6 Things to Do With an Old Refrigerator

You might be able to repurpose it in a fun and useful way.

Many people do their best to recycle paper, cans, glass, and metals, separating the small pieces into bins and setting them on the curb to await pickup. But what about those giant bulky items for which it's not so easy to find eco-friendly solutions? One prime example—the refrigerator.

Happily, refrigerators are expensive so people keep them for years, but like all items that don’t end up in the history museums, eventually they break down beyond repair, prompting people to trash them.

Don’t want to add yours to the landfill? You could try recycling the appliance or repurposing it into something useful. Here are six creative ways in which people have upcycled old refrigerators to create something functional long after the original function for the device disappeared.

The Fridge Couch

couch made from an old refrigerator

With some very creative adjustments, Fridge Couch moves the refrigerator from the kitchen to the living room. Designer Adrian Johnson first found red leather seating inside a BMW 325e coupe while perusing through items at the junkyard. All he needed was something to put it in. That’s when he found an olive green Gibson Frost Clear Deluxe refrigerator, the perfect size to complete his very first (but not his last) Fridge Couch. If you're handy, this could be something you do, too—and just think of what a great conversation starter it would be.

Create a Pantry

Remove the door from your old broken-down refrigerator and repurpose it for use as a pantry. It’s ready-made with its shelving and easy-to-clean surfaces. Hang it on a wall or set it up in your pantry for a super cute and unique look. Another idea from Pinterest is to repurpose it as a storage unit for art and craft supplies.

Convert It to an Ice Chest

By removing all of the parts that make the refrigerator run, like the evaporator cell, compressor and condenser fan, Krafty Karina explains how she turned her refrigerator into an ice chest, and gives instructions on how you can do it, too. When you think about it, an old refrigerator—an appliance built to keep things cold—is the perfect thing to use to create an ice chest. Commenters recommend using hydraulic openers that open and close softly, so that the lid doesn't slam shut. If you have kids, toy box hinges lock in place to prevent them from accessing it when adults aren't around.

Make It a Root Cellar

This couple built a root cellar for less than $10 by putting a broken-down refrigerator in the ground. They dug a big hole and soon the old appliance had a second life, thanks to a backyard DIY project. It creates the ideal conditions—cool temperatures, high humidity, and consistent air flow—for keeping root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and onions, as well as fruits like apples, fresh all year round.

Temporary Home for a Homeless Pooch

homeless dog in house made from an old refrigerator

One stray dog in China hit the jackpot, first by getting off the street, and second by scoring these fancy digs created by Y-Town, a design studio. One of the designers at Y-Town found the pup close by and decided to offer him a home. So the newly named Chuichui moved in and soon had a fancy repurposed refrigerator that functioned as a bed with space for food and water as well. The door opens to create a ramp for the little guy to get up and down into his fridge.

Of course, if you can’t find a way to reuse your old fridge, you can always look into recycling as much of it as possible. Energy Star has great resources to help you figure out how best to recycle your old refrigerator. You can also contact Responsible Appliance Disposal to arrange pickup of your old fridge.