Small Shop Highlight: Amber Interiors Shoppe

Photography by Jess Diab and Amber Interiors

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Dear Design Diary,

If you’re a designer or a design enthusiast with an Instagram account, a computer, a phone, eyeballs, and any combination of the aforementioned, it’s literally impossible to avoid the beautiful, beachy work of Amber Lewis, founder of the Amber Interiors blog, principle of her own design firm, and businesswoman extraordinaire. When I found out she had a shop, I knew immediately it would be one of those painful stores where you go in and just want everything. And so when I sent Hommemaker Editor Jess Diab on assignment to check it out, I wasn’t surprised when she returned with gorgeous photos and titillating tales of treasures untold.

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Located in glamorous Calabasas, Amber Interiors Shoppe has the beautiful, bright aesthetic you might recognize from Amber’s interior design work.

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A true fact about me is that I’ve been searching for a giant ceramic bowl. Luckily, the Shoppe is here for all your giant bowl needs. As well as your gold flatware needs. And your geometric wooden spoon needs. It’s annoying/thrilling when a store reminds you how many needs you have.

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One of my favorite things about the store is that it has items a variety of price ranges. I hate it when I go into a store and everything is a million dollars and there isn’t one thing I can afford. I prefer stores like this, where even if I can’t afford the $5000 chair I can afford some small pottery or a great book. LET THIS BE A LESSON TO ALL SHOPOWNERS TO BE INCLUSIVE. There’s money to be made, even from us non-billionaires!

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Products: (1) Coffee Table Book, (2) Domino Set, (3) Rattan Ottoman, (4) Brass Wall Sconce, (5) George Coffee Table, (6) Collins Bench, (7) Pop & Scott Planter, (8) Rattan Chair

img_3394I’m an ambassador for American Express’ Shop Small for 2x Rewards Campaign this year, and they’re encouraging people to support small businesses like Amber Interiors Shoppe by offering  more rewards on purchases made with an enrolled American Express Card between now and the end of the year. Everyone wins: you support a small business, you get great rewards.v

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I’m loving this large scale shelving unit and ALL the pillows inside it!

flatware-lifestyleOslo Matte Gold Cutlery Set

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It’s small details that make Amber’s custom line of furnishings special and interesting. Like the way this cushion loops onto this headboard.

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I worked in retail for a million years, so whenever I go into a store I tend to fix their displays, straighten things up, and style them. It’s a habit I can’t escape. I wouldn’t mess with this shelving though, everything looks perfect.

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Shown: (1) Teddy Hook, (2) Cedar + Sage Candle, (3) Mali Wallpaper, (4) Oval Mirror, (5) Ava Wall Sconce, (6) Moroccan Bendaoud Throw, (7) Blue Striped Pillow, (8) Vintage African Pillow, (9) Anderson Side Table

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Shown: (1) White Dipped Serving Spoons, (2) Wood Bowl, (3) Black Dinnerware Set, (4) Brass and Copper Bowls, (5) Matte Gold Cutlery (6) Navy Striped Hand Towel, (7) Wood Serving Trays (8) Ceramic Mug, (9) Spanish Glassware

If you know me and feel the need to buy me something, consider the above my Christmas list. So many good things crammed into one store. To learn more about Amber Interiors, check out her interior design work and her blog. If you can’t make it to Calabasas, you can shop online. And above all, don’t forget to support the small businesses you love this holiday season and treat yourself to more rewards thanks to American Express.

Love,
Orlando

This post was created in partnership with American Express. 

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Creating a Festive Holiday Tablescape

studiosession-325-2Winter is the perfect season to invite friends over for conversation and coziness (to combat the chilly weather and moody skies). As you may know by now, I’m a big fan of holiday decorating, hosting, and fun times with friends, so go figure this is my favorite time of year. Today, we’re talking about how to create a festive tablescape to spice up your holiday home, for both everyday use and for dinner parties.

One of the most frequent questions I get from clients about dining tables is how to style them for daily use. It’s not like you’re going to constantly have the table set for dinner, so what do you do during the day to make the table look beautiful and considered? Whether you’re obsessed with hosting or just obsessed with staring at your gorgeous, styled dining table, this guide will help you achieve that festive table of your sugar plum dreams.

