Family life on LA's Westside


What to Look for When It’s Time to Buy a New Refrigerator


My Fridge Saga

My first fridge was bought for me in 2001, as a housewarming gift by a friend, for the price of $60, from her neighbor, who had upgraded years ago and was eager to get it out of his garage.  This circa 1990 Maytag beauty, complete with faux wood grain drawer panels, lasted nearly seven years, through two moves.  When it gave up the ghost, evidenced by it leaking water from the bottom, I foolishly turned to craigslist for a replacement.  I purchased a seemingly newish Maytag for $325, in the side-by-side behemoth style, which to move took three skilled men (who expressly advertised their expertise in moving side-by-sides, yet still managed to break off the corner guards as they jimmied it through my kitchen door.  Once installed, this fridge worked swell for about two weeks.  When the entire back wall crusted over with ice, I called a repairman who charged $375 to replace the thermostat and informed me that whomever sold it to me surely knew it was broken.  So much for the honor of craigslist, wait, there’s no such thing, and so I vowed the next fridge would be new, from a store, with a warranty.


Time to Appliance Myself

Finally, after spending in repairs approximately three times the amount I paid for it, the Maytag had to go.  With full disclosure, I offered it on craigslist to the first person to haul it away, presumably for parts.  Then I began researching a new fridge.  I also decided it would be a good time to do a mini makeover my entire kitchen, with the fridge as a centerpiece.  So looks were important in my decision.  I also wanted a fridge that fit my lifestyle, so I came up with some must-haves for my next fridge.  My short list included the following: an ice maker, cold filtered water dispenser, large drawers for produce, fingerprint resistant, and automatically regulated temperature.

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The hardest decision was the freezer.  My mom told me her friends with the freezer drawer on the bottom loved it.  My cousin said she hated hers.  A friend of a friend said it was the best thing ever. The online reviews were also mixed; mostly in favor of the lower drawer.  It seemed it was one of those things I would need to find out for myself.

Slated for Success

I went with the GE French Door Refrigerator in Slate finish. As advertised, “this ENERGY STAR-rated refrigerator offers style, quality and accessibility, in an energy-efficient package.”   I was especially attracted to GE’s chic and very popular Slate finish, which promised to be fingerprint-resistant (perfect for families with children).  Its modern styling with rounded corners made easy to blend into any kitchen décor, complementing my eclectic kitchen, accented with original bright yellow and green tile, a coved ceiling and arched doorway, and a vintage Wedgewood stove.


So far, I am very pleased with this fridge.  Its 33”-girth (measurements 1/2 in x 32 3/4 in x 34 7/8 in, and total 22.1 cu ft) fit perfectly in the space between my cabinets and dishwasher.  Though it jutted out further into the room, it did not prevent the doors from opening fully, even in my narrow kitchen.  It offers a huge interior with three adjustable shelves, two that are split and one full-width.  A major enhancement from my old fridge, this one features five gallons of storage in three adjustable door bins: three adjustable and two fixed.  The bins are sturdy, and I don’t have the fear that they will tumble down, as my old door bins did often, when filled with heavy items.  Also a huge improvement, this fridge has two spacious fresh food drawers, and one shallow drawer, all with clear fronts, so I can see what is in them.  The best part is that the drawers do not frost up like my old fridge drawers, which destroyed fruits and veggies before their time.


Frozen Under

As for the freezer, the jury is still out.  I have a bad back, so bending down to forage through the frozen food is not ideal.  There is one large wire basket in the bottom, and it does not easily lift out or raise up, and there are no dividers — nor would there be room for them, so frozen goods must be stacked or otherwise laid in the drawer, often one on top of the other.  The small wire baskets above the main compartment are handy, but they are not large enough for anything except small items.  I ended up using them for frozen OJ canisters and ice packs.


The filtered chilled water dispenser is on the inside in this fridge, which makes for a sleek exterior; but it does mean the door must remain open while water is dispensed.  The factory-installed icemaker automatically creates ice, and the digital display temperature controls are upfront for easy access and visual checking, for both fresh food and freezer sections.  The interior lights are bright and ample, though the warning beeper when the doors are held open too long is rather annoying, but it has saved me a few times when one of the kids left the door slightly ajar.  The good news is that the alarm can be overridden with a push of a button if desired.   One other point of annoyance is that both doors must be opened to access the drawers, which are just a tad bit too wide to pull out with just one door open.

Take Aways

Overall this is a great fridge for the modern healthy family that stocks lots of fresh foods and fewer frozen foods. The best advice for those looking for a new fridge is to examine your family’s lifestyle to determine if you can spare some freezer space in exchange for more fresh food storage.  If so, then this style of bottom freezer with a single large bin might work for your household. Other bottom freezer styles feature two baskets, but this requires a fairly large kitchen to accommodate a wider and taller refrigerator.

The hidden-away water dispenser is a great idea as it leaves more door bin space, which is usually dedicated to icemaker cubbies in fridges with exterior water dispensers.  The icemaker does not crush ice or dispense it, but this is not a deal breaker for most households.

Digital temperature controls are the way to go for low maintenance and peace of mind.  Bottom line, this fridge accomplishes its main job of cooling and freezing food perfectly, and it looks fantastic doing it.


*Note:  This model, the GE® 22.1 Cu. Ft. French-Door Refrigerator, is no longer being manufactured, but it is available at Home Depot (sale priced $1,529.20) and other major appliance retailers including Best Buy, Lowe’s and Sears, with rebates for recycling your old refrigerator from select municipalities.  Check with your local dealer for details.  Find retailers at