All About Counter Depth Refrigerators for a Kitchen Remodel

counter depth refrigerators

Counter Depth Refrigerators Can Streamline a Remodeled Kitchen

Insider tip: The standard-depth refrigerator in this photo and the black refrigerator in the photo above have been recessed into the wall to give the effect of a counter-depth refrigerator. In new construction this is less expensive than a counter-depth fridge, but in remodeling it might not be.

Counter depth refrigerators are a popular alternative to built-ins in kitchen renovations. They have appeal on several levels. First, they offer the custom organized look of a built-in by sitting flush with your countertops. This makes your kitchen look custom and visually pleasing. In fact, most models can be finished with matching cabinet doors for an even more cohesive and custom look.

The downside is that while they are cheaper than a Thermidor or Sub-Zero built-in, they can cost two to three times more than a regular freestanding refrigerator. Stand alone refrigerators have gotten bigger in recent years. That means that in order to get comparable square footage, a counter depth model must be wider and this can cut into the valuable counter top and cabinet space.

As a general rule, counter depth refrigerators are about 28-inches deep, compared to true built-ins which are around 25 inches deep, so they do stick out slightly past the edge of the countertop. The black refrigerator in the photo above has been recessed into the wall to give the effect of a counter-depth refirgerator. In new construction, this is less expensive but in remodeling, it might not be.

Let's look at how a counter depth refrigerator can give you the look of a built-in and some of the new features available.

It's Not Your Mother's Counter Depth Refrigerator!

In the past, counter depth refrigerators were great for creating a unified look in the kitchen, but they weren't known for their energy efficiency. Because a counter depth refrigerator is less spacious, it effects the energy efficiency of the appliance so it uses more energy than a standard depth, stand alone refrigerator.

Today that's no longer a problem. Counter depth refrigerators have been upgraded to meet new energy efficiency standards. Most have also updated their interiors and lighting to efficient LED. Counter depth refrigerators have become much more popular in recent years.

Manufacturers are adding features that can make life a little easier. For example, Samsung offers a counter depth refrigerator that is internet ready and WiFi enabled. It has a touch screen that connects to your smartphone so you can create your shopping list directly on the fridge, and have it emailed or messaged to your phone so you never leave home without it again. In fact, it even has a camera inside you can remotely access from the supermarket to see if you need more milk! LG has a counter depth model with an “Instaview” door. One touch reveals the inside of the fridge!

Regular vs Professional Counter Depth Refrigerators

This professional grade refrigerator and freezer combo was placed in the pantry. The kitchen design remains clean, and the pantry also contains a microwave and countertop space for ease of use.

A regular counter depth refrigerator is simply a shallow refrigerator. It's also much less expensive than professional or integrated counter depth refrigerators. Regular counter depth refrigerators come in various configurations like bottom freezer, French door, side-by-side, and two drawer models. Typically they have between 20 and 25 cu. ft. of capacity.

Manufacturers like Jenn-Air, Bosch, KitchenAid, Whirlpool, Samsung LG, Electrolux and more, all have counter depth models available in widths from 24 to 36 inches. They generally range in price from $1700 - $3800.

Professional Counter Depth refrigerators offer a more commercial styling and can be modified to match your cabinetry. They are identified by their restaurant look, 84” height, and compressor on top of the refrigerator. Professional counter depth refrigerators are available and look great in stainless steel. They are also customizable and can be covered with custom panels.

These are available from high-end manufacturers like Sub-Zero, Thermador, Viking, GE, True and KitchenAid. They are more expensive as well ranging from $6000 to $15,000.

Finally, integrated counter depth refrigerators fit flush with your cabinets and is indistinguishable from the cabinet. With both regular and professional counter depth refrigerators, the doors will protrude slightly. Integrated counter depth refrigerators need a minimum of 25 inches in order to fit properly. If you are seeking to completely hide your refrigerator within your design, integrated counter depth refrigerators with custom matching door panels are right for you.

Integrated refrigerators come ins sizes from 18 inches to 36 inches. They are available in a number of different configurations including individual refrigerator, freezer stacks. Integrated counter depth refrigerators are available from Thermador, Gaggenau, Miele, Jenn-Air, Sub-Zero and Bosch and range from $5000 to $15,000 in price.

Streamlining A Design with Counter Depth Refrigerators

Today's counter depth refrigerators are larger, more energy efficient and can save precious space in your kitchen remodel. A regular or Professional model in stainless steel can be a stunning focal point in your kitchen design. An integrated counter depth model can be completely hidden and give your cabinets a chance to really shine.

If you're not sure if a counter depth refrigerator is right for you, speak with a Degnan kitchen designer or your design build contractor. They can help to give you an idea of the range of design options, choices, and configurations possible.  

This article was updated by Abe Degnan on 1/17/2018.

About Degnan Design Build Remodel
Since 1981 Degnan Design Build Remodel has provided home improvement and construction services to customers throughout Greater Madison, Wisconsin. Our goal is to WOW you with a "Designed For Your Life" solution using a process that will transform your home into a beautiful living space, delivered on time, and on budget. We are known for our communication, respectfulness, and a commitment to our customers and our community. Contact us to speak with one of our designers about your home improvement project.