counter-depth refrigerators: most don't seem to be counter depth.

10 months ago

I am shopping for a counter-depth side-by-side refrigerator for a small space kitchen remodel. A review of various manufacturer's product dimensions leads me to conclude only a few are actually counter-depth. Is "counter depth" a myth? How does the design community deal with this; as in, creative surrounding cabinets, or forget the whole thing and just purchase a standard side-by-side, or .....what? I am unwilling to purchase a built-in unit. It's a dilemma for me, and I thank you for your opinions.

Comments (25)

  • PRO
    Connie Elaine's Draperies

    My Samsung counter depth is counter depth. 24" body. Of course the doors add another 4", but that is necessary so that you can open them:)

    cathermoser thanked Connie Elaine's Draperies
  • PRO
    Flo Mangan

    The main purpose for a counter depth refrigerator is to build it into the space beautifully. Also, you will need wider side by side for counter depth to achieve same cubic feet in general. You do not seem like you have the space or budget to do a counter depth. Are you sure you want side by side? I find them very limiting especially when I am stocking for even small dinner party.

    cathermoser thanked Flo Mangan
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  • mmilos

    I've found when manufacturers say "counter depth" they usually mean the refrigerator cabinet is around 24" deep (standard kitchen counter depth), but don't include the door depth. The doors need to protrude from the counter so you can open doors fully.

    cathermoser thanked mmilos
  • GreenDesigns

    You’re confusing counter depth, where the box is 24”, and built in, where the box and the door are 24” with special hinges that allow them to open. $$ vs$$$$$

    cathermoser thanked GreenDesigns
  • Shannon_WI

    If you wanted a completely flush look, i.e. where the fridge doors are not proud of the counters, you need to look for an "integrated" refrigerator. Those start at about $9k (or more, it's been a while since I've looked). If you are willing to spend that, search online for "integrated" refrigerators to find fridges are are truly 24" deep including the doors.

    cathermoser thanked Shannon_WI
  • Helen

    As others have posted, refrigerators which are completely flush are integrated and are quite expensive.

    If you look at pictures of kitchens - especially small kitchens - NOT having the hulking standard depth refrigerator as a visual presence makes a HUGE difference in the room feeling lighter and larger.

    I just finished a gut remodel of my small kitchen and installed a counter depth refrigerator Mine "fakes" looking as integrated as possible using the following measures:

    Having my lower cabinets made about one inch deeper so that my counter was as flush as possible. You can achieve this with standard depth cabinets by just installing them a bit in front of the wall.

    Having the wood panel on the side of the refrigerator extend as far as possible so that only the portion of the door necessary for it to open is visible.

    I had my cabinet maker "clad" the sides of the door with the same wood as the cabinets so they open and close but visually they blend in with the cabinets insofar as possible.

    This is a picture of a counter depth refrigerator which tricks one into thinking it is integrated.

    It is NOT my refrigerator as my upper cabinet is the same depth as my refrigerator.

    cathermoser thanked Helen
  • Lorrie H

    I did a small kitchen remodel and struggled to find one that fit the small space and was counterdepth. The only one I found at a reasonable cost was a Fisher Paykel. It has less cu.ft. than I thought I could live with but because of the design it holds more than expected and I love the organization. The model I bought does not have water or ice on the outside and overall I have been very happy with my purchase and have had no problems. FisherPaykel

    cathermoser thanked Lorrie H
  • PRO
    Timeless Wrought Iron

    I much more prefer a counter depth and when shopping around you will find they are never shown on the floor anymore, you need to specifically ask if it's available in counter depth and it will be more expensive. We have an older home and when it was built there wasn't the need back in the 70's to have such large appliances as they have now and sell in new homes where the countertops are deeper.

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  • Pam A

    I see a lot of people here love their CD fridge. I am an outlier, I hated mine. It was beautiful (GE Cafe line) but so frustrating to try and put things away. First, anything too close to the back of the fridge would freeze solid. Man, that wasted so much produce. I think that's because it didn't have 2 zones for cooling and just dumped freezer air into the refrigerator mercilessly, freezing anything too close to the back wall (celery, carrots, romaine heads ... so many things).

    But the lack of depth was the real problem. Pizza box? No. Won't fit. Those long cardboard boxes of cans of soda or beer? No. Won't fit (unless you relocate the door bins to avoid that area).

    Then again, a lot of people love them. My advice is to see them in a showroom and compare two similar models side by side - look at a CD and a standard depth. Will you miss the extra depth? Is it worth shortening an island or whatever by 1' to have the deeper fridge?

    cathermoser thanked Pam A
  • PRO
    Glo European Windows & Doors

    Pam Amakes a lot of good points. Since you are working with a smaller space have you considered placing the fridge against a wall so it doesn't feel as intrusive into the space. Then you can build around it and it might really open up the space....granted, that's advice without seeing the space so take it for what it's worth.

    cathermoser thanked Glo European Windows & Doors
  • Jill

    I bought a Liebherr. It is 25" deep, including doors, 30" wide, and 72" tall. It is not a side by side, though. Overall, I am happy with the purchase. I can't hoard food, though, given the size, especially in the freezer.

    cathermoser thanked Jill
  • Helen

    Different strokes for different folks. I find my counter depth to be more functional than my old standard refrigerator because I don't have stuff that hides all the way in the back. As for issues of temperature control, I would think that is something specific to a flaw in the model since I don't have issues regarding stuff freezing in the back.

    Obviously it doesn't hold as much as a full depth refrigerator of the same width but mine holds quite a bit - it's the KA model which is 72" high.

    cathermoser thanked Helen
  • PRO

    I adore my KA counter-depth side-by-side refrigerator! I've had it now for 6-8 years and it serves me very well. Not only does it look better in my small kitchen, one can actually FIND things in one, as opposed to things that get lost in the back of standard refrigerators.