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Design Inspiration: A Tour of Villa Kérylos

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Dear Travel Diary,

My trip to Europe in August was one of the most gorgeous journeys I’ve taken in all my life, where every place we went was more incredible than the last. Of all the places we visited, Villa Kérylos was the most fruitful for interior design inspiration. The home, built in 1902 by French gajillionaire Theodore Reinach. Not sure how he got all that cash, but maybe it had something to do with how many jobs he had. He was an Archaeologist-mathematician-lawyer-papyrologist-philologist-epigrapher-historian-numismatist-musicologist-professor-politician. GOT THAT? His masterpiece home, designed by architect Emmanuel Pontremoli, is located in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, which is about fifteen minutes away from Nice, along the Cote d’Azur in France.

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The home has been beautifully preserved and there are details around every corner that will make any interiors enthusiast want to rip her head off for joy. The whole property is Greek-style, with enough pattern to keep you entertained for hours and hours. Since I’m from California, it reminded me a bit of Hearst Castle. Not because it has any stylistic similarities, but because it feels like the same kind of house-fantasy-come-to-life. This is a dream home for sure, and you can tell from the attention to detail that the people who built it must have been deeply in love with it.

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I love everything about this room, except those lucite chairs, which feel like they were totally not invited to the party and are there solely for tourists who get exhausted and overwhelmed by way too much beauty.

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This is the living room, which is completely insane. Somehow everything still feels warm and inviting, despite the fact that every surface is hard stone or tile. The intricate mosaic work on the floor is a reminder that this isn’t just a house, it’s an incredible work of art.

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I’m a sucker for a painted ceiling and this home has many. The incredibly precise detail is mind-boggling. Just imagine the poor painter who laid on his back for days and weeks and years painting all that, screaming down from time to time “CAN SOMEONE LET ME DOWN I HAVE TO USE THE RESTROOM?!?”

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It’s heartening to see a historic home so lovingly preserved. The murals and hand-painted details throughout still feel fresh.

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It’s kind of incredible how universal pattern and design can be. These lovely painted ceilings are all Greek-inspired, but patterns also remind me of Native American designs, African mud cloths, and Swedish/Scandinavian patterns. LET THIS BE A REMINDER THAT WE ARE ALL ONE PEOPLE.

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In addition to the absolutely stunning interiors, this place also features the most incredible ocean views on earth.

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Like Hearst Castle, this home featured some of the most state-of-the-art bathrooms (for the time). Just imagine getting ready for your first date at this crazy marble sink.

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If you think your bathtub is glamorous, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. This claw-footed beauty, made from pure marble, is the most glamorous bath on the planet. Downside: it’s probably haunted.

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This columned courtyard gives the home an inside-outside vibe that feels very contemporary. I love visiting places like this for design inspiration. Do I plan on making my house into a crazy, ornate palace where everything has a different pattern on it and is made from marble? Probably not, that would be gross. The takeaway here is more that incorporating some pattern can really make a home feel unique and welcoming. And not to be scared to go full-force in creating the home of your dreams.

Now get to work and go create your own dream house!

Love,
Orlando

PS: Two Qs – 1) What details from this house would you incorporate into your dream house? 2) If you could have a house any style what would it be? RESPOND IN THE COMMENTS!

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Epic Everyday: A Simple and Sensational Friendsgiving

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Dear Thankful People Who Love to Chow Down,

I’ve always thought it would be fun to do a Friendsgiving dinner. But my pesky family keeps getting in the way. We do Thanksgiving together every year, making the concept of a friends-only version off the table. But this year, I said “screw it!” I WILL HAVE MY FRIENDSGIVING. So I did what any dinner-party-loving crazy person would do. I had fake Thanksgiving a month before actual Thanksgiving. Luckily, I had a little motivation, as this coincides with my collaboration with American Express to take normal everyday activities (like, say, dinner) and make them epic (like, say, Thanksgiving dinner).

Anyone who has ever hosted Thanksgiving knows the one epic thing about the day is prepping the meal. But I didn’t want to make my guests pitch in at all. I just wanted them to show up to a crazy, elaborate meal without lifting a finger. So I tasked myself with cooking the entire meal myself. It was totally doable but I also kind of lost my mind while doing it, so if you’re going to attempt this I’d make sure you wake up early and be ready to feel like a frazzled rag doll all day (in all honesty, I’m pretty much a frazzled rag doll every day). It’s totally worth the satisfaction of knowing you did everything on your own, but it’s a lot of work.

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As anyone will tell you, the most taxing part of Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey. I’d never cooked one before and I had little knowledge of what it entailed. What I wasn’t prepared for is how truly disgusting the whole process would be. Basically, you have to rip out the bird’s insides (for some reason they give you all these turkey pieces and put them inside). The scene of me prepping the turkey was pretty grim. Me, standing alone in the kitchen with my hand inside a wet, cold, salmonella-y bird, listening to sad Sufjan Stevens music and screaming “I USED TO BE A VEGAN” at the ceiling. Handling wet poultry is high on my list of things I’m scared of, so for me this was a very dark moment.

