I put together this list of affordable full-size retro refrigerators because—holy moly—these popular models out here cost some serious money! And they take up a lot of space.
I've been running around the internet looking for better options, and here's what I've learned:
- Full-size retro refrigerators tend to be more expensive than normal (or “modern”) refrigerators of the same size.
- Retro refrigerators that are only slightly smaller, and with fewer modern features, can be significantly cheaper.
- These smaller options are more easily adaptable to the kinds of spaces we'd like to put a retro style refrigerator in.
So, in this article, I hope to introduce you to a few options that are more affordable, AND more adaptable to your space and budget.
First, I'll talk a little bit more about the issues around finding a good full-size retro refrigerator, and then I'll dive into the list.
Cost: Money & Space
What do I mean by “expensive?” Well, you should consider the models put out by popular brands such as Big Chill and Elmira Stove Works as luxury refrigerators. They can cost upwards of $3,000 and $4,000!
AND, they are often too bulky to fit well in anything other than a huge, luxurious kitchen — when the various spaces where we want to put them are usually cozier, more retro-styled, multi-purpose rooms.
So, if you're looking for a vintage style refrigerator that would fit in a smaller space—like an office, studio, or loft—but still deliver on all the modern-day features and storage options you'd expect from a full-sized fridge, you might NOT want, nor need, a huge fridge after all.
If what you're looking for is a “retro-style” and affordability, you might be willing to sacrifice a couple of cubic feet to get something that looks great in your kitchen (or other room), fits the retro motif, AND fits into your budget.
What Makes a Retro Refrigerator “Full-Size?”
In general, refrigerator size tends to be classified by storage capacity in cubic feet (cu. ft.), where 14 cu. ft. and larger is considered full-size.
I've found that with a retro refrigerator, “full size” tends to marketed from about 9 cu. ft. and larger. Maybe because, back in the “old days” when these designs were the norm, homes and kitchen spaces were generally smaller, so the refrigerators were too?
Or, maybe because it takes more expensive materials to “make them like they used to,” they need to skimp on size a bit to make it more affordable.
Whatever the reason, these slightly smaller models come with an array of modern features, and space-saving designs that allow you to store enough food for the family and not feel like you're missing out on anything.
Ok, let's get to the list…
7 Affordable Full-Size Retro Refrigerators
Ok… So, as I've mentioned above, and in other articles, the wonderful combination of Style and Functionality always comes at a bit of a cost. And, that is pretty much the rule when it comes to full-size retro refrigerators.
Modern functionality and amenities such as wine bottle storage, dual digital thermostats, telescopic guides for drawers, fast-freeze cooling systems…
Don't be fooled by the “vintage style” refrigerator label—These fridges are up-to-date and modern on the inside!
I'll list them in order from the most luxurious, feature-packed, and expensive, to the more basic and affordable.
I'm also giving you links to manuals, videos, and places to purchase, so that you will be well-informed enough to make your decision on whether or not, and where, to buy.
Smeg Retro Fridge Freezer 12 cu/ft Bottom-Mount Freezer
$3,099 Retail | $2,699~$3,099 Online
(price can vary with color/model)
Style: Bottom-mount freezer; model# FAB32 series
Capacity: 11.7 cu. ft (8.1 Refrig; 3.5 Freezer)
Smeg is an Italian home appliance manufacturer with a focus on retro style. Refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, blenders… They have an almost overwhelming selection of product designs and colors.
This bottom-mount Smeg retro fridge freezer from their 50's Retro Style Aesthetic series is beautifully vintage on the outside, and modern on the inside.
Spacious storage in the refrigerator features 3 adjustable glass shelves, specialty bottle shelf, and bright interior lighting. The frost-free freezer sports fan-assisted cooling with a fast-freezer compartment and 2 drawers. 2 separate adjustable thermostats allow for optimal control over each compartment.
- Refrigerator Features – 3 Adjustable Glass Shelves, 1 Fruits and Vegetables Container, 1 Bottle Shelf/Wine rack, energy-efficient LED Interior Lighting.
