Most refrigerators stand around 70" tall, slotting into a 6 foot space in the kitchen. Many homes have over-the-fridge cabinets designed to add storage and blend into the rest of the kitchen space. But more often than not, these high cabinets are difficult to reach, and regularly end up being untouched storage space. Which brings us to the question: more kitchen cabinet storage or a taller refrigerator with more food storage capacity?
Stand-alone refrigerators without upper cabinets are a common approach to kitchen designs, particularly when there are space or budget constraints.
This IKEA kitchen shows one of many typical layouts with upper cabinets above the fridge
While there's no problem with a stand-alone refrigerator, the two contrasting IKEA kitchens shown above highlight how adding upper cabinets above the fridge can help create a more visually connected and integrated space. There are many other approaches for integrating a fridge, such as hidden panel fridges, refrigerator drawers, chalkboard fridges, and many more clever ideas from our creative readers, but overhead cabinetry is the most common.
The other option that's often overlooked are extra tall refrigerators. Extra-tall refrigerators provide yet another option for selecting the best layout and maximizing the space in a kitchen to get the most usefulness out of every inch of the home. Refrigerators over the typical 6' height eliminate the need for ways to disguise or use the extra space above. The extra refrigerator space allows for more cold storage and helps eliminate many second refrigerators in the home which may be less energy efficient and not as cost-effective.
This extra tall Sub-Zero refrigerator matches the tall cabinets in this kitchen for a clean look and extra fridge space.
While About.com suggest a common upper cabinet and counter clearance of 18 inches, the exact positioning and size of a kitchen is fairly unique across every home. Finding a refrigerator to match the top cabinets of a specific kitchen isn't impossible, as there are a variety of unique sizes to fit an exact space in the kitchen.
Popular appliance retailer AJ Madison lists over 1,000 refrigerators ranging from 18" to over 85" in height. Budget is a real consideration though, as the taller fridges generally cost quite a bit more than standard height models. One could argue eliminating the need to buy and install upper cabinets offsets the cost slightly, but generally it's a pretty penny for the extra height.
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(Image credits: IKEA; Ikea; Sub-Zero)