As with all my cooking endeavors, I relied on a Martha Stewart recipe. It’s not that I’m such a blind follower of Martha (although, if she told me to jump off a cliff I would do so without even bothering to ask why), it’s more that I know that every recipe I find on that site is going to be good. So instead of just googling “How to cook a turkey” which, believe me, I did I looked over the recipes on Martha’s site and chose one that sounded delicious and easy (see the full turkey recipe here).

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No Thanksgiving meal is complete without some kind of potato situation, so I decided to include a sweet mashed potato side. I used my fun yellow dutch ovens, which made me feel festive and autumnal while cooking.

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Mashed Sweet Potato Recipe

10 Sweet Potatoes

1/2 cup of butter

1 Yellow Onion

Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Coconut oil

Garlic Powder

Herbs de Provence

Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

Boil peeled sweet potatoes until tender enough to pierce easily with a fork. Slice onions into quarter inch thick pieces and sauté in olive oil in a separate pan. Add onions to boiled potatoes and combine using an immersion blender until the consistency is smooth. Add in butter and coconut oil, continuing to blend. Add Herbs de Provence, Salt, and pepper to taste. Garnish with bay leaves, rosemary, or whatever herb you have lying around. If you don’t have any herbs lying around, go to the bathroom and take a long look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why you’ve made such terrible life decisions.

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No Thanksgiving meal would be complete without delicious Brussels sprouts. I always like Brussels sprouts at restaurants way more than the ones I make at home, so I decided to do something restauranty and add bacon to mine. Also added: crunch. Making these at home I always feel like they lack the crunch of sprouts I eat when I’m at a restaurant. So I decided to bake some of the flakey outer shells to add more texture to the dish.

Also, totally unrelated: CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW GROSS BRUSSELS SPROUTS SMELL WHEN YOU COOK THEM? Like, why? They’re so good but whenever I cook them for a dinner party I feel so much shame, like I live in a stench-filled witch house. For this reason I made these way ahead of time for Friendsgiving. Also, coating everything in bacon helps mask that WHAT-HAPPENED-IN-HERE!?!-sprout-scent that normally goes along with preparing these tasty nuggets.

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Crunchy Brussels Sprouts

3 Lbs Brussels Sprouts (that’s about three bags from shops like Trader Joes)

1/2 lb bacon

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

In a pan, fry bacon. Leave bacon grease in the pan. Remove cooked bacon from pan and set it on paper towels to dry (and absorb some of the fatty oil). Prepare the Brussels sprouts by halving them and removing the brown part of their stem. Collect loose leaves that fall off during halving in a bowl. Add loose leaves to pan, coating them with the bacon fat (yes, I realize this sounds gross but you have to do it or no one will like your Brussels sprouts. Or you). Place in a baking dish and cook at 450 degrees until lightly browned at the edges. Meanwhile, cook the Brussels sprouts with olive oil in a pan on medium heat until soft. Chop bacon into quarter inch piece and add to cooked sprouts. Add in baked sprout leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

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Simple Spiced Cider Cocktail

Spiced Apple Cider

Ginger Beer

Vodka

Rosemary Sprigs

Combine equal parts Spiced Apple Cider, Ginger Beer, and Vodka in a serving pitcher. Add ice and sliced clementines. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve over ice. For added pizzaz, attach some rosemary sprigs to the end of your drink stirrer with kitchen string. THIS WILL SHOCK AND DELIGHT YOUR GUESTS.

[Champagne coups are from Crate & Barrel pitcher is from Ikea]

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For dessert, I went with my favorite type of pastry, an apple tart. I hate making dough, so I bought ready-made crusts and rolled them out myself. I grew up in a house where we never ate anything pre-made like that, so I’m sure my mother would have dropped her wine glass on the floor if she had seen me doing this, but I honestly can’t tell the difference between a ready-made crust and a homemade one, except for the fact that the homemade ones make me want to scream because they’re so time consuming, flakey, and hard to get exactly right. A fun tip here is that if you avoid those cheap looking crinkly aluminum foil pans with the pre-made crusts already rolled out in them and put the crusts into a ceramic dish like the one above, the whole thing feels a lot more high end and homemade. Even though it’s store bought garbage.

Apple Tart Recipe (serve with vanilla bean ice cream, duh).

