I never thought in all my remaining days on earth that I would be giving advice on how to make your kitchen into the Taj Mahal of magnetic magic. But now that embellishing your refrigerator with memorabilia has become a cultural mandate that transcends all notions of class, taste, and the fear of a surprise visit from Architectural Digest; how can I ignore this social imperative! Those of you without a magnetic surface must be frantic, or maybe just flummoxed. If you couldn’t care less that there’s no place to feature your children’s artwork or the latest photo of your grandkid or a free souvenir from that great funky gallery in Vermont, move on down the line. The rest of you: listen up!
The urge to upgrade a kitchen seems to lean to stainless steel appliances these days. Why? I have no idea since it’s so hard to keep them looking immaculate, but I didn’t figure that out until I upgraded not only my appliances but half my cabinets to SS. While slick and stunning, not all stainless is created equal. The magnetism, or lack of it, is dependent on the amount of chromium and nickel in the alloy. Some so-called stainless is actually still magnetic. And, even if the front of your frig is not magnetic, check out the sides if they’re exposed. Hey, some manufacturers have felt your pain and now install a steel (read “magnetic”) panel behind the stainless, wood or laminate.
One solution is to hang a whiteboard, making sure it’s magnetic, of course. Or you could do as my niece did, and hang a baking sheet spray-painted with chalkboard paint which then doubles as a message board. The trick is in the hanging and since the solutions are dependent on the available appendages in your kitchen and the possible ownership of a drill press, I’ll leave that step up to you. What I don’t recommend is hanging either one on the refrigerator door where it will abuse the SS surface that is already a pain in the butt to keep attractive.
There actually is magnetic paint so should you have an expanse of wall, or a suitable flush door (although I wouldn’t consider your refrigerator door suitable,) AND a steady roller hand, you might go down this road. It acts as a base coat leaving you many finishing options. A word of caution: read the directions thoroughly, especially the mixing and coverage recommendations. Oh, and the type of magnets you use – flat, light-weight, strong – is important.
OK, you say, there are ways to get a magnetic surface in the kitchen but what about on the frig? Enter Choopaboard! It’s magnetic; it looks like stainless steel; it attaches to stainless steel with powerful suction cups; it’s quickly removable fully loaded for that magazine photo op; and, oops, it doesn’t work on SS appliances made by Thermador, Samsung and GE. GE! As in General Electric? Well, perhaps you have an Amana, so knock yourself out. Otherwise, keep reading.
Magnetic tape with pressure-sensitive adhesive backing does exist, not to be confused with the recording medium or tape intended for use on magnetic wall charts. Just a thought, though, as I don’t plan to test it on my Monogram appliances, attach a small piece in an obscure spot for, say, a week. Then remove it and flush any residue with Goo Gone, ammonia, or De-Solv-It (probably only one will work) to see if the SS surface was marred. If not, tape away! It probably won’t be ideal for your kids’ magnetic alphabet or the Snarky Bitch Magnetic Poetry kit hubby put in your Christmas stocking, but as long as you don’t mind your photos, cards, artwork, and souvenirs all lined up in lock-step fashion, your magnetic masterpiece is good to go!
Say what? You’re more spontaneous and expressive than ducks-in-a-row magnetic tape allows? Here are some options for random placement, some more pricey than others:
• Hot gluing your entire magnet collection to your refrigerator door is a bit radical, I’d say, but I did find that solution offered online. EMPHASIS: I have not tried this!!
• Self-adhesive magnetic sheeting: The decision to semi-permanently cover that expensive stainless steel with what amounts to magnetic shelf liner is yours alone.
• Tacky Wax is a benign substance that becomes tackier as you rub a small ball of it in between your fingers. It’s quick, removable and reusable.
• Quake Hold Museum Putty is a similar product to Tacky Wax but suitable for more permanently placed memorabilia, like your birth certificate everyone keeps asking to see.
• 3M Reusable Adhesive Tabs are another alternative for semi-permanent mountings.
• Friggie Tape is a repositionable double stick tape that the manufacture claims can be removed from photos, cards, etc. with no damage to your treasures. Try it first on something disposable.
• Stainless Cling are patches that stick to photos, artwork, recipe cards, even magnets, but adhere to the frig without adhesive. Magic, I guess!
• Self-Adhesive plastic sleeves are probably the cheapest solution if you’re primarily looking to display your wunderkinds’ wonder-work. Available up to 12″ x 18″ for under $2 each. When your progeny finally goes off to college you can probably (that’s probably) remove the adhesive with one of the solvents mentioned in paragraph six.
So fellow magneteers, we have entered the realm of denim jeans here! Magnets on refrigerators are forEVER; for every man, woman and child on the planet; and for every socio-economic demographic. Bet ya’ never expected to have a thing in common with those 1%-ers who, I have on good authority, at every opportunity festoon the frig – all six of them!
A parting personal note: Here’s our magnetic-less GE Monogram converted into a kitchen kommunication korner using fabulous recycled steel frames by Jendala hung from suction cups. I’ve used felt pads on the back to protect the stainless surface.