The modern stainless steel era has left most of our houses looking like a giant reflective robot. Don't get us wrong, we love the sleek look of a fresh sheet of stainless steel. That said, there are plenty of spaces where the contemporary style simply doesn't work.
Thankfully, there are some unique companies bringing back the flashy, bright fridges of the 1950's. Retro refrigerators were revamped in the early 2000's and they continue to offer a vintage look to the modern day kitchen.
To make your search as simple as possible, we've put together a list of the 10 best retro refrigerators of 2021. We've also included a thorough guide to finding the right retro fridge for your particular needs.
Our #1 Pick
As far as price, size and overall retro appearance, there really isn't a better alternative. With over 1200 Amazon ratings, the Galanz retro fridge has maintained a 4.4 / 5 star review (as of 09/07/2021). The most common customer response was how happy people were with the price point.
Amazon Favorites Compared
If you're unsure about the size you'll need, check out our size guide here.
Best Retro Fridges
1) Elmira StoveWorks 1958 & 1959 French Door Retro Refrigerator
First things first, Elmira StoveWorks is the only company (to our knowledge) that manufactures true french door, retro refrigerators. We have no idea why this is, considering how stunningly beautiful these designs turn out.
Whatever the reason, we're glad Elmira is the company making it happen. If you take a look at the Elmira website, you'll quickly realize that the whole company oozes old fashioned.
Old fashioned products, old fashioned style, and most importantly...old fashioned customer service.
They foster all the good qualities of the old and mix it with the technology of the new. A mantra that seems to be lost on most companies these days.
Now for the refrigerators.
The 1958 and 1959 models are identical in all aspects except their size. Check out the differing dimensions below. The company offers the usual retro color options of candy red, robin's egg blue, and buttercup yellow, but they also state that custom colors are available.
Both refrigerators are equipped with a filtered water dispenser, ice maker, two vegetable drawers, one full length drawer, and 3 layers of shelving on both doors.
If you have any particular customization requests, reach out to Elmira. They welcome unique queries and will usually do their best to make it happen, granted it falls in their scope of expertise.
Since there is no "buy now" button, here's a few links to get you in the right direction:
Outside Dimensions: 72-1/4” H x 36-1/8” W x 35-1/8” D
Capacity: 17.75 Cubic Ft (Fridge) 7.74 Cubic Ft (Freezer)
Energy Consumption: 505KwH/Year
Color Options: Endless (reach out to company)
Outside Dimensions: 72-1/4” H x 36-1/8” W x 30-1/8” D
Capacity: 14.38 Cubic Ft (Fridge) 5.62 Cubic Ft (Freezer)
Estimate Energy Costs: 451KwH/Year
Color Options: Endless (reach out to company)
4.2 / 5 Stars
2) SMEG 50s Retro Style 24" Bottom Freezer 12.8 cu. ft. Energy Star Refrigerator
While the SMEG model doesn't carry quite the capacity a french door option would, this tall unit still has a whopping 12.8 cu ft capacity. If you've no idea how large that is, compare it to the standard 3.2 cu ft mini fridge.
That means this fridge can store approximately 4 times that of your standard mini fridge (granted this is the sum of both the freezer and fridge space).
In short, it's big 🙂
Also, SMEG isn't just a modern company revamping old style refrigerators. SMEG opened its doors in 1948, which means they were making retro fridges before they were actually considered "retro."
Yes, SMEG has had over half a century to perfect their refrigerators in terms of functionality and style.
Now for its unique features:
The fridge includes a 0°C/32°F drawer, a fruit and vegetable drawer, LED lights on both sides, and an electronic temperature control system that maintains temperatures between 28-37°F (-2°-3°C).
It also comes with a door ajar alarm to help you keep those energy costs at a minimum.
Outside Dimensions: 78'' H x 24'' W x 31'' D
Capacity: 8.5 Cubic Ft (Fresh Food) 3.5 Cubic Ft (Freezer)
Estimate Energy Costs: $45/Year
Color Options: Red, Blue, Black, Cream, Orange, Pastel Green, Pink, or White
4.3 / 5 Stars
3) Galanz GLR12TRDEFR Retro Refrigerator, 12.0 Cu Ft
As one of the most reasonably priced retro fridges available, we were immediately drawn to the Galanz retro fridge. How could something that sells for 1/5th of the market price have such great reviews?
Here's what we found.
The majority of the buyers loved that they could have the retro look without the high price tag.