    KA counter-depth refrigerators use the same hinges as their built-ins so they need not protrude beyond the cabinet your KD orders for your refrigerator. This was the only BIG problem I had with my KD - he ordered the side panels not deep enough, and he didn't bring the cabinet over the refrigerator all the way down to the top. He had to redo this at his expense as I had not only verbally shared this info with him, I had shown him pictures on my iPad. He rose to the occasion and it looks very nice. It could have gone in a cabinet that was an inch deeper but he was afraid to do this and I gave in. It's fine.

    cathermoser thanked Anglophilia
  • M

    If you have ever had a counter-depth fridge, chances are you'll never go back. They nominally have less capacity. But in practice, they help with organizing the contents much better than full-depth fridges. You'll regularly hear people say "in my old fridge, I lost everything in the back; with my counter-depth fridge, I no longer store year's old left-overs". And I am sure, that phenomenon is part of why my counter-depth fridge actually feels more spacious than it is according to the spec sheet.

    Making a counter-depth fridge look integrated is absolutely possible. But it requires help from your cabinet maker and possibly from your general contractor. It's easiest done during a full remodel. People often recess the back wall or build extra-deep cabinets. Those few extra inches make a big difference.

    Also, depending on brand, not all counter-depth models allow you to fully recess the front doors. It depends on how the hinges work.

    As a rule, if you go with more expensive brands (e.g. SubZero) or if you explicitly specify "integrated" rather than "built-in", things will be less difficult. But even cheaper models can be made to work. Download the installation instructions and hand them to your contractors. They should be able to advise which look is possible.

    cathermoser thanked M
  • wdccruise

    Fisher and Paykel makes two refrigerator-freezers that are similar to your requirements and are less than 24" deep.

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  • 3katz4me

    A 36" cabinet depth is just too small for me. I have a built in fridge at my lake place and I need to use my extra garage fridge whenever I have guests. I have a full depth at home with a fridge cabinet surround that is deeper than 24" - must be 30". I don't understand why so many builders do the 24" surrounds. It's very limiting.

    cathermoser thanked 3katz4me
  • PRO
    Center Stage Design

    I'll admit I have a love hate relationship with my counter-depth refrigerator. But, that being said, I love, love, love how they look!! In a small kitchen, every square inch matters, and it really does make a huge difference. We've gotten used to having less space to store so the only time it's difficult is when we're entertaining. For us, it's a price we're willing to pay for a sleek, streamlined look and more space to move about the kitchen!

    cathermoser thanked Center Stage Design
  • Hillside House

    I have separate counter-depth fridge and freezer columns, so while they are less shallow, I definitely don’t hurt for space. I’m not sure I would ever go back.

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  • cpartist

    Those start at about $9k

    Actually about $5500.

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  • Susan Davis

    Hahaha! Cabinet builders build 24 inch deep cabinets because they are cheaper than anything deeper and impossibl to get anything out of them unless you have pull out shelves or drawers, which again, cost more money.....caching is the answer to every question about building a house.

    cathermoser thanked Susan Davis
  • Hamma

    Ok, well, I just don't get it...Why is that most American and Canadian fridges have to be these enormous hulks, that don't fit (depth-wise) with the STANDARD kitchen cabinets? And yet we have to pay more for (essentially) smaller fridges?

    cathermoser thanked Hamma
  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC

    Why Hamma? Because most Americans say they need humongous refrigerators/freezers. I hear people say they need to store the meat they killed on a hunt. They have very large parties every weekend. They cater large parties. They have many children who need many snacks all day long. Maybe they live many miles away from the nearest grocery store or supermarket. One of the posters above mentioned pizza boxes and soda/beer can boxes. (Not sure why you'd need to put a whole pizza or beverage box in the fridge.)

    Personally I have none of those issues. I do not like nor need a large hulking refrigerator. Counter depth is a cost-effective way to avoid the behemoth fridge look in the kitchen. Yes, they do protrude a few inches, but not as much as a conventional depth one. I have the same KA counter depth fridge (cost $2,000) as Anglophilia in my vacation rental home, and after 7 years it's still working fine, and looks great. In my primary residence we went for a 42" side by side built in Subzero, which protrudes only about 2", but is much more expensive ($9,000 retail). Fully integrated Subzeros are totally flush with the cabinets, and require expert installers.

    cathermoser thanked Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
  • T. N.

    It's not a myth. There are plenty of 20-22in fridges from all the major brands. They just don't sell them in the USA. And if they do, instead of several hundred dollars they cost several thousand.

    cathermoser thanked T. N.
  • Claire Pope

    I have a sub zero tower but had to go with freezer drawers in the island as I didn't have room for a tower freezer

    cathermoser thanked Claire Pope
  • Chris

    I spent hours looking through specs just to find the door depth measurement....time consuming. We had the space to use a full sized fridge, but the way the wall and cabinetry met the fridge.....required a slim door to fully open properly. We wanted to save money too. I now wish we'd paid a bit more. Buying a fridge just because of the door depth and water/ice dispenser (and reasonable price) wasn't the best idea in the end. It looks fine, but the ice gets stuck in the unit and slowly melts into a puddle that drips down the door. It's a full-sized Maytag with a slim door that took 4 months to come. If you move into a more seasoned house, you learn to adjust to it's quirks. No matter how hard you try, the new house will have quirks of your own creation. I wished I'd had more time to ask questions on Houzz when we were building. Good luck!

    cathermoser thanked Chris

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