Old Appliances vs. New Appliances: We Pick 10 of the Best Retro Fridges

If you had a typical childhood you’ll have heard at least one adult mutter, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” It does seem that way, especially when we look at the quality of modern appliances. How often do they have to be replaced? It feels like appliances are made to last just long enough to see out the warranty. Then they go phut and you either have to pay for repairs or a replacement. If you don’t have insurance, replacement is often more cost-effective than repair.

There is a way to enjoy high-tech with old-world looks, as retro never goes out of style.

The retro look has been trending for years and manufacturers have capitalised by producing cool appliances that hark back to the 50s. Retro appliances come in a variety of contrasting and complementary colours and metallic finishes. You’ll also see a a dash of pop art and bold curves suggestive of sexy James Dean and voluptuous Marilyn Monroe.

Back in time

The 1950s was an era of celebration. The end of WW2 meant that people could lighten up; rock ‘n roll was born and the world was on the brink of all sorts of social revolutions. It’s possible the current retro trend speaks to a need to escape our 24/7 lives, rising costs, and other stressors.

Regardless of whether to want romantic nuances or bold and funky, there’s a retro fridge for your tastes.

So, why the popularity? Well, market watchers and analysts believe that TV’s The Great British Bake Off had a large impact on the retro trend. The underlying sense of that playful and joyful era has really caught on.

Retro fridges that are just peachy keen (jelly bean)


Smeg leads the retro refrigerator field in design and variety. You might even say that Smeg is the granddaddy of retro, with the widest range of options available, from drop dead gorgeous to sleek, funky and funny. The company captures the essence of the fifties in ways that will make your jaw drop. The fridges are colourful and clever and you can choose from a rainbow of colours.

Smeg actually dates back to the 1950s, which gives it first-hand experience designing and manufacturing retro kitchen appliances. Its line of retro fridges first hit the market in 1990 and, as they say, the rest is history.

The Smeg retro fridge line is pricey, but hugely popular, particularly in the US and the UK. There are over 122 models to choose from, and a range of colours. Your choice includes velvet black, blue denim, brown, colour stripe, cream, English rose, grey, lime green, metalised grey, orange, pastel blue, pink, red, silver, and yellow.

And the fridges include

One of the zaniest designs is the SMEG500V, a replica of Fiat’s famous Cinquecento. It’s available in three colours: Green, red and yellow. The car-shaped fridge received the ‘Good Design’ award from The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design in 2013. Then there’s the decadent Gold with Swarovski Crystals retro fridge. The SMEG FAB28OR is yours for a £1,620.

The SMEG Fab 10 is available in 12 colours and comes in four special editions. It has a large-capacity fridge and freezer section and runs almost completely silently. This is completely unlike the original 50s fridges, which sounded as though they’d vibrate through the wall.

Not to be outdone, Servis and Bush have designed their own retro fridge ranges that are every bit as gorgeous as the market leader. Gorenje and Big Chill are competitive, with some Big Chill appliances exceeding the notoriously high price tags of Smeg.


Gorenje has a range of vintage, chic and romantic retro fridges, and a colour range that includes bold bright and beautiful metallic sheens, deep purple, bright orange, emerald green, signal red, glossy black, rich dark brown, cream, champagne, white, magenta and silver. The price on the Gorenje Retro Fridge RB602990W has been slashed from £700 to £569, so if you’ve had your eye on a retro fridge, but price has been a factor, now’s the time to get your Gorenje with the SuperCool chill option that chills a bottle of wine within half an hour.


Servis retro fridges are as visually appealing as Gorenje and Smeg. The colours include chilli red, classic cream and jet black. They tend to be large-capacity fridges (around 317 litres) and have an A+ energy rating, glass safety shelves, wine rack and ice box. Especially tasteful is the chili red Servis C60185NFR, with a capacity of 335 litres, it’s frost-free, with an A+ energy efficiency rating, a bottle shelf, three door shelves, two fridge drawers and three freezer draws. The Servis Retro Fridge line adds a touch of sophistication, glamour and style to every kitchen. Expect to pay between £493 and £538.


