wide – glorious! The lower half has two separate doors. The left one is a freezer. The lower right one has several different temperature settings, going from freezer to refrigerator. I use it as a refrigerator, and am thrilled. When I come home from Costco with a dozen fresh apples, they go in one of the drawers of the lower refrigerator and stay fresh until we have eaten the last one. And we are empty nesters now, so don’t plow through them at the rate we used to.

          This refrigerator has LED lights inside, so it is much brighter than a little 40w light bulb. One reviewer said that it looks like the Star Ship Enterprise inside, and, indeed, he is right! I told my husband that I love this thing so much, he can bury me in it, like King Tut in his tomb.

          I have a small chest freezer in the garage which works well for me, but I am 5″4″ with very long arms.

          Kristi, do make sure your freezer has a light. My neighbor, with a family of three generations, said she didn’t remember about that when buying her new upright freezer, and regrets that every time she opens the door.

          About your pantry design (which I shamelessly plan to steal when we build our next house): Consider putting cabinet paneling on your freezer to match your cabinets, and build a similar, tall height cabinet for the other side, opposite it.

          Lastly, in the space under the window in the center, consider doing a drawer cabinet there, one which bumps out a few more inches, like a breakfront. I personally would do with all fairly narrow drawers to hold silverware and table linens (which are a real addiction for me). Whatever you store in them, a bank of same sized drawers will look very appropriate and balanced there in the center.

  17. I think that’s a great choice. I have a chest freezer and that’s one thing I don’t love about it either. I can reach the bottom but I hate how things get buried and you have to empty half the freezer to get to them. Even if you use baskets.

    One thought on the defrost thing… I don’t know if you’ve ever defrosted a freezer or not, but it does have to be done 1 to 2 times per year (the frost just builds-up on the sides) and it’s MESSY…especially with an upright, since there’s nothing to hold the water inside as the ice melts.

    Since you’re starting more or less from scratch, I’d highly recommend trying to figure out how to put it in some kind pan (or waterproof flooring with a lip) with a drain (that preferably will drain right to the outdoors…you could even plumb in something through the wall or floor with a little shutoff outside). Nothing fancy…just a bit of 1″ PVC or PEX.

  18. So glad you are moving forward with the pantry!!! On the side of my freezer I keep a small whiteboard so i know what i have, date it was put in & which shelf it is on. Don’t forget to install a recessed electeic outlet behind the freezer. It will save you a few inches . BTW instead of towels, use dog wee wee pads… they soak up sooo much. Costco has their brand in boxes of 100. I keep some under all my sinks for ‘just in case’.

  19. Hi, Kristi! I am not vertically challenged and never owned a chest freezer but my mother-in-law did. It was a real pain to try to get something out of the bottom of that thing even though I could reach it. Bending over and trying to lift out a very heavy frozen turkey or ham is NO fun!
    I have owned both a manual defrost and a self-defrosting one. The self-defrosting are so much easier, but the process of defrosting does sometimes make frost-burn on foods. I had to defrost my manual one about 2x per year but I used it and opened the door often. If you don’t open the door so much, then you could probably get by with once per year. You’ll love the upright!
    Can’t wait to see your pantry. I am working on mine now and did make the decision to have drawers. They are just so convenient to get things in and out of!

    1. She’s doing great! She and Peeve are getting along really well, most of the time 😀 , and they play constantly. It’s fun to see this young new cat bringing out the playfulness in my 15-year-old cat. She’s still getting used to Cooper. He’s just very hyper and careless, so she mostly stays away from him. But she doesn’t seem scared of him anymore. I think they could be friends if Cooper would just calm down.

  20. Looking at the taped floor plan for the upright leaves me to wonder why you put the freezer off-center on that wall. With it so close to the wall, you functionally lose all the space to left of it. Were you to center it on the wall, you could do open shelves, such as you showed in yesterday’s post, on both sides of the fridge.

    Another thought: A feature I was able to put into my small galley kitchen (with a 3′ square bump out to the side on one end, for the doors to the back porch and to the basement) was a “pantry” between the studs (one was cut out and it was framed in) that is just deep enough to fit a 28 oz can. This is where anything in cans or bottles go. I love it because it is only one item deep so I can see everything in there. The shelves are an adjustable hole/pin system so I have many shelves to fit the height of the cans or bottles so no wasted space. The double doors match the beadboard wainscoting in the rest of the kitchen. I hate things being double-deep in my upper cupboards where I need to store other non-perishable food items–I wish I had more room in my kitchen to put in another, slightly deeper pantry cupboard to hold cake-mix size boxes and containers.

