Fail to 'get' appeal of French Door fridge

chisueApril 9, 2014

I've been looking at appliances. I have been happy with a 42" GE Monogram side-by-side for 13 years and had planned to by another (smaller) side-by-side for our condo. I'm curious about the appeal of the French Door styles. I don't 'get' it!

I never had a chest freezer, so digging into one doesn't appeal to me, let alone having to pull it forward first. Further, if you're happy with the bottom freezer, why not buy a bottom freezer with normal top?

When I open the fridge on my side-by-side, whatever I'm looking for is *there*. Same with the freezer side. They are like 'cabinets'. I've been noticing that friends with French door units usually end up opening both doors most of the time.

Was this just a manufacturing gimmick, or do you really like the configuration?

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A lot of people have aisles that make a French Door fridge much more practical. As for the bottom freezer, I much prefer it (regardless of the refrigerator door type) to a side by side --- I could never stand the width of the freezer shelves in the one side by side I was forced to live with for 10 months. I think its all personal preference, tempered by kitchen configuration -- I now have a single door/bottom freezer and that's my favorite so far.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 11:55AM
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I don't like the space configuration of a side by side at all. would have preferred to have a single door with a freezer at the bottom, but our space wouldn't allow. A french door is a good compromise.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 12:03PM
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I had a SUbZero 42" sxs for 13 years and I couldn't stand the configuration. I could never fit a large platter in it when I had company. And the produce bins were on the bottom, so I always had to bend down to get a piece of fruit. And don't even get me started on the narrow width of the freezer.

We replaced the sxs with a SZ French door 36". LIke sj said, it is all about the aisle width. I could not have opened a single door fridge into my space. I do think that the French door looks more attractive than the single door. However, the door shelves on the French door are a bit less useful than the long shelves on the single door model.

Having the freezer on bottom means that all my fridge food is visible and reachable without bending. Produce are at waist level which is great. I open the fridge ten times at least for every time I open the freezer, so pulling out the drawer is not a big deal.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 12:17PM
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We've had a side-by-side for 12 years and I can't wait to replace it with a French door model. Ours is a GE Profile model w/ water & ice dispenser in the freezer door. This unit takes up SO much freezer space that I'm already having to store things @ a low level, so the bottom chest level of the FD won't be a difficult adjustment.

The main problem - and this is w/ both sides of the fridge - is the narrow width. I cannot put a frozen pizza in the freezer unless I set it diagonally in the compartment. It takes up nearly the whole freezer if we buy a medium size turkey. If I prepare appetizers on a serving tray that I want to keep cool, it doesn't fit in the fridge side. If a recipe calls for chilling something on a baking sheet before baking - no can do in my narrow fridge.

I guess it depends on how you use it. Our home is the hub for most family holidays and the configuration of the S by S simply doesn't work well for me.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 12:22PM
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We've had a FD for 8 months, and I love the bottom freezer drawer. We don't lose nearly as much stuff in the freezer as we did with the old top mount. Ours has a drawer within a drawer, so the whole depth isn't piled with stuff.

As for the french doors - I'm not a huge fan. I really wanted a bottom freezer/single door, but couldn't get one as big as I wanted. Our fridge is at the end of a U, so any time we go from counter to fridge or back, we're reaching around the door (of course you have the same thing on the sxs).

