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Side By Side vs French Door: Which Refrigerator Style is Best

It’s important to consider how well a refrigerator fits into the aesthetic look of your kitchen as well as the cooking habits and needs of your family. Here, let’s compare two popular fridge styles: side by side vs French door. Which comes out on top? Here are the pros and cons of each.

small kitchen with French door fridge

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What Are French Door Refrigerators?

Since the 1990s, French door refrigerators have been a popular choice among homeowners who like a contemporary look. Designed to resemble the French doors of a house, these refrigerators have double doors that open outward in the middle. One of the main differences in side by side vs French door is that this design allows people to access the shelves inside by opening one door at a time, or both simultaneously. In addition, the freezer is located in a compartment beneath the double doors that can be accessed separately. Some models may have exterior ice makers and water filters as well.

Pros and Cons of French Door Refrigerators


Wide shelves. French door refrigerators have wide shelves to give you plenty of room to store larger items. Whether you have boxes of leftover pizza or large platters of food, these refrigerators are roomy enough to allow you to store them comfortably.

Customizable interiors. The compartments of French door refrigerators are easily customizable, allowing you to change their size depending on your storage needs in the moment. This adds to the ability to store larger items, as well as rearrange the interiors when you don’t need as much room.

Reduced food waste. This type of refrigerator allows you to place your fresh food at eye level, so you don’t have to worry about anything getting spoiled because it was buried on the bottom shelf of the fridge. This can go a long way toward significantly reducing the amount of food wasted—which is good for the environment and your wallet.


Small freezer. What French door refrigerators give you in shelf space they lack in freezer space. These refrigerators have pull out freezers that are relatively small, and they often don’t allow you to organize the shelves and bins inside.

Narrow door storage. There is limited door storage in these refrigerators, so if you use a lot of condiments, you’re going to have issues storing them in this area. That means your condiment bottles are going to be competing for shelf space with your food, so you may overall have less space to play around with.

Sticking doors. If you’re used to filling up your fridge to the brim, keep in mind that the doors of these refrigerators can get stuck easily. As a result, the customizable shelving may not be as useful if you can’t easily open the doors when you have more food to store.

stainless steel appliances

What Are Side By Side Refrigerators?

Side by side refrigerators have two tall, narrow compartments—one for the refrigerator, and the other for the freezer. These compartments both span the height of the refrigerator, and some models may have ice and water dispensers built in.

Pros and Cons of Side By Side Refrigerators


Large freezer capacity. If you need to freeze a lot of food, side by side refrigerators have roomy freezers to accommodate your needs. In addition, the design of the freezer allows you to keep certain items at eye level, making them easy to access and hard to forget about.

Door storage. In addition to having more freezer capacity, side by side refrigerators also have more door storage, allowing you to easily have condiments and beverages in the fridge. This keeps your shelves free for food, so you get the most out of your fridge’s storage space.

Space saving design. If the area where you keep your refrigerator is tight, a side by side model is an excellent choice because it’s designed to save space. As a result, you can easily open doors without worrying about scratching them against other appliances because there’s not enough room.


Challenges accessing fresh food. Since shelves range from top to bottom, it can be difficult to access fresh food in side by side refrigerators. If there’s no room to store fresh fruits and vegetables on the higher shelves of your fridge, the design means you’ll need to bend down a lot more to reach these items.

Difficulty storing wide containers. The shelves of side by side refrigerators are more narrow, which limits what you can store on them. If you have wider items, you’re going to have a more difficult time getting them to fit, so it will take more work to store them.

Temperature. With a side by side refrigerator, you have to be mindful of the temperature when you’re storing food. This is because the design and size lead to temperature fluctuations from the top to the bottom of the fridge.

Find an Experienced Kitchen Contractor

No matter which kind of refrigerator you ultimately choose for your home, at some point you’re probably going to need help with installation and maintenance. Or maybe your fridge choice is just one piece of a bigger kitchen remodel. Modernize can connect you with experienced contractors.

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