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3 Reasons to ALMOST Never Buy a Counter-Depth Refrigerator

Steve Sheinkopf  |  December 30, 2022  |  6 Min. Read

Counter Depth Refrigerators  |  Design Inspiration

About a year ago, I wrote the first article for 3 reasons never to buy a counter-depth refrigerator. The related video has been seen about half a million times with almost 600 comments.

But those comments are mostly bad. One called me "Bozo the Clown." For your information, Bozo was a prominent Bostonian back in the day (and less annoying than the clown, Willie Whistle).

In this article, I want you to assess what you need for storage and how you plan to design your kitchen, especially if you are building a new home.

In the end, I will show you some well-designed kitchens to give you a few ideas for your project.

Let's get started in an unusual place.

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3 Reasons to ALMOST Never Buy a Counter-Depth Refrigerator

Below is a picture of my neighbor Susannah's kitchen:

Steves-neighbors-kitchen-with-a-full-depth-refrigerator

My Neighbor's Kitchen with a Full-Depth Refrigerator

 

It's a clever design with a stove and a sink in the middle. The refrigerator is at the end of the kitchen.

Surprisingly, it's not a counter-depth refrigerator. It's a full-depth refrigerator with the cabinets built out.  

Neighbors-Full-Depth-Refrigerator

My Neighbor's Full-Depth Refrigerator

 

They have a 28 cubic foot refrigerator instead of the popular yet smaller 23 cubic foot counter-depth refrigerator.

Twenty-eight cubic feet of capacity is equivalent to a counter-depth refrigerator plus a smaller undercounter refrigerator.

Now Susannah has a full-time job and works long hours. So, she shops on Fridays.

Let's look at the inside of her refrigerator:

Neighbors-Full-Depth-Refrigerator-Interior

The Inside of My Neighbor's Full-Depth Refrigerator

 

It's quite full. Remember, my neighbor has 28 cubic feet of storage room.

But let's go across the yard to my place. Last August, I moved to Jamaica Plain to be closer to my daughter's new school.

I have a Sears Kenmore black glass counter-depth French door refrigerator - ironic, I know.

Steves-Kitchen-and-Counter-Depth-Refrigerator-2022My Kitchen with a Counter-Depth Refrigerator

 

The refrigerator is in the middle of the kitchen, so building out an enclosure wouldn't look good. Instead of looking counter-depth, it would look like a refrigerator protruding in the middle of my kitchen.

I do meal planning and prepare salads on Sundays. I also have a chef who prepares meals for me and drops them off on Tuesdays.

Let's look at the interior of my refrigerator on a Wednesday.

Steves-Counter-Depth-Refrigerator-Interior

The Inside of My Counter-Depth Refrigerator

 

It's full, too. This food is just for two people – myself and my child, not a family of three or more.

Before you answer how much capacity you may need in your refrigerator, let's review the year 2020 for one more consideration.

Refrigeration in 2020

Let me bring you back to 2020 as one of the worst years of our collective lives.  

We just opened a store in Hanover in January, yet we couldn't sell any appliances due to the pandemic except these:

freezers-and-Samsung-side-by-side-refrigerator

 

We have never sold out of freezers in my 36 years at Yale.

Every appliance store sold freezers. You couldn't find a new freezer until the end of 2021.

Then we found a product we don't typically sell, a black stainless Samsung side-by-side refrigerator. Black Stainless scratches easily, and we usually deter people from buying their appliances in this finish.

However, in 2020, it didn't matter because people were buying these as secondary refrigerators.

When we sold out of the side-by-side Samsung refrigerators, people bought True commercial freezers for $3,000 each.  

If you had a counter-depth refrigerator and a family of three or more, you probably needed more storage.

Also, if you are in a two-bedroom condo in the Seaport, you can't buy a secondary refrigerator.

Where would you put it? Your parking spaces?

The Next Problem

Not to be an alarmist, but think about the run you'd make to your local supermarket in the face of another pandemic or zombie apocalypse (zombie shows are all the rage now).

zombie-apocalypse-image-for-webinarZombie Apocalypse

 

The appliance industry runs on telling you to prepare for Thanksgiving. You buy double ovens you don't need for most of the year.

