What Your Fridge Door Says About You

At Home
The author's fridge

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?

Well it turns out that 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 New York 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.

Related: 10 everyday household items that double as organizers

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.

Related: 10 clever ways to de-clutter your kitchen

My own fridge (pictured above) 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 people's refrigerators and so I asked my Facebook friends to snap a photo of their fridges (not straightening up or eliminating items!) and they did. Here are five of the most revealing photos I received and my personal (read: not expert) interpretations:

1. 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.

Related: 8 simple ways to feng shui your home

2. 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!

3. Childless?
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.

Related: 10 stylish kitchen islands to brighten up your home

4. Neat Freak?
The woman who sent me this photo included the caption "My fridge. I'm guessing 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?

5. 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.

- By Monica Bielanko
Follow Monica on Babble

For 15 more revealing fridge photos, visit Babble!


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All angles
Is this a home where kids live?
Neat Freak?
Organized Chaos
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