With that said, selling for a fraction of the price comes with a sacrifice in quality. The reviews are overall very positive, but there are some downsides worth mentioning.
5 star reviewers loved the low price, retro look, and overall functionality of the cooling.
4 star reviewers usually complained about some defect due to shipping.
3 star reviewers usually complained about shipping issues and the fridge's plastic handle.
2 star reviewers complained about the relatively cheaper materials.
1 star reviewers complained about the unresponsive customer service.
We usually don't lay out reviews like this, but it seemed appropriate with this particular fridge. In short, the positive responses were usually from customers who had realistic expectations of a fridge that sells for a fraction of the typical price. The negative responses usually came from those with higher expectations for quality or customer service.
Features include an energy start certification, a crystal crisper, 4 slide-out glass shelves, an interior light, and two leveling front legs.
Outside Dimensions: 23.74 x 29.45 x 66.93 inches
Capacity: 9.36 Cubic Ft (Fridge) 2.65 Cubic Ft (Freezer)
Estimate Energy Costs: Unknown (312 kWh annually)
Color Options: Red, White, Black
4.5 / 5 Stars
4) Galanz GLR10TRDEFR Retro Refrigerator, 10.0 Cu Ft
Yes, an ever so slightly smaller alternative to the Galanz above. Besides the dimensions, a few features and the internal capacity, everything is literally identical.
Here's the deal; 2 cubic feet less internal capacity for $100 less. If you have any questions about this unit, refer to the Galanz model above. In terms of size, it seems to work well for couples or families of four with average needs.
Features include energy star certification, 1 crystal crisper, 3 slide out glass shelves, an interior light and two front leveling legs.
Outside Dimensions: 23.74 x 27.48 x 61.81 inches
Capacity: 7.42 Cubic Ft (Fridge) 2.42 Cubic Ft (Freezer)
Estimate Energy Costs: $39 per year (325 kWh annually)
Color Options: Red, White, Black
4.5 / 5 Stars
5) Chambers Retro 24" Top Freezer Retro Fridge, 10 Cubic Ft
The Chambers company was created way back in 1910. They started with producing all kinds of exotic kitchen appliances, until one day, they stopped manufacturing (for reasons that aren't entirely clear).
The chambers name was recently revamped in North America and now exclusively makes uniquely designed refrigerators (and some other random items, like induction cooktops).
While comforting that Chambers specializes in just a few simple products, the modernized company is still in its infancy.
The vast majority of buyers were extremely happy with their purchase, but there were a few complaints regarding customer service (a common occurrence with newer companies that underestimate the quality of good customer service).
Now for this particular fridge:
With 10 cubic feet of internal space, this fridge can easily support a bigger family as a secondary refrigerator. Smaller families and couples will also find this amount of space to be sufficient. Keep in mind that the freezer is fairly small compared to your traditional fridge (take a look at the picture below).
Features include: shelf slots every 2 inches or so, adjustable door shelves, a wire rack for bottles, tempered glass shelves, a bottom vegetable drawer, a manual defrost freezer and a chrome-plated handle.
Probably the greatest functional attraction of this retro fridge is how many shelf positions both the door and the main compartment have. It's designed to meet the demands of whatever you choose to store (you can see the high # of shelf slots in the image below).
Outside Dimensions: 60'' H x 24.02'' W x 25.2'' D
Capacity: 10 Cubic Ft
Estimate Energy Costs: $35 per year (292 kWh annually)
Color Options: Blue, White, Cream, Black
4.2 / 5 Stars
6) RCA 2-Door Apartment Size Retro Refrigerator (7.5 and 10 cu ft Options)
RCA’s self-proclaimed ‘apartment sized’ retro refrigerator and freezer combo certainly does one thing perfectly - It’s a work of art. Whether you choose the Retro Red, Black, or Blue, this vintage-style fridge is a great conversation piece.
Oh yeah, It also works - really well too. Reviewers appear to be jubilated with how well the retro fridge/freezer combo works and looks.
All that to say, this blast from the past has some current issues. For starters, a lot of reviewers had problems with the shipping and handling department. Even in the five star reviews, buyers were upset with dings, knicks, and scratches on an otherwise beautiful machine.
If you think you’ll just reach out to customer service and get a replacement - you might get the cold shoulder. Verified purchasers stated that RCA’s care department isn’t the most helpful, and in some cases outright refused to replace the product; others with similar issues didn’t struggle as much.
All in all, this is a well oiled, functioning machine that relies on nostalgia and bold design choices to create a centerpiece for any garage, office, game room, kitchen, or wherever you find yourself needing a retro refrigerator.
