It turns out that color coordinating isn’t just for your closet. Aesthetically arranging your fridge is officially trending, and Marie Kondo would be proud.

Using clear containers to simplify lines and intentionally buying produce to fit in a specific color scheme are just a couple of ways that Instagram’s most followed fridges are making it happen.

A glimpse inside Kristen Hong’s refrigerator. Before grocery shopping, Ms. Hong sketches how she wants the shelves to look. KRISTEN HONG/HELLO NUTRITARIAN

 

By Ellen Byron for WSJ

 

Every item in Rayna Greenberg’s refrigerator is evenly spaced and faces forward. Flavored seltzers are arranged in rainbow order on the top shelf. Eggs are poised in a ceramic tray. Plastic bins with custom-made labels carry rows of applesauce pouches, jars of tomato sauce and chia-seed snacks.

“You hear angels sing when you open the door and see everything lined up perfectly,” says Ms. Greenberg, a marketing executive who lives in Hoboken, N.J. Since she started meticulously organizing her refrigerator about two years ago, Ms. Greenberg says, she eats more fruits and vegetables because she likes how they look in the crisper drawers. “Aesthetically I want them there, and then I end up eating them.”

Refrigerators are the latest frontier in home organization, with color-coordinated lineups and pristine shelves wowing house guests, baffling family members and inspiring boasts on social media. Enthusiasts say tidy drawers and shelves have them eating healthier, buying fewer duplicate condiments and wasting less food because everything is accounted for. Fridge curators are getting adventurous at the grocery store, scrapping egg and juice cartons for fancy containers, and casting a baleful eye on unsightly leftovers.

Rayna Greenberg says she hears ‘angels sing’ when admiring the tidy shelves of her refrigerator, above. PHOTO: RAYNA GREENBERG

 

The Home Edit, an organizing firm, says refrigerator-organization projects are its most popular posts on Instagram, where they have drawn 1.3 million followers. “It hits a nerve and satisfaction spot people didn’t even know they were looking for,” says Clea Shearer, the Home Edit’s co-founder. “I don’t think that many people think their fridge can ever look good—it’s a forgotten space.”

While many people don’t have big closets or pantries, refrigerators are universal, tempting more people to tackle them—and bask in their efforts right away, says Joanna Teplin, a Home Edit co-founder. “This is a whole other way to live, it’s a trap door where you find a whole other world on the other side.”

The Home Edit, which counts Gwyneth Paltrow, Khloé Kardashian and Mandy Moore among its clients, is known for arranging shoes, clothes, crayons and books in rainbow order so they are easy to find and put away. Perishables get the same treatment. “It inspires food creativity and makes you happy when you look at it,” Ms. Shearer says.

Kristen Hong says meticulously organizing her refrigerator each week helps her stick to a plant-based diet. PHOTO: JENN BARTELL

Before heading to the grocery store every week, Kristen Hong of Dublin, Calif., usually sketches how she wants her refrigerator shelves to look, planning the colors and textures of the fruits and vegetables she will buy and deciding how to arrange them. On weeks when she decides to fill the shelves with one color, she has discovered foods she likes. “When I did a purple fridge, I found purple fingerling potatoes—they are so delicious,” Ms. Hong says. “I get some funny stares at Whole Foods, especially on red and yellow weeks, because, you know, my whole belt is filled with those colored foods.”

Ms. Hong’s refrigerator-organizing habit started in 2016, to help her adhere to a plant-based diet. She has since lost 40 pounds. “It was a way to figure out how I can use my fridge as a tool for my health instead of just a place where we shoved a bunch of stuff and were always searching for things,” she says. “Prepping the fridge is an act of self-love that we can give ourselves.”

Most weeks, Ms. Hong spends a few hours chopping fruits and vegetables and storing them in glass containers in her refrigerator. She photographs the shelves for her Instagram feed and healthy-eating blog, Hello Nutritarian. The photos don’t usually show the deli drawer, which holds her children’s sliced turkey, cheese and pita bread. The doors house her husband’s hot-sauce collection and condiments like ketchup and mustard. “I hardly ever show my doors,” Ms. Hong says.

