The Way We Live: What Your Fridge Door Says About Your Family (Photos)

Don’t forget the TP!

Certainly what is inside your refrigerator says a lot about your family.

Crammed with junk? Sporting soy milk and Tofurkey? Neatly organized condiments or a jumble of bottles with their contents crustified around the spout?

Just as you can learn a lot about someone by sneaking a peek into their medicine cabinet (fungus cream?! what’s this for?) you can learn just as much, or more, by their refrigerator. Not just the inside, but the outside too.

As the NY Times recently reported, a new book called “Life at Home in the 21st Century” is about what a bunch of researchers from UCLA found out after following 32 dual-income middle class American families with young children. The team ended up with more than 1,400 hours of videotaped interactions.

The book is about how we live in our homes, how we go about creating spaces within them including what they call the “material saturation” and how it all reflects the way we live our lives.

Indeed, the state of your refrigerator is usually a strong indicator of how you run your home. As the author of the study notes, most families have “rather dense and layered assemblages of ephemera on the refrigerator.”

One of the more intriguing phenomena we have noted is a tendency for high counts of objects on refrigerator panels to co-occur with large numbers of objects in the house as a whole. Put another way, a family’s tolerance for a “messy” refrigerator may be associated with a fairly relaxed attitude about high density or clutter in public rooms of the house … Perhaps a place as seemingly unassuming as the refrigerator signals overall family tendencies regarding consumerism and household organization.

NY Times author, KJ Dell’Antonia, notes that not only does her own cluttered refrigerator reflect her home, but it also documents her battle against the clutter with Dell’Antonia calling her fridge door “organizational challenge and defeat on a single surface…Failed attempts to organize too much stuff by buying more stuff…lists, calendars: all meant to make things easier, better, more pleasant. The result is semi-organized, and a reflection not just of our life of semi-controlled chaos but of the duality of emotions that surround it…That mentality — the desire to buy a solution, or just treat yourself to a little material reward, instead of taking the time to do something more difficult or thoughtful, is reflected across many of our houses…It’s in our crowded playrooms, our overstuffed closets, and even in our so-busy schedules. And it’s apparently displayed prominently on our fridges.”

With material objects costing far less than they ever have before the “newest thing” is easier than ever to get and Americans are into having stuff. We’re drowning in stuff. Stuff we don’t need yet, judging by most of the fridges you’re about to see, we’re unable to manage the influx of material culture. Case in point, the average family in the study had 55 objects on their fridge surface. Dell’Antonia had 53. The study author admits to 66.

My own fridge accurately reflects my daily battle for clutter-free surfaces in my home, a battle that I’m mostly losing, by the way. Although I am proud to say I am winning the magnet war against my husband that’s been underway for as many years as we’ve been married.

It got me curious about your refrigerators and so I asked my Facebook friends to snap a photo of their fridges (not straightening up or eliminating items!) and they did. Go ahead and see what I found out about you guys in the revealing photos  below. And hey! Feel free to add a link to a photo of your fridge (if you dare!) I’d love to check it out.

  • All Angles 1 of 16
    All Angles
    I'd guess this person keeps a fairly organized home but doesn't get too caught up in the details, just like me. She also has a pretty sweet kid, apparently.
  • Is This A Home Where Kids Live? 2 of 16
    Is This A Home Where Kids Live?
    Magnets low down on a fridge are a dead giveaway of children. In fact, the person who sent me this photo said, "I just noticed how orderly the top is (where the kid can't reach!). Not so much on the bottom." Yup. Anywhere tiny hands can reach there is bound to be disturbance. I'm also guessing these folks have a black lab? Why else have a lab sticker? I only know because I own two and I have black lab magnets. Also? If I'm not mistaken that's Lucy in her famous vitameatavegamin episode. Black labs and they love Lucy? Best friends forever!
  • As Organized As Having A Couple Kids Allows 3 of 16
    As Organized As Having A Couple Kids Allows
    Even if this person didn't have photos of their children on the fridge I'd be able to tell you they have at least two kids, one of whom is three years old or younger. I'd say they keep a pretty organized house, as organized as a couple kids allow, anyway.
  • Childless? 4 of 16
    If you guessed the lack of kid paraphernalia means this person is child-free, you'd be correct. She sent me the photo with the caption "I think my fridge just screams 'Childless Wanna-be Still-Voyaging-er' The bottom door is empty" which gave me a giggle.
  • Don’t Ask About The Gorilla 5 of 16
    Don't Ask About The Gorilla
    I was given this photo with the hilarious caveat not to ask about the gorilla. Because of the haphazard way things are hung up I'd say this person is average at organization. Unlike some fridges where all the photos are carefully straight, the way things are on this fridge suggests the people who live here aren't overly concerned with neatness, most likely because they have small children and are trying not to sweat the small stuff, very much like myself. Also, I am dying to ask about the gorilla.
  • Neat Freak? 6 of 16
    Neat Freak?
    The woman who sent me this photo included the caption "My fridge. I'm guess this says 'gal needs to have everything clean'. Those lists on the side make my skin crawl." Are kids involved in this household? If so, HOW DID YOU DO THAT?
  • Front View 7 of 16
    Front View
    We know this person has at least one small child...(click to next slide for side view)
  • Side View 8 of 16
    Side View
    And they're fairly organized but they don't get all worked up if things get out of order sometimes.
  • Clean and Organized 9 of 16
    Clean and Organized
    No magnets. No thingamajiggies. Very simple. This person seems very organized and not into over consumption. A few family photos and that's about it. None in crazy, cutesie frames or anything. Is this your photo? Are you an organized person who doesn't buy more than you need? Tells us!
  • Organized Chaos 10 of 16
    Organized Chaos
    This fridge exemplifies the standard American fridge, in my humble opinion. Actually, it's pretty organized. Busy, but organized, just like the average American family.
  • Creative Minds 11 of 16
    Creative Minds
    In looking at this photo I'd say people with kids live here. Creative people with a sense of humor. I mean, who draws their shopping list?
  • Creative Minds (side view) 12 of 16
    Creative Minds (side view)
    Confirmed! Kids live here! Plus more interesting fridge stuff which backs up my original "creative" conclusion.
  • Another Busy Fridge 13 of 16
    Another Busy Fridge
    Busy fridge suggests busy family with lots of activities and stuff going on. Is this your photo? Am I right? Isn't it amazing what our fridges say about us?
  • My Fridge (front) 14 of 16
    My Fridge (front)
    Before our house fire we had a slew of magnets on the fridge. But the manets make me feel cluttered, like the walls are closing in on me so I've managed to keep it pretty much a magnet free zone. But even this feels cluttered to me. I like photos on a fridge and that's about it.
  • My Fridge (side) 15 of 16
    My Fridge (side)
    This is messier than I'd like as well, but this is because I live with someone who enjoys displaying everything and, if he had his way, would have our house looking like an Applebees in no time.
  • Our Fridge A Few Years Ago 16 of 16
    Our Fridge A Few Years Ago
    In all fairness, I submit to you this photo of when my husband (pictured here) had the fridge his way with all his magnets on it. Doesn't it make you feel claustrophobic just looking at it?


Article Posted 4 years Ago

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