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Switching from side-by-side to french door fridge... help wanted!

We're looking at replacing our teenaged side-by-side fridge, and although my DH was instantly sold on the idea of a french door one (so things don't fall out of the freezer and go flying like they do now!), I am not there yet.

To those who have made this switch: how easy was it to adjust to having the freezer on the bottom? Is it a royal pain having to bend down and get stuff out of the freezer? Would you mind sharing a photo of what your freezer looks like with food in it? I know that's a strange request, but I am having a hard time picturing a fully loaded freezer drawer. For what it's worth, we will be keeping the old side-by-side in the garage for extra storage, so we're looking at a new fridge in the ~26 cu ft range.

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  1. Hi truman,

    I made the switch 10 years ago, to a 25cuft model with ice maker. It wasn't difficult at all. I was 50 then, 60 now, and find that if you don't have a bad back, it's no big deal to root around in the freezer.

    You really want photos? Ok, but don't blame me for retinal damage. The first pic shows the large bin, with the door on the left. The second photo is the narrower bin next to the large bin (door on bottom of photo). We use this one mostly for frozen veggies. The third photo is the upper drawer, on the right side. I use that mostly for homemade things stored in freezer bags. It's great for flat bags or thin boxes. Things stack easily in it. Ice maker is on the upper left, not shown. Also not shown is the tilt-out drawer across the front of the freezer. We use it to store small items that would get lost in the large bins.

    I know it seems a jumble, and it is, to a certain extent. But it's not that deep, maybe 18", so there's no deep diving involved. I do like the additional room it gives me, that's a big deal.

    1. I made the switch back in December. The one negative I never thought of was that with the side by side, you had taller storage space in the freezer. The bottom drawer doesn't allow me to stand my sport drink bottle (which is about 10") upright. There is a sliding rack above the lower section which interferes. Plus there is a bit more stacking of items, which means less visibility.
      As far as drawer on bottom and bending over, it's not an issue for me. But my cat is fascinated when that drawer comes out, she sticks her head in!

      1 Reply
      1. re: BeeZee

        My oldest cat who was there for the reveal has never lost his fascination. He wants so very, very badly to crawl in behind the drawer. I think it's the cold that stops him. He's like me, born for the tropics. ;-)

      2. Generally people go to their freezers far less often than their fridges so you'll be bending over less. Mine has two areas, one the bottom/main area and the other a relatively shallow pullout wire basket.

        I loathed my side by side. With its narrowness, things got lost in the back. And I adore the width of the FD one. The first time you have a big tray (leftover turkey?) you will love that FD :)

        1. Our "spare" fridge is a French door model. Great on the fridge side, not so much on the freezer side. The wire pull-outs are somewhat limited on space and it's a pain to get things to fit well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ferret

            I believe you may mean that your spare is a side by side, no?

            1. re: c oliver

              I didn't meant "freezer side" literally, I meant freezer side of the equation, as in I'm half-satisfied. It's a bottom freezer with weirdly shaped wire drawers. Our Sub-Zero is also bottom freezer but we have practical rectangular wire drawers. With the French door fridge they have to configure it around the icemaker and the odd contours of the fridge bottom.

          2. My mom has had one for years, frankly I'm not impressed. The ice maker in the bottom tends to make a mess, and finding stuff in there is worse than my chest freezer that at least has bin partitions to section the area.

            5 Replies
            1. re: rasputina

              Ours has a divider in the bottom basket and the top one is shallow enough that it's not a problem.

              1. re: c oliver

                Yup, ours too. Plus, as I wrote before, they're shallow enough so you don't feel like you're on a deep dive to find stuff. Normally, moving one or two items from the top layer will reveal anything I'm seeking from the bottom of the basket.

                The ice maker is very tidy, ice stays put in it's bin.

                In short, my experience with 10 years owning one is not at all as rasputina describes.

                1. re: DuffyH

                  Oh right, the icemaker. Mine is like yours. Works great...and tidy. Did I mention that for about the first year I had it I would hug it periodically? :)

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Yeah, you can get treatment for that. To paraphrase Janeane Garofalo in The Truth About Cats and Dogs, "It's ok to love your appliances. Just don't LOVE your appliances."