On weeks when Ms. Hong fills her refrigerator with one color, she discovers new foods she likes. PHOTO: KRISTEN HONG/HELLO NUTRITARIAN

 

The Container Store says interest in refrigerator-specific storage items has risen in the past six to eight months. Its 21-piece “fridge organization starter kit,” recently on sale for $212.14, includes three wine-bottle holders, a beverage dispenser, water bottle, bins of different sizes and specialized containers for cold cuts and cheese, eggs and even grapefruit. Lauren Hill, a divisional merchandise director for the retailer, says that as people invest more time and money in fresh ingredients, they’re more thoughtful about storing them. “You can waste a lot of ingredients if you don’t stay organized,” she says.

In July Bosch introduced a line of refrigerators with an adjustable “FlexBar” along the back interior wall, which is often unused space, researchers found. The bar holds hanging shelves and bins for wine bottles, eggs, condiments and small items that can get lost in a cluttered refrigerator. The feature is designed to appeal to consumers the company considers “quality passionate,” says Anja Prescher, Bosch’s director of brand marketing. “They are the type who watch Marie Kondo and take that idea to their fridge,” she says. “You come home from a busy day and feel like your kitchen is a respite. You want a retreat from the chaos outside in the world.”

To track how people stow perishables, researchers at appliance-maker Sub-Zero Group Inc. built mock grocery aisles where they can watch how test subjects shop and then put the items away in a refrigerator. “The growing trend of farm-to-table, and always wanting to buy the freshest produce, is changing storing habits quite a bit,” says Brian Jones, Sub-Zero’s senior director of marketing. “People want to be able to have vegetables be easier to access and more visible because they’re concerned about spoilage.”

Sub-Zero includes laminated “freshness cards” that fit inside its refrigerators, mapping ideal placement for dozens of common items, along with their estimated life spans. Ethylene-producing foods, such as apples and pears, as well as ethylene-sensitive ones, including kale and carrots, are also noted so users can avoid storing them together, extending longevity.

At home, Mr. Jones’s family doesn’t always adhere to the refrigerator’s storage suggestions. After his wife and children unload groceries, Mr. Jones admits to rearranging them, putting meat and cheese into their designated drawers and fruits and vegetables into separate crispers. “They think I’m goofy,” he says.

Brendt Blanks’s refrigerator, above, has containers for water, orange juice, eggs and sandwich fixings. PHOTO: BRENDT BLANKS/SHE GAVE IT A GO

Since Brendt Blanks, a blogger in Birmingham, Ala., overhauled her refrigerator in June, her family of six drinks more water because it’s always chilled and accessible. They also eat more sandwiches because the meat and cheese are attractively arranged in special containers, she says.

Still, keeping everything pretty means work, such as transferring orange juice from a plastic jug into a glass carafe or moving eggs from cartons to a more elegant holder. But Ms. Blanks says the peace and joy she feels every time she peeks into the refrigerator makes the effort worthwhile. “I don’t want to go back to how it was,” she says. “I’m trying really hard to juggle it all and make it work.”

The new approach makes Ms. Merlin, a stay-at-home mother, feel organized, at least at the beginning of the week. “I open my fridge a lot for the first two days, just to look at it,” she says. “As the week goes on and the food dwindles down, it starts looking messy, like a normal fridge.”

About two months ago, Lindsey Merlin of Rutland, Mass., spotted photos of beautiful refrigerator shelves online and decided to try it herself. She bought 12 large Mason jars and started chopping produce every week to fill them. Ever since, Ms. Merlin’s daughters, 2 and 3 years old, ask to eat more fruits and vegetables. “It’s more appealing for them, and even for me, so it’s easier to make healthier choices,” she says.