Keep Your Cool

Refrigerators get a tough rap. They're big. They're ugly. Worst of all, they're just kind of boring.

REFRIGERATORS GET A TOUGH RAP. They’re big. They’re ugly. Worst of all, they’re just kind of boring. There are generally two ways of dealing with them. Some people tuck them away in a corner of the kitchen, where they can rattle and wheeze out of the limelight. Others plaster them with family photos and finger paintings—sort of residential camouflage—and hope for the best. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. A new breed of refrigerator is stepping up to take center stage in the kitchen. They’re stylish. They’re even a little sexy. They’re so cool they give us goose bumps.

Side-by-side Style

AVOIDING STODGY IN A TRADITIONAL kitchen doesn’t mean opting for forbiddingly industrial. The Sub-Zero 632 Side-By-Side refrigerator can be outfitted with cabinetry panels that match (or accent) the rest of your kitchen. And, because it’s a Sub-Zero, this subtly updated style is paired with top-of-the-line substance. “A Sub-Zero is the best of the best, it’s the Maserati of appliances,” says Boston Appliance Company vice president Christian Jason. It’s only two feet deep, which keeps food from disappearing into the refrigerator hinterlands, yet still offers nearly 29 cubic feet of storage.

Many refrigerators cycle the same stale air between the refrigerator and the freezer. Sub-Zero, though, pioneered a system that cools each compartment with its own dedicated compressor, all while using less electricity than a 100-watt lightbulb.

The air in the Sub-Zero refrigerator stays moist (keeping produce fresh longer), while the freezer air stays dry (keeping down frost). What that all means is simple: Your ice cubes don’t end up tasting like last week’s Chinese take-out.

BUY: $6,339 (cabinetry not included), Boston Appliance Company, 840 Summer St., Boston 617-268-7500,

Bronze Beauty
TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT: STAINLESS steel is so last millennium, and the bronze age is upon us. Jenn-Air released its newest fridge in April, and it has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from the manufacturer, and a classy, oiled-bronze exterior (say goodbye to fingerprints). “I think it’s going to be great. Stainless steel is a good product, but it’s hard to clean. I think this model is going to stick out,” says Peter McCarthy, appliance manager at Harrison Supply in Boston. The bottom-freezer model offers 20 cubic feet of space, with a freezer drawer roomy enough for 120 pounds of frozen food. There’s also a built-in wine bin and Jenn-Air’s “Gourmet Bay,” a temperature-controlled drawer that chills meat and deli products up to 5 degrees more than the rest of the fridge. The warm tone of bronze complements stainless-steel or black appliances and makes the whole kitchen look cozier. If, however, this color wins you over completely, the Oiled Bronze collection will include a suite of dishwashers, cooktops and ranges to match.

BUY: $2,949, Harrison Supply, 1011 Harrison Ave., Boston 617-442-7200,

Freedom Fridge

THE BEAUTY OF THERMADOR’S FREEDOM family of products is variety; they’re the Legos of the refrigeration world. The Freedom Columns—integrated refrigerators, freezers and wine fridges—come in widths ranging from 18 to 24 inches, allowing you to mix and match the units to meet your specific needs, and place them together or apart depending on your layout. Home chefs might want two fridges and one freezer, for example, while bachelors might get more use out of two freezers.

The wine unit will work for everyone, and the racks pull out for easy access. Plus, the columns can be faced with virtually any wood panels and mounted flush with the rest of your cabinets—so you don’t even have to know they’re there. “People love them,” says Steve Sheinkopf, director of marketing at Yale Appliance + Lighting in Boston. “From a design perspective, you can even put the freezer on one side of the kitchen and refrigerator on the other.” That’s one way to avoid making a detour into the ice cream when you’ve gone looking for the salad.

BUY: $3,500-$5,700, Yale Appliance + Lighting, 296 Freeport St., Boston 617-825-YALE (617-825-9253),

The Big Chill

AMERICA’S FAVORITE KITCHEN DIVA, Rachael Ray, recently tossed out her old, on-set refrigerator and replaced it with a baby-blue Big Chill. The line of chrome-highlighted fridges is funky and retro—with a glossy shell stamped out of steel, exactly how they were made in the good old days—but the thoroughly modern 20.9 cubic feet of space inside packs in the amenities we can’t live without, such as automatic defrost and moisture control. Some models even come with an ice-maker and water dispenser (located inside the door, of course, so as not to ruin the effect).

Best of all, the Big Chill is available in eight colors including Pink Lemonade and Cherry Red—hues you’d never see in Grandma’s kitchen. “We have a Jadite Green one in our window,” says Adrienne Smith, manager at Sozio Appliances in Cambridge. “It’s an eye-catcher. We keep a spotlight on it all night.”

Sozio clearly knows how to treat a star, and the Big Chill was born ready for its close-up.

BUY: $3,195, Sozio Appliances, 495 Concord Ave., Cambridge 617-547-2252,