the new luxury staple of the Status kitchen

  • Celebrities and the wealthy are embracing glass-front refrigerators in the age of Instagram.
  • Custom refrigerators from luxury brands like True Residential and Sub-Zero start at around $10,000.
  • They’re popping up everywhere, from mansions in Los Angeles to $25 million Manhattan townhouses.

In May, Kris Jenner’s refrigerator became a star.

Photographed for her daughter Kourtney Kardashian Poosh’s lifestyle website, the 66-year-old matriarch’s glass-fronted fridge – which cost around $15,000 – clearly features enough greens to clean out a Whole Foods. Adding to the aesthetically pleasing ambience are crisp Romaine heads standing in lucite bins alongside drawers filled with plump loose grapes and neatly arranged rows of pears and green peppers.

In an age where every detail of life is posted on social media, the fridge has gone from a mere utilitarian appliance to a literal window into the health and wellness habits of celebrities and wealthy individuals.

Glass door refrigerators have long played a crucial role in helping restaurant kitchens stay organized by making items visually accessible. But over the past decade, this feature of the service industry has made the leap into the residential sphere, becoming a kitchen status item.

So why turn to glass door refrigerators? The obsession with showcasing Instagram-ready interiors when everyone was stuck at home, to begin with. Jenner’s friend and mother of models Bella and Gigi, Yolanda Hadid, started the trend early on, with a bespoke glass-door fridge with her own Instagram account. Meanwhile, TV shows like “Get Organized With The Home Edit” and “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” have elevated orderliness – a required attribute when viewing last night’s meal – into a virtue.

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As people hunkered down earlier in the pandemic, they were spending more on their homes. Sales of major luxury kitchen appliances, including refrigerators, cooktops and ovens, rose 45% in the United States year-over-year from January to September 2021, according to the global company market analyst, the NPD Group. Bain and Co.’s 2021 Luxury Spending Report found the market for high-end furniture and homewares reached around $46 billion, up 13-15% from 2020, and even rising 6-8% in the pre-pandemic year. of 2019.

These devices prioritize form, not function. Now, expensive custom refrigerators are the dormant hit of the status kitchen, giving the one percent something to show off to their equally elite neighbors.

“It’s mostly about aesthetics, especially at the luxury price point,” said Chelsea McClaran, brand manager for True Residential, which made Jenner’s fridge. “Most of our customers aren’t looking to keep up with the Joneses. They’re looking to have something no one has seen before.”

The pioneer of the glass front refrigerator speaks

Much of True Residential’s business — 60% of full-size models, in fact — is its custom work, where buyers can choose to have their refrigerator coated in any color imaginable, McClaran said. This adds between $2,000 and $3,500 to the already high price. True’s glass-door refrigerators start at $12,500, and many cost significantly more.

But that’s a drop in the bucket for the typical True Residential buyer. The brand, which started in the commercial refrigeration industry and moved into residential in 2017, said it does not keep specific statistics about its buyers. But McClaran shared some observations about the demographics attracted to glass-front refrigerators.

A sage green refrigerator with a glass door next to navy blue cabinets in a kitchen.

A representative from True Residential said that 60% of its full-size refrigerator buyers choose a custom color.

True Residential

“In terms of income, they are definitely between the top 50% and top 1% of annual household income,” she said. “You’re talking about a $25,000 refrigerator.”

The devices often appeal to people who host large gatherings in their homes.

“It serves a really good purpose for people who get in often,” McClaran said, adding, “You’re telling people to help themselves. People really take that to heart when it comes to a refrigerator. glass door. It’s just inviting by nature.”

A SoCal interior designer recommends glass-front refrigerators to all of her clients

Newport Beach, Calif. interior designer Shannon McLaren has a 36-inch column Sub-Zero glass-front refrigerator that starts at $9,250. For McLaren, its use is more about creating visual breaks in the room.

McLaren said it generally recommends glass-door refrigerators to customers of its design studio, Prairie Home Styling. Although she said she was pushed back – it’s a mess in there; everyone will judge me – transparent models win over customers about 70% of the time.

A kitchen with a glass door refrigerator.

Shannon McLaren opted for a ready-made $9,250 Sub-Zero in her kitchen.

Mellon Studio

“What I like about glass is that it’s kind of like a break in the cupboards, even if it’s a very high and massive part of a kitchen” , said McLaren. “It’s like the way a window breaks a wall.”

These devices have “that wow factor”

When a West Village, Manhattan townhouse owned by oil heiress Aileen Getty was renovated in 2019, she installed a Sub-Zero glass-fronted double fridge in the kitchen alongside more traditional touches, like white subway tiles and a farmhouse sink.

The townhouse is now on the market for $25 million.

Compass estate agent Carl Gambino said that on the few times he has walked potential buyers around the property, people have commented on its huge refrigerators.

“I heard one person say it was exceptionally brilliant but so simple,” Gambino said.

Sub-Zero, which also manufactures the coveted Wolf ranges and sparkling wine fridges, is accustomed to serving an elite clientele.

“The main driver for us – for our refrigerators – is that wow factor,” said Jeff Sweet, product marketing manager for Sub-Zero.

This story was originally published on July 30, 2022.

Karl M. Bailey