Retro refrigerators — 7 places to get them in pink (and other colors, too)

Don’t we all want a diminutive pink refrigerator (in one of our fantasy retro kitchens, at least)? I think the idea is particularly appealing, today, because most refrigerators are just so honkin’ big: Silver, black or white elephants drawing too much attention from our beautiful kitchen designs. This is why built in refrigerators are so popular — they make the darn fridge disappear. Cabinet-depth, too, eliminates the protrusion, at least. A curvy pink lollipop refrigerator puts the perfume on the pig, sad metaphor, I know. (This reminds me: My grandma Agnes had this toy pig thing inside her refrigerator. Every time you opened the fridge door, it oinked at you. This, from a woman who never met a full-fat dairy product she didn’t try to wedge into every recipe possible.) So, where can you get a pink refrigerator? I did some research and came up with seven places or ways to get one. Read on…

Following along with my photo spread, above, starting at the top and moving left to right:

  • #1 — Big Chill’s classic retro refrigerator comes in two sizes, a 20.9 cu.ft. unit and a 14.4 cu.ft. unit. They also have an undercounter fridge that you can get in their complete color palette, including pink. Link: Big Chill refrigerators.
  • #2 — Big Chill’s Retropolitan refrigerator has more of a Jetson’s look and the freezer on the bottom. It is 18.5 cu.ft in size– and it is 2″ less deep so sticks out less. Link: Big Chill refrigerators.
  • #3 — The Northstar refrigerator by Elmira Stove Works comes in three sizes and variations: The 19 cu.ft. model has the freezer on the bottom, while the freezer is on the top in 18.2 cu.ft. and 11 cu.ft. models. You can also get the 11 cu.ft. model with a built-in kegger. Link: Northstar refrigerators.
  • #4 — The Smeg ’tis a baby doll, coming in at just 9.2 cu.ft., but she is oh so cute. Remember Laura’s? Link: Smeg refrigerators.
  • #5 — Take your plain-Jane refrigerator to an auto body shop or industrial painting place — Professional painting joints can consult online paint color guides to match or help get you the color you want. The advantages of professional painting include (1) they have access to very durable automotive paints, (2) they use dust-free booths to avoid itsy bitsies ruining your smooth glossy finish, and (3) someone else does it. However, you will have to get your fridge there and back, and this will cost you, of course.
  • #6 — Spray paint your existing fridge yourself. The only spray paint I could find close to a retro Mamie pink is Rustoleum’s Candy Pink spray paint. Rustoleum has an epoxy spray paint specifically for appliances — but it does not come in pink. So, I asked Rustoleum if they could advise on how to use this less fancy pink spray paint to do a fridge, either metal or vinyl/plastic. Here is what they said: “Painter’s Touch would work fine on the fridge.  We also have a spray paint called Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2X that also comes in Candy Pink. The real advantage of using Ultra Cover 2X is that it offers twice the coverage of general purpose spray paints.  It also has distribution at The Home Depot and many hardware and paint stores, so it’s easy to buy anywhere in the US. According to our brand management team, before painting the vinyl/plastic parts of the fridge, prime them with Specialty Plastic Primer.  For metal, you can prime with a Stops Rust Clean Metal primer for added durability. You could use Painters Touch Ultra Cover 2X Clear over the Candy Pink, but priming would be the most important step. If you topcoat with the Clear, apply it within 1 hour after painting or after 48 hours.”
  • #7 — Stalk craigslist and Re-Stores for a vintage pink refrigerator. This will take time. But once you send your vibes out into the universe, the Retro Decorating Gods may reward you sooner than you think. I am not an expert on what to look for in a vintage fridge. See this post for some links and such if you are serious about pursuing this option.

 

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Comments

  1. wendy says

    My post is long, but I think worthy info:

    I would have preferred turquoise appliances, but then fell in love with a pink fridge on ebay just because the design was so fabulous. Not too long after, a pink range fell into my lap, also from ebay. The prices were great, although shipping was….. *ouch*. Still worth it!

    NOTE for those wanting to buy a vintage fridge: Think long and hard about getting one that is not frost free. You will have to manually defrost it. I would prefer a frost free, but I just LOVE the look of my fridge, so defrosting is just an occasional inconvenience. Beauty can be painful :) I have a modern fridge in the basement that houses my “real” freezer, and only keep ice and a few other minor things in the vintage one.

    While some may lament the difficulty of fixing a vintage fridge when things go bad, it doesn’t have to be a problem. I found a fridge just like mine on Craigslist. It had been reposted 3 or 4 times, and I wrote the seller telling her that if she didn’t sell it, I would buy all of the parts before she sent it to get recycled. (yes…no landfill…they recycle as much of old fridges as they can…yay for Oregon!) She didn’t sell it, and I bought all of the “stuff” that she was willing to remove for $50 plus shipping! Shelves, little interior doors, ice cube trays, etc. My fridge was missing a rolling shelf, so it was great to get a replacement. The other parts I got are stashed for the future.

