A new refrigerator is an opportunity to upgrade your technology, your kitchen design and your lifestyle. While French door refrigerators are the most-popular choice, the side-by-side was standard issue in upscale homes for decades, and with good reason. Until recently, French door models were more expensive than their side-by-side counterparts, but new offerings from Samsung and LG are closing that price gap and making them more affordable. So, with cost out of the equation, what are the differences that matter most?
This is an important question because selecting the right refrigerator can enhance your kitchen design and let you store more of what you use most. It can also help make meal prep faster and more efficient, entertaining and cooking in bulk easier — and even boost the resale value of your home.
The French Connection
With elegant design symmetry and a nod to classic furniture styling, French door refrigerators beautifully complement traditional kitchens. All refrigerated items are above waist height, and the design makes items toward the back of the unit easily reachable. And you generally have more configuration options for the interior of a French door model. The wider, more open shelf space can better accommodate an oversized party platter or a dressed turkey ready for the oven — a real plus for entertaining.
While superb for storing fresh foods, freezer use is where some French door models struggle. The drawer-style freezer compartment means you’ll have to stack items and occasionally do some archaeological digging through frozen items to find what you’re looking for. And you’ll have less freezer space in comparison to a similar-sized side-by-side.
Select French door models now boast “flexi-fridge” designs. This clever innovation offers adjustable compartments that can switch between refrigeration and freezer use depending on your needs. Another recent evolution is the addition of a refrigerator drawer to conveniently access more frequently used items.
Pick a Side
Side-by-side refrigerators retain a loyal following for good reason. Their asymmetrical proportions and sleek, contemporary lines can make them a smart design choice in more modern kitchens. Also, the smaller freezer door doesn’t swing out too far, which can solve some space-planning issues if your refrigerator is in a tight space or up against a door jamb.
A side-by-side will give you more interior storage than a comparable French door model — about 20% more. However, more space is allocated to the freezer, leaving around 25% less space for the refrigerated section. And if you want the convenience of an in-door ice or water dispenser, you’ll have significantly more options in this camp.
If you tend to freeze a lot of food, cook meals in bulk ahead of time, or store many leftovers, then you may appreciate the convenience, extra space and organization that side-by-sides offer. The column of vertical shelves makes it easier to see what you have on hand, and you can organize frozen foods by shelf. But that convenience comes at a price: Half of the contents of the freezer are below waist level. Your fresh vegetables might be at knee height, making it more of a hassle to corral that last onion rolling around in the back of the drawer.
A Choice Conundrum
Regardless of style, you’ll find plenty of great options if you want a counter-depth model to emulate a built-in look. Choosing between a French door and side-by-side ultimately comes down to your culinary, design and lifestyle preferences.
A French door is your friend if:
- You prepare and store more fresh items than frozen.
- Traditional styling is your preference.
- You love entertaining big groups of family and friends.
- Home resale value is a primary concern.
- You don’t want to stoop to reach fresh foods.
A side-by-side is super if:
- You want more generous door bin storage.
- Space planning your kitchen is challenging.
- You enjoy cooking in bulk and freezing leftovers.
- Overall storage capacity is what matters most to you.
- Your kitchen design is contemporary.
Finally, here are some models to consider for specific needs and wants:
If you need a family-friendly refrigerator, we recommend:
The Family Hub feature lets you manage your family’s calendars, play music, share pictures and stay connected with your loved ones.
If you want a smart refrigerator with a touchscreen, consider:
Black stainless steel with Wi-Fi connectivity and external water/ice dispenser.
If you’re looking for a large capacity model, check out:
If you’re looking for an alternative to stainless steel, we offer:
We love the matte white with brushed bronze handle kit.
The Bottom Line
Whichever you choose, a new refrigerator is going to be a significant improvement over older models. Current offerings feature more stylish, high-tech features and superior energy efficiency — all great reasons to upgrade.
And if you’re still having trouble making up your mind, stop by our New York showroom or call our customer care team at 800-299-9470. Our highly experienced and knowledgeable appliance consultants will be happy to answer your questions and help you find the right refrigerator for your needs and budget. You won’t find better service or more ways to save anywhere else.