Written by:
Michael

Updated
02/19/2021

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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. 

Enjoy!

Related Article: Best Undercounter Refrigerators

Our #1 Pick

As far as price, size and overall retro appearance, there really isn't a better alternative. With over 900 Amazon ratings, the Galanz retro fridge has maintained a 4.5 / 5 star review (as of 02/07/2021). The most common customer response was how happy people were with the price point.


Best According to Size

Product

Capacity

Color Options

Learn More

SMEG Retro Fridge

12.8 Cu Ft (Large)

Red, black, pastel blue, cream, orange, pastel green, pink, white

Unique Retro Fridge

9.0 Cu Ft (Mid-size)

Powder blue, black, candy red, white, turquoise, mint green

Frigidaire Retro Mini Fridge

3.2 Cu Ft (Mini)

Black, blue, coral, moonbeam, pink, red, white

If you're unsure about the size you'll need, check out our size guide here...

Top Rated Products (biggest to smallest)

1) Elmira StoveWorks 1958 & 1959 French Door Retro Refrigerators (Get a Quote)- Best Large Retro Fridge (25 and 20 Cubic Ft Options)

2) SMEG 50's Retro 24" Bottom Freezer Refrigerator 12.8 Cubic Ft - Best Large Retro Fridge (12.8 Cubic FT)

3) Galanz GLR12TRDEFR Retro Fridge 12 Cubic Ft - Best Main House Retro Fridge (12 Cubic FT)

4) Galanz GLR10TRDEFR Retro Fridge 10 Cubic Ft - Best Retro Fridge for Small Families

5) Chambers Retro 24" Top Freezer Refrigerator 10 Cubic Ft - Best Retro Fridge for Small Families

9) Frigidaire EFR376 Retro Bar Fridge 3.2 Cubic Ft - Best 3.2 Cu Ft Retro Fridge

10) RCA RFR321-FR320/8 IGLOO Mini Fridge - Best 3.2 Cu Ft Retro/Modern Fridge

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Consider Before You Buy


Size?

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).

For larger families (4 or more) with a smaller space, anything over a 12 cubic ft capacity will offer you ample room without taking up too much external space (model #2 and #3).

For medium sized families, 10-12 cubic ft seems to be the sweet spot (model #4 and #5).

For a couple (or 2 person household), 7-10 cubic ft will suffice (model #6 and #7).

For those looking for a mini retro fridge, 3-6 cubic ft will be your space range (model #8, #9, and #10).  

Price?

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 below)

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 and #4) that'll give you the look and functionality without the high price point. 

Handle Type/Material?

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. 

Top Freezer

  • Energy Efficient
  • Cheaper
  • Traditional
  • Have to bend down to fridge
  • Freezer usually doesn't have cabinets/organizers

Bottom Freezer

  • Freezer is usually larger
  • Freezer usually includes shelves/organizers
  • Fridge is at eye-level
  • Usually more expensive
  • Less energy efficient

Color?

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. 

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...

-Elmira's French Door Features Page
-Get a Quote
-Contact Customer Service

1958 Model
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)

1959 Model
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)

Our rating:

4.5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • Company has great testimonials
  • Large capacity
  • Tons of color options
  • Responsive customer service
  • Customization options

Cons

  • No product reviews (just testimonials)
  • Ordering entails a process (No buy now button)

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...

Stamped with the energy star mark, this model is made to work as efficiently as possible. With a yearly estimated usage of 378 kW/hour, yearly costs will run you about $45 (monthly, just under $4).    

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

Our rating:

4.5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "Beautiful and excellent quality!!!"
  • "Capacity seems fine, feel of door and handle is solid."
  • "...incredibly efficient."
  • "I got so many compliment on this refrigerator."

Cons

  • Some complaints of how long it takes to ship
  • Freezer drawers "slide outward and slope/hang down"

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

Our rating:

5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "It is extremely good quality; shelves, handles, etc."
  • "It got cold quickly when we plugged it in and seems to be maintaining a cold temperature."
  • "It is very quiet."
  • Great price (relatively speaking)

Cons

  • Shipping damage complaints
  • Customer service complaints
  • "Handles are plastic, not chrome" said one customer.

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

Our rating:

4.5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "It is extremely good quality; shelves, handles, etc."
  • "It got cold quickly when we plugged it in and seems to be maintaining a cold temperature."
  • "It is very quiet."
  • Great price (relatively speaking)

Cons

  • Shipping damage complaints
  • Customer service complaints
  • "Handles are plastic, not chrome" said one customer.

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

Our rating:

4.5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "Adorable fridge, holds a lot for its size. We love it!"
  • "It’s small (5 feet high), beautiful and exceptionally well made."
  • "Handle, hinges, and Chambers name detail on the door is in chrome metal."
  • "Cools and is quite efficient."