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I set the table with my favorite dishes, which are these Ahwahnee plates Edouard bought on a trip to Yosemite last year. This pattern is the traditional pattern of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, where I grew up. When I was little we used to play in this hotel ALL the time. Mostly in the elevators. Imagine my terror years later when I saw The Shining for the first time (many of the interior shots of this film were based on the Ahwahnee, which I’ve explored in an old blog post). As you probably know, the elevators play a particularly terrifying role in that film. THERE GOES MY CHILDHOOD!

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I bought nearly everything I needed for Friendsgiving at Trader Joe’s (even these cute, autumnal berry branches). A fun fact is that if you use your American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card at a grocery store, you get 3% back! So part of me was happy I was wasting hundreds of dollars on this meal, since I knew I’d be getting some of it back and that would make me feel like I was winning a secret prize.

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Even though the turkey was a nightmare do prep, cooking it wasn’t so difficult. All you have to do is make sure that it’s constantly moisturized. Like every 20 minutes. It’s basically like a gay man after age 30: as long as you keep applying moisture it will look delicious and tantalizing. The second you let it dry up, no one is going to be interested ever again. LET THIS MOIST, YOUTHFUL TURKEY BE A LESSON TO ALL OF US TO MOISTURIZE, MOISTURIZE, MOISTURIZE.

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My friends told me that my Friendsgiving was a smashing success and they were very impressed I’d cooked a whole Thanksgiving dinner all alone. And that’s when I turned to the camera and screamed, THANKS AMERICAN EXPRESS – FOR TAKING THIS NORMAL/BORING SATURDAY AND MAKING IT EPIC. 

…Speaking of epic, I wanted to share a few amazing recipes from Buzzfeed and American Express that inspired me to create my own Friendsgiving so out of this world, and might inspire you too. Check them out here.

Editor’s Note: I swear, there were actually people at my Friendsgiving. I know that these pics make it look like I ate with a group of ghosts, but it was an evening filled with real, non-phantasm friends who loved my signature cocktail and told me the turkey was moist (are you one of the people that hates that word? I’m kinda not tbh. Just think about all the delicious moist cakes and cookies you’ve eaten in your lifetime. MMMMM!). I kinda stopped taking pics by the time people arrived because I was rushing to get everything done. Also, it was pretty dark so I the few pics I did take made everyone look like a gargoyle. I just wanted to explain this because I didn’t want you picturing me eating this whole turkey alone while crying about being alone. Not that that’s not something I wouldn’t do. It’s just not what happened this time.

Okay, bye. AND HAPPY REAL THANKSGIVING!

Love,
Orlando

Resources: Dining Table, Wishbone Chairs, Jute RugTable Runner, Hurricanes, Gilded Glasses, Flatware, Ivory Napkin, PlacematsGold Pendants, Wall Clock.

This post was created in collaboration with American Express. All ideas and opinions expressed are genuine and my own. 

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Thanksgiving Dining Table Tips from Me and Other Super Famous Design People

Photography by Tessa Neustadt Courtesy Homepolish

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Dear Thanksgiving Hosts,

A you FREAKING OUT about how to style your Thanksgiving table? Would you like advice from experts like Jonathan Adler, Emily Henderson, and ME? If so, you’re in luck! MyDomaine has put together a comprehensive guide to creating the perfect setting for Thanksgiving, with input from me and other design experts. Continue reading to get the inside scoop on how to decorate for everyone’s favorite harvest hootenanny.

CONTINUE READING >>>

Love,
Orlando

 

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Fun at Orcondo: One Bedroom Three Ways

Photographs by Amy Bartlam Courtesy Homepolish x Etsy

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Dear Decor Diary,

When I’m not holding pillows like a psychopath, I love rearranging furniture and swapping out accessories to transform Orcondo. Accessories can totally refresh a space. And even if something is perfectly styled, after a while I find it starts to look a little stale and/or disheveled. Maybe Boyfriend put a book somewhere it wasn’t supposed to go. Or maybe Guest rearranged your shelves without asking. Regardless of what caused your styling to go awry, it’s always a good idea to refresh it every once in a while. So when Etsy and Homepolish teamed up for a delightful makeover story about styling my guest bedroom over and over and over again, I jumped at the chance to play with all the amazing accessories available on Etsy .

