A. “Built-in” is the term you’re looking for. Built-in, shallow-depth refrigerators are 24 inches deep, including the door, and so, in all likelihood, are your counters. The term to beware of is “freestanding.” A freestanding, shallow-depth refrigerator has a 24-inch-deep cabinet and two-inch-deep doors, meaning it will stick out two inches past your counter. Built-ins are taller than standard, about 84 inches, because the compressor is on top of the refrigerator.
Thirty years ago, everyone called a shallow refrigerator a Sub-Zero, the way you’d call a tissue a Kleenex. Today many brands, including GE and KitchenAid, offer them. “Most clients prefer the Sub-Zero stainless,” says Ed Mallon, sales associate at Abt Electronics & Appliances (1200 N. Milwaukee Ave., Glenview, 847-967-8830), “but KitchenAid and GE make the same style in white, black, or stainless. All manufacturers offer an option for decorative panels.” Prices range from about $4,000 to $8,000. The 26-inch-deep freestanding models start at about $1,400.
If you haven’t done a kitchen in a while, you’ll find there’s something new in shallow: under-the-counter refrigerators. Twenty-four inches deep, including doors, these units are available either as a set of two drawers or as a cabinet with shelves. “A lot of people use them in the bar area or in the basement for drinks, but they’re also used in the kitchen as a supplement to a standard refrigerator,” says Jason Powell, manager at Plass Appliance and Electronics (2019 W. Irving Park Rd., 773-868-0100). “They’re close to the ground and kids can use them more easily.” They’re also nice to use as a separate storage place for produce. GE, Sub-Zero, Ariston, and U-line make them, as do a few European companies. Many models are available with unfinished fronts so the buyer can add one that matches a kitchen’s cabinetry. Prices range from about $2,400 to $3,200.