kitchen appliances

What’s the Difference Between a Counter-Depth Refrigerator and a Standard-Depth?

counter-depth refrigerator next to a standard-depth refrigerator side by side with doors open

At some point in your life, you’re going to have to buy or replace your refrigerator. It comes with the territory of home ownership. While it may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. We’ll go over some easy steps to take to make your mission a little easier and explore the difference between the two main types of refrigerators on the market: counter-depth and standard-depth.

It’s important to take some time to figure out exactly what you want before acting too fast. After all, it’s a major kitchen appliance that deserves some deliberation since you’ll be using it every single day for the next 10 to 25 years.

There are a few questions to ask yourself before getting in too deep. The refrigerator game has stepped up a lot in the past few years, so you need to consider what features are important to you. Do you want one with a freezer? If so, are you wanting French doors with a side freezer, or would you prefer a top or bottom model? Do you want a water and ice dispenser? Do you want a brand that goes above and beyond the average 12-year lifespan and is built to last upwards of 20 to 25 years?

Your lifestyle and the layout of your kitchen will determine what type of refrigerator you should invest in. In this article, we’re going deep on the subject of depth. On top of all the features that refrigerators offer these days, the installation type is another important consideration. The most frequently used type of refrigerator in most households is either a counter-depth or a standard-depth. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two.

Standard-depth refrigerators

Before diving into the growing counter-depth refrigerator trend, it is important to look at the standard-depth refrigerator since you will likely encounter this type far more frequently. Both types are freestanding and don’t need countertops or cabinets to be moved during the installation. 

Standard refrigerators are generally deeper, typically ranging from 30 to 36 inches deep. Going with this type of refrigerator will provide you with more cubic feet of storage because of its depth. With that in mind, you have to accept the fact that it will protrude past your countertop and take up more floor space. 

These refrigerators are more forgiving when it comes to storing leftovers and larger items like pizza boxes, but because of their depth, they may take up a little more space in your kitchen. This can make it slightly more difficult to maneuver in the kitchen, especially if more than one cook is darting around.

For people who are concerned with aesthetics, a standard-depth refrigerator could cause some friction if it juts out too far. On the flip side, since they are still considered the standard, there are far more options in the way of colors, styles, and finishes.

Here are some examples of top-rated standard-depth refrigerators:

Samsung Bespoke 29 Cu. Ft. Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator with Beverage Center™ (Model #: RF29BB8600QL) One reviewer mentioned: I bought this almost a month ago and don’t have any regrets. I am enjoying the experience. The refrigerator looks cool with a new modern design and blends seamlessly with our kitchen.

LG 24.5 Cu. Ft. Print Proof™ Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator (Model #: LRFXS2513S) One reviewer mentioned: This was part of our kitchen makeover and we could not be more pleased with our choice. My wife LOVES the craft ice feature! The unit is very quiet and produces a lot of ice.

Samsung 26.7 Cu. Ft. Stainless Steel Standard-Depth Side-by-Side Refrigerator (Model #: RS27T5561SR) One reviewer mentioned: We bought this fridge for the roomy space inside and the modern look. We didn’t expect to use any of the added features, but now that we’ve owned it for a couple of months, we use a lot of the built-in apps. My favorites are the shopping list, recipes, Pandora, and the food expiration alerts. I also like that I can access the apps through our phones.

Counter-depth refrigerators

The biggest difference you’ll notice if you decide to transition to the counter-depth design is of course the shallower depth. Since they’re not as deep as standard refrigerators, they can sit flush with your countertop. This gives your kitchen a neat aesthetic that looks like a built-in unit, but without the price tag.

Counter-depth refrigerators are growing in popularity since they blend in so well with existing cabinets and countertops, and allow for a more fluid space around the kitchen. This helps you move more freely so you experience fewer bump-ins with your partner or kids. 

They are also slightly taller as well, which makes up for lost space depth-wise. Because of this, they still offer nearly the same or just as much space as a standard refrigerator, but the biggest plus is that they won’t jut out past the countertop like a traditional fridge. Hello, clear walkway!

Most counter-depth refrigerators range from 23 to 28 inches deep–a bit less than a standard refrigerator which is usually at least 30 inches deep and ranges upward to 36 inches deep. You’d measure your counter-depth by starting at your backsplash and measuring to the front edge of your countertop. Standard refrigerators can tend to stick out at least six inches from the edge, which can be bothersome in some layouts.

If you decide to opt for a counter-depth refrigerator for your next upgrade or remodel, there are some benefits. For those looking for that modern refined kitchen appearance, this is your ticket. You’ll get that contemporary, seamless aesthetic with seemingly better feng shui and still be able to store your food in technologically advanced units. 

If you and your partner or kids all like to be in the kitchen together while you cook, a counter-depth model really does cut down on bumping into one another as people scoot around the kitchen.

Here are some examples of top-rated counter-depth refrigerators:

Fisher & Paykel Series 5 17.5 Cu. Ft. Stainless Steel Counter-Depth Bottom Freezer Refrigerator (Model #: RF170BRPUX6 N) One reviewer mentioned: Counter-depth is the way to go. Even though it is a smaller fridge than I am used to, there is room for everything.

LG 12.0 Cu. Ft. PrintProof™ Stainless Steel Counter-Depth Bottom Freezer Refrigerator (Model #: LRBCC1204S) One reviewer mentioned size: It was one of the few small refrigerators that came with an ice maker!

Electrolux 22.6 Cu. Ft. Stainless Steel Counter-Depth French Door Refrigerator (Model #: ERFC2393AS) One reviewer mentioned: This is an exceptional unit and not only will look fabulous in any kitchen but will also accommodate any size family.

Benefits of a counter-depth refrigerator

Upgrading your kitchen is always a major undertaking, but it is also a time to refine your space to suit your style and needs as a family. Choosing to go with a counter-depth refrigerator can help give you that touch of extra space in the kitchen, which can make a big difference.

One of the nicest things about the counter-depth refrigerator is the overall look. When your fridge blends in so well with your cabinetry and other appliances, you can feel a sense of pride. The taller frame allows you to store all the food you are used to storing, so you won’t feel slighted by losing the extra depth of a standard refrigerator.

The thing that most people comment on is the ease of access that a counter-depth refrigerator provides. Pulling out items and cleaning is not as difficult, which is super helpful for those with hectic schedules. 

Sometimes it can be tough reaching the back of a standard fridge, but with the shallower depth, you can move things and clear things with a lot more ease. Plus, going back to foot traffic—having a refrigerator that doesn’t stick out does improve mobility around the kitchen.


Whether you’re moving into a new home, remodeling your current home, or need to replace or upgrade your current refrigerator, be sure to measure your kitchen space before moving forward. This will save you a lot of headaches and help you determine if your kitchen can accommodate a standard-depth or counter-depth refrigerator.

Depending on your layout, you could benefit from going with a counter-depth unit if your kitchen is on the smaller side. Counter-depth models add a more streamlined look to your kitchen, which helps your fridge blend in with cabinets and such, but some standard-depth models can still tie in nicely with your look since they’re so customizable.

When it boils down to choosing between counter-depth and standard-depth, go with a model that best fits your lifestyle. If you have a lot of hands in the kitchen, it may be worth going counter-depth to save space as you run around. If you eat a lot of pizza and know you’ll want to store pizza boxes in your fridge, you’ll be better off with a standard-depth refrigerator.

If you need help deciding which refrigerator type to move forward with, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Atherton Appliance & Kitchens. We’re happy to show you around our store, or you can browse our inventory online before you pop in. We look forward to helping you out in any way we can.