With New York City kitchens tending toward the smallish side, every design and product decision becomes that much more important. The right (or wrong) refrigerator can make or break a kitchen.
Built-in vs counter-depth
For years, the only “right” refrigerator was the Sub-Zero. It was the only product on the market that was shallow enough to work seamlessly with adjacent counters and cabinets that were a standard depth of 24 – 25 inches.
The narrower, smaller versions of SubZero start at $6,500.
If the custom, built-in look is important to you and the brand name less so, there are now other less pricey versions on the market. Liebherr, GE Monogram, Jenn-Air - all are built-in models that fit within the 24”-25” depth. They can integrate seamlessly into your cabinet layout. These cost about 40% less than a comparable Sub-Zero.
Even more economical are “counter depth” refrigerators that run a few inches deeper. Typically, what this means is that the body of the refrigerator sits within the 24-25 inch depth of the counter, but the thickness of the door goes past the counter.
Many of the best-known appliance brands, such as GE, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Fisher Paykel, etc., sell refrigerators that they market as “counter depth.” Some have attractive features like large pullout freezer drawers at the bottom and/or double doors above for the fridge.
At prices ranging from $1600 to $2500, they can be a good if slightly less elegant solution, though some manufacturers provide a trim kit that goes around the refrigerator that creates a more custom-looking installation.
Deconstructing your refrigerator/freezer
Many NYC renovators are rethinking the traditional integrated refrigerator/freezer.
SubZero, for instance, has come through with some interesting options which I have incorporated into some recent renovations.
A 27” wide by 74” high unit dedicated exclusively to refrigeration is supplemented with a separate Sub-Zero freezer drawer unit (2 drawers that go under the counter) in another part of the kitchen.
This gives you more refrigerator space, and is a good solution if you keep lots of fresh food on hand and can’t spare the room for a wider refrigerator. This is a luxurious and expensive combination – overall, the two units can cost as much as $10,000.
On the other hand, if space is tight and you don’t cook much, you might purchase one two- drawer unit for refrigeration and another for your freezer, about $3,000 apiece. Both are mounted under the countertop.
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