My guest bedroom is one of my favorite rooms in my home. It’s bright and welcoming, with a low platform bed I got from AllModern, simple white sheets from Parachute, and an amazing light fixture from Park Studio. The great thing about it is that it’s kind of a blank canvas begging to be transformed, so it’s pretty easy to change its look with bedding, side tables, and accessories. The wall color (Sleigh Bells by Benjamin Moore) is very neutral and goes with pretty much everything, so this room is VERY versatile.

Stop everything you’re doing and follow along with me as I show you how I created three distinct looks from one sunny guest bedroom.

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When I created the mood board for this look, I was pretty bored. I was kinda like “SNOOZE! Who’s gonna like this stupid-ass look?” But when it was done it was so peaceful and relaxing that I wanted to curl up and read a book immediately while drinking a warm cup of tea and thinking about how much I appreciate all the people in my life.

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Some people are scared to mix different hues of whites. I’m not. I love a crisp white against an ivory, contrasted with a wheat color. Yes, cream can look yellow next to crisp white, but what’s wrong with yellow?

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This cute little triangle shelf rocks my world and added a bit of edge to an otherwise pretty traditional space. It also provides the perfect perch for my prized Kokeshi dolls, who are the mosts adorable, beautiful people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

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Etsy is a great resource for original art and reproductions like these. I love the look of using clips to hang art, and it’s super economical.

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Look 1 Resources: Linen Pillow Cases, Woven Pillow Cases, Watercolor PaintingsNatural Wooden Nightstand

shibori

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It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with shibori, so I was stoked to fill the room with the colorful fabric. Shibori pieces are all hand-dyed and are works of art, so adding them to a room immediately gives it a unique, hand-touched look.

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Sometimes, people ask me “How many pillows is too many pillows?” And it takes every fiber of my being not to slap them across the face and scream, “HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST THERE COULD EVER BE TOO MANY PILLOWS???” Someday, I’ll probably die of suffocation in a pile of pillows that fell off my bed onto my unsuspecting, wide open mouth. And I’m okay with that.

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This simple YET AMAZING wall hanging is the perfect art accent.

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Look 2 Resources: Shibori and Indigo patterned fabrics, rustic wood finishes, natural stone, and concrete objects.

memphis

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If you’re not familiar with the Memphis look that’s having a resurgence right now, it’s time for you to get on board. Memphis was born in the eighties and is all about color, pattern, and insane geometry. Basically Pee-wee’s playhouse on crack. The style is too crazy for all my clients, so I decided to use it for the third of my bedroom styling makeovers.

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Edouard and I bought these popsicle floaties for a pool party over the summer and they make me endlessly happy. If I could keep them inside all the time I’d be the happiest person alive. Sadly, I’m not a 12-year-old girl so I’d never get away with that.

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I LOVE THAT PIÑATA SO MUCH I WANT TO SQUEEZE IT UNTIL CANDY EXPLODES OUT OF IT. And then apologize for killing it so young. And then have it rise from the dead and put itself together so I could squeeze it until it explodes again.

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This pink woolen blanket with pom-poms really make me happy.

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Hello? Is anyone there? It’s me, Teenage Girl from 1960 Who Likes Chatting With Boys On The Phone!

Look 3 Resources: Mid-Century Scandinavian Nightstand, Pops of hot pink and bright yellow accents,  Graphic wall treatment.

There we have it! One bedroom, three ways! Which look is your favorite? TELL ME EVERYTHING.

Love,
Orlando

PS: Wanna see more? Check out the full resources and story on Homepolish Mag!

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12 Very Important House Rules That Must Never Ever Be Broken

Photography by Daniel Collopy, Tessa Neustadt, and Zeke Ruelas

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Dear Housekeeping Diary,

It’s not a secret that I’m obsessed with life at home. I spend my days designing interiors, prepping “lifestyle” photoshoots (whatever that means), fantasizing about throwing dinner parties, and then actually throwing one every once in a while. As you can imagine, someone as obsessed with the (often failed) pursuit of home perfection as I am has concocted a lot of rules for proper living over the years. Many of these were passed down from my parents, but I’ve concocted some pretty insane ones all on my own. So today, I thought I’d share some of the rules I have about what is allowed and what is not allowed at Orcondo.

I’m lucky to live with a pretty fastidious and well-mannered gentleman, but in all honesty some of my OCD house rules drive even him crazy.  It’s not until you move in with someone that you realize how truly insane your house habits are. So I try not to be too controlling with them. The following are a list of rules that exist in my head, and are sometimes implemented in my house when I can do so without starting an unnecessary argument.