                    1. re: DuffyH

                      Oh, whew. Definitely lower case love. But, seriously, to OP, I MIGHT give up just about any (is that ambivalent enough?) appliance before my FD fridge.

            2. After spending years putting up with blocks of frozen foods fall out of a top freezer, then a side by side, I truly love my French door fridge . I've had it for almost ten years, and I will never go back to any other kind.

              1. It was very easy, but it requires some organization.

                I keep things in their "area" so I know what's where and can keep track of inventory. Frozen fruit for smoothies goes in the upper basket area, with frozen sauces (pesto, pizza, etc) Frozen pancakes and ready made stuff go in different area, and the final part is reserved for my freezer storage ingredients that I don't want getting lost in the deep freeze down stairs.

                If this were to be my only freezer, I admit I would have a hard time with it, but since I have a full size up right for the main storage, I keep the stuff I want to have quick access to up in it, and the "destination" stuff, frozen meats, leftovers, etc separate

                3 Replies
                1. re: autumm

                  Don't you think that's true (the organization) of all freezers?

                  1. re: c oliver

                    For me more so in the drawer for me because it's easy to just toss stuff on top of the other things when in a hurry and suddenly I'm body slamming the door closed.

                    1. re: autumm

                      Not saying I don't do the same :) But it's pretty easy to re-organize.

                2. Don't you mean Dutch door? A French door would be a side by side with two identical doors hinged at the sides of the fridge.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: greygarious

                    I'm pretty sure that FD is defined as freezer on the bottom and the top is a FD, where each side opens.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I see....thanks. The only bottom freezer model (years ago) I've seen at other peoples' homes had a single door on the fridge section.

                  2. I'm not a huge fan of the design overall, my freezer is a bit of a disorganized pit, but it does have an upper rack shelf which is nice. I can also tell you that mine, an LG, dumps ice out of the back of the ice machine every time we open the freezer which is annoying and it makes a mess as well, hard to explain unless you've experienced it.

                    One pro to the French doors are the doors! Lots of space for little things to stay organized. I guess it would be the same in a regular fridge though...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: iheartcooking

                      I've not had the problem with the ice. Do you think the container is fully 'seated' towards the back.?

                      1. re: iheartcooking

                        There's a simple fix. We tend to turn the ice maker off and on, because otherwise we'd be awash in ice. Reach in and move the ice to the front. I do this when my ice maker is full and haven't lost ice out that back in over 9 years.

                        Our is also LG, their first FD model released for sale in the U.S.

                      2. Wow, thanks everyone for the responses! I'm now feeling better about the french door prospects. We're looking at models with water and ice in the fridge door (no icemaker in the bottom freezer compartment), so hopefully we won't face the ice woes some of you have mentioned.

                        I do worry about the level of organization required to keep the freezer from turning into the Pit of Despair. I'm pretty good about putting things where they go, but unfortunately DH likes to improvise (I play "where the heck did he hide the salad spinner?" at least once a week). So it sounds like we might need a freezer map, and we'll have to be careful not to just toss things in on top (as autumn mentions below).

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: truman

                          Having had and loathed :) my side by side, I find the freezer side WAY easier to organize. I hope you have that experience.

                          1. re: truman

                            I have a Samsung French door refrigerator and it's by far the best refrigerator / freezer I've ever owned.

                            It has two levels of freezer drawers and it would be pretty hard to not be able to find things. However, it's not a huge freezer. Having the ice maker in the door helps with space.

                            1. re: calumin

                              i have the samsung fd, too. ice in the freezer. but the freezer is way bigger than my old top freezer model so i have no issues whatsoever with ice or space. love my fridge. too much maybe.

                              1. re: eLizard

                                I can relate - I referred to my samsung fd but ice in door as my mercedes in the kitchen!

