Designer Genes: Meet Orlando Soria

To fans of HGTV, Orlando Soria is best known as Emily Henderson's assistant on the home-makeover series Secrets from a Stylist. But Soria’s design portfolio and talent don’t stop there. The Los Angeles–based interior designer and visual artist is also founder and author of the lighthearted design and lifestyle blog Hommemaker, as well as the West Coast creative director for Homepolish, a website that connects homeowners with professional interior designers in their region. The lucky winner of our sweepstakes with Trulia will welcome Soria into their home for a personal design consultation (and, we’re betting, lots of laughs). Here, Soria chats with Rue Living about clients, consultations, and having fun with it all.

Interview with Interior Designer Orlando Soria
Images courtesy of Orlando Soria

Rue La La: What are some of the most common hang-ups you encounter when consulting or working with clients for the first time?
Orlando Soria: Most often it’s that people don’t know what things are going to cost. For example, rugs and drapery tend to be very expensive, as is quality art. Most clients experience sticker shock with those items because they are pricey investment pieces you’re meant to buy and keep for years, and their prices reflect that.

RLL: Where do clients often go wrong on their own with their interior design?
OS: An issue I see a lot is people choosing items they love without thinking about how they work together. So they’ll paint a wall bright red and then buy maroon chairs and bring in some chrome accents and while all those things might be fine on their own, together they look garbled and chaotic. When designing a space it’s important to think about what story you want to tell, how you want the room to make you feel, and to use furnishings, wall treatments, et cetera, as a means to producing that feeling/story.

RLL: You must see a wide variety of homes and tastes between all of your clients. How do you pull together a unique vision for each?
OS: I don’t like to do anything too themey or fake, so I can find things to love about all styles. The trick is to mix it up enough that it looks unique and natural, tailored to the people who live there. You do this by making sure you’re incorporating the client’s art, books, and other items they’ve collected over the years. What inspires me ultimately is to create a space that the client will be happy in, where they see colors, objects, and furnishings that have positive connotations for them. This is why design is so pyschological. You have to really dig deep to find out which furnishings are really going to make people happy, and which things they’re going to hate because they remind them of their grandma or something dated.

RLL: At its core, what are the key elements of successful interior design?
OS: Composition. I come from an art background so I think about everything in terms of color, light, and balance. It’s important to balance a room with color, finishes, and textures. For example, if you have a large, dark sofa on one side of the room, it helps to add something dark/heavy across from it so it doesn’t feel like the room is being sucked into a black hole.

RLL: What do you typically discuss with a new client in your first consultation or meeting?
OS: I like to get a sense of who they are and what their style is by asking them about their job, movies they like, their favorite kinds of clothes, where they have lived, and where they like to vacation.  There are a lot of other indicators besides interior-design tastes that can tell you what people like. Being able to make connections between personal interests, fashion, and everyday activities and home furnishings is what makes a good designer.

RLL: What are your favorite interior design aesthetics?
OS: I’m a big fan of things that are modern and earthy at the same time. My design hero is a New York designer named Robert Stilin. His designs are simple and clean, yet still so warm and welcoming. They feel fresh and new without being hard, cold, and sterile. That’s the line I like to walk. Just modern and fresh enough, yet still comfortable, visually interesting, and inviting.

RLL: Describe your role as creative director for Homepolish L.A.
OS: My job is essentially the combination of everything I love to do: interior design, writing, marketing, team leading, making design more accessible, and promoting young, innovative designers. I do a lot of exciting design collaborations with wonderful brands and media outlets like goop and HelloGiggles, and fun collaborators like writer Kelly Oxford and fashion blogger Rumi Neely. It’s a great job and somehow everything I did before – from being on a TV show to doing graphic design and publicity – prepared me for it.

RLL: Tell us about a project you did for a client that you’re particularly proud of.
OS: I love a project I did with a wonderful family in La Habra Heights, which is a lovely little city about 30 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. Their home is a beautiful Spanish Revival and I had so much fun decorating it with furnishings that both complemented the architecture and reflected the young, hip styles of the homeowners.