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1. Never Put Wine Glasses in the Dishwasher

This is one that I got from my mom. I always doubted about it until one day, as an adult I put a wine glass in the dishwasher. As I closed the dishwasher, the glass exploded and shards of glass went everywhere, nearly killing me instantly. So the logic of this rule is that not only do you risk breaking your wine glasses by putting them in a dishwasher, they also tend to dry spotty and disgusting. The best way to wash a wine glass is with a sponge, by hand (I’m not into bottle brushes because they don’t remove lipstick and chapstick stains very well). Then you hand dry them with a clean dish towel to prevent them from spotting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been embarrassed in front of guests by spotty glasses I forgot to dy. Clearly, I choose really important things to get embarrassed about.

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2. When Cleaning, Start at the Top

When I was about twelve, my mom got a book about cleaning that changed all of our lives forever. The book, by Clean Team founder Jeff Campbell, is basically a rallying cry for people who are psychotically obsessed with cleanliness. If you think I have a lot of house rules, they have millions more. One of the most important is that when you’re cleaning you should always start at the top. For example, in a kitchen, you would wipe off the cabinets first, then wipe down the countertops, and finish by cleaning the floor. That way anything that breaks loose while you’re cleaning will be picked up by your final floor sweep. This is one of the most logical tenets of housekeeping I’ve ever heard and if you don’t agree with it I’m going to have to ask you to leave. If you don’t know The Clean Team, I highly recommend their products. They’re a lot more environmentally friendly than most mainstream cleaning supplies these days.

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3. No Paper Plates Unless You’re having a Party for 30 or More People

Paper plates are convenient, but unless your water is turned off or you have no kitchen, there’s no reason to use them unless you’re hosting a huge party and you don’t have enough regular dishes. Guests get a kick out of using real plates (and glassware for that matter), and you can get pretty decent table settings at pretty reasonable prices these days (restaurant supply stores are a great place to look for simple white dishes in higher quantities). And don’t even think about using a paper plate if you don’t have guests. That’s just insanity.

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4. Never Put Wood or Fancy Knives in the Dishwasher

To me, the wood thing seems pretty self-explanatory. Getting wood wet ultimately damages it. And since dishwasher cycles last for up to a few hours, keeping them wet for extended periods of time will break them down and strip them of oils they need to stay young and attractive (like you). And don’t put your fancy Wustoff knives in the dishwasher either. I don’t know why I believe this, I just do. Hand wash your finer things and they will last longer.

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5. Don’t Use Paper Towels Unless You Have To

When I was fresh out of college, I had a boyfriend who used paper towels FOR EVERYTHING. It drove me crazy, because it was so wasteful and unnecessary.  It made me question his moral integrity. How could someone grow up to believe that it was okay to waste so much paper?  Did he have something against trees? It’s on par with leaving the water running while you brush your teeth (which is basically terrorism as far as I’m concerned). Using too many paper towels says to the world “I don’t care that our planet is literally days from exploding in a global warming apocalypse, I’m gonna use a paper towel because I feel like it.” Also, paper towels don’t work as well as cloth for cleaning things up. My rule is that if it can spread deadly germs (like salmonella or e. coli) then you should use a paper towel. For everything else, just use a cloth like an actual human being. Keep a separate bin for them so they don’t contaminate your other laundry.

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6. Always Close The Toilet Completely

Women and men are equal offenders in my book in terms of toilet-closing etiquette. Yes, men can be idiots and forget to put the seat down for women, which is completely unacceptable. But women often leave the lid of the toilet open after they use the toilet. Leaving the toilet open is not only unattractive, it’s also a hazard. THINK OF ALL THE BRAND NEW IPHONE 7S THAT COULD FALL IN THERE. A note to all women and men out there: LITERALLY ALL OF YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. You should be closing the toilet completely (including the lid) before you leave the bathroom. It’s the only dignified thing to do.

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7. Hide Your Bananas

This is where you’re going to start feeling really sorry for my boyfriend. My sweet, handsome boyfriend. He loves bananas, but I hate it when they start getting brown spots all over them so I always hide them in the cupboard. He’s always like “If I can’t see the bananas I won’t eat them because I won’t remember they’re there.” And I’m like “THESE ROTTING BANANAS REMIND ME OF MY OWN IMPENDING DEATH.” And then he lets me put them in the cupboard. I wish bananas didn’t get so gross, so fast, but looking at them just reminds me that we’re all gonna die and I can’t handle that first thing in the morning before I’ve had any coffee. This goes for other spotty fruits too. Regardless of how delicious they are, no one wants to see them. So hide them in a deep, dark place the same way you hide your true emotions.