  21. My smart mother always told me that manual defrost is the way to go to save money on electricity and that it will keep food longer without freezer burn. She has always been an advocate for manual defrost chest freezers. Well, I bought one (my first freezer ever) about 5 years ago. I have yet to defrost it, so the ice build up isn’t terrible. But finding things is a real pain for sure. I keep saying I’m going to make a chart or list of what is in there and when it was put in there but do you think that ever happens? (sigh)

  22. I think an upright freezer is so much more user-friendly in use and maintenance over a chest type. Even if you chose a different type of freezer later, it would be easier to design around without the window being located in the area. On a personal note, I have had the manual defrost freezer, and I sold it shortly after purchase and bought the self-defrost due to the hassle and inconvenience of the manual. Would never by choice go back to a manual, but I just don’t like added work in my old age 😊

  23. no need to post this. just wanted to share my experience. Had to replace a freezer numerous years ago and went to our local (70+ years in business with the same family) furniture store and the salesman (who had also known me since birth) actually talked me into NOT purchasing a self-defrosting freezer which was actually priced higher than the manual defrost. I asked why and he said to keep the freezer frost free it has to “heat” up to knock down the frost which also heats up your food. Food won’t last as long without getting “freezer burn” and the heating and cooling take more of a toll on the compressor so they fail earlier. I’ve had the freezer now since I think Hurricane Isabel (or sooner) so around 15 years and we are just now time to needing to defrost it. He did say you can speed up the defrosting with the help of a blow dryer in the thicker spots. I trusted him and so far it’s been good for us. Ours doesn’t have bells & whistles either. The bells & whistles most of the time stop working quickly.

  24. I have an upright freezer with wire baskets that slide out and open shelves. I bought white plastic baskets that fit on the shelves and use them like drawers, fish in one, pork in another, veggies in another, etc. It works so beautifully because you will Never be able to stack a bun of stuff vertically without it falling, unless it’s big pizzas or similarly boxed products.

    It avoids that dead “head space”. That is such a waste.

  25. Ha, ha, my girlfriend was reaching into a chest freezer at the store and fell in! The salesman had a problem keeping a straight face as he helped her out.

    I am a big fan of freezers that are not frost free. I can’t see how constantly partially defrosting ones food to prevent ice build up can be good. My upright freezer keeps food at a constant -10 degrees and my food never gets burned. I defrost once every year or so using a hair dryer, plastic turkey baster, scraper and bowel. Takes about an hour to defrost a 32 cft freezer. Time well spent for better tasting food!

  26. Regardless of whether it is frost free or not, at some point it is going to be defrosted – even frost free ones build up ice.

    You are going to have a mess when it defrosts – and water will run underneath the freezer. My current freezer is in the garage where there is no mess inside when it needs defrosting.

  27. It may be a bit inconvenient to defrost a freezer but it only has to be done infrequently. The great thing is that your food lasts a lot longer before it gets freezer burned. The way an automatic defrost works is a fan is constantly circling there the feeezer and while it do s evaporate the ice it also draws the moisture out of the food. I would much rather have to defrost a freezer now and then than to have to throw out food due to freezer burn.

    Just an aside about being short and appliances.. my dad needed new laundry equipment and he want High efficiency ones. I went shopping for him and found a great set. It was a top loading one (I have front load but he wanted to stick with the top loader he was used to. He was very happy with them and they looked great in his laundry room. The only problem was I was helping him to do his laundry but I had to find a stool to reach the bottom of the washer to get the clothes out. (I’m 5’1”) It had never occurred to me to check that when I bought it. I’m glad it was for him and not for me.

    1. Haha! I have an older model top loading washing machine, and in order to reach the bottom, I have to hang over the side with my feet a few inches above the floor. 😀 I guess a stool would be easier! And less painful.

