Fridge question for kitchen remodel - is this a totally stupid idea?

Mr. Athena and I are contemplating a kitchen remodel. One of the primary motivators is that the spot for the fridge in our current kitchen is tiny, and I want a larger fridge.

Mr. Athena is of the opinion that the current crop of fridges stick out too far from the countertops, and look ugly. Fine, there’s a type of fridge called a counter-depth fridge, we’ll get one of those. So I start looking.

WTH? Counter-depth fridges are TINY. As in, 22-23 square feet. Smaller than my current fridge. Fail.

We start thinking of options. One option would be to get a deeper fridge, and offset it into the wall. However, that would be a pretty major remodel, we’d almost certainly have to also remodel the guest bathroom that’s adjacent to the kitchen in order to get the space for the offset. We’re prefer not to do that.

We were surfing around last night, and came up with an alternative that is a bit out-of-the box, but it sounds pretty good to us. We don’t really need a lot of FREEZER space - we have a full size freezer in the garage, and that works fine for us. In the kitchen itself, we need a freezer for ice, chilling beer/cocktail glasses, and the occasional bag of frozen peas or whatever. The main freezer has and will continue to be in the garage.

So why not get a fridge WITHOUT a freezer, like one of these sweet commercial types? I’ve seen many models that are not overly deep, yet they pack a lot of fridge space considering you don’t lose any to a freezer. Along with the full fridge, we’d get a small under-counter freezer, like one of these.

They don’t HAVE to be the commercial types, those are just the ones I found first. Whatever we pick, it would look nice albeit more on the “serious kitchen” design motif.

I figure that once the time comes to sell the house, if the new owners wanted a standard fridge w/freezer, they could easily buy one to fit in the spot where our fridge-only space is. For what it’s worth, we don’t plan on selling anytime soon.

So what do you say? Stupid idea? Brilliant?

I use my freezer daily, so it would be a pain in the butt for me, but if going out to the garage whenever you need something from the freezer works for you, it sounds like a good creative idea.

It’s not a bad idea. If a freezer/fridge combo (a traditional setup) would be shoehorned into your space and your life, then don’t do it.

I think there are small ice makers out there, too, that fit into a cabinet space.

Also, there are freezer units that are just dedicated to a cabinet space and pull out like a drawer.

The ice maker is probably a nominal cost, wherein the freezer in counter/drawer is very pricey.

For example:

''under counter freezer" as suggested search terms


It’s the kind of arrangement my mother has, a fridge without freezer and a small freezer which doubles up as the microwave’s stand. Has been working well for us for… uh… something like 20 years?

Makes perfect sense to me. We have a smallish fridge as well…hidden behind cabinetry but we also have a small fridge where I keep all the juice, beer etc.

I think it sounds great.

Personally I want two freezerless refrigerators, one (less cold) for produce.

Standard practice in the US as to whether the seller of a house takes the fridge or leaves it behind varies regionally. When my family moved from Washington DC to Los Angeles, we left the fridge in our old house, which everyone around DC does, and we were surprised to find that in LA, the previous owners of our new home took the fridge with them, as is customary there. You might want to find out what people do in your area.

I know a couple of people who put commercial fridges in their kitchen and love it. I’d do the same if I had the space.

How much space do you have and how much are you willing to spend? You can get two 36 - 48" wide counter depth side by sides. Or you can mix and match, depending on your needs. Once you are willing to get more than one unit wide, your options expand significantly, and your wallet becomes much lighter.

Our garage is right off our kitchen, so it’s really no big deal. I wouldn’t want to have to run out there every time I need ice, but other than that, I’m fine with it.

Yeah, I’m not sure I’d need more than one large-ish fridge, and definitely don’t need a full-size freezer IN the kitchen. And, as you say, those fancy counter-depth units ain’t cheap.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions/encouragement! Glad to hear it’s not such a stupid idea!

My GUESS is that this could very well be much more inconvenient than you think it will be, but of course that is based on my experience, and you know your situation much better than I do.

My suggestion would be to run a trial of what it would be like. Move everything except for ice and whatever would fit into a small freezer out to the garage, and live for a few days. If it isn’t a pain in the neck, then go for it.

I would buy a cheap fridge and stick it in your garage to use for your overflow inventory for your regular fridge stuff. (Not sure if your current freezer in the garage can be used as a fridge too.)

I would also try to convince hubby that a fridge that sticks out from the counter ain’t all that bad. But I’m sure you’ve already tried that. :slight_smile:

I’ve already been living that way for years; the fridge in the kitchen is not huge, and the freezer is even smaller. 95% of what I regularly use out of it is ice.

