counterdepth frigs: way too small?

bookworm4321July 9, 2013

To redo my kitchen, and get rid of large single door frig (freezer on bottom), KD suggests counter depth FD. I love the look, but when I see them in person, they look so shallow! My friends with them have extra frig in garage. I am seriously wondering if it is worth all the expense of moving water line, for a frig so small.

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Holly- Kay

There is only the two of us so the cd is perfect. If I still had children at home it wouldn't be big enough. I did keep my old fridge in the garage for overflow though I am finding I use it mainly for beverages and to keep the eggs our hens lay for distribution at church.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:00PM
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Fori is not pleased

They're taller which helps and they're easier to find stuff in but they are a bit smaller when you compare cubic feet. A full sized fridge can often be recessed into a wall and be a cheaper bigger CD fridge.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:05PM
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We have a 36" SZ FD fridge. All our three girls are home this summer, so we are five adults. I cook every night and we make a weekly Costco run. The fridge is fine 95% of the time. We have no overflow fridge.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:11PM
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Many people find them to be too small. I only have 18 sq ft now (30" fridge), so I wouldn't be losing anything. Also, only the front of the fridge is easily accessible, so I think they make sense. I can tell you my DD never bends down and looks in the back of our fridge, and it's only about 27" deep as it is. (Maybe if he didn't have to bend down...) But because of my small fridge, I shop about 3 times a week, and it's only three of us. Large families do need large fridges - look at all the people here who buy full fridge/full freezer pairs. And when I entertain at the holidays, I use the garage as extra fridge space. If I didn't have a cold garage, I'd have to have an extra fridge, like all of my Italian-American relatives do. So I guess the answer is that it's possible to make do with a small fridge, lots of us do, but bigger is better if you can fit it in.

Europeans must think we're all nuts. Did you ever notice the under-the-counter fridges on BBC shows like "As Time Goes By?" They're like what we think of as dorm fridges.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:20PM
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I've had both and while the cd is smaller in terms of cubic feet, in reality the lost cubic footage is in the deepest parts where I usually just found penicillin growing when I got around to cleaning out the fridge anyway. In terms of usable space, the counter depth fridge worked out just as well for us.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:28PM
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We just switched from a FD to a CD. The only time I have any trouble is right after I pick up my CSA box loaded with fresh vegetables. As long as I think ahead and clear out the veggie drawers beforehand -- who needs that fermenting cucumber at the bottom of the drawer anyway? -- there's plenty of room. I find that being able to see all the food is far more efficient, and I like not hoarding a collection of mostly unused condiments at the backs of the shelves. Also, it really matters how the space is configured. My fridge, a Liebherr, has no struts holding up the shelves and no ice containers bulging into the refrigerator box. It's all useable space.

We moved our honking big old fridge down to the basement, and I haven't used it once.

We're down to just two of us, though. Maybe if it was a house full of teenaged athletes I'd be singing a different song :-)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:30PM
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Went from a sxs to a cd it much better and feel like I can fit more in ...I like that it is shallow, things less likely to get lost in the back and easier to reach.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:33PM
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BTW Standard Fridges are not designed to be recessed.

They don't get the ventilation required.

The compressor works harder using more energy and making more noise.

Leading to a shorter life span.

Having said they are still cheaper even when repair/fix/ energy cost is factored in vs built-in.

But you should be aware of the cons before doing.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:35PM
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Fori is not pleased

I think recessing a fridge 6" into a wall can be done respecting the manufacturer's installation clearances. Don't bury the thing!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 9:56PM
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Kathy Rivera

Re: recessing - I've not ever heard 6". I am hunting for a contractor right now and the most any of them said they could gain is 4". The other 2 said about 3". An interior wall is less than 5" deep so I have no clue how you could recess 6"?

