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A Retro Master's Cool Colorado Kitchen

Vintage meets modern meets traditional in the kitchen of an appliance entrepreneur

Written by Sally Finder Weepie

Orion Creamer, founder of the Big Chill appliance company, is a luminary of retro design. His home, however, is thoroughly fashion-forward.

“My tastes lean toward the modern and industrial, while my wife is more traditional,” he says. “Our kitchen is our attempt to combine those things.”

The kitchen sits at the heart of Orion and Kristin’s Boulder, Colorado, home, which they built with an open floor plan that lets traffic and conversation freely flow throughout the main-level rooms and easily spill out through huge glass accordion doors out to the patio.

“We can be cooking in the kitchen and watch the kids play soccer in the backyard,” Orion says. “Being in Colorado, where there aren’t many bugs, we can keep our NanaWall doors open from morning to night. We really love indoor-outdoor living.”

While the black-metal-framed doors and windows speak to Orion’s soft spot for an industrial look, the kitchen never feels cold, thanks to a number of vintage and traditional touches.

“We had a funky old barn on the property when we bought it,” Orion says. “It was falling apart, but we salvaged the 100-year-old barn wood and used it for the kitchen cabinets. It makes the house feel warm.”

Also bringing in a warm—and sophisticated—touch is a Marrakesh-pattern tile backsplash, which was inspired by Middle Eastern design and satisfies Kristin’s traditional aesthetic.

The gray-and-while tile mesh with Orion’s neutral palette of warm grays, black, and white, including white quartz countertops and an apron-front sink. The livable, layered scheme is spiced with color from furnishings and the couple’s dishware, displayed in airy wire-front cabinets.

But, of course, the star of Orion’s kitchen is a Big Chill range—a 48-inch matte black beauty from the company’s Pro series. “I like its sophisticated feel,” Orion says.

The range, paired with a pro-style refrigerator from BlueStar, lets Orion and Kristin flex their culinary muscle on a daily basis. “We do a lot of meal kits from Plated during the week and cook a big dinner for extended family on Sunday night. It’s a highlight of the week.”

Family has been a big part of Orion’s story. “My parents were both artists, and although I wanted to be an architect, I got my first degree in drawing and painting,” he says. “I came to Colorado and started working for an architect, but they urged me to consider product design.”

He took that advice, earning a degree in product design and—right after graduation—finding the spark for the appliance company he would soon launch.

“My aunt and uncle, who came from the fashion industry, were building a house in Boulder,” he says. “They wanted it to feel like a vintage beach cottage and were looking for an old refrigerator for their kitchen. But the thing is, they didn’t want the energy inefficiency of an old refrigerator—or the pain of having to defrost it every two weeks.”

So Orion, who once had the hobby of collecting old refrigerator doors, came up with the idea of designing new refrigerators that look old but have great modern function. Big Chill was born.

“We thought we’d sell a few fridges,” Orion says. “But the company took off beyond my wildest expectations. And now we’re close to celebrating 20 years in business.”

Big Chill’s original Retro line has been joined by the Pro series and the Classic line, which he describes as having a turn-of-the-20th-century industrial look. Watch for a refrigerator styled to mimic a vintage ice box as the newest addition to the classic line. In addition to ranges and refrigerators, Big Chill also now offers microwaves, vent hoods, induction cooktops, and dishwashers.

"Obviously, I love kitchens," Orion says. "This is truly a passion for me."

PhotographyDavid Patterson