A Homeowner’s Guide to Counter-Depth Refrigerators

Counter-depth refrigerators continue to grow in popularity. Find out what they are, how much they cost and whether one would work in your kitchen.

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What You Need to Know

Counter-depth refrigerators have been on the market for a few years and continue to grow in popularity, with more models and options being introduced every year. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of counter-depth refrigerators, and whether one is right for your kitchen.

What Is a Counter-Depth Refrigerator?

A counter-depth refrigerator is exactly what it sounds like — a refrigerator that is only as deep as a standard kitchen counter, about 25 to 29 inches. A traditional fridge is 32 to 36 inches deep, so it protrudes several inches from the depth of the counter. Counter-depth refrigerators are billed as space-saving, aesthetically superior appliance options that improve traffic flow in the kitchen.

Pros and Cons of a Counter-Depth Refrigerator

Here are some pros and cons to consider if you’re thinking of purchasing a counter-depth refrigerator.

Pros

  • A streamlined look. First and foremost, the appeal of counter-depth refrigerators is aesthetic. Because they don’t stick out past the edge of the counter, they create a streamlined look similar to that of a built-in fridge, without the expense of a built-in.
  • Space-saving design. Five or six inches might not seem like a lot. But when it comes to kitchen floorspace, those extra inches can make a difference. If your fridge is in a high-traffic spot in your kitchen, a counter-depth refrigerator gives you and your family more maneuverability.
  • Easier to see fridge contents. A counter-depth refrigerator isn’t as deep inside as a standard fridge, so it’s easier to see what’s inside without pushing milk cartons or salad dressing bottles out of the way. When you can easily see what you have on hand, you’re less likely to forget about items in the back, only to have the food spoil and get thrown out.

Cons

  • Smaller cubic feet. Because counter-depth fridges are shallower than standard ones, they tend to offer less cubic feet of interior food storage space. Standard fridge/freezer combos average between 22 and 31 cubic feet of space, while baseline counter-depth fridges are between 20 and 23 cubic feet.
  • Shallower depth can be limiting.  Though you can see inside more easily, the shallow depth leaves less space for large items such as a sheet cake or a whole watermelon. Produce drawers are smaller, too.
  • May not fit existing fridge space. Unless you’re planning a kitchen renovation, a counter-depth refrigerator might not fit into your existing fridge area. For one thing, counter-depth fridges are wider to make up for some loss in depth. Standard fridges are 30 to 36 inches wide, while counter-depth refrigerators are usually at least 36 inches wide. They’re also taller, starting at 70 inches, while standard fridges are between 67 and 70 inches.

Who Should Consider a Counter-Depth Refrigerator?

Here are a few reasons a counter-depth refrigerator might be right for your home:

  • You’re renovating your kitchen (or have the existing space) and want a streamlined look;
  • The area in front of your fridge is a high-traffic zone;
  • You have a small family and don’t need the extra interior food storage space.

How Much Do Counter-Depth Refrigerators Cost?

Do counter-depth refrigerators cost more than their traditional brethren? Probably. It’s difficult to do a cost-comparison between counter-depth and standard refrigerators, partly because many newer counter-depth models come with extra features like smart technology or swappable fridge/freezer zones.

A traditional-size Whirlpool French door fridge with internal water dispenser is priced at $1,899 at The Home Depot. A similar version in counter-depth, with five fewer interior cubic feet, runs $2,332. But we also found counter-depth models with fewer bells and whistles that were priced more in line with standard-depth models.

Ultimately, it’s up to the homeowner to decide how important the aesthetics, saved space and convenience of a counter-depth refrigerator are for their home, and whether it’s worth the potentially higher price.