RLL: Do you have any signature “moves” when it comes to interior design?
OS: I tend to make my own art and use it to fill spaces I don’t know what to do with. Or put benches in random places that feel empty or weird. Normally, if a space feels empty or awkward, a bench with a great art piece above it can solve the problem.

RLL: What’s your favorite room in a house to design and decorate?
OS: I love decorating guest bedrooms because you can be a little more adventurous with your design. Since no one has to sleep in there every night you can be bolder with color and art, which makes them a really fun opportunity to showcase your design perspective.

RLL: Have you ever done any staging? What are the biggest differences between staging and designing a home that someone intends to live in?
OS: I have not done any staging, but I have advised on it a lot. Basically, the idea with staging is both to give people ideas and inspiration and to show them how they might possibly lay out the space. They need to be aspirational, in a sense, because you want people to want the space, to buy the house. So in a way it’s not that much different than a regular design job. Ultimately, you’re just trying to make the space look as natural and inviting as possible.

RLL: What’s Hommemaker all about? 
OS: Hommemaker is a space for me to be creative just for me. No clients, no company, just share ideas about things I’m making, spaces I’m designing, what I’m thinking about and seeing it. I love doing it and it’s so satisfying to get feedback from readers. I kind of just treat it like a big art project and do whatever I want with it. That people read it is amazing and humbling.

RLL: Your writing style on Hommemaker is very playful. Do you try to work a sense of humor into your relationships with clients?
OS: I tend to joke around with clients and am naturally a playful person. It’s just my personality. I think it’s because I was shy my whole life, so I learned to joke as a way of making myself and others feel comfortable. Thus far all of my clients have been fun and great, so I can joke and laugh with them while also making sure we get everything done and that their home looks how they want it to look.

Want Orlando Soria to come to your home? Enter the sweepstakes in our New Home Know-How: Essentials for Staging & Decorating Boutique, opening Saturday, May 17, at 3PM ET.

Discover selling strategies, search neighborhoods, or contact a real estate professional at Trulia.com.

By Lindsay Lambert, Editor

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May 17, 2014

Build an Inspiring Writing Space (on a Writer’s Budget)

Creating a chic work space in the home doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, you can accomplish color, comfort, and style with just a few key pieces. These six picks do just that.

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Start with a desk. It’ll set the tone for the entire scene.

Add a bold color. Seasonally appropriate burnt orange is our space’s eye candy.

Accent with personality. Ornate mirrors, travel maps – choose décor that speaks to you.

Our Arrange & Rearrange: Furniture Under $300 Boutique opens Wednesday, August 28, at 3PM ET.

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August 28, 2013

5 Personality-Packed Pieces for a Relaxed Home

Because every haven can use some personal touches

For me, the home is so much more than just a place to eat and sleep. It’s where I can unwind in full and regain my sanity after a long, busy day. And that means it needs to be full of personal touches and creature comforts. Call it a result of my upbringing, but I can’t imagine living in a place that feels stiff. Give me a comfy homestead instead of cookie-cutter one any day.

So forget the pages of that catalog. Instead, opt for some of these pieces, sure to pack your home with comfort and personality that’s undeniably yours.

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Our The Stylishly Lived-In Home Boutiques open Wednesday, March 13, at 3PM ET.

By Anna Kuchinsky, Staff Writer

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March 13, 2013

Rue Road Test: Holiday Twig Mobile

It’s a fact: I don’t have room for a Christmas tree in my tiny studio. So, I thought I’d compensate by making a tree-oriented home decoration. Supplies are somewhat hard to come by in the city, so I was forced to go foraging through the park. Apparently, scouring the ground and carrying a bundle of twigs in your arms warrants strangers looking at you like you’re the pigeon lady from Home Alone 2, so after I found a few good ones, I called it quits and retreated to my apartment to see what I could make of my findings.