I had a CD in my last home and we never had a problem. It was 2 adults and a baby then. And now that we are re-doing this kitchen with 2 adults and 2 young kids, I'm still thinking CD. We could easily see - and therefore USE - everything. But we shop a lot and buy fresh and use quickly. My Costco stuff is only dry goods. Plus, we do have a smaller 30" 'old school' fridge in the garage and will keep that for overflow (mostly drinks/cake holding space before parties/bread in freezer/etc). Depending on how you shop/use your fridge, I think a CD will work fine for a family of 4. If you can keep a smaller fridge or freezer in the basement/garage, even better.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 10:24PM
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I love my cd fridge! We are four--with a 12 year old eating machine. I went for the Kenmore because it had the largest capacity of any cd--I think it was 28cft. Works great for us.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 10:47PM
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We went from a 32" CD that we had for 27 years, and raised two boys, and was plenty a fully integrated 30" Liebherr which we love! Great for the two of us, but would probably be a bit tight for four. We do have a garage fridge for the beer and overflow items...

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 11:07PM
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I ended up with a cd and less cubic feet. It was a breeze to adjust to. Much more efficient use of space, easy to care for and I no longer want one of those large unmanageable beasts that could house all to my heart's content. Not for everyone, but a a lot of what was in there was lost or unneeded accumulations anyway, I think. Love a smaller, cd refrig!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 11:16PM
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Kathy ~ You don't just recess the fridge into the studs, you have to borrow some floor space from the room behind the fridge. This works well if it's a closet, garage, etc.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 11:26PM
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I love my 36" CD fridge too. FYI, the hideously expensive ones have similar square footage to, say, a CD Kenmore or KitchenAid, but I swear the space allocation is just better in the pricier brands - you can store much more in them.

By the way, you can buy a 42" or 48" CD fridge, two CD fridges mounted side by side, or a CD all-fridge all-freezer set-up. Whatever dimensions you think will work for you, you will have more useable space if you limit the depth.

Speaking of dimensions, when I was fridge shopping I saw the newest SubZero and Miele flush mount fridges, and I noticed that their compressors are on the bottom, under the freezer drawer, making the fridge compartment go all the way to the top of the 84" cabinet height. I'm not the tallest woman in the world, but I felt like a member of the lollipop guild in front of those refrigerators. How do kids use them?

from the 1939 MGM film, "The Wizard of Oz"

In the final analysis, I'd go wider before I'd go deeper. And only consider the French Door if you have aisle width issues. They're pretty, but it's irritating always having to open two doors.

This post was edited by EAM44 on Fri, Jul 12, 13 at 23:59

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 12:56AM
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I love my Electrolux 22.6 cf FD CD fridge. As others have said, I like having everything easily accessible on the shallower shelves and doors and not losing stuff in back. I don't have ice/water in door, so I feel I have as much or more refrigerator space as my old SxS. I think there is less freezer space, but we were planning to get a small chest freezer anyway, so that is not a problem.

BTW, I do NOT have to open both doors to get anything from my FD refrigerator, with the exception of when I need to access the one full-width drawer (I use for meats/cheeses). Everything else works fine with just one door open.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 6:00AM
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Ditto Legallin, I love my Electrolux FD CD(no in door water or ice maker)
I have two big eating sons. I go to the market 1x a week, it is fine. It goes from very full, to very empty. In my opinion that is how it should work. Nothing lurks in the back and gets funky.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 7:20AM
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Thank you everyone. This is a big decision, as it involves moving frig to a different wall, running a new water line, plus the cost of the more expensive frig. I will look carefully at the models you mentioned.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 8:03AM
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"Wizard of Oz"? Hahahaha! That's Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

I have a CD all fridge with a freezer a few steps away in the laundry room. With our family of 5, a standard width CD fridge/freezer wouldn't have been enough room.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 9:33AM
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Well, it was HARD for us...we are a family of 4 and it was super hard to change. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have a standard depth for aesthetic reasons, but we have so much trouble fitting things in there...especially condiments and drinks. We drink a LOT of milk, and between that and Dh's beer, dd's juice pouches, ds's sports drinks, a bottle of wine, OJ, my once-a-day can of Diet just doesn't fit. (maybe we drink too much?? :) ) And I have condiments stashed everywhere...they don't all fit on the doors. Truly, a hot mess. I never had this problem in our SD fridge.

