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Buying a smaller fridge

So last night after dinner, I came into the kitchen to find Allstonian on her knees with the crisper bins out on the floor, somewhat frantically mopping up a large pool of water on the refrigerator's bottom. Seems we haven't noticed that there's been a small slow drip coming from the freezer compartment. It's a small repair -- likely a clog in the drain hole somewhere -- but we're looking at it now as a change moment.

Specifically, when I was looking at the Sears website just now, I automatically started going for the mammoth French-door stainless steel models, as you do. But then I thought about it: we're a two-person household. (Okay, a two-person, four-cat, three-bird, one-dog household, but their food doesn't live in the fridge.) We have a very bad habit of letting leftovers rot in inaccessible corners of the fridge. Why not buy a SMALLER fridge than the one we currently own?

(Note: our fairly recently remodeled open-plan kitchen doesn't have that nook that the fridge goes into that's the standard in most kitchens, so we can buy a fridge that's as big or as little as we want.)

In particular, I'm reminded of a time some years ago when a friend of mine was visiting from the UK and in the course of her trip, we went into a Sam's Club. She was simply gobsmacked at the size of the fridges in the appliance section, much as she had been a day or two before at the supermarket: on that day, she had spent the rest of the evening randomly blurting out, "But...nobody ever NEEDS twenty pounds of watermelon!"

So: two-person household, tends to shop European-style (buying a small amount of groceries more often, and from a variety of stores, rather than hitting the megamart once a week and stocking up), already has an ancient but surprisingly sturdy upright freezer in the basement (which held frozen baby mice back when this house belonged to Allstonian's late herpetologist parents and there was a snake breeding colony down there) for deep storage and a bar fridge near the bar (logically) for beverages. We do cook almost entirely from scratch, so we don't keep a lot of prepared foods and the like on hand, but we always have a lot of fresh fruit and veg on hand. Especially this time of year when the CSA is in full gear. How big a fridge do you reckon we actually need? Has anyone else deliberately downsized their fridge space?

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  1. No, but I did buy the Maytag French door, and I love it. There are only two of us too, but I couldn't survive with a small refrigerator, even though I have a bar refrigerator.

    1. We're primarily a two-adult family (kids at school - may or may not return). However, we entertain a lot (barbecues in summer, other get-togethers at various times through the year) and could never contemplate downsizing. We purchased a 2nd fridge that we keep in the basement. In the summer season it's full of beverages and is used for salads/side dishes/marinating meat overnight/curing salmon for smoking. Even if we're going to eat at a friend's for dinner or a barbecue we bring a fruit salad or some kind of dish (and a salad for 12 or 20 needs some elbow room). So while I fantasize about simplifying my life, reality keeps jumping in.

      1. We downsized a little, not a lot, when we renovated our kitchen recently. I have to admit though, that it was mainly because we didn't have the space for a larger fridge.

        1. I'm a one person household... but I entertain a lot. I didn't buy a behemoth, but I did buy a decent sized fridge.

          I think mine is 18 cubic feet. They go much much bigger.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Jennalynn

            16-18 is actually the size we're looking at: I wasn't thinking about one of those wee little European refrigerators or anything. I'm thinking there aren't any drawbacks to going this size that I can see so far.

            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              You should be more than fine.

              As I said... I'm a one person household, but I cook a lot... and I have dinner parties 2 - 3 times a month.

              The 18 does me fine.

              1. re: Jennalynn

                I DO want a wee (or weeish) European-sized fridge. It is so hard to find decent ones here. For me, big North American fridges are a waste of space and energy.

                1. re: lagatta

                  I got an 18.5 cubic foot fridge in June and it's been fine through a summer of entertaining and lots of kids around. It has a bottom freezer drawer, which I really like. They also had cheaper models with bottom freezers with doors, but all I could imagine was the ultimate humiliation of being on hands and knees on the kitchen floor, foraging for chocolate ice cream!

              2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                I had a 200L (about 7 cu ft) fridge for a few years, and I really had no problem with it. That's plenty of room for those vegetables that need refrigeration, milk, a bottle of wine, meat for the next few days, leftovers, yoghurt, cheese, mustard, capers, etc. I routinely had 5-6 people over for dinner and never had any problem with storage space. I keep many fruits and veggies outside the fridge, but there's no need to refrigerate them. And it's nicer having them around in bowls and baskets, anyhow.

                I also have about 200L of freezer space, which was pretty important to me.

            2. We travel 8 months out of a year, in our 38" motor home. It has a 10.4 cubic foot fridge, and both of us miss having a larger fridge. I cook fresh everyday. Having a small fridge means that I have to shop almost daily and throw a menu plan out the window. If We run across a bargain on something unless it's something that we can eat and make disappear that day, we can't take advantage of it. I miss freezer space more than cold storage. We love veggies and fruit and shop fresh for those, but we are carnivores and when I can get chicken breasts or pork chops on sale, I'd love to be able to purchase in bulk and be able to freeze the excess but I can't because I can't store them. There is an advantage to downsizing, but for us a smaller fridge is more of a pain in the tail than we ever thought it would be and if we ever purchase another motorhome it will have the largest fridge that is available. I really look forward to coming back to the sticks and bricks home just because I know that there is a larger kitchen and fridge there. I love that 20 cubic foot monster.

              1. We downsized to a counter-depth, French door Jenn-air for space reasons when our old fridge started to fall apart. We have been very happy with it, no more crouching and hunting, and it opened up a bit more space in a small kitchen with several people who like to cook. We are less likely to lose things in the back.

                We did keep the old fridge in the basement and use it for oversized items like turkey, watermelon, and for storing spices, nuts, flour, drinks, etc. The smaller one would not work well for us if we had to rely on it alone.

                1 Reply
                1. re: chowfamily

                  Update-

                  Last week the compressor failed on our new, '"mid-high-end" Jenn-air fridge, and we were very happy that we had kept our old clunker in the basement. We have experienced a remarkable number of appliance failures in the last five years, (out-sourcing without quality control?) so when you do invest in something new, I would recommend an extended warranty.

                2. What about Smeg? http://www.smegusa.com/Catalogue/Frid...
                  From what I've read the people who have them love them.

                  Also I have a friend who remodeled his smaller galley style kitchen with a samsung, similiar to:
                  http://www.3luxe.com/best_ofs/Refrige...

                  but only 18 cu. ft and they love it. The freezer is great with separate compartments that you can set temp and humidity for.

                  1. When I renovated my kitchen I stupidly didn't realize how giant refrigerators had gotten, and didn't leave much room. Had to scramble to find a smaller refrigerator that would fit. But, I love my 14 cubic foot Summit! (counter depth but 75 inches high) The only thing I'd like is more freezer space, and wish I had room for a small extra freezer. (I would probably wish for more freezer space with anything but a gigantic refrigerator, which would be ridiculous in my small kitchen.) I feel there's plenty of fridge space for a 2 person household that goes crazy with produce at the farmer's market. (I do shop frequently but that's by choice.)

                    1. I am looking for a smaller refrigerator too. One of the requirements I have is to be able to fit a cookie sheet into the refrigerator portion. I currently have a side-by-side refrigerator and can't fit in cookie sheets to cool cookies before baking.