Kitchen & Cooking

What to look for in a luxury refrigerator

A luxury fridge is about more than bells and whistles

A luxury refrigerator in a designer kitchen Credit: Getty Images / TerryJ

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When you’re outfitting a truly high-end kitchen, only the best refrigerator will do. You want a sleek design, but you also want great features and impeccable performance. And a premium refrigerator in the kitchen won’t just add to your enjoyment today—when it comes time to sell your house, a luxury refrigerator often scores a mention in the real estate listing. That’s how appealing these appliances can be to potential buyers.

Should I invest in a luxury fridge?

A high-end refrigerator can require a major outlay: You might need to spend $10,000 or more to get the one you want. Obviously, there are some very good refrigerators that cost far less, but when you’re building your dream kitchen, you’ll want a refrigerator that’s gorgeous and quiet; that maintains a steady, cold temperature; that holds humidity in crisper drawers; and that offers innovative features and state-of-the-art technology to measure up to the price point. If your wallet permits it and your kitchen style demands it, you’re a good candidate for a premium refrigerator.

Sub-Zero_refrigerator_panels
Credit: Sub-Zero

To create a seamless look, many luxury refrigerators are panel-ready, so they can be hidden within cabinetry, the way this Sub-Zero is. Installing a refrigerator this way allows the design of the kitchen to take center stage.

What does a luxury refrigerator look like?

Luxury refrigerators are well-designed, usually sporting a professional-grade style. They can have a distinctive look—tall with the compressor on top. They can be built-in with the doors projecting into the room slightly or inset and even with cabinets. If you’re looking for a streamlined look, you may want your refrigerator to be concealed within kitchen cabinetry. Many luxury refrigerators come panel-ready to allow you to do that. But when you want to impress, there’s nothing like an iconic stainless steel 84-inch refrigerator to draw positive attention to your kitchen.

Thermador_refrigerator
Credit: Thermador

Luxury refrigerators, like these Thermador models, can add a pro-style look to the kitchen.

What features do luxury refrigerators have?

A luxury refrigerator will always have a premium fit and finish. These appliances are desirable, not just for their interior and exterior looks, but also for the technologies they include. Here are some of the features you can expect to find in high-end refrigerators.

  • Dual compressors: Separate compressors in the refrigerator and freezer can prevent odors and tastes from migrating between compartments.
  • Dual evaporators: A pair of evaporators helps keep humidity levels stable inside the fridge.
  • Tightly sealed doors and drawers: The tighter the seal, the better the refrigerator maintains its temperature and retains humidity.
  • Granular control over temperature: You want to be able to turn down the temperature a degree or two to make sure it’s cold enough to preserve your food. The safest temperatures are 37°F for the main refrigerator section and 0°F for the freezer. Above 40°F, bacterial growth accelerates.
  • Drawers with separate temperature controls: To keep meat, cheese, and snacks fresh, luxury refrigerators often have a variety of temperature settings available in each drawer.
  • Ethylene gas filters: As fruit ripens, it emits ethylene gas, a plant hormone that accelerates spoilage in some other foods. Many luxury refrigerators now include a filter to absorb the gas.
  • Adjustable shelving: To fit in foods of all sizes, adjustable shelving makes it possible to change the refrigerator’s internal layout.
  • Water filters, and water and ice dispensers: Water and ice are available as needed for entertaining and daily family life.
  • Bright LED lighting: The refrigerator should be well-illuminated for great food visibility.
  • Smart features: You can use your phone to adjust the temperature and humidity and help diagnose issues.

What brands should I look for?

Brand recognition is important in the world of luxury appliances. Sub-Zero, Thermador, Jenn-Air, Miele, Viking, Liebherr, and Dacor are some of best-known brands of luxury refrigerators on the market. With its compressor on top, a Sub-Zero has plenty of cachet and an iconic look, but each of the brands has a different specialty. Before you purchase, think about how your new refrigerator will anchor your kitchen, then discuss specifics with your designer and retailer.

Does my luxury refrigerator need to be the same brand as my other kitchen appliances?

Not always. A panel-ready refrigerator blends into the cabinetry, so until you reach for the handle to open it, you’ll never see the brand. If you’re looking for all your machines to coordinate, kitchen appliances are often sold as package deals, which means that everything will match. Equipping your kitchen that way can usually save you some money.

Dacor_DRF427500AP
Credit: Dacor

Luxury refrigerators have premium features like the stainless interior in this Decor model.

What are some alternatives?

There are feature-loaded refrigerators with higher-end looks that don’t rock as steep a price tag as a true luxury model. Samsung and LG both offer door-in-door models that let you reach in for favorite foods without opening the main doors. But if you know you want a premium fridge for your kitchen, don’t hesitate to shop for one. It will keep your kitchen and your groceries fresh for a long time.