I'm old enough to remember childhood visits to my Nan – stone hot water bottles, an outside loo, a tin bath and no fridge. This was only in the 1960s but it seems like light years away from how we live now. We have all mod cons, especially in the kitchen where technology has driven consumer demand for smarter and more efficient appliances such as fridge freezers.

Now, in the 21st century, fridges and freezers have arrived in the space age with mind-boggling technology and cutting-edge design.

My husband used to joke that every appliance we bought had a built-in radio. Imagine the look on his face when I told him about the latest fridges. The Samsung Family Hub™ double-fronted fridge freezer doesn't have a built-in radio, but it does have a screen on the door with a wi-fi connection that allows you to watch TV or stream music. You can use it to leave messages for the rest of the family, which will play automatically when they come home, and you can order online shopping through the internet connection.

There's more. There are three cameras inside the fridge which can connect to your smart phone while you're actually shopping to show if you're short of milk for example. Worried about out-of-date food? The fridge can scan barcodes and let you know what is nearing its best-before date.

It also has a recipe app to offer meal suggestions using the ingredients in the fridge and help you make a shopping list based on the contents. Of course you pay for all this brain power and, although it does have a huge capacity, it will set you back a cool £4,500.

KF Kitchens in Plymouth was named Studio Partner of the Year in the Häfele Studio Partner Awards 2018. It's also celebrating its 10th anniversary this year at the 40,000 sq ft showroom at Faraday Mill Business Park. Partner Simon Rice says the modern trend towards more open-plan living, often informs the kind of fridge freezer people want in their kitchen.

"People regard it as a living space now, not just a separate room," says Simon. "That's why they often go for the integrated look because it offers a lot of flexibility. You can have a full-sized fridge and a full-sized freezer giving you more capacity. People often go for the American-style fridge freezer because it comes with an ice machine."

He continues: "Deciding how much capacity you need is a big consideration. In an integrated kitchen, one of the benefits is that there are no dirt traps. People want their kitchens to be easy to clean."

There was a time when white goods in the kitchen were, well, white. Then stainless steel and black came along and today, the sky's the limit with appliances in a wide range of colours and designs, suitable for any colour scheme.

At the other end of the style spectrum to the stark, ultra-modern appliance is the return of a retro look with soft, curved lines and a classic shape. Italian company Smeg has been making fridges since 1948 and today, its 50s-style range offers a vintage look with an appliance that is as much a fashion statement as it is a functioning piece of equipment.

It not only comes in everything from gentle pastels to vivid primary colours, you can also get a Union Jack design, something that evokes Mondrian, or a finish that acts as a blackboard. Smeg even worked with designers Dolce & Gabbana to produce a limited edition of 100 individually painted fridges by Sicilian artists.

In a world of choice, it can get confusing. Upright or chest freezer? Fridge freezer or separate appliances? Integrated or freestanding? Modern or traditional?

You may want to consider a wine fridge which can hold up to 46 bottles on racks, that's handy for water and soft drinks too. We invested in an ice machine for under £100 which didn't need any plumbing in and will produce the equivalent of a bag of ice in a couple of hours. At £1 a kg from your local supermarket it soon pays for itself, especially in a heatwave.

TOP TIPS

  1. What do you need? Family sizes differ but so do habits. If you batch cook, bulk buy a bargain, or like to make the most of glut from the garden, you will need more freezer capacity.
  2. Think outside the (ice) box. Maybe buy a separate wine cooler if a lot of bottles are taking up fridge space.
  3. If you're buying a big American-style fridge freezer just for ice cubes, consider investing in an ice machine.
  4. What suits your kitchen design best? Integrated and out of sight or a bold fashion statement in the brightest of reds?
  5. Shop around and visit kitchen designers. Consider what you really want and then search online for best buys and reviews. Buy the best you possibly can for your budget and remember to factor in running costs.
White Smeg under-counter fridge
If you’re stuck for space, or want an under-the-counter option, this small white Smeg fridge with ice compartment is in retro 50s style and retails at around £790 (Boots kitchen appliances)
Samsung Family Hub double-fronted fridge freezer
The shape of things to come – the Samsung Family Hub double-fronted fridge freezer has wifi technology, three cameras inside to remote check the contents and a screen on the front door. Oh, and it keeps food cold too
Su Carroll

Published 27 August 2018

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