With the help of fishing line, some paint, and the Glee Christmas soundtrack, I created my holiday twig mobile. Here’s how:

What you’ll need:
• 3 – 6 twigs in varying sizes
• Acrylic paint (metallic or colored)
• Paintbrush
• Fishing line

Directions:
1.
Collect an array of twigs in varied sizes. I suggest choosing ones with several small branches for a more interesting visual effect.
2. Paint each twig the color of your choice and allow to dry. (I used an off-white base then finished the tips with gold spray paint.) Paint them all a different color, or go the enchanting metallic route.
3. Lay them out on the floor as you would like them positioned in the mobile, descending in size from top to bottom.
4. Cut a piece of fishing line and tie to both ends of the top stick. Make sure it’s long enough to have a little slack to use as a hanger.
5. For convenience and to achieve the right balance, hang this section up before you continue.
6. Decide whether you want your mobile to hang down straight or to spin (mine hangs straight). Then, start by tying one piece of line to each end of the first stick.
6A. Straight mobile: Connect the loose ends to the lower sticks like rungs of a ladder.
6B. Spinning mobile: Tie the loose ends around the mid-section of the stick below.
7. Continue to connect your sticks in this fashion, adding as many sticks as you like (as long as the mobile stays balanced).

By Grace Romanowsky of Valenki By ACE, Staff Writer

How did your road test fare? Share it in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala.

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December 6, 2012

Prep Your Holiday Table: DIY Napkin Rings

Planning ahead is the key to breezing your way through the holiday season. Once you’ve decided on your plates, serveware, and menu, it’s time to set the table – and crafting your own napkin rings is a simple and fun way to add personality and style.

Prep Your Holiday Table: DIY Napkin Rings

Photos courtesy of Miki Duisterhof via Eddie Ross (left, right) and Heather Rowley via The Creative Patch (middle).

Bold Texture
You can create a variation on these ribbon napkin rings to spruce up white or cream linens. Coordinate with your holiday table’s colors when you select your ribbon, trim, and burlap, and add buttons, lace, or vintage jewelry. If you love the idea of crafting with jewelry as much as I do, Eddie Ross’s vintage brooch napkin rings will help you outfit your tablescape in luxurious, textured style.

Thanksgiving Harvest
Bring a harvest feel to your Thanksgiving dinner table with acorn napkin rings. All you need is a drill with a tiny bit, some thin craft wire, and about ten acorns per place setting. Pair the rings with red or orange cloth napkins, then add acorns to your centerpiece to complete the rustic feel. You can also use some ribbon and a pearl for a different take on the same idea.

Holiday Hosting
As the go-to host, head into dinner-party season armed with festive wreath napkin rings. The small grapevine wreaths and holiday-hued ribbon should be available at any craft store. If your color scheme is more winter-themed – white, blue, or silver – try these jingle bell napkin rings to combine whimsy and class.

For the kids’ table, you can’t go wrong with Santa belt napkin rings – and they come with the added benefit of enticing youngsters with an arts and crafts project at the kitchen table while you baste the turkey or carve the holiday ham.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

What’s your favorite holiday-table DIY project? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @ruelala. 

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November 7, 2012

Upgrade Your Space: Home Sweet Hotel

The hotel stay is one of the best, but often overlooked, parts of travel or vacationing. After a long day of sightseeing, soaking up rays, or networking at a conference, there’s nothing better than returning to a clean, stylish hotel room and slipping cozily between fresh sheets.

It’s not difficult to come home to such comfort in daily life. Besides completing the obvious (yet easy-to-neglect) basic household chores, use these tips to recapture that pristine hotel feeling – without getting on a plane.

Basic, Neutral Linens
Outfit your bed with a neutral or white duvet and sheets. Stick to the basics, and your bedroom will feel bright, neat, and inviting – three major perks of the hotel vibe. Also, stock your bathroom with tidy, matching towels to keep it looking immaculate.

Lots (And We Mean Lots) Of Pillows
Though I shove aside at least half the pillows on hotel beds before catching Zs, I appreciate their chic, classy appearance. Mix it up with varying (but complementary) sizes, textures, and patterns for a serious bedroom upgrade.

