Sep. 23 2021

Kitchen Refrigerators: Good, Better, Best

by Bennett Bottorff

Refrigeration technology has been with us since the early to middle 1800s. The concept was proven at the University of Glasgow as long ago as 1748, and since then, we've gone from cool boxes to cold boxes, to both. Years later, they started developing styles and brands like General Electric began producing models that appealed to the home consumer. By the 1950s, technology was becoming more solid and reliable, making life in the modern world far easier and luxurious. Just imagine how much more difficult things would be if you had no way to keep food cold!

Refrigerators have undergone numerous advancements with some of the most impressive finding their way to the market in the last 10 years. Today, refrigerators can be paired with mobile apps, or even outfitted with monitors to tell you what needs to go on your grocery list.

Of course, the best refrigerators are the ones that give you the size and functionality you need and keep your food at the right temperature efficiently and reliably regardless of whatever clever gadgets are added to them. Over the years, some home appliance manufacturers have gotten quite good at producing refrigerators that are unlikely to fail you for years, or even decades! 

We wanted to share the different types of refrigerator configurations our team here at Innovative Home Renovations thinks are good, ones they think are great, and some that are downright amazing.

Today's Top Refrigerator Configurations, Pros, Cons, & Peculiarities

We've seen a lot of refrigerators over the years. We've seen models perform like champs, and we've seen a few chucked into the landfill at an early age. But even the best designs have their ups and downs. Here are some of our favorite feature/layout setups, and a few things to be wary of with each.

 French Doors & Bottom Freezers

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The most significant advantage of French door models is they offer easier access to the most commonly used food items. Because warmer air tends to rise and colder air tends to sink, having the freezer below the fridge is thermodynamically sound, as long as it is also mechanically well designed. Another important advantage is the Items placed in the freezer are traditionally expected to stay in there for some time; isn’t that why we freeze them? But that isn't the case with all frozen items. Foods such as ice cream and processed foods must be frozen too. For this reason, a freezer on the bottom may not be an optimal choice for active families. Items here tend to be forgotten and piled on top of one another, which is why you should consider your storage needs carefully.

On the other hand, if you're shunning processed frozen convenience foods, and are mostly only freezing meats or vegetables, a bottom-freezer might be perfect. The two smaller french doors won't swing as wide when opened, allowing them to work well in tighter spaces.

Another noticeable downside is the fact that you have to crouch down to retrieve items from the freezer. Frozen items are sometimes large, heavy, and slippery, which can lead to mishaps and even lower back trouble. However, freezers on these models do tend to be deeper, which can be nice as it gives you the space to push less used items to the bottom, and place the more frequently accessed frozen goods on top. You could also opt to have two drawers on the bottom for your freezer, thus easily separating your frozen items into used versus not used or the like. Typically a one-door freezer on the bottom has a top handle for pulling the freezer out, but a lesser-known option could be a bottom freezer with two drawers that swing open vertically, almost like in a commercial kitchen. Depending on which you prefer and how you plan to use your refrigerator, both could be a good choice, but the top handle is popular for a reason: it is easier to use for most.

 Insta-View Doors

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Refrigerators with “insta-view” doors are still fairly rare, mostly because of the elevated price point. The one immediate advantage of this style of door is clear: immediate visual access to the contents of the appliance. This makes it possible to browse while not letting valuable treated air out of the refrigerator. Simply knock on the door and the internal light will activate!

The potential downside of these units may be present depending on the quality of the engineering. Door windows come with the possibility of greater heat exchange with the external environment since the doors are thinner. Another element to take into account is that if the technology is incredibly sensitive, the mechanism that detects knocking could be activated by vibration in the floor, or it could malfunction. If the sensor stops working, keep in mind it would make the door’s window useless, and it is likely an expensive repair job.

 Colored Fridge (retro, shiny, or matte exterior)

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The retro-colored fridge is making a come-back! These kinds of fridges tend to be a bit smaller but can create a more designed and unique feel to your kitchen. The popularity of retro/colored fridges is on the rise, but the question is, how long will this trend last, and are you willing to give up needed fridge space for your design aesthetic? Consider your cooking and baking habits carefully before opting for this option, especially if you have a large family. On the bright side, if you’re not sure what color to get or if you want the freedom to change your kitchen design colors in the future, these refrigerators come in white, off-white, or even chrome. However, if you know what you want and a retro unconventional refrigerator color is your vibe, then these kinds of fridges can really set the stage for your entire kitchen remodel and help create that beautiful aesthetic for your home.

Top Freezer, Bottom Fridge (standard configuration)

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This standard model of a top freezer and bottom fridge might be the ticket for you, as there is a reason this model has been the standard for so many years. For example, the convenience of moving a heavy side of frozen beef, as it helps to start from a standing position and gives you easy access to all the items you need. This eliminates the need for having to bend over and dig through items in the bottom freezer section; this is the primary reason most refrigerators come with a topside freezer. They do tend to have a little less space, but being a bit smaller, can fit into different sized spaces within your kitchen. This typical model is a great fit for most families or singles and won’t break the bank.

 Refrigerator Features: Pros & Cons

Aside from refrigerator configurations, there are other features you should consider. Some features may seem standard and others you may not have known existed. Take a look at our pros and cons to help you consider what add-ons you and your family need that fit your particular kitchen aesthetic and lifestyle.

Water dispenser


  • Convenient
  • Offers instant cold water


  • More complex
  • More maintenance
  • Higher cost
  • Not as visually appealing

Specialty ice dispensers


  • Convenience
  • Good for cocktails


  • More maintenance
  • Higher cost
  • Cuts into freezer space
  • Ice maker malfunctions

Smart fridges


  • Instant shopping lists
  • Better organization
  • Mobile control and alerts


  • Higher cost
  • Difficult maintenance
  • Cleanability

Chic handle-less fridges


  • Visually appealing
  • Easier exterior cleaning


  • More expensive
  • Opening mechanism is a problem when it fails

 Energy efficient


  • Will save you money over time
  • Good for the environment


  • More expensive
  • Refrigeration strength

 Edge-to-edge shelves


  • Spacious
  • User friendly


  • Lower shelf weight limit
  • Cleaning can be more difficult
Auto temp controls


  • Convenience


  • Difficult to adjust for different food types. 


As you can see, no refrigerator is perfect. At the end of the day, the best model for you is the one that suits your budget and that fits into the available space. To learn more about making a top-quality fridge and how it fits into your kitchen remodel plan in Seattle, get in touch with Innovative Home Renovations today.

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