I arranged carefully when we got it, and we're used to where things are, so mostly we only have to open one door, unless we're using the deli tray. I do think that the fridge on top is a lot more convenient than fridge on the bottom - again, after 7 months, we haven't lost any leftovers in the back, because things are much easier to see.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 12:33PM
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Mine is a french door with two freezer drawers below. When I first saw the double drawer freezer models I knew I wanted one. Super efficient freezer storage. NOTHING gets lost.
I much prefer opening the two smaller fridge doors to opening a single wide door, and as annkh said, we know where things are and often open only one door.
So, for me, a winner all the way.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 12:42PM
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I'm sorry, but I'm in the same camp as chisue in not "getting it" with the French door and loving my SxS. When my kitchen was recently remodeled, looked at all options and stayed with SxS with no regrets. However, specific needs are certainly the issue when it comes to fridge configurations. Constantly use all the storage on my fridge doors. I use my freezer frequently throughout the day (such as freezing food "trash" for garbage), and would not want the inconvenience of bending for a bottom freezer. Cookie dough is chilled in the mixing bowl in the fridge or stored in rolls in the freezer. I prefer buying fresh pizzas and can store them on a fridge shelf which has a narrow height for baking within a day or two.. On the rare occasion when they are frozen, they are either put on the diagonal in the freezer, or I cut them in half and wrap each half in foil for the freezer. How often is a turkey purchased? At my house it's once a year, and then goes directly from the store into the fridge to thaw.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 1:12PM
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The only thing I really disliked about my last kitchen was the side by side refrigerator which I couldn't wait to be free of. It was 36" wide and I could never fit stuff into the freezer section and I could never find stuff in the refrigerator section. It's possible it's because it was a full depth refrigerator. I now have a French door counterdepth and it actually fits more stuff than the previous S&S and everything is at my fingertips. Go figure! I just chalked it up to better design.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 1:26PM
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HATE our side by side. Everything is stacked in there because there is no room horizontally. We can't even fit a flat pizza in there. If/when we upgrade it will be french door for the aforementioned aisle width issue.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 1:55PM
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When we replaced a side by side just a couple years ago, everyone wanted me to go french door. I didnt. I dont get them either. However, I do have a second fridgein the garage with a freezer on top, so I have the wide shelves should I need them for platters. If I didnt have the second fridge I may have looked more positively upon the french door style.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 1:56PM
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I will never have a side by side as my main refrigerator again! I replaced a 25 cu ft SxS with a 25 cu ft french door and I have at least 25% more usable space. Our old fridge is in the garage and I don't even like using it for overflow. My french door has a separate produce/deli drawer which I absolutely love! The freezer has four separate drawers, easy to keep things organized. I think people who don't get the appeal of french doors have never used one.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 1:56PM
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I have a small condo kitchen and got a small french door a year ago. Had a flood do to fridge hook up the same day. In the mean time it gave me a chance to use a french door for about 8 months (which has recently been sent back) and ordered a 33in CD single door, freezer on bottom. I disliked the french door. Maybe because it was a small size but I felt like I was constantly re arranging things so they could fit in properly and was not crazy about opening both doors (again maybe because of the smaller size). I did think it looked very pretty though. I liked the freezer on bottom. Had a single door, freezer on top for 20 years and now looking forward to getting a single door fridge again, freezer on bottom after my kitchen remodel starting tomorrow.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:25PM
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I've had two side by sides - felt like the shorter shelves were two limiting in terms of size. On the other hand, we now have a French Door fridge that I love. It was the only way we could get a large fridge (26 cubic feet) - we live in the country, away from decent grocery stores, so a large fridge is helpful. The split door set up eliminated the problem of which way to have a big door swing...and the bottom freezer has a split bottom - two large side by side baskets, plus a shallow basket/tray on top. Not an ideal set up for a freezer, but given the pluses of the FD fridge, I can live with it!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:36PM
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I do think that the FD style is pretty to look at, but I opted for a single door bottom freezer in order to get the most storage space.
It seemed that a s-b-s had more freezer space but I couldn't get one small enough (believe it or not) for my kitchen. I much prefer the bottom freezer to the old top, as far as access goes, pulling it out is easy! But this new frig that is supposedly larger than my old one doesn't hold as much in either compartment. I think that I would rather have deeper veg bins and lose the full-width deli drawer.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 2:44PM
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Thanks. I can see some rationale for some needs. I'll never see the need for more doors, just as I couldn't understand the concept of refrigerator 'drawers'. I'd never be able to keep track of the ever-changing inventory.

The French door units I saw required that you open the right door in order to use the left one. I know I'd be among those opening both a lot of the time.

I am probably opening the freezer half as often as the fridge -- evidently more than some. I don't want to pull out, bend over and dig. If you don't have aisle room to open a full size fridge door, how do you pull out that freezer?

My GE Monogram s-b-s at home has 12" wide freezer shelves and 22" wide fridge shelves. It's counter-depth and has in-the-door ice/water.

At our condo I have a GE 20 cu ft s-b-s, standard depth, in-door ice/water. It's the only s-b-s that will fit in the 32" width available. I usually cut a pizza in half -- with just two adults, I only cook halves.

I've had the in-door feature for over 20 years; no problems. We drink more cool, filtered water and less pop simply because the water is 'right there'.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 3:25PM
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To answer your question, the two fridge doors on a 36" FD are 18" each and the freezer drawer is no more than 24' deep. And SZ is coming out with a 42" FD--those doors will be 21". In either case, that is a lot less than the 36" swing that would be required for a full door. And when you pull the freezer out, it doesn't have to be pulled out all the way. A fridge door needs to be able to swing the whole way. So from an aisle clearance point of view, the FD really does make a big difference.

I have the SZ and I can open either door. I don't have to open both. It is due to how they designed the seal in the middle.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 4:04PM
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We like the bottom freezer because my husband is 6'7" and wants to look in the fridge far more often than he looks in the freezer. It's much more comfortable for him.

We don't have French doors, though, we have a single door.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 4:21PM
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Sorry, I skipped over most of the responses, something I do not usually do but am in a rush.

I got my first FD fridge four years ago and LOVED it from the get-go. I had only had standard-door fridges before that.

I use the fridge way more than the freezer so love having everything at eye level. I do hate the bottom freezer for having to dig through stuff, but the advantages of the top far outweigh that IMO.