The outside freezer has been a help with the freezer situation, but I am still working on getting DH to agree to getting a beverage fridge for the island!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 10:03AM
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Do you have room for an undercounter fridge as well? You might find you can get a few more cubic feet this way and make you kitchen more functional by having certain items (like drinks) in different locations. We have a 30 inch Thermador tower, but also a wetbar fridge (well and a wine cooler) to hold all of the drinks including the milk that might go in the fridge. As a family of four, having this spill over space has been useful. Also need to be good about not making too many leftovers or consuming them faster. We had a 36 inch monster Samsung that stuck way out before the renovation. The fridge in that was bigger than my current fridge tower even with a bottom freezer. But we'd lose things in the back all the time. So far loving the counterdepth. I personally think it keeps us on top of ingredients and leftovers better, which is less wasteful.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 10:23AM
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"We drink a LOT of milk, and between that and Dh's beer, dd's juice pouches, ds's sports drinks, a bottle of wine, OJ, my once-a-day can of Diet just doesn't fit. (maybe we drink too much?? :) ) "

Yikes nini, that is a lot of drinking! You can ditch all of that and you and your frig can be healthier for it :) Seriously, your problem solved, lol.

I'd like to have a spillover freezer (it's a bit small) but no place for it and still wouldn't do a standard again, would only change to a different ratio frig to freezer if possible. It does keep you in the present. It's easy to lose track of what's in the freezer too and just keep moving forward. Would be interesting to know how much money is saved by downsizing.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 11:52

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 11:50AM
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We have the 22 cubic foot KitchenAid model linked below and have been very happy with it. We're a family of 4 and although it's full after I do my big weekly grocery run everything does fit. I also find it easier to see what's in the fridge which leads to less waste. I also like having the interior water dispenser--saves a lot of space and works well.

Here is a link that might be useful: KitchenAid Counter Depth Refrigerator

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 12:10PM
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Roughly how much space is normally required around any type of fridge? I'd like to recess my fridge, too. I have 6" walls because we built them that way. I think mine are actually a little thicker because of plumbing retrofit.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 12:18PM
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We have the same KA fridge as erhm. I manage to fit at least 6 dozen eggs from my hens, our harvests from the garden, plus farmer's market purchases, all the standard milks/juices, yogurts, meats, in addition to all those condiments (where do they come from?)
I used to have a side-by-side and couldn't wait to get rid of it. With the CD fridge, we see everything in one fell swoop, nothing is left rotting inthe back of the fridge anymore. That alone has been the best part for me because I hate wasting food, at least now I can see it easily and give it to the chickens if we're not going to eat it.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 1:43PM
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Another way to accommodate a full depth fridge without recessing it is the pull out the cabinetry surrounding it a few inches. We pulled out our cabinets next to our fridge only 2 inches (and as a bonus got a deeper countertop) and built a deeper cabinet box for the fridge (it sticks out past the counter top only a few inches). We could only go 2 inches because we were constrained by a doorway, but if you have the room, you might be able to do more. The cabinet on top of the fridge is installed flush with the front of the fridge.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 2:40PM
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I did the same thing as itsallaboutthefood. If you have the ability to design the kitchen layout from scratch, it's worth thinking through whether you can get a built-in look from a deeper refrigerator.

The major thing we had to think through was whether we wanted the counter to be that deep along that wall. If you have upper cabinets you'll want them deeper too so you can reach them. Like itsallaboutthefood, we also put open shelves next to the refrigerator and it worked out fine -- much better than if we kept everything counter depth.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 2:47PM
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I quickly checked the GE specs, and they call for at least 1" clearance in the back and at the top. Many refrigerators are completely built in, so a 4-6" recess shouldn't hurt as long as you leave room at the top.

The refrigerator space in our new house is on a 'wet' wall (with plumbing) so it is a 6" wall. I'm going to use most of that to recess the fridge, but I'm going to make the recess generously over-sized so it can accommodate different sized fridges if (when) we have to replace the fridge. We're not willing to pay the premium for CD; we can barely afford a standard one! Depending upon the size of the fridge we buy, I might make the counter a little deeper, too.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 6:55PM
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itsallabout the food,

most interesting. My frig is in corner, then cabinet, then range, and more cabinets. Is your frig a bottom freezer?. Perhaps I could keep the full size frig, but get deeper cabinets.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 8:04PM
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My fridge is a bottom freezer. It's our 10year old fridge which we did not want to replace yet. We even made the opening of the fridge cabinet 36" wide and 72" tall even though the fridge is only 33" wide and I think 69" tall. There are trim pieces all around to make it look built in. We can remove these trim pieces later if we want to replace it with a 36" wide taller full depth fridge.