- Door Features – Balcony Shelf with Transparent Cover and Egg Holder.
- Ventilated – Forced distribution of cold air allows for even temperature distribution throughout the fridge.
- Freezer Features – 2 Drawers, 1 Compartment with Pull-Down Flap, Fast-Freezing Compartment, and an Ice Tray in a frost-free environment.
- Fast Freezing – Fast-freezing function brings the temperature of the compartment down rapidly when activated prior to usage.
As I mentioned, the color options can be overwhelming! You may have to shop around a bit to find which colors are available at your favorite stores, but you'll usually get a pretty good selection wherever they're sold.
Most models are available in both right-hand and left-hand hinges. (Non-reversible—you'll have to decide in advance of purchase.)
Chambers Retro Refrigerator, 12 cu. ft. Bottom-Freezer
$2,599 Retail | $2,105.53~$2,399.00 Online
Style: Bottom-mount Freezer; model# CRBR-2412
Capacity: 11.7 cu. ft (8.24 Refrig; 3.46 Freezer)
I should begin by saying that I am extremely impressed by how well thought-out this design is by Chambers. Retro refrigerators rarely come with this kind of technology and consideration of use.
The highly advanced and efficient Chambers CRBR-2412 was brought to the US with funds from crowdsourcing—an indicator of their high quality and popular demand.
It is also available in various countries under different brand names. For example, they are branded as “Caloric” in Canada, and “Gorenje” in the UK. (Good to know when seeking Chambers retro refrigerator reviews online!)
From the shelves, to the door-bins, to the specific-use drawers, it gives you generous storage options and adaptability.
Its enhanced inverter compressor has highly developed improvements over the conventional compressor—lasting longer, using less energy, and running far more quietly.
The “AdaptTech” technology analyzes how you use your refrigerator and learns to recognize your habits. It then maintains the ideal temperature in the refrigerator—regardless of how often you open the fridge—which offsets the thermal shock your food suffers when the open door exposes it to warm exterior air.
But, just look at these features…
- SimpleSlide Door Shelves – These adjustable door shelves adapt to whatever sizes of cans, bottles, or jars you happen to have in the fridge at the moment—without having to remove them! Simply move them up or down whenever you want.
- Zero Zone Drawer – Ideal for storing fresh meat & fish, and keeping delicate proteins fresh and flavorful with a constantly maintained temperature of 0°C (32°F).
- CrispZone Bin – This slightly oversized drawer for fruit and vegetables features a lower temperature than the rest of the fridge, and the ability to customize the humidity level.
- SuperCool/FastFreeze – This cutting-edge cooling function drops the refrigerator or freezer temperature rapidly to appropriate temperatures after you freshly stock it with new food after a big shopping trip.
- NoFrost Plus is a superior cooling system in the freezer compartment prevents the accumulation of ice and frost
- XXL SpaceBox – An extra-large drawer in the freezer compartment with enough room to store a whole turkey. Stock up on pizzas, cakes, frozen prepared meals, and lots more.
- XtremeFreeze Drawer – For rapid shock-freezing at extremely low temperatures. Perfect for retaining the flavor, color, and nutrients in fruits, vegetables, prime cuts of meat, and other foods.
- And More… LED display, Spill Proof Shelves, Wine Shelf, Egg/Ice bin, Cheese and Butter Storage.
This video reviews the UK version of the fridge (branded “Gorenje”), but you can still see all the features in action. Unfortunately, the blue color is not available in the US.
My original searches revealed a grey-colored fridge as an option, I only find this fridge in Red, Black, and Cream color options.
Be sure to check out all the shops linked above, as prices can vary by as much as $300, depending on the shop and the season. (Look for holiday sales.)
$2,204 Retail | $1,699~$1,999 Online
Style: Single door w/ Freezer compartment; model# FAB28
Capacity: 9.2 cu. ft (8.3 Refrig; 0.9 Freezer)
Here's another (slightly smaller) Smeg retro fridge freezer from their 50's Retro series.
