7 Colorfully Retro Kitchen Appliances We All Wish Would Come Back in Style
Color changed the look of every cook’s kitchen. Design took center stage while advertising made sure we got the message.
When Stephen Brittain bought his Fort Myers, FL, home, he gained a General Electric Wall Refrigerator-Freezer built in 1955—its turquoise finish matching the sink, cabinets, and range. The unit had not operated in 31 years. Fortunately, a friend and refrigeration expert persuaded Stephen to let him try repairing it. With a new fan motor and starting relay, the unit fired up. “The refrigerator still runs quietly on the original Freon,” Stephen says. “It’s a great novelty.” Try out these kitchen design ideas that look expensive.
Hotpoint, an early adapter
The Hotpoint Electric Heating Co. owes its enduring name to the lightweight electric iron, invented in 1903 by Earl Richardson and tweaked in 1905. The 1905 iron’s pointed tip heated to allow easy pressing of problem areas. After a merger with General Electric in 1918, the brand became a kitchen appliance staple, introducing in ’24 the first all-white fully enamel electric range. Colored enamel washing machines, refrigerators, wall ovens and other appliances followed. These kitchen design tips will have your kitchen looking fresh and new.
Harkening back to when color was queen
Two pale turquoise General Electric wall ovens from 1952 grace the Charlottesville, VA, home that Karen and Scott Knierim purchased in 1983. “I’ve always loved their color,” Karen says. “In fact, we made over the whole kitchen to match.” Scott handled it all, painting the cabinets a deep turquoise, and spraying the dishwasher and refrigerator with a matching shade of auto-body paint.
“My hairdresser, Terry, works out of her home. Being a close friend, I looked around before my appointment to see what was new. My jaw dropped when I spotted this old refrigerator. Terry had gone to a late friend’s estate sale and purchased the retro work of art she had admired from afar. She paid $90 (getting a chair as part of the deal, too). It works like a charm.”—Denise Dragovich Mount Vernon, Wa
“’Wow, that’s cool! Does it work?’ That was all I could say about the harvest gold stove that I saw during a tour of my new neighbor’s farmhouse, which had sat empty for years after the original owners passed away. The neighbor, Avona, told me her house had been designed in the mid-1960s by a local architect. The cutting-edge design called for a center island with stove. But when the lady of the house went to pick out appliances, she fell in love with Frigidaire’s Custom Imperial Flair Range. The kitchen floor plan was modified during construction to incorporate this cool new appliance.
Yes, the Flair still works beautifully today. And, until the home can be updated, this is what Avona uses for cooking and baking. I sure hope she incorporates this beauty into her new kitchen!”—Denise Dragovich Mount Vernon, Wa
Lean, green cooking machine
“We bought our first home by flashlight, not knowing we had a green jewel in the kitchen. Our first question: How much for the house? Our second question: Do the appliances go with it? My pulse quickened when the realtor said yes.”—Cher L. Tom, Palisade, Co
Kitchens with style and sass
As kitchen appliance colors go, the avocado craze lasted for at least 10 years. Paired with its sunnier mate, harvest gold, the duo epitomized the typical 1970s kitchen. Other colors, such as flashy poppy red and the almost-ubiquitous almond, were introduced as accent colors or to spark an updated neutral palette. Nevertheless, earth tones accompanied by dark wood cabinetry and flooring became prized additions in the best cook’s kitchens throughout the era. Here’s how you can clean your kitchen in basically five minutes.