Bush is better known as a commercial supplier of really cool refrigeration systems, but the Bush BRTL60170B Retro Tall Fridge, is getting a lot of really good feedback from customers. Choice of colour is limited when compared to Smeg, for example, but the black is intense and vibrant, with metal handles and a bright internal LED light that just oozes style, and has all the benefits of a modern fridge, like the A+ energy rating. It’s spacious inside with 4 safety glass shelves, a vegetable drawer, salad crisper and a chrome wine rack with metallic designer handles. Fridge storage capacity is 281 litres and the frozen food compartment has a 30-litre capacity. On the whole it’s attractive and considered good value for money. Additional colours are cream, chilli red or lime green, and they are well-priced, ranging from around £330 to around £500.

We need to give an honourable mention to the Bush BSFF60, which has a large capacity, three salad crisper compartments and which uses frost-free technology and is energy-efficient. It also has 13 hours of power-off capacity. Expect to pay in the region of £500.


Oranier has a retro fridge line with a colour choice between red, lime green and cream. In keeping with the retro style the colours are vibrant. There’s the single door RKS 1 and the double door RKS 2. Like Bush, Oranier has focused on function over form, and have put out fridges that hold their own in terms of value for money. Oranier’s retro line includes features like automatic defrosting, egg containers, and very impressive freezer capacity.

Big Chill

The Big Chill’s Retropolitan line comes in a selection of colours, including beach blue, buttercup yellow, cherry red, jadeite green, orange, pink lemonade, turquoise, black and white. You can choose between a handle on the left or right and other options include icemakers and door removal. The body is stamped metal with authentic chrome trim and handles. It’s frost-free and has automatic moisture control as well as a temperature management system. It’s rated Energy Star, and the big thing about the Big Chill’s Retropolitan refrigerator is the storage space. If you’re not wild about the 8 standard colours, you can choose from 200 custom colors. It has got 4 half-width glass shelves, 2 clear crisper drawers, a slide-out upper basket and one large lower freezer basket. This range is pretty pricey and will cost you around £2,400.

The Studio retro fridge line is smaller than Retropolitan line, but the colour options are the same, and it is also frost-free, with temperature management control and automatic moisture control. The Studio line has a pivotal handle as well as the left or right hand hinge choice. There’s one spill-proof glass shelf, a full-width opaque crisper, 4 door shelves, an adjustable freezer shelf, and the price tag is around £1,840.


Swan has a pretty good line of retro fridges too, and the Swan SR11010C has had £129 shaved off the price tag, down from £709 to £579. It’s 54.5 cm wide, so it’s easy to fit into most kitchens. It’s got a 168-litre fridge capacity and a 40-litre freezer with one glass freezer shelf. The energy rating is A+, three safety glass shelves, 5 door pockets and wine rack, and it has an auto-defrost fridge and manual defrost freezer.

Other honourable mentions have to go to:

  • GGA French Style Retro. A bespoke fridge with two French doors. Comes with two freezer drawers which reduce warm air intake when opened.  Electronic ice maker making express ice cubes. Retails around £1600.
  • Baumatic Retro. Available in royal blue. Self-defrosting fridge and plenty of capacity. Even temperature throughout. Comes with safety glass shelves. Retails around £650.
  • Husky Retro larder fridge. Capacity of 108 litres and very good energy rating. An under-counter fridge which doesn’t take up a lot of space. Chrome wine rack and salad crisper drawer. Reversible door. Retails around £450.
  • LEC Retro. Frost-free and a decent energy rating, this fridge is in cream and comes with unusual and shapely retro handles. Wine rack and good sized freezer compartment. Costs from £560.
  • Next RETROC. Very energy efficient with 246 litres fridge capacity. Comes in cream with five shelves and 19 hours power failure storage. Retails around £370.

If you’re into strolling down the memory lane of a bygone era, and want to venture into a space that is playful, joyful and reminds you of your gran’s 60 year old fridge with a makeover, then now is the time to remodel your kitchen and embrace your colourful side.