Today's refrigerators include many models with a single door on a single set of hinges. These refrigerator doors can be hinged on the left or right side: A right-hand refrigerator opens left-to-right with door hinges on the right, while a left-hand refrigerator opens right-to-left with door hinges on the left.
Refrigerators have a true width and an open-door width—the total width of the appliance when the door is open. If the refrigerator is against a wall or in-set in a cabinet sized for the true width but not the open-door width, the swing of the door may be compromised. Measure both widths carefully when deciding where to place your refrigerator or which side the door should be on.
Most Refrigerator Doors Are Reversible
In appliance displays, standard refrigerators are usually displayed as right-handed mounts. This is almost certainly because most people are right-handed, making it natural to reach for the door with the right hand, but of course, not all people are right-handed and not all kitchens are configured for a right-handed refrigerator.
Unless the refrigerator has a built-in water or ice dispenser in it or a through-the-door unit, the door is probably reversible. But if the displayed door configuration is not suited to your kitchen format, you should confirm that the door is reversible.
To simplify the set up of your new refrigerator, look for one that opens on the side that is the most convenient for your kitchen area. Otherwise, you can follow the steps in your product manual for reversing the door—usually, a simple procedure that involves reversing the position of the hinges and the handles. A screwdriver and small wrench are usually all that is required. Another option is to ask your retailer to make the switch for you, either before or after delivery. Normally this service is free and takes the installation team only a few minutes to complete.
To save steps and provide a quick and easy transfer of food in and out of the refrigerator, always install the appliance with the door opening toward the counter, workspace, or range. Don't hesitate to make such simple changes, as they can radically improve the convenience and your comfort in your own home.
It's important to remember that your refrigerator door can be reversed at any time. That means that even an older refrigerator can usually be reconfigured for your space.
Other Refrigerator Options
At one time, all refrigerator doors typically opened from one side or the other. The freezer chamber was tiny and was always located at the top of the refrigerator. While it's still possible to purchase a new refrigerator with that configuration, there are now French-door options that may be more appropriate for your needs.
French doors on refrigerators are double doors with the handles next to one another and the hinges at opposite sides of the appliance. You can open either door separately or both at the same time. This flexibility means you may find it easier to use the refrigerator in a smaller kitchen.
Just as with single-door refrigerators, French-door refrigerators come in many styles and with a wide range of available options. Some offer on-the-door water and ice; others come in sleek stainless steel; still others offer clever retracting shelves and digital thermostats.
- Side-by-side refrigerator/freezers: These feature French-style doors. One side of the appliance is dedicated to frozen food while the other is intended for refrigerated items.
- French-door refrigerator: These come with freezers on the bottom (typically accessed by a drawer-style door) and make it easier to reach into the refrigerator from either side. The lower freezer offers a bit more space for ice cream and other frozen foods.