We just replaced out side-by-side with another FD, and I hated that SbS. It is sooo squishy, and had a lot of difficulty getting everything I needed into it.

Given a choice I will never have anything but a FD fridge from now on.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 5:45PM
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There have been lots of threads about this. The link below is just one.

I have a FD and would never want anything else. You DON'T have to open both doors. We keep frequently used food like milk on one side so everyone knows just to open that door. Everyone who I have known with a SxS has stuff frozen sideways in the freezer. I like to make and freeze dinners and stuff for later use. Those items need to freeze flat.

Edited to add one more thing about the doors.

It is not a big deal to open both doors. If I'm putting a large casserole or something in the fridge I open the doors then turn around pick up the item and put it in. Most of the time we do open both doors. Why is this an issue? You open the doors, look inside, grap something and just bump the doors close. Two smaller doors are easy to handle than 1 large door in my opinion. Plus it saves aisle space.

I love the freezer.

Here is a link that might be useful: sxs vs FD

This post was edited by debrak2008 on Wed, Apr 9, 14 at 20:23

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 5:53PM
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We have a FD and I really like it. We have set it up so that our most often used drinks and other items are at the right door, so we just have to open that one.

The one crisper drawer opens with one door open, the other one benefits from both doors open. We also have a long drawer inside the fridge - it goes the whole way across. We store lunchmeats, cheeses, etc. in there and you do have to open both doors to access that. If I were making the fridge, I would have made it so that drawer was a separate roll out.

Our freezer has a deep bin that has vertical dividers. We have a shallow rollout shelf, and then above that, we have another rollout.

All in all, I like the FD - we've had it now for about 2 years...there are a few small things I would change had I been the one that designed it. But, it's a good fridge for us and I wouldn't hesitate to get another FD in the future.

One thing that I've found in retrospect, it is quite deep to get the sq. ft. storage...if I were looking for a fridge today, I wouldn't worry about the deep storage as I find that many things wind up toward the back and therefore forgotten about.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 6:10PM
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I also do not understand the appeal of FD fridges. I was excited to be able to use one in the temporary house we moved into during our whole house reno. They are so popular so of course I'd want one for my new kitchen, right? Couldn't stand the thing at all. I've posted on my hatred of it many times here and in Appliances.

I had to open both doors all the time because either I didn't know which side the item I wanted was one, or because I get claustrophobic trying to work in the fridge with only one tiny door open. I did, however, really like the bottom freezer. I really dislike rooting around on the floor of a top-freezer fridge to dig into the produce drawers on the bottom. We go through lots of fresh produce so get into those drawers a lot.

In the end, I found a single-door, bottom freezer unit from KA. I love it. The freezer is on the bottom and I don't have to dig for much. (We have a upright freezer in the garage.) The fridge part is all easily accessible with just one door to open. Produce is at a great height for easy viewing. It's the best of both worlds for me as I really don't like SxS units either. Love my KA!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 7:37PM
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I have had a side by side for 10 years, and hated it. Small freezer space, and the ice takes up too much room. When remodeling the new house I looked at lots. We wanted a counter depth. After looking at lots of French door/ bottom freezer models I came to the same conclusion as you. I don't want to dig around the freezer. And I want ice and water in the door. Also, we don't entertain, at all, so fitting large platters in the fridge is not necessary.

Then I found my samsung side by side counter depth. It was about $1000 less than it's French door competitors. The ice maker is actually mounted on the door, freeing up tons of freezer space. And the freezers is much wider than my old side by side. Easily accommodates a frozen pizza. The fridge may become a tad small as my kids grow into teenage years. But for now it's fine. And I love that bothe the fridge and freezer have lots of drawer space.

If I remember correctly, you do get more in terms of usable cubic feet space in a French door vs a side by side.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 7:38PM
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Surely the FD vs single door question has more to do with kitchen layout than anything else. We just changed from a SXS to a single door bottom freezer fridge, and it's working much better for us. Our fridge is at the end of a run, so the best place to load and unload food is the counter to one side. Our kitchen has no island, and the opposite counter is 9 feet away. It was a pain to always be reaching around an open door when we had the SXS. In a galley kitchen or one with an island right in front of the fridge and not much clearance for a fridge door, then a fridge with two smaller doors that open in the middle would make more sense. The fridge at the end of the run was my #1 reason for getting a single door. There were two others: the fact that most FD fridges I looked at did not have doors that closed together automatically (we have young children and there is no chance they'd always remember to push both doors shut); and the fact that so much door storage is lost with the split in the middle.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 7:55PM
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We lived with a side by side for many years and I never thought I would want a french door but my 6'5" BIL convinced me we would love it and we do. We went from a 28cf S x S to a 23cf FD and we actually seem to have more usable space.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 6:56AM
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