A Buying Guide for Refrigerators
As the most commonly used appliance in the kitchen, the refrigerator is a staple in virtually every modern home. Even if you're not much of a cook and you prefer takeout to baking, your fridge will still get a lot of use. During a kitchen remodel, your fridge might become a priority. A dated model or a lot of wear and tear can necessitate replacement, but you might also just want to add in a newer version that matches the updated decor in the space. This buying guide makes it easy to find the refrigerator that will best fit into your kitchen remodel.
Measure and Re-measure
Before getting excited about any refrigerator model or spending too much time focused on things like ice dispensers and stainless steel finishes, it’s important to start with the basics.
Since you're planning to remodel your kitchen, it makes sense to determine where, exactly, in the new layout the fridge will go. If you are simply removing one fridge and putting a new one in the same exact spot, then retaining the same measurements will be easiest.
Otherwise, determine the exact width, depth and height you'll have available to fit a fridge and freezer. If you're building cabinets around your choice of kitchen appliances, make sure you have exact manufacturer measurements before ordering the cabinets.
Also, keep in mind how much space the fridge door will take up when swinging open and whether the entrance of your kitchen is wide enough to bring in your preferred fridge.
Fridge and Freezer Configurations
Every household is a little different when it comes to the preference of refrigerator and freezer configuration. In your home, you might exclusively shop for fresh ingredients, only keeping ice and a few frozen desserts in the freezer section.
Alternatively, you might love frozen meals or cook in bulk, which means the freezer door opens up just as much as the fridge door. Think carefully about your cooking and eating habits when browsing the many configurations to determine which will be best in your remodeled kitchen.
The most traditional configuration, and the one most associated with affordable refrigerators, is having the fridge on the top two-thirds of the appliance and the freezer on the bottom.
Another option is a side by side model, where one side of the appliance is the fridge and the other half is the freezer.
Finally, there is the French door fridge, which boasts two swinging doors. Each opens to reveal a compartment, and a lower portion of the appliance is for frozen goods.
Having either a side by side or a French door refrigerator might cost more, but it can be a smart choice in small kitchens because the doors are smaller and don't take up as much space when swinging open.
Popular Refrigerator Styles
Along with a variety of configurations, refrigerators come in a number of different styles that might appeal to your decorative tastes. By far the most common variety, and one that comes in every configuration listed above, is the freestanding refrigerator.
This is an entire appliance that comes in one piece and can slide right into an empty space in your kitchen's layout.
It needs to be hooked up to an electrical outlet, and possibly a water source if it dispenses and filters water, but there is no custom build that needs to be done to accommodate either the size or shape of the fridge itself. A freestanding fridge offers the quickest and simplest installation possible.
If you want to have a more sleek and streamlined look for your kitchen, you might opt for a cabinet-depth refrigerator. This can come in any of the configurations already listed, but it is flush with your cabinets.
Typically, this means that the fridge will be 24 inches deep instead of the standard 27 inches deep of a freestanding model. For a truly upscale look, a hidden fridge might also be an option.
While not actually hidden, this fridge type is built in, which means that the door looks just like the surrounding cabinetry. A built-in hidden fridge will have to be installed by a contractor for a professional look, but it offers a very cohesive look in a kitchen. In smaller kitchens, a final option is an under-counter fridge.
This is a smaller model that typically fits in where a traditional dishwasher might sit. While it is low on the ground and requires you to bend over to access the contents, it can be a definite way to save space.
Fridge Colors and Finishes
Once you have decided on the right fridge size, configuration and style, you can finalize your choice by considering colors and finishes. Standard fridges at the cheapest end of the price range often come in either white or black.
By paying slightly more, you may end up with a stainless steel fridge. Stainless steel requires slightly more maintenance to keep clean and free from fingerprints, but it is widely regarded as the more upscale fridge finish.
Don't forget to think about handles, which can have a serious impact on the overall look of the appliance. Ideally, the finish of the handle will match any other existing metal hardware in the kitchen for a cohesive look.
Interior Fridge Features
Finally, you might want to give some thought to those special extras inside the fridge. The most popular choice is an ice maker and a water and ice dispenser through the door of the freezer.
Other upgrades that might make life easier include a digitally adjustable thermostat, varied drawer temperatures for fruit or meat, settings for overnight or vacation mode to reduce energy consumption or specialty interior lights.
With this buying guide at hand, you will be ready to find the perfect fridge that fits in beautifully with the rest of your kitchen remodel.