We just don’t use that much frozen stuff, and the stuff I do use - chickens I buy from local farmers, homemade stock that I make huge batches of every few months, etc - is stuff that won’t ever fit in a kitchen-sized freezer.

We already have a garage fridge along with the garage freezer. And I’m still working on hubby & kitchen designer, though in all honesty, so far I’m liking the full-fridge-and-small-freezer idea more than a big standard fridge.

Bear in mind that the 5.5 cubic foot “small freezer” they are thinking of buying is almost certainly bigger than the freezer in their current fridge.
I have long planned that, when I finally get to live somewhere I own, my kitchen will use commercial equipment.

One thing the OP may not have fully considered:
The reach-in commercial fridges at the site you linked to range from $1000 to nearly $9000. You seemed to feel 23 cubic feet was too small, and the cheapest unit bigger than that is a 24 cubic foot unit that is nearly $2000.
And the little freezer start at $1000 (they have two little fridges that are under that price).

Home Depot has a Stainless unit with a freezer over 5 cubic feet and a fridge of over 15 cubic feet for $600. You could buy three of those for what a commercial fridge and commercial freezer will cost you. And two would probably be more than you need. (You could put one out in the garage so they don’t take up your whole kitchen.)

Like I said: I want commercial appliances myself. But I recognize they are expensive. Whether the features they offer are worth the expense is something only you can decide.

Yes, but a commercial fridge would be ALL fridge; 23cf of ALL fridge, no freezer, will almost certainly be enough room for me.

Yeah, but remember the reason we’re not getting one big fridge is that Mr. Athena doesn’t like the look of them? We’re are, to my chagrin, also concerned about what the finished kitchen looks like. I already have another fridge in the garage for beer/sodas/etc. I’m looking for a larger fridge in the kitchen, and though I can’t say money is no object, the budget is enough for $3-$4K on a fridge/freezer/whatever. I don’t want to spend the $10K that a sub-zero would cost, but it seems that I have plenty of options in the range I’m comfortable in.

I have a regular fridge in the kitchen, a 7 cubic foot freezer in the basement, and a refrigerator [without freezer] in the basement. It’s just the two of us, and I’ll be damned if they’re all not filled to the gills. I’m a big fan of having as much space as possible.

Am I the only one who read the subject line as the (current) fridge itself is questioning the kitchen remodel and thinks it’s a stupid idea?

One other option to solve the sticking out fridge issue, if you have enough isle room, is to mount your surrounding cabinets away from the wall, so you have deeper counters on that run. Just block out the kitchen wall with 2x4s. In the house we just built, we recessed the fridge a couple of inches, and also made the counters deeper. The deeper counters are great.

If you decide to go with the full fridge, which I think is a decent option depending on your layout, you should get one of these nugget-ice machines like Sonic makes.

No matter what you end up doing, be wary of your available door swing angle.

My contractor (a good friend) tried to help us out with our French door fridge and he built a deep pocket in the wall to recess the thing. Problem was that the right door couldn’t open more than 90 degrees without hitting the side wall, and those fridges need wide-open doors to pull out the drawers and such.
Also, watch out for the extra inches that the door takes up even at 90 degrees (i.e. not flush with the side of the fridge).

I ended up not using the pocket, pulling the fridge out enough to open the doors wide.
I tell everyone that the extra 8 inches in back is where I keep my gun collection.

Another plus in the commercial fridge column: most of them are designed so the door open 90 degrees will be flush with the side of the fridge. The hinge is kind of towards the front of the door, so the door swings out and away.
And the thickness of the door usually matches the thickness of the walls of the fridge, so shelves or whatever can be easily removed with the door only open 90 degrees.

Biggest selling point to me? The inside of the unit is stainless steel, too.
Plastic looks pretty, but it goes brittle with age (or exposure to certain cleaning chemicals), and somehow smells can get embedded into the plastic. Give me a fridge I can steam-clean.

I love the deeper counters idea. You might want to do that anyway.

Oh, and you can get commercial fridges on wheels. Which is very handy because they tend to be heavy. (Comparing some of those full size commercial fridges to that one I found at home depot, they are about 50% heavier: around 350 pounds.) Wheels makes cleaning behind them much easier.

Something that might be a plus or a minus for you: legs. Commercial stuff will be on legs (or wheels) Restaurants have to keep their equipment off the floor (local health code says 4 inches, not sure how universal that is), so commercial equipment comes with legs (or large wheels). Home fridges usually have two tiny little token feet, and essentially sit right on the floor.
So, is being easily able to retrieve anything that goes under the fridge a big deal to you? Is how tall the fridge is an issue? (I am 5’8", and I have never had a fridge that was taller than I am. I have never seen a commercial fridge that wasn’t (except for the under-counter ones.)