Shipping issues aside, we appreciate that the fridge works as well as it looks.
Outside Dimensions: 23 x 23 x 55 inches
Capacity: 6.5 Cubic Ft (Fridge) - 1 Cubic Ft (Freezer)
Estimate Energy: 5 Kilowatt Hours
Color Options: Retro Red, Retro Black, Retro Blue
4.3 / 5 Stars
7) UNIQUE Classic Retro 22" Bottom Freezer Energy Star 9 Cu. Ft. Refrigerator
If we were to pick our favorite company (in terms of fridge quality and customer service), Unique would definitely be our #1 choice.
Unique has long been known for its manufacturing of off-the-grid kitchen appliances. A few of their DC powered refrigerators made it onto our "best solar refrigerators" guide.
Case and point, Unique works diligently to live by their name to create high quality kitchen appliances that offer a unique function or style. Retro style refrigerators surely fit the category, and so in 2020, they started their first lineup.
While it may be their first attempt, the retro refrigerators do not disappoint. With over 240 Wayfair ratings, this Unique retro fridge has sustained a 4.7 / 5 star review (as of 10/09/2021).
The internal capacity is 9 cubic feet which makes it perfect as an apartment fridge, or a secondary house fridge.
Unlike the 10 cubic ft model above, this unit has plenty of space in the freezer for your typical, everyday needs.
Features include a smudge resistant surface, Energy star certification, 4 fridge shelves, plenty of shelf slots, LED fridge lighting, manual defrost, adjustable leveling legs, 1 vegetable drawer, 1 wine rack, 3 freezer drawers, and 4 door shelves.
Outside Dimensions: 71.2'' H x 21.6'' W x 24.2'' D
Capacity: 6.4 Cubic Ft (Fridge) 2.3 Cubic Ft (Freezer)
Estimate Energy Costs: $33 per year (277 kWh annually)
Color Options: Powder Blue, Black, Candy Red, Marshmallow White, Ocean Mist Turquoise, Summer Mint Green
4.3 / 5 Stars
8) Frigidaire 7.5 cu ft 2-Door Apartment Sized Refrigerator
Frigidaire’s retro refrigerator with top freezer stands strong against competitors with a chic and sleek vintage design, reminiscent of the 1950s. Whether you’re outfitting your garage, a new bar, or recreating a scene from Back to the Future - this is definitely a contender. Even the Frigidaire logo on the front will pull at your nostalgic heartstrings.
Spill-proof shelves, vegetable and fruit crisper bins, and an easy-to-use adjustable thermostat all help this beautiful vintage appliance stay relevant.
Keeping in tempo with a few of the other retro refrigerators on this list, Frigidaire also has shipping and handling issues. While the vast majority of the 100+ reviews on Amazon are positive and gush about the design - there is still a handful of these retro fridges arriving dented, scratched, and, in some cases, broken.
While the fridge portion is roomy, the freezer top is quite small and users have said the temperature is finicky.
You’ll have to fine-tune the temperature controls to find the precise balance between too cold and just right. Understandably, you might get cold feet if you need a machine with a large freezer capacity.
To be frank, we really appreciate the design aspects of this retro refrigerator. Combined with its functionality, easy-to-use controls, and chic design, reviewers are genuinely happy with the money spent.
Outside Dimensions: 23.5 x 23 x 57 inches
Capacity: 7 Cubic Ft (Fridge) - 0.5 Cubic Ft (Freezer)
Estimate Energy Costs: 20 Kilowatt Hours
Color Options: Black, Cream, Red
4.3 / 5 Stars
9) UNIQUE Classic Retro 22" Counter Depth Bottom Freezer Energy Star 7 cu. ft. Refrigerator
Yes, this is the smaller alternative to the UNIQUE model above, offering a 7 cubic ft capacity at roughly $200 less. The overall positive customer response is practically identical to the unit above.
Features include a smudge resistant surface, Energy star certification, 4 fridge shelves, plenty of shelf slots, LED fridge lighting, manual defrost, adjustable leveling legs, 1 vegetable drawer, 1 wine rack, 3 freezer drawers, and 3 door shelves.
Outside Dimensions: 63.8'' H x 21.6'' W x 24.2'' D
Capacity: 5.14 Cubic Ft (Fridge) 1.9 Cubic Ft (Freezer)
Estimate Energy Costs: $35 per year (295 kWh annually)
Color Options: Turquoise, Black, Light Blue, Light Green, Red, White
4.3 / 5 Stars
10) Frigidaire EFR376-CORAL Retro Bar Fridge Refrigerator with Side Bottle Opener, 3.2 cu. Ft
We really enjoyed looking into this fridge. Frigidaire seems to be the only company that really took its time in making their fridge look like a true retro style mini fridge.
