Kitchen 101: Refrigerators and Freezers

by | Jun 16, 2020 | Kitchen 101, Project Planning | 0 comments

Choosing refrigerators and freezers may not seem too difficult. However, when we work with a homeowner interested in a kitchen renovation, we assist them in making well-educated decisions on many options of which a refrigerator and freezer are near the top of the list.

Refrigerator Width

People are often influenced by the things they grew up with, and believe it or not, refrigerators are no different! There are many more options in refrigerators today than there were when we grew up.  For example, refrigerators come in multiple widths, beginning at 30” wide and increasing in 6” increments up to 60” wide in various combinations.  The standard width is 36” wide and is what most of us grew up with.

But when making your refrigerator size decision, it is important to consider your refrigeration needs. If you are a household of two people and your only need is to keep your milk, eggs, and butter cold, do you really need a standard 36” wide refrigerator? On the other hand, if you have a household of four active kids, a dog, and a cat, maybe a 36” wide refrigerator just isn’t big enough for your needs.

Refrigerator Depth

In addition to refrigerator width, you will want to consider the depth of this appliance.  The standard 36” refrigerator is typically 30” to 34” deep. Therefore, most refrigerators “stick out” in front of your 25” deep countertop. You can help minimize this variance in depth by installing “end panels” on each side of the refrigerator, made to match your cabinetry which allows for a more “built-in” aesthetic.

However, many people prefer no variation in depth from cabinetry/countertop to refrigerator front, so another option is a “counter depth” refrigerator which is between 24” to 27” deep.  This results in a more custom and finished look, even more so when you panel the front of the refrigerator with matching cabinetry panels. But while the aesthetic of this is beautiful, the sacrifice is in refrigerator capacity.  Counter-depth fridges range from 15 cubic feet to 25 cubic feet whereas a standard 36” wide fridge ranges from 22.5 cubic feet to 31 cubic feet in refrigeration.  And that is quite a bit of real estate if your refrigerator is typically filled to the brim!

Refrigerator Style

The next consideration is the style of refrigerator you prefer.  The standard options are:

  • Top Freezer
  • Bottom Freezer
  • Side-by-Side
  • French Door
  • Single Column

Top and Bottom freezers

Top and Bottom freezers are self-explanatory (freezer on the top or on the bottom) and really come down to preference without a lot of bells and whistles. They are typically the most economical of refrigerators, however, they require stooping over to load and unload. The Bottom freezers of our youth often resulted in items being lost in the back, however, they are typically now designed with pull out drawers which make it easier to find that small bag of peas.

Side by Side refrigerators

Side by Side refrigerators are divided vertically with the fridge on one side and the freezer on the other. Many enjoy in-door ice makers and water dispensers which is a plus along with a typically larger freezer capacity.  However, if you have larger items such as a frozen pizza, they will not fit in the freezer of a side by side fridge.

French Door refrigerators

French Door refrigerators are much like French doors of your home; it has two side-by-side doors on top for refrigeration with a large drawer on the bottom for frozen goods. They are great in that they are wide enough for your large platters and have a more narrow swing of the doors which is great in a smaller kitchen, however in order to see the entire contents of your fridge, you must open both doors.

Single Column refrigerators and freezers

These refrigerators are full size, single purposed appliances that are “built-in.” They allow the user to customize their space with improved flexibility, by allowing each unit to suit its purpose, be it refrigeration, freezing, or even as a wine cooler housed between a freezer and a refrigerator.  These units allow for maximum capacity and style and are typically counter depth giving you a more built-in look.  The downside of the single column option is the price, as you will pay more for this luxury.

Chill Out, We’ve Come A Long Way

Refrigerators and freezers have come a long way since our youth, with many options to consider. Other styles to consider are under-cabinet refrigerators, beverage fridges, and refrigerator or freezer drawers. In addition, there are several choices in features and finishes.

Refrigerator Features  

When choosing a refrigerator or freezer, there are many features to consider. You will find models with adjustable shelves, fruit/veggie drawers, and meat or egg storage areas. You’ll also find some that have door alarms, locks, and LED displays. All of these items will be considerations as you look for your new refrigerator.

Refrigerator Finishes

You no longer have to have a stainless-steel finish to your refrigerator, though it is still the top finish for its more neutral look.  There are often multiple finish options as well as using cabinetry panels as previously mentioned to allow a more finished or hidden look to your refrigerator.


I hope this “cool” information helps to better inform you about refrigeration for your new kitchen. Check out some of our kitchen projects for inspiration. Love where you live!

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