      1. A week after moving into our new house, our two year old washer died. ( I’m sure it was because of the move, and that it was stored in my daughters’ basement for 7 months while our house was built!) So we hurriedly ran out Sunday morning to get a new washer and dryer that could be delivered the next day. I didn’t focus on much more than “can we get this tomorrow?”, so I was dumbfounded when I discovered I needed a step stool to reach the bottom of the washer! I’m 5’3” and have never had a problem before this.
        As for the freezer, we have one of those small-ish chest freezers, and I hate it, for reasons already mentioned here. Wish THAT would have died with the move!!! My husband is the food shopper in our house (two of us) because he’s a bargain shopper times ten….. and we need to store the abundance of stuff he comes home with that will not be used before the expiration dates! ( If he only knew how much I throw out when he isn’t looking!) When we moved, we sent 5 boxes of canned goods home with our daughter (who gave it to a food pantry!) and about the equivalent of a quarter of a cow in meats, because we had to move into a tiny apartment for 7 months. He has since replenished the freezer and the canned good bookshelf he stores the extras on in the basement. Woe is me, here we are again! He seriously needs an intervention, but we’ve been unsuccessful in getting through to him! Glad you will be able to find stuff in your upright!

      2. Here in Ecuador I have a top loader and I can’t retrieve some wet items that are farther away than I can reach. I resorted to hanging long tongs on a hook to nab them.

  28. I have a manual defrost upright. I try to defrost it once a year before hunting season. I empty all of the stuff into ice chests and unplug it. I put plastic “dish pans” of hot water on each shelf and shut the door. I let that sit for about 30 minutes. I then take my shop vacuum and suck out the standing water and loose chunks of ice. Repeat until it is clean. Usually within a couple of hours I have it defrosted, cleaned and filled back up.

  29. Not to throw a monkey wrench into your thinking, but I had an upright freezer for years and I liked it. However, when it died, we replaced it with another refrigerator. I love having two refrigerators! Extra storage space for drinks, oversized tubs of spinach and lettuce, party platters, cake, etc. I also have the extra freezer space which is just enough for my husband and me. I guess if you were really into freezing your own fresh fruit and veggies and ate meat everyday the full size freezer would be nice. We eat mostly vegetarian. The extra refrig space is handy. Jealous of your pantry! Can’t wait to see how it comes together!

    1. My whole reason for getting this freezer and sticking it in the pantry is so that I can eventually get an all-refrigerator for the kitchen. I do like having freezer space (I’d like to do more batch cooking for those busy weeks when I don’t want to cook every single day), but what I really need in my actual kitchen is more refrigerator space. We eat mostly fresh (veggies and meats), and every week when I unload groceries, I run out of space in my refrigerator. I can do without a freezer in the kitchen. An all-refrigerator in there would be perfect!

      1. I’m looking for a counter depth all refrigerator. Please let me know if you find one! An ice maker in it would sure be a bonus. I’m probably asking too much….

  30. Definitely use plywood for your shelving…MDF will bow under the weight of your pantry items over time. Been there, done that. Agree, chest freezers are poorly designed for us short people. They also make it difficult to FIFO your frozen items since the oldest stuff is underneath the new stuff.

  31. I too prefer the 2 refrigerators. Especially when having family dinners at thxgiving and Xmas. Hubby and I don’t keep enough Frozen stuff anymore to warrant a freezer. We sold our freezer finally. The second fridge is just handier than a freezer for us.

  32. I’m another vertically challenged and I have a small upright that I just love! It gets defrosted once a year and yes it’s a pain, but I’ve defrosted the chest type and it was way harder! I also like the idea of a second fridge/freezer unless you buy in bulk!

  33. We have a frost-free upright freezer and have had it since about 2011. It’s moved from Idaho to Texas and back and has always been in our garage. That thing is still going strong! I LOVE that it’s an upright freezer too! I don’t think I could ever do a chest freezer since I’m height challenged as well. Even the upright freezer needs extra stuff to make it organized though. What I’ve found works best for us are cheap plastic washtubs from the dollartree. I actually use them all over the house, including in the pantry and in the fridge to coral everything! My parents have a larger upright freezer and I made some washtubs for my mom with chalk labels on them. She loves them too, though I don’t think she ever uses the labels to write on!

    I hope the manual defrost works for you. I don’t have the patience to deal with defrosting a freezer and having it out of commission for however long it takes to get the defrosting and refreezing done. We usually keep our freezer pretty well stocked throughout the year by buying meat/extra veg when it’s on sale and prepping it for the freezer. I would hate to have to move everything or go without it in order to defrost it, even every few years! We don’t keep anything in there long enough that it gets freezer burn as we are constantly updating our stock and using what is in it.

  34. Yes! I’m 5′ 3.5″, and I’ve had a chest freezer for about four years now. It is a bit of a pain to try to find something in the bottom. Plus, out of sight, out of mind, right? I have found that standing on a little footstool helps, but that’s probably not the safest thing in the world. You made a good choice!