But in many cases, more storage than a counter-depth refrigerator provides is needed for an active family of four.

I grew up in a family of five with a 23 cubic foot refrigerator and a separate freezer in the basement. We had plenty of space available back then.

Counter Depth vs. Standard Depth Refrigerators

Now let's go back to my neighbor's full-depth refrigerator and my counter-depth refrigerator.

Steves-and-his-neighbors-kitchen-comparison

My Kitchen vs. My Neighbor's Kitchen

 

If you place your refrigerator at the end and build the cabinet out, you can have a counter-depth look and added cubic footage.

If it is in the middle, counter depth is better, or in a galley kitchen, as others commented in the previous video.

Secondary Point-of-Use Refrigerators

Your other solution would be to plan a secondary refrigerator in your island or another part of your kitchen, as I did in my renovations.

Steves-first-renovation-2018My First Renovation

 

The wine unit was in the island before I had my daughter. When I needed more storage, I placed a double-drawer refrigerator in my kitchen (I could have used the wine).

second-renovation-steve-sheinkopf-kitchen

My Second Renovation

 

Just remember smaller undercounter refrigerators can cost as much as larger refrigerators.

Lastly, look at our webinars - all the well-designed kitchens have refrigerators at the end.  

Quick Tips for Designing Your Kitchen

My first recommendation for designing your kitchen is to centralize your sink.

Out of all your appliances, you use your sink the most. Place your sink next to a window or your island, as I and others have done.

Locate the stovetop near your sink. Having the sink one or two steps away from your stovetop is handy if you burn anything.

The dishwasher completes my version of the kitchen triangle.

Steves-kitchen-triangle-yale-appliance

Steve's Version of the Kitchen Triangle

 

With the triangle in mind, you do not have to centralize your refrigerator. It can be almost anywhere.

3 Reasons to ALMOST Never Buy a Counter-Depth Refrigerator: Key Takeaways

First, assess how much storage you need. For new construction, place the refrigerator at the end and build the cabinet out for a larger refrigerator or incorporate a smaller refrigerator in your plan.

I do not suggest that you demolish your existing kitchen and start over. Just consider what you need and buy the right refrigerator.

Epilogue: Why This Might Not Matter

This new French door counter depth was placed on display as I wrote this, the LG 27. cu. ft. Smart Counter Depth MAX French Door Refrigerator:

LG-LRFL2706S-at-Yale-ApplianceLG LRFLC2706S Counter-Depth Refrigerator at Yale Appliance

 

It may look like an ordinary French door counter-depth refrigerator. However, with thicker doors and thinner insulation, the LG is now the largest counter depth available at 26.5 cubic feet.

You have three choices for these larger counter-depth refrigerators:

LG-Smart-Counter-Depth-MAX-French-Door-Refrigerators

LG LRFLC2706S | LG LRFOC2606S | LG LRFGC2706S

 

They all have Wi-Fi and Door Cooling+. When you open the refrigerator, cold air shoots from the top to keep the temperature constant.

LG is also the most reliable counter-depth refrigerator brand with an 8.2% service rate in the first year.

The LG LRFL2706S is the least expensive at $1999, with an internal water dispenser. The LRFG2706S adds the Instaview window so you can look inside your refrigerator for $200 more.

You can also keep the glass panel dark and choose not to look into the refrigerator like I would.

The LRFOC2606S offers the outside water dispenser and the InstaView window for $3,499.

This refrigerator ends the standard versus counter depth debate unless you want or need the most oversized refrigerator available at 30 cubic feet.

Possible Problems with the New LG Counter-Depth Refrigerator

LG is the most reliable brand since they settled their lawsuits in 2019. However, thinner insulation in an appliance designed to keep your food cold could be an issue.

Also, the doors appear a bit thicker, so you may have to be careful if your refrigerator is next to a doorway.

That said, this new refrigerator should end the standard vs. counter depth refrigerator battle because you now have a counter depth's aesthetics and the standard's size - hopefully. 

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

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