    Just this past weekend, I saw a fridge like mine advertised as part of an estate sale. I really want to get a backup compressor, so thought I would see what they were asking for the fridge and pay that price just to pull the compressor and any other useful parts. My mistake was thinking nobody would buy the fridge…argh….it was already sold when I got to the sale. ( FOR $65.00!!!!!)

    I mention this to point out that you can buy a vintage fridge and then keep your eye out for similar fridges with parts that may be needed in the future. It’s helpful if you can get an original (or copy of an original) repair manual too. Scour the internet and ebay. I found a service manual on ebay for my fridge, but it had already been sold. I’m contacting the buyer to beg them to copy it for me. Another unlikely place is Amazon. There are sellers that have old service manuals too.

    Regarding energy consumption: I consider the cost in energy, the environmental cost of sending yet another perfectly working appliance to the landfill, the cost to replace the appliance, and the esthetic joy I get from the appliance. So far, vintage wins handily. For those interested, here is an energy calculator:

    http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=refrig.calculator

    Keep in mind the calculator is on a government website, and there may be some “purchased results” as far as I’m concerned.

    Without further ado, here are links to my fabulous pink appliances. The photos are from the original ebay ads.

    Fridge exterior: http://www.pbase.com/weed30/image/127871316
    Fridge interior: http://www.pbase.com/weed30/image/127871319
    Range: http://www.pbase.com/weed30/image/127871314/original

    • pam kueber says

      I am going to REPEAT: If there is NO DEFROST cycle on a vintage fridge, I have been told that it may use even less electricity than fancy fridges today. We need someone to volunteer to put their old time no-defrost model on a meter!

      • Heidi Swank says

        We picked up a MIB Electra Frostaway on ebay. It’s a little unit that heats up a bit and quickens the pace of the defrosting. I usually do the defrosting when I’m going to be in the kitchen anyway, because I don’t want to leave the Frostaway unsupervised. It makes the defrosting quick and easy!

      • Jamie Farone says

        My 1947 GE is a manual defrost.. this refrigerator is about 11 cubic feet and weigh about a ton.. took 4 guys to get it off a truck and in the house.. It has never been refurbished and runs like a dream.. we actually tested ourselves to see if our electric bill would sky rocket or not. my husband was so affraid that our bill would double from this fridge and actually it ended up lowering our bill by 9.00! amazing!! ive spoken with appliance repairmen about the fridge and every single person had said that old refrigerators are more energy efficient than the ones that claim to be today. Ive had alot of these men tell me that the governement has somehow drummed it in peoples heads that newer appliances are energy savers when infact they really arent.. its like a gimmick or a schtick to get people to get out there and spend more money. And Actually from having 4 vintage appliances, I believe them, our gas and electric bills have significantly lowered. And they were built to last, now adays you have to replace your appliance every 5-10 years if youre lucky and they dont make parts anymore for anything older than 10 years old (this is big box name appliances) If kitchenaid would have continued to make parts for all their models, I would have still had my kick butt 1962 dishwasher that only needed a stinkin’ fill valve…If it didnt flood my kitchen twice a week.. I would have saved that baby.. because the frigidaire we had to replace it with isnt nearly as great as what we had… I actually cried when it was hauled away, it was by far the best dishwasher we ever had.

      • RetroCo says

        First, I wanted to relay that the electrician who works on my 1963 Frigidaire Flair range (and worked on them when they first came out) told me that a vintage refrigerator should use less electricity than a new one, for what it’s worth.

        Second, I wondered if anybody has found a good paint color to match actual vintage turquoise. I have long wanted to get a Big Chill or Northstar refrigerator, but their green and blue colors do not match anything I have that is actually vintage. I am not anxious to shell out $400 for a custom color to get a real vintage turquoise to match my Flair. Thanks!

  2. Heidi Swank says

    We love our 1950s GE combo refrigerator with lazy susan shelves. We took it to a hot rod shop and had it painted baby blue to match our kitchen chairs! It has a new compressor, so it is even rather energy efficient.

  3. Jamie Farone says

    this is all exciting.. I have an original 1947 general electric refrigerator that I painted the rustoleum 2x candy pink myself about a year ago.. works great!! alot of people thought I bought the fridge that way..and others couldnt believe a fridge from 1947 came in such a color. LOL. It worked out beautifully and If anyone would like to see pictures please let me kno. my complete candy/bubblegum pink, black and white kitchen is such a dream..

  4. Jeff says

    Just had to mention, I saw at an estate sale this past weekend here in Southfield, Michigan, in a basement there was a 1955 or 56 Hotpoint gigantic chest freezer that had the most amazing locking chrome handle with ‘Hotpoint’ script, chevron shaped “hood ornament” and when you opened it up, a built in light under the lid, and the entire inside was aqua!

    With white wire sliders exposing three levels of freezer storage- Oh, and the entire exterior was white with rounded ends like car fenders of the period.

    I loved this thing, and it was working, AND It was ONLY 25 bucks! But moving it would have been trauma- basement stairs, and lots of lugging. So the new owners will inherit a chest freezer, sadly.

    And did I mention it had an AQUA interior? LOL

  5. says

    I had a 1950s pink GE as well…. nicknamed “the pink beast”. I loved it but it was starting to need defrosting every few weeks, so I parted ways with it – found another loving owner who was going to put it in his retro themed basement. I hope it is happy wherever it is! Loved that thing.