                          2. Get some basic plastic storage bins (like shoeboxes)and use them to separate categories of food. (frozen veggies, fruits, meats, etc) It makes finding things easier.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: RippleFL

                              Good idea, RippleFl.

                              I considered it when I got my FD fridge, but in the end decided it wasn't needed, because I've got (with the large one divided) 3 separate compartments, plus a 4th tilt-out rack on the door. Bins would be a bit of overkill, unless they were pretty small.

                              1. re: DuffyH

                                Sounds like my setup. If I'm not going to keep it organized, then nothing more is going to help me :)

                            2. Whatever you do, don't get a Whirlpool with an ice maker. ours is a 29.0 cu ft. whirlpool with a water/ice maker feature on the door. less than a year, the inside is frosting and making a horribly loud noise. These companies make their living off of these warranties. make sure you get a decent one. They generously offered me a warranty that costs $350 a year! at that rate I can buy a new fridge a year! total racket.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: trolley

                                trolley, which model do you have?

                                1. re: truman

                                  WRF989SDAH00- It's the Whirlpool Ice collection. It's the worst. I love the french doors but other than that don't make the mistake we made. if you google our model # there are so many complaints out there regarding this model.

                              2. I switched from a Samsung side by side (now in basement) to a Whirlpool French door model last year during a kitchen remodel. It's the next step in the evolution of the refrigerator, FD refrigerators are a much better design concept. Side by sides are too narrow. With the FD the refrigerated food is at eye level and more easily accessed. I like the bottom freezer better too because of much better access and all the cold air doesn't "fall out" like it does when you open a side by side freezer. I got a unit with a slide out refrigerated draw between the refrigerator and freezer. I wasn't looking for this feature when I was shopping but its a huge bonus. I store all my produce in this draw and you can see everything, like the inch square piece of ginger and the 3 chives you've saved, plus you can store oversize platters in it which is great when entertaining.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: zackly

                                  Hi zackly,

                                  <I got a unit with a slide out refrigerated draw between the refrigerator and freezer.>

                                  That full-width drawer is a real bonus, isn't it? Mine is inside the fridge compartment, and is my deli drawer, holding all my deli meats, bacon and cheeses. It's hard to lose things in it, for sure. And when I need the space for a big platter or two, I bring in a small cooler and dump the drawer contents into it. Easy peasy.

                                  <With the FD the refrigerated food is at eye level and more easily accessed.>

                                  Another truth, and the one that makes all the difference to me. How often do we open our freezers? Once a day? Twice? Do we really need those things at eye level? Do we want to be bending down to pull stuff out of the fridge several times a day?

                                  Way back when, we had top-freezer models that forced us to bend every time we wanted to get something from the fridge. We also had bottom freezer models, most of which had swing-open freezer doors, which were a total pain because you had to open the door, spilling out all the frosty air, then pull out the basket, get what you wanted and slide the basket back in. Only then could we close the door so it could get back to freezing. There were a few models with pull-out doors, but they were in the minority. Enter the side-by-side, a total compromise between the existing floor plans. Kind of half each. And it worked in small kitchens because it's doors were half as wide.

                                  I think the FD design represents a real improvement over the side-by-side. It needs no more door clearance, and it goes back to the best of the efficient bottom freezer designs with it's pull-out bin. But if you need to be able to see every single item in your fridge and freezer when you open the door? The only good design is a cabinet-depth side-by-side.

                                2. I don't have French doors, but I have a bottom freezer and like it. I don't bend over while standing to reach the freezer, I sit on a chair. That's easy. The biggest advantage is that all the refrigerator space is accessible without bending.

                                  1. I also had angst about the switch. I love it! The best thing we did was to purchase another divider for the bottom drawer in the freezer. So I use it this way...very narrow for sugars and nuts, widest next one for bagged things(veggies,fruits etc),,next is chicken(lots of breasts and parts), then meats. Top shelf drawer for all other misc.
                                    Love it! So much more internal space overall in the same footprint of the
                                    side by side.