You do not need to get deeper cabinets (although you can if you want...we didn't want the added expense and didn't need the additional storage space). You just need to have them installed a few inches away from the back wall (our GC braced the cabinets in some way in the back since they were installed away from the wall). You just need to order the fridge cabinet deep enough to surround the fridge (but not the fridge door...which is outside the box).

This post was edited by itsallaboutthefood on Wed, Jul 10, 13 at 20:51

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 8:49PM
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By the way calumin is right about needing deeper upper cabinets (the white open cabinet in my pic). Mine is 15" deep instead of 12" deep since the lowers are installed 2" away from the wall. So I did order that cabinet deeper but I did not order the lower cabinets deeper which would have made them custom and more expensive.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 8:56PM
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I also couldn't commit to a standard CD fridge... seemed to small to me also. Ended up finding a used SubZero on Craigslist which is 48" sxs and CD. I think with our overflow fridge in the basement this will be perfect 99% of the time.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 9:48PM
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I went from a very large FD refrigerator to a 36" integrated Thermador (also FD). My husband was very concerned about the "downsizing" but it's worked out beautifully. We are a family of four (two teenagers) and I have yet to have a problem. I do have an extra refrigerator in the garage, but I rarely have the need to use it. I find it much easier to keep the fridge organized - the downside of having a very large refrigerator is that items are constantly lost in the back, forgotten about, and growing mold. The new fridge will not be as small as you think.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 12:54PM
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i'll be the dissenting voice here and say that i have a counterdepth french door fridge and totally hate it. we are a family of four and nothing fits unless i do major reorganizing. i always have to move things around and reorganize every time i open the fridge to fit in leftovers, and every time i go grocery shopping. all my fresh veggies and fruit rots in 5 days because the fridge is so crowded. i read in our manual that you have to have enough air space in between each of your food items in order for the condenser to maintain proper temperatures. i have not been able to do this in our small fridge!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 4:22PM
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We opted for the 20" KA Counter depth fridge, after having a standard top freezer model for the past 5 years and a SxS prior to that. We really love it. Yes, it is smaller but as many others have said, we don't "lose" food in the fridge. It is super easy to clean and it has just enough space for our day-to-day items. We also love the water feature within the fridge. We are a family of 3 so it works for us.

I will say that the management of condiments has been a challenge. We already had an extra overflow fridge in our garage that we use for drinks, extra containers of milk, watermelons, picked fruit, etc. as well as other items we keep in the freezer. I don't know if we'd be as happy with having the counter depth fridge as our only option in our home.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 4:44PM
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My standard depth fridge is too small, so cd is not ideal for families IMO, unless another fridge is available. If you shop in bulk, such as Costco, that would be a factor pointing towards sd.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 10:21AM
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Well, I suppose it depends on where you live, how and what you cook, and how you shop. I find that the back of my fridge has lots of buried treasures that I hardly ever use -- if at all. So, a counter depth fridge probably would make me be more organized and not to have duplicates in my fridge. Kind of like huge closets that are crammed full of stuff one hasn't worn in ages.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 10:35AM
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I looked at cd fridges and thought they would be way too small. But some of it does depend on where you live/how often you shop, etc. It's just my dh and me, and the stray guest, but we also live 15-20 miles from the nearest decent grocery store. We also drink a lot of milk and cook at home most of the time (not many restaurants in this town). We do have a separate freezer which any rate, we have a 26 cubic foot fd fridge; I don't think we could have found that in a cd unit.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 11:55AM
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We just moved out of a temporary rental with a smallish but full depth GE profile that had much less Usable interior space than our subzero 700 series. Re French door fridges, I think you lose significant door storage compared to a full width door.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 1:35PM
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We went to a counter-depth refrig/freezer last fall during our kitchen reno. It was the least-bad option of the few alternatives we had in our space. We got a KitchenAid and I love the fact that its stainless-steel front will hold a magnet! (Unlike all the other ss models out there) However, the freezer is inferior in terms of storage space (we lost about a cubic foot and, man, do I miss it!). I used to be able to keep a turkey in the freezer without a problem, but no longer: it would take up too much space.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 3:08PM
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