    • Jackie says

      Abigail, did you try replacing the door seal when it started needing constant defrosting? We did that on our ’47 GE , it solved the problem and it only cost us around $50.

  6. says

    I love the retro-styled fridges but hate the over-the-top price. Yes, I know … I want the best of both worlds! And if my kitchen weren’t red, black, and white, I’d want a pink fridge to adorn it! As it is, however, methinks it might clash just a tad. :-)

  7. JKM says

    I’ve never painted an entire refrigerator – the thought’s a little daunting considering seals, gaskets, etc. – but I painted a Vent-a-Hood ages ago and the front of my old dishwasher once and they looked great. The hardest part with the dishwasher was figuring out which screws to remove that would allow the front panels to come off (it didn’t have panel inserts and the color wrapped the sides). I cleaned both really well (Vent-a-Hood was the hardest since it had been exposed to years of greasy exhaust) then sprayed each with appliance paint one thin layer at a time, allowing each to dry in-between. Everyone had told me that patience was a virtue when painting an appliance – one thin layer at a time – and they were right!

  8. says

    Wow .. this is uncanny. I was just looking on Craigslist and ran across a listing for a pink GE fridge in Des Moines, Iowa. Any Iowa readers want to go snatch it up?

  9. RosemaryMartin says

    I would love a pink fridge! Alas, I am but a mere renter at the present time, although I am renting a mid-century brick rancher. :)

    I’ve bookmarked this page in the hopes that one day I may own a house again and do with it what I please.

  10. gsciencechick says

    I lived in several rentals with non-frost free fridges, and never again! That is just one of the worst messy jobs along with manual clean ovens.

    Love, love, love, our Big Chill in Beach Blue. It makes me smile every day. The size works for just the two of us. Our former fridge was only 18 cu. ft, so 21 in the Big Chill does make a difference. We also got the icemaker for DH.

  11. Kathryn says

    I picked up my ’51 Frigidaire on CraigsList here in San Diego from an original owner last year for $65. My electricity bill went *down* about twenty bucks a month and I can only link it to my new-to-me appliance.

    I love the look, as I recently renovated my ’38 kitchen. I have found that I don’t miss the larger freezer like I thought I would (this one has the pull down freezer inside the fridge door).

    Here’s a hilarious You-Tube 50′s commercial of my fridge and “Billy Boy and Pops” buying it for his Mom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKoTLnLMf8Y.

    Of course, I had to build a wood ramp to get it up 2 steps into my kitchen–the mover said it weighed at least 500 lbs…

  12. Jackie says

    About 12 year ago I bought a 1947 GE refrigerator from the elderly original owner. She said it was one of the first ones off the assembly line after the war and that it had never had to be repaired since she had owned it. I have moved it all over the U.S and have never, ever had to have it repaired outside of a new door gasket. When we settle in Phoenix in July it will get it’s professional pink paint job and will have a place of honor in my 1963 ranch. I know it isn’t appropriate to the age of the house, but this fridge keeps things fresher and colder longer than any new fridge that I have EVER had.

  13. Kate says

    We’ve had a 1952 GE for the last 12 years. Runs fine, the only trouble now is that it needs a new door gasket, which we’ll be ordering from antiqueappliances.com. The seal is not tight around the freezer and we are getting condensation, which is causing rust.
    We spray painted it white, and later I used an enamel paint and super-smooth roller to touch up. I love the idea of taking it to a body shop, but my husband is not too keen on moving it again!
    I would also conjecture that the thickness of the door and walls make it quite efficient.

  14. Wendy says

    I saw a 1950s time capsule house where they used shelf liner to make a pink fridge. It was cute they used a pink gingham and they had the same liner on the middle part of the cabinets.

  15. Renee B says

    OH do I WISH my husband would haul our fridge outside for me so I could spray paint it pink! I have wanted a pink fridge for years!!!! LOVE IT!

  16. says

    My mom’s friend had her brand-new fridge delivered to an auto body shop to be painted to match her vintage kitchen. It was cheaper than the fancy retro-style fridges, and looked amazing!

      • Pinky says

        You are correct–they are awesome! I noticed just a few dollars difference in my electric bill from when I bought it and plugged it in. I only have to defrost it once or twice a year. I never used the defrost function on the frig…just unplugged it, moved the items into my other frig and left the door open with a cake pan positioned under the freezer rack. The ice took about 45 minutes to fall off. Sometimes I hastened the process with a hair dryer (I can be a bit impatient at times!).

  17. Jovon says

    I am looking for a mint green or fire engine red for my 1930′s Coldspot refrigerator and just cannot find it in Rustoleum….and I really use that brand because I hear nothing but greatness from people using it…does anyone suggest a different brand that would have those colors?

    Also, Rustoleum had a Sweet Pea pink which to me looks close to Mamie….here is the link….

    http://www.rustoleum.com/DigitalEncyclopedia/product-catalog/RustOleumUSA/consumer-brands/painters-touch-ultra-cover-2x/satin/

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