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8. Don’t Leave Shampoo Bottles in the Squeezed Position

Yes, this is also insane, but hear me out. Packaging designers have been working for decades to perfect the design of shampoo bottles. The way it’s supposed to work is you squeeze the bottle and shampoo comes out. But you have to let the bottle return to its original shape by letting air back in or you’ll lose squeezing power. So don’t leave the bottle in a squeezed position where it looks all skinny and cracked out, like Lindsay Lohan in 2007. The bottle was designed to be a certain shape. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD (and packaging designers everywhere) JUST LET IT BE THAT SHAPE!

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9. Never Ever Squeeze Toothpaste from the Middle

This is another aesthetic thing. The sight of a lumpy tube of toothpaste sends me into a deep depression that can last for months, even years. So I always squeeze mine from the end. Luckily, I don’t share a tube with my boyfriend. I made him get his own so we could each squeeze how we please (he’s a middle squeezer).

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10. You Don’t Have to Fold Underwear

Folding underwear is stupid and a complete waste of time. It’s too small to actually fold properly so folding it is pointless. There are so many other things you could be doing with your time. Like running around the house and making sure all your toilets are closed and then screaming things at the ceiling when you find one that has been left open.

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11. No Christmas Before Thanksgiving

I don’t believe in allowing holidays to overlap, so you must be done with Thanksgiving before you put up a Christmas tree. It’s like, what if Santa showed up while you were wearing a Halloween costume? It would be like when you run into friends from disparate groups at the same time and you have to try to talk to them at the same time even though they hate each other. Drama. It is the natural order of things that we have to get through the harvest themed holidays to get to the winter holidays. ONE MUST NOT DEFY THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS.

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12. If One is Open Already, Don’t Open Another One

If you want to see me completely lose my mind, open a jar of peanut butter when there is another of the same kind already open. Nothing makes me feel crazier than opening the refrigerator to find three cans of the same type of spaghetti sauce open, sitting there, laughing at how out of control my life has become. The rule goes like this: if something is low enough that you feel it merits opening another of the same, throw away the first one or condense the two bottles. WE CANNOT LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE THERE ARE MULTIPLES OF EVERYTHING OPEN ALL THE TIME. Just think of all the chaos, the medicine cabinets full of half-used tubes of toothpaste that would tumble out and hit you in the face every time you opened them. Just thinking about it makes me furious.

Alright, well I’ve exposed I am a literal insane person and likely very difficult/impossible to live with. But I’m sure you have your own little house rule quirks that drive you/your spouse and/or friends/family crazy. TELL ME WHAT THEY ARE! Leave your HOUSE RULES in the comments section. I’ll be adding my favorites to this list.

Love,
Orlando

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Shop Small: Compartés for National Chocolate Day!

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Dear Cathy the Cartoon and Other Chocolate Enthusiasts,

It seems like every day is designated as some sort of holiday honoring a food, group of people, cause, or fictional character. For example, did you know that February 22 is National Margarita Day? Or that June 2 is National Doughnut Day? Or that August 20 is World Mosquito Day? I can’t believe that doughnuts and margaritas only get the U.S., but mosquitos are honored worldwide. So rude. I’m personally not a huge fan of mosquitos, but I am a fan of chocolate. So when American Express invited me to choose my favorite local chocolatier as part of their #ShopSmall campaign, I was excited to get to work researching the best choco in town.

I’ve been fascinated with Compartés since I came across their shop a few years ago, but I had no idea the company had a rich LA history or that it’s still completely based here. The company dates back to 1950, when celebs like Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy used to CHOW DOWN on their delicious confections. The company was reinvigorated ten years ago when Jonathan Graham, who was essentially a child at the time, took over the brand. (He was 21). He’s infused the company with a fashion-inspired sense that incorporates seasonal offerings and collaborations with style powerhouses like Kelly Wearstler.

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While the chocolate from Compartés is undeniably delicious, I gotta be honest, what really wins me over is the design of everything the company touches. From their beautifully designed store fronts in Brentwood and West Hollywood to their insanely beautiful packaging, every aesthetic element is considered. I’m particularly obsessed with the company’s logo, which feels modern and deco at the same time.

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The chocolates are made from chocolate sourced from South America and local farmers market ingredients. Jonathan and his chocolate artists are very creative with the type of bars they create, often incorporating elements like cereal, whole cookies, and fruit into their creations.

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The shops have a stylish, vintage-meets-new-age look. They feel edgy yet warm and welcoming. Their Brentwood location has a beautiful classic vibe while the West Hollywood location is a bit more mod, designed by Kelly Wearstler.