At 9.2 cu. ft., this retro fridge is great for smaller homes or apartments. The generous interior still offers plenty of space, with both the door shelves and internal shelves adjustable to different heights, and easily removable for cleaning. It also includes a small “freezerette” icebox for convenience.
At only about a cubic foot (0.92 cu/ft), the freezer compartment sounds relatively small. But, look at it in context in the video below, and you'll see it's enough to store several of the basics, enough for a small family. But, probably not if you preserve a lot of long-term food or frozen dinners for a large family.
- Refrigerator Features – Interior light, 3 adjustable glass shelves, 1 bottle storage shelf (for proper horizontal storage of wines), 1 fixed glass shelf, 1 fruit and vegetable container/crisper on telescopic guides, and 1 dairy box for cheese and milk.
- Door Features – Multiple door bins provide storage options for various food items: 2 adjustable covered bins, 2 bottle storage bins, 4 adjustable bins, 2 egg bins.
- Ventilated – Forced distribution of cold air allows for even temperature distribution throughout the fridge.
- Freezer Features – 0.92 cu ft capacity with defrost function and ice tray.
I found a review video online that will give you a good sense of the size and functionality. I hope it's helpful:
Did you think the other Smeg model came in a lot of color options? Check this out:
Available in at least 12 different color tones or patterns from a subtle cream to a vibrant green, right-hand and left-hand door options (non-reversible—you'll have to decide in advance of purchase).
Again, sometimes you'll find discounts on models based on colors and right-hand or left-hand door models.
$1,499 Retail | $1,206~$1,399 Online
Style: Single door w/ Freezer compartment; model# MRS330-09
Capacity: 9.9 cu. ft (9.0 Refrig; 0.9 Freezer)
There are actually 3 different lines of vintage style refrigerators from Chambers: Retro Refrigerators, Vintage Series, and Fun Fridges. The Chambers MRS330 is from the “Vintage Series.”
The unique smooth, rounded, retro look is partially due to the “One-Piece Metal Wrap” design—the top and sides are formed from a single piece of steel. This also makes for a very solidly built fridge.
This die-cast chrome metal handle and single-door add to the sturdy feel of this refrigerator. You also get plenty of storage options and adaptability with 9.9 cu. ft. total capacity that features a full width manual-defrost “freezerette” compartment, 4 glass shelves, wine rack, crisper, and 4 door shelves.
Adjustable Shelving – Multiple shelf slots and adjustable door shelves let you customize your storage configuration to suit your needs and maximize the usable space inside.
Glass Shelves – Tempered glass shelves make it easier to place small items on the shelf that might tip over on wire shelving, and to wipe up those occasional spills.
Transparent Door Bins – Clear bins allow small items to be seen and kept fresh. No more forgotten items spoiling due to “out of sight, out of mind.”
Wine/Bottle Rack – This adjustable wire shelf is a nice added feature that allows you to store wine bottles in the proper horizontal position, or other kinds of bottles conveniently out of the way. Adjustable to any position.
Thermostat Control and LED Lighting – The conveniently placed, side-mounted thermostat control with the LED light is a bright, energy efficient source of illumination.
Low Noise Compressor – Efficiently maintains the correct temperature without generating undue noise, thanks to the latest compressor technology.
I haven't found a video that shows off this particular design yet. (Although there are a few for similar designs.) If you know of one, please link me to it in the comments below!
The Chambers MRS330-09 comes in 3 colors: Ice White, Butter Cream, and Sky Blue. From what I can tell, in only comes in a right-hand hinge, and is not reversible.
Price: $1,127.90~$1499.99 Online
Style: Bottom Freezer; model# ABFR1080ERE
Capacity: 10.8 cu. ft (7.6 Refrig; 3.2 Freezer)
Oddly, the Ascoli Equator ABFR1080ERE is listed under its RV appliances line designed for recreational vehicles. I guess there's a demand for a vintage look that goes with the on-the-road lifestyle.
