When you open your fridge, the lights turn on. When you open one of Mike Lavallee’s fridges, the shelves might light up with a scene from your favorite TV show, while its theme song starts playing. He turns vintage and vintage-looking fridges into what he calls “functioning pieces of artwork” at his airbrush studio, Killer Paint, in Snohomish, Washington.
From a Pirates of the Caribbean fridge his client installed in his home theater to another inspired by an Indian Motorcycle ad, he takes commissions to turn fridges from the ’40s and ’50s he finds on Craigslist into one-of-a-kind appliances. Though they’re decades old, Lavellee says the fridges were built to last, and his team reconditions the wiring to update it. They’ll also add neon lights to the back of the fridge to make it glow against the wall and install sounds and Bluetooth speakers. The fridge Killer Paint made for a Coca-Cola enthusiast has the company’s logo embossed on the front and plays the sound of a Coke pouring when it’s opened. The one painted and riveted to look a B-17 bomber — made for a pilot who used to fly one to put out fires — sounds like a plane flying overhead or radio chatter. “Whatever yours is, no one else has one,” Lavallee told Digital Trends.
Though he’s been painting motorcycles for years, his first fridge was one he painted for himself, about 15 years ago. The landlord had left an old fridge in the shop, and Lavellee liked the shape. Once people saw the blue fridge with koi fish and a geisha on it, customers started requesting their own custom versions. Lavellee’s latest is a Blues-inspired fridge, complete with an old-school microphone for a handle and Bluetooth speakers for playing music. “It’s going to be a conversation piece, a piece of artwork, and something that plays music,” Lavellee said.
Most of his customers use the fridges — which are smaller than current models — as a secondary appliance, one they put in an office or garage. If you want your fridge to look like your Ferrari, Killer Paint can do that, he says, right down to the custom interior. The jobs start at $6,000 and can go all the way up to $20,000, depending on the amount of work involved.
Levallee scours Craigslist for vintage fridges and says he’s saving them from the scrap heap. “I’m turning a piece of crap into a family heirloom,” he says.