Furniture Reboot
To give your space a grand, serene appearance, invest in a large armoire and conceal your TV inside. Or, consider placing a pedestal table and chairs in a corner of your bedroom – it’s much more relaxing to take in the morning paper and a coffee when you’re lounging in comfort.

Fresh Flowers
Immediately brighten up any room by adding a vase of fresh flowers (or a living plant – white orchids are my favorite) to your nightstand or tabletop. Though this is easier in spring and summer, mums are a welcome treat during the off-season.

Pint-Sized Goodies
Who doesn’t love those adorable mini lotions and pillow chocolates? Pick up a few fancy travel-sized shampoo and conditioner bottles for guests to use – or just to switch up your tub décor. Keep the chocolates in a crystal dish (rather than on your pillow) to add sparkle and class.

Get started on hotel-ing out your home and visit The Rue Sleep-In: Whit & Alex, Villa 408, & coza Boutique, opening Tuesday, October 23, at 8PM ET.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

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October 22, 2012

Rue How-To: Wine Cork Décor

As it turns out, those empty bottles of Malbec adorning my kitchen windowsill serve a higher (and more aesthetically pleasing) purpose.  I have two words for you: home décor. From monogrammed wine cork letters to wine cork bulletin boards, there are a ton of ways to turn the remnants of wine night with the girls into eye-catching home accessories.

What you’ll need:

  1. A wooden monogrammed letter of your choice or a bulletin board
  2. A glue gun or glue sticks
  3. A razor blade
  4. A drinking buddy (let’s face it – that’s a lot of legwork to accomplish solo). If you’d rather not waste time or money building up your cork collection, you can order them online or check out a local craft store.


Steps:

  1. Before you start gluing, organize your corks on the letter frame to figure out which sizes best fit the dimensions of the letter or bulletin board (just beware of the domino effect).
  2. As you’re organizing, make sure that any corks featuring a unique graphic are facing out.
  3. Once you have the corks laid out, glue them on to the wooden letter or bulletin board. Contrary to the timeless piece of wisdom that cautions against mixing your alcohol, don’t be afraid to combine different colored corks.
  4. Using the razor blade, quarter a few corks and use these pieces to fill in any gaps.
  5. Place the finished product on a mantel, bookcase, or other focal point where it’ll be sure to catch the attention of houseguests.


By Lauryn Paiva
, Staff Writer

Recycled your wine bottles into cool home décor? Share your how-to in the comments below or tweet us @ruelala

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October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Fest: Three New Ways to Display the Seasonal Staple

Photo credits: bugaboo, mini, mr & me, Under the Table and Dreaming, and  Happy Mundane

I’d never dream of advising you to forgo the season’s requisite candy corns and pumpkin micro-brews, but I, for one, plan to add a few new recipes and unexpected decor upgrades to my fall favorites list this year.

Rather than embark on an overambitious carving endeavor (last year, I tried to carve an octopus swallowing a tall ship), I’m opting to put my fashion knowledge into play and accessorize this, well, red-headed cousin of squash, with some of the season’s “it” trends.

Decoupage
Big in decorative home accents, this technique is the art of applying paper cutouts and then coating with several layers of finish. Use tissue paper, newspaper, magazine cutouts, and liberal amounts of Modge Podge to create your own en vogue pumpkin, as seen in Country Living.

Studding
This hot trend isn’t just for shoes and handbags. Paint your pumpkin a solid white or black base then embellish it with silver thumb tacks to give it some of that “grit and glamour” look.

Colorblocking
How seriously rad do these colorblocked neon, grey, and white pumpkins look? I’ve never wanted to accessorize a fruit with a pair of heels… until now (and yes, pumpkin is a fruit!).

First decoupage pumpkin didn’t turn out well? Before you do anything hasty, remember there are lots of super-tasty recipes for both the seeds and the pumpkin itself. Obvious go-to’s would be pumpkin pie and baked seeds for snacking, but these pumpkin dumpling and pumpkin seed smoothie recipes are healthy and unexpected takes that I can’t wait to try out.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

Do you have a unique way to decorate fall’s favorite fruit? Share it in the comments below or tweet us @ruelala.

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September 22, 2012