                                    1. I love my French door, freezer on the bottom! I have back & knee problems, so having the much-more-often-used 'fridge stuff at eye level is great. The low freezer has 2 drawers, which I *try* to keep organized. We don't use much ice, so I didn't want the door ice maker, which may have been wrong--the freezer ice maker takes up extra space. Plus, ours is a counter-depth, so we lost some internal room. BTW, it's a Kitchen Aid brand, which we've heard has more repair issues, but ours is now 6 years old & no problems.

                                      1. We just switched from a freezer-on-the-bottom to a side by side. When the freezer drawer gets full it is difficult to find something on the bottom. Regarding the flying frozen items, we plan to place wire baskets on the freezer shelves.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                                          I special ordered another shelf for the fridge ($35) and we put plastic baskets on the freezer shelves, and so far the side-by-side seems roomier. However, it may just seem that way after we threw away all those little unused bottles of condiments in the back.

                                        2. It took me a little while to really love my new FD fridge. I was always short of shelf space for taller items. The only place I could put the taller things was on the doors. And then I did something counter-intuitive -- I removed a shelf on one side of the fridge. WOW -- more shelf space!!!

                                          Mine's a full-depth Kitchen Aid, BTW, with an ice maker in the freezer and a water dispenser in the fridge. I find both levels of the freezer easy to access and in general I'm very pleased with it. Before getting this one, I had a fairly old Kitchen Aid with the freezer on the bottom and a single fridge door. For me, the bottom freezer made a lot of sense, so when I was shopping for appliances for our recent kitchen renovation, the French door configuration was a logical choice.

                                          1. My sister got her FD fridge a few years and I wasn't impressed at the time. I had a sidexside and thought I liked it, as I could see everything in both sides. The main thing I didn't like was that I couldn't put large trays in it but I dealt with it (it also helped to have a second fridge--freezer top--in my garage). But it conked out 2x and after it finally died I realized the benefits of the FD outweighed anything else. Now I have lots of shelves on the doors to put all the condiment jars that I have accumulated over several years (that were basically hidden in the back of the old fridge) and it's easier to find things on the shelves. I love the drawer for dairy but really wish I had a larger veggie bin. I don't find stooping down to get into the freezer to be a PITA (or pain in the back, I should say). The ice drawer slides out well enough and there is a slide out tray on the other side for smaller items. I do recommend not getting the wire drawers as I think the regular drawers will be easier to keep clean.

                                            1. And the verdict is...
                                              On Friday, we purchased this Whirlpool model: http://www.whirlpool.com/-[WRX988SIBM...
                                              On Saturday, it was delivered; the plumber came yesterday and hooked up the water line (long story...).

                                              We have moved almost all the fridge stuff over, and it is SO nice to be able to see everything in the fridge! We're still trying to sort out where to put the abundant condiments since we have fewer (but deeper) door shelves.

                                              We are moving freezer items over as we fetch them from the garage, so I can't really comment yet on our adjustment to the drawer. It does have two shallow inner drawers in addition to the deeper main drawer, so I think that will help keep things well organized. The "pizza cubby" has been designated the "ice pack cubby" since we don't generally buy frozen pizzas but have a ton of ice packs for our lunchboxes. :)

                                              Thanks again for the input, CHers!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: truman

                                                I have an earlier model of this refrigerator. It's great but the first few weeks I had it, I heard the icemaker dropping the cubes & refilling. Now that I'm used to it I don't hear it anymore. It's a normal sound in my environment just like not waking up during a thunderstorm.

                                                1. re: truman

                                                  Nice fridge, truman. I've got drawer envy. I freeze a lot of things in bags that I lay flat. Those two top freezer drawers would suit me well.

                                                2. it's wonderful i switched from a 21 cf top freezer regular door fridge to a 28.5 sf fd with an ice maker (no water). i feel like a rich person....all that space and ease of access.

                                                  1. We went from a side by side to a French door when we remodeled, and I'd never go back.
                                                    Look for a freezer with layers of sliding baskets and shelves.
                                                    You'll be amazed at how much you can fit.
                                                    Being able to have that wide top refrigerator has been amazing.
                                                    We love it.