Cons

  • Customer service complaints
  • Have to defrost every so often (ice build up)

6) 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 100 Wayfair ratings, this Unique retro fridge has sustained a 4.7 / 5 star review (as of 01/27/2021). 

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

Our rating:

5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "It’s light but yet solid. I would recommend to family and friends."
  • "...a super value."
  • "It's perfect for my small kitchen."
  • "Sharp looking and very quiet."

Cons

  • "Drawers are not on tracks."
  • Temperature varies from front to back

7) 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.

Feature differences are outlined below, but if you have any questions about the company, check out their website here or look at our quick summary 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

Our rating:

5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "It is a small fridge which is what we wanted but, I’m surprised at how much we can fit!"
  • "Perfect for a single person and it’s beautiful."
  • "She’s the prettiest and best lil' fridge I’ll ever have."
  • "Wine rack is very convenient."

Cons

  • Complaints with delivery
  • Higher price

8) Daewoo FR-044RCNM Retro Compact Refrigerator 4.4 Cu. Ft.

Not all of us need the space a full sized fridge offers. While small in stature, the most common customer response was how well the Daewoo mini fridge fit each customer's particular space.

Antique trailers, boats and smaller living spaces create the perfect environment for a retro style mini fridge. 

Scroll to the bottom of the Amazon page and take a look at the customer photos. It'll quickly show you how seamlessly this fridge fits into the right spot. 

And while the outside color resembles the retro look, the inside is pretty much identical to your modern mini fridge. A small freezer, glass shelves and a door with size-specific compartments to fit your typical food/drink items.

With over 500 Amazon ratings, the Daewoo mini fridge has sustained a 4.4 / 5 star review (as of 01/29/2021). Customers continually touched on how beautiful the fridge looked in their space.

There were several complaints about the freezer not reaching freezing temperatures. One customer said the freezer didn't go below 39°F. There were also a few complaints about shipping damages. Make sure to get ahold of the company if this happens to you. There were a lot of happy customers talking about the responsive customer service.  

Outside Dimensions: 22.8 x 19.3 x 36.1 inches
Capacity: 4.4 Cubic Ft
Estimate Energy Costs: Unknown
Color Options: Mint, White, or Cream Beige

Our rating:

4.5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "So far it’s beautiful and it fits quite a bit."
  • "Beautiful and functional...winning combination!"
  • No can dispensers (a lot of customers hate these contraptions)
  • Fantastic for trailers, boats, smaller living spaces 

Cons

  • Freezer does not get quite cold enough (one customer said 39°F)
  • Complaints of damages during shipping

9) 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 mini fridge look like a true retro style 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 300 Amazon ratings, the Frigidaire model has sustained a 4.4 / 5 star review (as of 01/29/2021). 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

Our rating:

4 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "This fridge is cold and quiet."
  • " I love it so much, it is so cute! "
  • " I love the color, the size, and the organization that this mini fridge has."
  • "It has a vintage vibe and looks awesome."

Cons

  • "The 'handle' is cheap fake chrome plastic."
  • Complaints of it showing up damaged (from shipping)
  • Some stopped working shortly after buying

10) RCA RFR321-FR320/8 IGLOO Mini Refrigerator, 3.2 Cu Ft Fridge

Not a retro fridge in its original form, but RCA offers color options that help it fit the retro mold. Available in black, blue, green, red, purple, stainless and white, this unique variety allows you to add some serious spice to your room. 

With over an astounding 9000 Amazon ratings, this fridge has sustained a 4.4 / 5 star review (as of 02/03/2021). It's always less nerve-racking to buy something that has such a solid track record. 

To make it even more versatile, the RCA mini fridge comes with a reversible door, allowing you to optimize for your particular preference. It's also equipped with adjustable feet and an easy-to-use thermostat for simple functionality. 

Be warned, despite the overall positive customer reviews, there were a lot of complaints about the company return policy. Take a look at the first few pages of reviews to see what all the fuss is about. Just know if the product comes damaged or faulty, you may have to pay the return freight price to get it back for repair (not cheap).

Our rating:

4 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "Awesome retro looking fridge."
  • "Great color and size."
  • "Super happy and worth the low asking price compared to other fridges of this size."

Cons

  • Complaints of units coming damaged
  • Several customers said it was an "Amazon nonrefundable product," meaning they will not honor their 30-day return policy
  • No internal light

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. 

Concluding


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!

Cheers,

Michael

Founder of Robust Kitchen

About the author

Michael spends his days eating, drinking and studying the fascinating world of food. He received his Bachelors Degree in Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis and spent much of his time at the school brewery. While school proved to be an invaluable experience, his true passion lies in exposing the hidden crannies of food for the cooking laymen.


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