They say baseball is a game of inches. So too is kitchen remodeling, another activity that heats up in the spring. The inches matter most if you're forced to work with the existing dimensions of the kitchen, including the openings for your various appliances. That's why the increase in slimmed-down refrigerators is good news for space-challenged remodelers. Here are some narrower-than-normal models from Consumer Reports' latest refrigerator Ratings.
33-inch-wide French-doors The vast majority of ever-popular French-door bottom-freezers are 36-inches wide. But our recommended list now includes a trio of 33-inch-wide models: the $2100 Kenmore Elite 7103, the $1900 LG LFC25765[ST], and the $1650 Kenmore 7200. All three refrigerators deliver superb temperature performance and quiet operation. Go for the pricier Kenmore if you want a through-the-door ice and water dispenser, the LG if energy efficiency is a top priority, and the less expensive Kenmore if you want the best bargain.
If you only have 30 inches to play with, take a look at the $1800 Whirlpool WRF560SEY[M] and the $1900 KitchenAid KFFS20EY[MS]. Their mediocre ease-of-use scores kept them out of our winner's circle, but that's a factor of their compact size, so you might be willing to make the trade-off.
30-inch-wide conventional bottom-freezers Most models in this category are 33-inches wide, so they're already a more narrow option than the typical French-door bottom-freezer. But if you need to go down to 30-inches, we recommend the $1500 Whirlpool GB9FHDXW[S]. It offers excellent temperature performance and very good efficiency, though it's a bit noisier than other models.
34-inch-wide side-by-sides Space efficiency is one of the main reasons people choose side-by-sides. For example, in galley-style kitchens the configuration's narrow door swing is a must. But if you want an even more streamlined effect, consider the 34-inch-wide GE GSH22JFX[WW], $1050, which is a couple inches narrower than all other models on our recommended list, and it combines superb temperature control and efficiency.
30-inch-wide built-ins This category is known for its behemoths, with many models measuring 42 inches wide or more. But there are consumers who want the sleek, flush-to-the-cabinets look of a built-in in a smaller fridge. If that's you, take a look at the $8500 Sub-Zero BI-30U[SS] and the $6500 Bosch Integra B30BB830SS. You're still going to pay top dollar for the fridges, but their 30-inch widths will offer space savings and they both delivered superb temperature performance in our tests.