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Flamingos, pink elephants, palm trees? COUNT ME IN FOR ALL OF IT.

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Like you, Compartés products are beautiful, INSIDE AND OUT.

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Instead of creating a boring wall of shelves, Compartés created a wall installation that turns their chocolate bars into a work of art.

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There are literally cookies ON TOP OF THAT COOKIE.

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If you need me I’ll be sitting on the floor of my bedroom closet, in the dark, taste testing each and every one of these flavors.

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I took the California Love bar home, because I love chocolate covered pretzels. It was perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

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Not sure what to add to your Thanksgiving pie? WHY NOT SHOVE A CHOCOLATE BAR IN THERE! Definitely makes for a festive pie topper.

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Can we all just take a moment for these glamorous typography moments?

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Because Compartés is a small business, I used my American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card to take advantage of their #ShopSmall for 2X Rewards initiative. Basically, this program provides more rewards to shoppers using eligible Amex Cards to support small businesses through the end of the year. You can learn more about it here. You can learn more about Compartés (and their custom chocolate bars for your party or wedding) on their website. And if you’re in the LA area, you can check out their boutique in Brentwood.

Now go out and eat a chocolate bar (or ten) in honor of National Chocolate Day!

Love,
Orlando

This post was sponsored by American Express. Ideas and opinions expressed are genuine and my own. 

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The Spine-Tingling Ghost Necessary for Every Halloween Home

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Dear People Who Are Huge Nerds About Halloween Like I Am,

Last year, my mother made me a little handmade ghost and sent it to me in the mail. I have no idea what inspired her to make this, but I was immediately obsessed with it and stole the idea this year and made my own. I’ve tried to elevate my Halloween decor this year but there’s always room for a bit of frivolity so I love how this stupid ghost makes me feel every time I see him. It’s like, “Hi, I want my house to look nice but also life is about fun so here’s this ghost I hang out with every day.” Also, this was a super simple project that took less than ten minutes. So if you’re the type that loves the idea of DIY but hates actually doing it yourself, you should drop everything you’re doing and make this right now.

What you’ll need: 4″ Styrofoam Ball, Bamboo Skewers, A Pair of Decent Scissors, Black Construction Paper, School Glue, Thin Gauge Floral Wire, Cheese Cloth.

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1. Use the skewer to bore a hole in the styrofoam ball. You can also use any long, skinny tool to do this, just make sure it’s not too thick or the wire won’t hold.

2. Bend the end of your wire to a point (this helps the sharp end of it from not getting caught inside the styrofoam ball) and thread through the ball.

3. Create a “U” shape with the wire and insert the loose end into the ball. The more wire you insert, the stronger your ghost will be.

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There you have it! Ghosty is done! Jk, this is just his skeleton. This is what the topside should look like. Alternatively, you can use fishing wire to make your ghost look more like he’s floating, but I chose wire because it’s a little easier to control the direction the ghost faces.

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Cut your cheese cloth to size. I cut mine about 24″ x 24.” Sidenote: I got these scissors from Michael’s a few years ago and they’re still sharp and good. I hate nothing more than dull scissors, so if you’re in the market I’d def recommend these. And they cost like 7 cents.

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Cut out ghost eyes from black construction paper. I like the oval vintage shape shown here. It gives the ghost a surprised, “OH I DIDN’T SEE YOU THERE” look.

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Drape the fabric over the styrofoam ball (threading the wire through the very middle of it). Depending on how thick your cheese cloth is, you may have to use two or more layers. I used two on my ghost. Glue the black construction paper eyes onto his face using white school glue.

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To make your ghost looks as tattered and bedraggled as you feel on a daily basis, cut strips into the ends of his ghost tails and stretch them out a bit by hand. Then hang him from a SPOOKY place and wait for your guests to be TERRIFIED.

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I made my ghost just in time for my pumpkin carving party on Sunday. I’m sure he’ll terrify and delight all my friends the way he terrifies me every morning when I groggily encounter him as I’m walking to the kitchen to make my coffee. Boo!

HAPPY HAUNTING EVERYONE!

Love,
Orlando

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Orlando’s Obsessions: Pedestal Side Tables

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My mother always used to tell me, “Don’t put other people on a pedestal. You’re just as great as anyone else.” But she never said anything about putting drinks or stacks of books on a pedestal, which is why I’m obsessed with pedestal side tables! Today we’re talking about these sculptural, lovely pieces of furniture that can add va-voom to any room.

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