Buyer's Guide \ Refrigerators \ What is a Counter-Depth Refrigerator?

What is a Counter-Depth Refrigerator?

What is the difference between Built-In Counter-Depth vs. Free-Standing Counter-Depth?

It’s important to note that counter-depth refrigerators come in built-in and free-standing configurations. Built-in refrigerators differ in the sense that they can be customized to match surrounding cabinets with a panel-ready design or stand out as a statement. Some key considerations for built-in refrigerators are:
  • Refrigerator aligns with kitchen cabinetry
  • Preserves walking space in front of unit
  • Requires specifically designed cabinetry
Going forward this guide only refers to free-standing counter-depth refrigerators.
Built-in? Free-standing? The Whirlpool Appliance Finder Tool can help you sort out your options.

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What Is a Counter-Depth Refrigerator?

Counter-depth refrigerators are often a trendy choice for modern kitchens. You’ve probably heard of them – they’re all the rage at the moment. But what is the difference exactly? What is a counter-depth refrigerator?

For an answer and more, we’ll discuss in this article most of the basics that you need to know about counter-depth refrigerators.


How Deep Is a Counter-Depth Refrigerator?

The counter depth accounts for the distance from the back wall (the backsplash) to the front of your kitchen countertops. In a typical North American kitchen, this distance is usually 60-63 cm (about 24-25″). This should tell you how deep is a counter-depth fridge. It’s roughly the same depth as your common countertops, approximately 63 cm (25″) give or take.

What’s a Standard-Depth Refrigerator?

A standard-depth refrigerator is also referred to as a full-depth refrigerator. This means it has a deeper cabinet design which offers more capacity but will extend into your kitchen space. The depth is larger than the typical kitchen counter at 76-86 cm (30-34″). As a result, the overall dimensions, including the doors and door handles, extend closer to 89-91 cm (35-36″) deep.
In general, you can categorize every refrigerator of more than 76 cm (30) in depth as a standard-depth refrigerator.

Counter-depth or standard:

Which refrigerator is best for you?


You’ve probably heard of counter-depth refrigerators, often a trendy choice for modern kitchens. But what are they exactly, and are they a better choice for you than a standard-depth fridge?

Take this quick quiz to find the answer.


Do you need to optimize kitchen floor space?

A counter-depth fridge is better for you.
A standard-depth fridge is better for you.

Counter-depth fridges don’t protrude as much from the counter as standard-depth fridges, giving a more uniform and less cluttered look. While the depth of these fridges can vary, they usually measure about 25″, or the depth from the wall to just beyond the edge of the counter.


Do you have a large family?

A standard-depth fridge is better for you.
A counter-depth fridge is better for you.

If capacity is most important for your family, deeper fridges will typically make sense. A standard-depth, (or full-depth) refrigerator has a cabinet design that can be 30″ to 36″, which usually means more capacity.


Do you require easy access to fridge contents?

A counter-depth fridge is better for you.
A standard-depth fridge is better for you.

Being less deep, it’s easier to reach to the back of a counter-depth fridge. But keep in mind, this may reduce overall storage space within your fridge.


Do you need large bins for fruit and vegetable storage?

A standard-depth fridge is better for you.
A counter-depth fridge is better for you.

Some counter-depth models have drawers that stretch across the width of the fridge, offering lots of storage space. More likely, however, they come with narrower and more shallow drawers.


Ready to buy a new fridge?

There are many details to consider, such as the features, finish and style. Our handy Appliance Finder will guide you to your ideal match.


The Counter-Depth Fridge Is a Misleading Name

The term “counter-depth” can lead you to think that the fridge can sit flat edgewise with the depth of your kitchen counter. These fridge models are actually deeper than the standard counter, which means that they will protrude off the counter, but typically by only an inch or two.
And then there are also the doors and handles, which can cause a counter-depth fridge to jut out even further.
With all of that in mind, the counter-depth refrigerator can range from 63-76 cm (25 to 30″) in depth. This, however, generally doesn’t pose a problem for many kitchens. Even 76 cm (30″) in depth can be considered relatively compact.

Can You Go Shallower?

You’re unlikely to find a counter-depth refrigerator that’s less than 60cm (about 24 inches) in depth. That said, some built-in counter-depth refrigerators are built to sit flush with the cabinetry, which is usually 60-63 cm (about 24-25″).

Is a Counter-Depth Refrigerator the Right Choice for You?

A main point of having a counter-depth fridge is to achieve a more streamlined look. So, it’s about the aesthetics for the most part. But is there a catch?
Seeing as the capacity is incredibly important for many people, and refrigerators are grouped by capacity, deeper fridges will typically make sense. Built-in counter-depth fridges can make up for it in other dimensions (more on this soon). This is something worth considering when shopping for a new fridge – if you don’t make room for it, it simply won’t fit.
And before you pull the trigger on one, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of counter-depth fridges.

The Benefits and Downsides of Counter-Depth Fridges

Counter-depth refrigerators are popular but not everyone is going to own one. There are pros and cons to this refrigerator type.


  • A more streamlined and eye-pleasing look. Counter-depth fridges don’t protrude as much from the counter. They can give the kitchen a more uniform and less cluttered look.
  • You get better access to the contents of the fridge. You can’t stick food and beverage items too deep and that means you can retrieve them more easily.
  • Better kitchen traffic flow is another big one. With the neater look, the overall traffic flow inside your kitchen will also likely see an improvement if you have a counter-depth fridge.
  •  The longer door bins create extra storage space. Wider can be better and can make up for the smaller depth.


  • You may lose counter space. Therefore, these refrigerators may be a better fit for those who have a grand kitchen with ample counter space.
  • Keep in mind that the drawers will be less deep. Some counter-depth models have drawers that stretch across the width of the fridge. More likely, however, they come with several narrower and shallow drawers. This can potentially affect the storage of some long items, such as celery stalks, for example.
  • If you get a single-door counter-depth fridge, expect to need more clearance when opening the door. Like the fridge, the door will be wider. In this regard at least, a French-door fridge may work better.

Keep the Counter-Depth in Mind

As mentioned, the standard counter depth is typically 60-63 cm (about 24-25″). Still, this is the standard depth so there will be shallower and deeper counters. As a best bet consider using the refrigerator size guide by Maytag, along with the measurements of your kitchen counters and cabinetry, to find a perfect counter-depth refrigerator.
With a shallower set of counters, a counter-depth refrigerator will protrude further, which may not achieve the look that you have in mind. Deeper counters, on the other hand, may affect the standard function of the refrigerator doors.
It is essential that you make all the necessary measurements before browsing for a new counter-depth fridge. If you have to, you can bring along a measurement tool to the store and measure each model that you’re interested in.

Counter-Depth Refrigerator Basics and Beyond

Now that you know what counter-depth refrigerators are and what to pay attention to, are you ready to pick out your ideal model? Not so fast, as there are other details to consider, such as the features, the finish, and the style. Consult the refrigerator buying guide first and make sure that you’ve made all the necessary measurements.
Any questions? Use Ask Our Experts and get your answers quickly.

Decided on counter-depth?

Now it’s time to consider the details. You’ll want to choose the features, finish and style of your counter-depth fridge. Explore your choices from Whirlpool and KitchenAid brands.
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