  35. Agree with you about upright freezers.
    Whether it’s tall and hating to dig low, or not being able to reach high one needs to suit their own needs but I’ll take upright versions any day.

    Here’s a tidbit my guy taught me….. if your freezer is NOT full, fill a few milk jugs or cartons with water, put in empty space of freezer. They will freeze, help reduce cooling needs, electricity cost. Then if you lose power they minimize thawing issues for a time. I put on the low shelf and in back in my freezer, you might do so on the top shelf.

    I have a top refrigerator/bottom freezer, love it. The current design of pull out drawer works pretty nice.

  36. As a person with a very bad back, I can tell you it never is a bad thing to save your back when you can, and lifting something out of the bottom of a chest freezer puts an incredible strain on your lower back! Just my personal two cents (and I know you didn’t ask), but I’d go with the paint grade plywood. I can’t wait to see you build these cabinets, and please video the process if at all possible!! You have a tripod, don’t you? It’s been raining in my part of Pennsylvania forever, too, it seems like. 🌂🌦

  37. I’m ignoring the other comments for lack of time, so maybe this has been said, but here it is. 🙂 I think you made a great decision about the freezer! The more bells and whistles, the more likely something will break. That one looks perfect. Also, if you put the smaller freezer in the center, it would have symmetry, however, you may not like that it will be the focus and center of the pantry. So I think you’ve got a great plan.

  38. I have had upright and chest type both frost free and manual. By far I love the upright manual best. I hate throwing away costly meat that has freezer burn plus ice cream taste like “freezer” due too the air constantly circulating on the frost free. The less you open naturally the less ice build up. I feel you will love your freezer but be very aware of falling frozen packages when opening because they really can do damage to toes. Things shift and slide when you least expect it.
    I don’t know if you can put a pan under the freezer. To look good as be practical, it would have to be close to the size of the bottom of the appliance and this may impede the air circulation that is required for the compressor. Maybe it could set up a few inches then a pan underneath. If you did this I would definitely make it where it slightly drains forward so no water pooled underneath. Glad you are off to a start with a major decision checked off.

  39. 1st thing I was gonna say was about the chest not being shorter people friendly, lol. I’m 5”8 & couldn’t reach the bottom! And then stuff would get buried on the bottom. I have a door one now & it stays organized & I can reach everything. Good choice. Love your soon to be pantry!

  40. When you first started planning the pantry, you had a garage, not a studio and half bath. Have you considered putting the freezer in the corner of the studio? There are many pluses of putting it there: It will have tile floors, so no chance of ruining your lovely wood floor. If you put it behind the bathroom, it will make defrosting so much easier and if you want to incorporate some sort of drainage system, plumbing is right there. It will be about the same distance from the kitchen and then you’ll have more storage room in your pantry. Just something to consider.

    1. I don’t know where you mean by “behind the bathroom,” but I did consider putting it in the closet at the back of the studio. But then I wouldn’t have enough room for my saws/rolling carts, and I’d much prefer to have room for those in there. And after thinking about it, I do prefer the convenience of having the freezer in the pantry. I think I can defrost it without much mess. I’ll try Ishtar’s process. That seems quick and easy without leaving a mess.

  41. I am so excited that you are starting on your pantry! I’ve been waiting for the last 12 months so that I can copy what you do for my pantry. And while your porch is lovely and all that, I’ve been waiting, drinking wine, achieving nothing, waiting for your pantry …😂😂

  42. Thank you for posting this, Kristi! I have been going back and forth between chest and upright freezers because of price. I have always disliked reaching into my mom’s chest freezer. I could never reach the bottom. 😉

    Also, it seems to me the lighting on an upright model is better, so no forgotten food!

    I currently only have the freezer on top of my fridge and am limited on how much frozen stuff I can buy and the meal prep I can do, even for one person.

    I had been looking at Frigidaire and this one is on my short list.

  43. I am short… I had a small chest freezer…I learned that lesson very quickly. And this was years ago. You will love this upright freezer. Mine looks just like it, and is also manual defrost. Very easy to do, though. Can’t wait to see the pantry!

  44. When my parents remodeled their kitchen, they went with full extension drawers over cabinets everywhere they could get away with them. Those extra deep drawers are amazing; so much easier to store big pots in deep drawers than have to move stuff around and get to things in the back of a cabinet. I highly recommend drawers on the pantry wall under the window (pretty through the doors), and open shelving everywhere else for easy access. A small area for broom closet type storage is also nice. If you do drawers, heavy-duty full-extension glides are the only way to go. Excited to see what you decide!