The old school handle, the cursive label and the side-mounted bottle opener really make this mini fridge one of a kind.
With over 2500 Amazon ratings, the Frigidaire model has sustained a 4.4 / 5 star review (as of 10/09/2021). People continually touched on the unique look, quiet operation, and cold functionality of the fridge.
There were some complaints about fridges showing up damaged or giving out shortly after buying (these complaints were rare in the grand scheme of things, but still worth mentioning).
Keep in mind, 3.2 cubic ft is really not enough space to fit a lot of food/drinks. This is strictly for minimalists or to be used as a secondary beverage fridge. Also works as a great option for the office.
Outside Dimensions: 20 x 22 x 35 inches
Capacity: 3.2 Cubic Ft
Estimate Energy Costs: Unknown
Color Options: Black, Blue, Coral, Moonbeam, Pink, or White
4 / 5 Stars
Consider Before You Buy
With ANY refrigerator, size should always be your first quality to consider. For a useful reference point, a standard house fridge has a capacity of between 12 and 20 cubic ft.
(20 cubic feet being the larger french door refrigerators, and 12 cubic ft being your standard single door refrigerator.)
For larger families (4 or more) with a larger space, a french door option will be the most practical option (model #1).
Just like your modern style refrigerators, the price range is vast. Expect to pay $500 on the low end, and upwards of $4,000 on the high end. In our experience, making the right decision depends on what you plan to use the fridge for.
If this is your main house fridge and you plan to extract from it everything it has to offer, investing in a higher-end model just makes sense. This will run you a little more, but will pay for itself in the long run (this comprises models 1-2 and 5, 7, and 9 above).
If this is your garage fridge, secondary fridge, or a temporary fridge, there's really no reason to cough up that much dough. There are several models (models #3, #4, #6, and #8 above) that'll give you the look and functionality without the high price point.
Surprisingly, handles were the most talked about subject in the customer reviews.
Here's what you need to consider:
Cheaper models will have plastic/synthetic handles that resemble the chrome look, but do not hold up to the wear and tear of true chrome. They also do not offer the same feel the 1950's fridge possessed.
More expensive models will have heavy duty chrome handles that offer a heftier feel to them. These will also outlast the plastic handles.
Which direction should I go?
Here's the deal. People who bought the cheaper model and had realistic expectations of what a cheaper model entails, were overall very happy with their fridge. In other words, they were expecting lower quality compared to the models that sell for 3 to 4 times as much, and they were happy to make the sacrifice for the much cheaper price.
People who paid the extra money for the higher end retro refrigerators (refrigerators with higher end components), felt the product lived up to the higher price tag.
With expectations set correctly, both price points made the buyer a happy camper (obviously with rare exceptions).
Top or Bottom Freezer?
You'll find a healthy share of both top and bottom freezer retro refrigerators. Finding the right one usually comes down to preference, but here are some pros and cons worth considering.
While not relating to functionality, color is a critical component to making sure the fridge fits into your space as seamlessly as possible.
Most retro fridges will offer the classic red, blue and yellow varieties. If you don't have the eye for interior decorating, be careful. These colors can easily make or break the room.
If you wanna play it safe, there's almost always a black or white option that'll fit just about anywhere you need it to.
Frequently Asked Questions
What About the Coca Cola Retro Refrigerators?
Whenever I visualize a retro fridge, I can't help but think of it filled with the old, classic coke bottles. This isn't surprising though, considering soda sales really took off at the same time refrigerators became available to the average consumer (prohibition helped too).
The coca cola fridges were these round, bright red refrigerators that had the famous coca cola label stamped on the front. They were common place in the 50's, but are becoming harder and harder to find. If you're interested, Ebay seems to have a consistent supply of unique coca cola refrigerators (usually modern representations of the older fridges).
If you're looking for the real thing, I recommend frequenting flea markets and antique fairs. It seems there's never a shortage of people with antique memorabilia.
While there's a surprisingly large selection of retro fridges nowadays, there's still plenty of room to grow. We believe this growing trend will continue to invite new and improved companies to offer some fresh, unique designs.
We will keep you up to date as we continue our research.
Don't hesitate to leave a note below!
Founder of Robust Kitchen