This basic retro fridge design meets meets modern refrigerator technology. Electronic temperature control helps to maintain optimal temperatures in its two separate compartments: A frost-free and fast-cooling freezer compartment; and a bright and spacious refrigerator compartment with a 2-liter bottle rack and a transparent crisper.
- Adjustable and removable Glass Shelves with Interior LED Lights for easy viewing of stored items.
- Dedicated 2L bottle rack
- Door shelves and racks for added storage.
- Bottom mounted Freezer compartment with separate door makes for energy-efficient freezing, and keeps the more frequently used refrigerator items within standing reach.
- Three transparent freezer drawers for organized, easily viewed storage.
- Fast Cooling and freezing, with frost-free operation saves you time and physical effort.
- Electronic control with LED display
This model only comes in Red with a left-side handle (opening to the right).
Price: $899~$979 Online
Style: Bottom Mount Retro Refrigerator
Capacity: 8.7 cu. ft (6.4 Refrig; 2.3 Freezer)
When I first discovered the Unique brand of retro refrigerator, I felt like I was the first one. It was available online exclusively from Home Depot.
Now, it's available at Wayfair, and an increasing number of retailers, on and offline.
Unique’s 9 cu/ft bottom-mount retro fridge-freezer and it's narrow width packs convenient storage options into a design that makes it easier to fit in more spaces within your home, cottage, bar, she-shed, or man-cave.
Fridge on top means the food and drinks you need most are within reach. Freezer on bottom makes for energy efficiency.
This model adds a 4-bottle wine shelf for people who like to entertain, or just enjoy an evening wind-down.
Shelving Options – 4 adjustable glass shelves, and 4 full width adjustable door shelves allow for flexibility in personalizing your storage space.
Wine/Bottle Rack – Adjustable 4-bottle wine rack for convenient and stable bottle storage.
Convenient Drawers – Deep crisper drawer for all your fresh produce. 3 spacious freezer drawers provide ample storage space for your frozen items and reduces frost build-up.
Unique Appliances retro refrigerator (Model UGP-275L AC) originally came in Black, White, and Red, but the line up has been expanded to include Ocean Mist Turquoise, Powder Blue, and Summer Mint Green
Price: $539.99~$999.99 Online
Style: Top freezer; model# GLR12T-RDER
Capacity: 12.0 cu. ft (9.35 Refrig; 2.65 Freezer)
I first brought up Galanz retro refrigerators in my article about affordable retro fridges. And, here's one again at the more affordable end of this listing.
This Retro Top Mount Freezer Refrigerator is the latest in the Galanz retro refrigerator line. Also the largest for a company that specialized in retro mini fridges.
While providing the modern features you'd expect from a fridge, it still maintains the look and feel of the old days. Check out the basic set of features…
A true top-mount freezer compartment with 2 door racks, and automatic defrost for a frost-free experience.
An in-the-door can rack for convenient storage and quick access to beverages.
4-full slide out adjustable glass shelves.
Bright interior lighting.
Spacious and clear fruit & vegetable crisper.
The Galanz 12.0 cu. ft. retro refrigerator comes in red, white, light-blue, and black (model GLR12TBKER). As far as I can tell, it's only made with a right-hand hinge door, which is not reversible.
Galanz also makes a slightly smaller almost full-sized model at 10 cu. ft. Galanz retro refrigerators are available in several other smaller sizes from 3.1 to 7.6 cu. ft. capacity.
Conclusion – The Best Retro Fridge
I hope this article has given you a good place to start on your search for the best retro fridge for your budget and space.
At the very least, I hope it has opened your eyes to the fact that you have options. Quick searches on the Internet give you the impression that there are only a few models and brands to choose from.
Much of the cost of more expensive options go toward advertising. So, they can afford to buy up all the space online. But, you have some solid options that won't show up at the top of your searches.
This is only one article, which can only list a few options. More options will come available after I publish it. So, if you find something good and new that others might find cool, please list them in the comments below!
And if you have any questions or concerns about the options I've listed here, please put those in your comments as well.
Good luck on your search for full-size retro refrigerators. Please let me know how it goes.