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28 March 2013

The Big Kitchen Remodel: Buying a Retro Fridge

 

I’m a firm believer that when you’re doing a room (or planning an outfit for that matter) that you should have one striking architectural feature, or piece of furniture or art (or clothing or jewellery) that acts as the focal point of the scheme, adds the wow factor and provides an anchor to build everything else around.

Unfortunately our boxy rectangular kitchen has not a single architectural feature of merit, and it is difficult to create a wow factor out of cheap Ikea cabinets.  So that left the fridge as the only real possibility.

 

BigChilljadeitegreen

Our Big Chill fridge in a finished kitchen

 

Sadly most fridges available here in the US are either white or stainless steel boxes – gigantically huge, fabulously functional in a way that European fridges can only dream of, and boring as hell.  After a great deal of online research the following are the only interesting fridges I could find, all retro-styled.  Wouldn’t it be fab if a fridge manufacturer could come up with an eye-catching contemporary fridge design?

First of all I thought of getting a Smeg fridge.  I had one back in London and they are so ubiquitous in the European design world as to have become a bit of a cliché.  But for some reason THEY ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE T TO FIND IN THE US.

West Elm has started selling the small standalone Smeg fridge in a variety of gorgeous colours, but these are tiny even by European standards.

 

smegfridge3 smegfridge2
Teeny tiny Smeg fridges

 

Smeg does manufacture bigger fridge-freezers which would have been perfect for us, but they are NOT available in the US. This is criminal Smeg US!  Get with the program!

 

 

smegfridge

 

smegfridgefreezer smegfridgefreezer2
Smeg fridge-freezers out in the wild. Though not in the US obvs.

 

Since we definitely need a freezer, I searched for retro-style fridge freezers and came across NorthStar fridges made by Elmira Stove Works in Canada.  It’s important to note that both these fridges and the Big Chill fridge we bought are just retro cases screwed on to a cheap white box fridge (Elmira uses Amana fridges) so they’re by no means state of the art when it comes to internal features.  We liked the look of the Northstars very much, but since they are imported from Canada they work out even more expensive than the Big Chill. Here’s a great discussion outlining the pros and cons of Northstar v Big Chill.

 

fridge_1950-Flamingo-Pink fridge_1952-buttercup-yellow fridge_1952-Robins-Egg-Blue
Very cute and expensive Elmira NorthStar fridges

Big Chill Fridges are based on Whirlpool white box fridges. I have to admit that it was a difficult decision to spend so much money on what is merely a tarted up $800 fridge – as it was being delivered up our stairs I was given a graphic illustration of just what we’d bought, as all the fancy panels were unscrewed and removed so it could get up the stairs.  But once seen I had to have it, and we are delighted with its prettiness.

 

bigchillfridge

Another Big Chill fridge in a finished kitchen

Seems to me thought that there is a huge gap in the market for some manufacturer to produce a nicely-styled colourful, CHEAPER fridge-freezer from scratch though. What do you think?

Check out this fabulous post (with extra fridgeporn) from Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely for advice on how to style the top of your retro fridge.  Fortunately since we have a cabinet over our fridge, I do not have to make these difficult styling decisions.

     

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Comments

"I have to admit that it was a difficult decision to spend so much money on what is merely a tarted up $800 fridge "

But that is kind of like saying that you don't want to wear gorgeous shoes because it is just a foot inside! As you are able to buy the pretty pretty dress-up clothes for your fridge, I'm sure you'll never regret that you did. Imagine the white box in your kitchen for a second. No way, right?

And this post answered my earlier question about the old-style-look of the handle. It sounds like it is not clamping the door shut like the old fridges did, if the usual rubbery seal thing is inside on the Whirlpool base fridge.

When I first saw the title Retro Fridges I thought oh no retro colours in the kitchen but I must say looking at the pictures and reading the post I think they look fantastic! I want one now for my kitchen! There are some lovely fridge freezers on eBay in funky colours so I am going to get shopping! Great post!

Some of these Fridge freezers on here are amazing http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/Fridge-Freezers-/20713/i.html?rt=nc

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