  45. Maybe someone has already mentioned this, that it might be nice to have a small beverage fridge in your pantry.
    When we redid our kitchen, I was going to put in a small beverage fridge and my husband talked me out of it, it has been a regret, so many times in the summer, I wish I had one.

  46. They make shallow plastic drain pans for washing machines to sit in – maybe the freezer could sit in one of those so you wouldn’t have to worry about getting your hardwood floor wet.

  47. My two cent contribution is to buy a drain pan for under the freezer. Just in case there are condensation drips. They are cheap to buy and do the job. I am going to drool over the pantry. That light gives it so much class. Probably my favorite thing! Great looking home you have there.

  48. We had a chest freezer and I found the items that went to to the bottom stayed at the bottom. Changed to a manual defrost upright and I am very happy with it. I use plastic bins without the lids. Two on the top shelf and one large one that fits the bottom. This serves to sort food for quick retrieval and also makes defrosting easy-just put the bins to one side while defrosting. Easy to move lots of food in one move and it keeps the food nice and cold. We eat from our freezer regularly-I cook a few meals and vacuum pack them so there is always dinner in a hurry when necessary. I hope you enjoy your upright as much as I do ours.

  49. Invest in a Vacuum Food Saver. It will save your meats from freezer burn. I too had a chest freezer and found some cubed steak in the bottom. It was dated 2 years prior but didn’t look as if we’re bad. Defrosted them and cooked them, they tasted perfect! I now have an upright freezer, I love it!
    You’ll love yours too…

  50. Have been using an upright freezer since 1987. It’s due for a defrost, and after that is finished, I’ll be going back in time a bit, in how I arrange the interior. Used to have totes or dishpans to organize the contents. No lids needed. Got out of the habit. Time to go back to it. Makes it much easier to put things away in a way that enables easily keeping track of what is on hand.

  51. I ha e to laugh at the short people problem. I can relate. Have you bought a top load washer lately? I needed to buy a grabit tool ro reach the bottom. So much fun with undies and socks!! Lol

    1. I have a step stool in front of my top load washer – and I still have to do a handstand-triple-sow-cow into the washer to get those pesky socks! Makes doing laundry a full body work. SCORE!!! No need for the gym today!

  52. I am also short and used huge chest freezers at work and had to defrost those suckers periodically. At home, nope! Upright freezer, auto defrost. Have a 17 and now a 20 cu ft Frigidaire because we freeze so many veggies and meals. Use a vacuum sealer and have had no freezer burn. Have rollout baskets on the 17 cu ft and once loaded, the baskets sagged away from the tracks, fell down, and were no longer rollout. Poor design, now use them on shelves in the 20 ft.

    One thing I would mention is to have a good work shelf easily accessible to the open freezer door that you can put trays or baskets of stuff on. Makes putting in, arranging, and taking out of frozen packages without them falling out on your feet or freezing your hands off much easier!

  53. So many great suggestions from your readers! The salt water spray idea was new to me and welcome. I also place a large fan in front of the open door of the defrosting upright freezer and that helps speed up the process. Keeping the freezer full minimizes frost and reduces air exchange so the freezer works more efficiently. I fill milk jugs with water as needed to keep it full.

  54. Hi Kristi I have been reading your blog for many years and love what you do and all of your projects. I am in the process… And I say process very lightly… Of remodeling my master bedroom but I am super stuck on choosing paint colors. I need someone’s help! I am wondering if I could get some input from you. Thank you in advance for your time.

  55. I agree a chest freezer is much harder to use if you’re not tall! We switched to an upright freezer and I like it a lot better. Easier to reach and see what’s in there, and less chance of losing an item in the bottom to freezer burn. Looking forward to seeing your pantry cabinet build!

  56. Having owned both a chest freezer and an upright, I will never have a chest style again. Not only do they take up more floor space but they also require you to fully open them each time you get food out. That lets out a lot of air and is less energy efficient. My current upright has the drain at the bottom to open when you defrost.There is a place to connect a drain kit hose which makes the water go to where you direct it. Since our freezer is in the basement we run it right to the floor drain.No mess. I plan the defrost during the winter when I can take the remaining food out and transfer it into coolers which I set outside. It is the one thing that nighttime freezing temps are good for !!! Much agree that a vacuum seal system preserves flavor and eliminates freezer burn. Great investment. Wish we had room for a pantry.