My Most Exciting Design Project Ever

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Dear World,

Careers. They’re like “yay” and then they’re like “nay.” And they’re like “fun” and then they’re like “done.” And then they’re like “wheeeee!” and then they’re like “whyyyyyyyy?” Basically what I’m saying is that in any career, as in any normal life, there are ups and downs. I’ve definitely just entered into an up phase, as I just procured one of the most exciting collaborations ever. I’m designing a space in conjunction with, wait for it. Pause. Dramatic silence. Anjelica Huston. Right! What? I know.

Anyone who knows me that I totally don’t care about celebrities. My stock answer to why I talk about them at all is that “Celebrities are the catalyst for cultural discourse.” Which is basically to say that they allow us to talk about things that we want to talk about. Like everyone obsessing about Miley Cyrus on the VMA’s isn’t really about everyone obsessing about Miley Cyrus on the VMAs. It’s everyone saying, “Hey, we’d like to talk about female sexuality, feminism, bad styling, foam fingers, and white appropriation of black culture.”

I’m telling you all this to emphasize that I am not one of those people who freaks out about just any celebrity. But Anjelica Huston is different. I’m convinced she’s an alien sent to Earth to show all the other actresses how it’s done. She’s an inherently elegant, cool woman who was just, like, born better than everyone else. And I have been obsessed with her since I was seven years old and I saw her riding a horse at my aunt’s farm (true story).

So at this point you’re probably sitting there screaming, sweating, and crying, wondering what is going on. Well I’ll tell you. I am working on a project in collaboration with Airbnb, Emily Henderson, and Anjelica Huston. It involves installing Kithaus modular homes all over Los Angeles, each one decorated in collaboration with a different celebrity. It’s sort of a celebrity design showcase. My Kithaus is in Venice on Abbot Kinney at the Cook’s Community Garden:

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This is what a Kithaus looks like:

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You can install them anywhere, including here (gimme):

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My inspiration for the design of this space is this lovely photograph of Anjelica from her modeling days. She is attracted to bright, etherial colors, silvers, ivory, turquoise, and pink so this fits within her color palette.

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Anjelica loves De Gournay wallpaper, so I’m doing everything in my power to get my hands on some and get it into the Kithaus, so keep your fingers crossed. If you don’t know De Gournay, you should. It’s the most exquisite wallcovering on Earth. Each panel is hand painted and lovely. And I want to live inside it.

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Anyway, I can’t say too much just yet about what Anjelica and I will be doing to decorate this space, but I will say that I’m super excited about it and that it will open September 27th (my mother’s birthday!) and that it will be up for 8 days for you to come ogle if you are in town.

And now, for no reason at all, more pictures of Anjelica Huston being the most beautiful woman ever:

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I’ll update you more next week on what’s going on with the project. But for now just sit there and be really excited thinking about how cool Anjelica Huston is. It’s okay if you freak out and cry a little bit. That’s just a natural part of life.

Love,
Orlando

PS: Curious what the other celebs, locations, and designers are? I’ll tell you:

Moby
The Viper Room
Collaborating Designer: Emily Henderson

James Franco
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Collaborating Designer: Matthew Lanphier

Molly Sims
The Grove
Collaborating Designer: Bash, Please!

Lake Bell & Scott Campbell
The Arts District
Collaborating Designer: Justina Blakeney

And one more time for good measure:

Anjelica Huston
Cook’s Community Garden in Venice
Collaborating Designer: Orlando Soria

Click here for more information on Airbnb’s Hello LA Campaign

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Glamourtimez: My Sister’s Wedding

Photography by Stephanie Secrest

Dear My Sister,

In order to explain your wedding, I must first explain where we grew up. We grew up in the middle of the woods in Yosemite National Park. I don’t think anyone who grew up there really appreciated what we had until we left for college. When you grow up surrounded by some of the most beautiful vistas on the planet (outside my bedroom window was Yosemite Falls, through the living room window you see Half Dome), it doesn’t phase you. And you act bratty, and whine about how there’s nothing to do because you live in the middle of the woods. And then you grow up and you feel like a fool. Because you realize you were given this totally weird, amazing childhood that you took for granted. There are about 800-1200 people who live in Yosemite Village (depending on the season) and for the past 25 years my family has been counted among those people.

My parents will be retiring soon, moving to Sonoma County, so soon the house I grew up in will be inaccessible. Thus, as much as my sister’s wedding served somewhat as a farewell to her pre-wedded youth, the event itself, the last we will share at my childhood home, was a goodbye to this incredible rustic childhood I never appreciated until I had the perspective of adulthood. My brother was also married in Yosemite in 2006 and someday, if a miracle happens, maybe I’ll get married there too.

My sister’s ceremony was held at the Ahwahnee Hotel, one of America’s grand Western lodges. I grew up playing in this hotel. My friends and I would go over there and pretend to be homeless just to see what the hotel guests would do. Usually they just thought we were just obnoxious kids being super annoying. And they were right.

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This is the great room (after which some of the interiors from The Shining were modeled).

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My sister imported her makeup artist, Terresina Polizi, from San Francisco to do her face. And her hair stylist Beth Landrith (both of them work at Bateau Salon in SoMa. I like this picture because my sister looks like a mannequin.

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Of course, no hair and makeup party is complete without champagne.

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This is the reveal. When Jess (my sister’s fiancé) saw the dress for the first time. Fun fact: my mother, who is one of the most talented, fastidious, women in the world, made this dress. She sewed all those lace florets together. For hours and hours. Alone. Lots of delicate piecework.

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Apparently, there are enough A-list parties in Yosemite to necessitate a red carpet at the Ahwahnee.

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This is one of my favorite rooms in the Ahwahnee. The Mural Room.

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The ceremony was on the Wedding Lawn of the Ahwahnee.

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My sister, her dress, and my dad.

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And then they got married and then they walked down the isle and it was like ‘Oh My God.’

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The reception was at my parents’ house. In the back yard.

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And now, for the first time in internet history, the house I grew up in. Yes, it looks like a cabin. Yes, it’s tiny (but not actually as tiny as it seems – it has four bedrooms). Yes, it’s rustic. And yes, we have the tallest tree in the world in our front yard.

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This is my niece. She’s got weapons. Watch out.

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My gorgeous cousin did the flower arrangements. She incorporated a lot of succulents. Which made me happy. Because this is California and succulents practically fall from the sky here.

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We used my mother’s collection of vintage jars as vases. This one comes from a long-gone honey farm owned by old friends of my parents.

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My cousin also did these glamour boutonnières. (Also note how stylish Jess’ jacket/tie combo is).

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My sister and I made these hanging jar lanterns (which lit up the night once the sun set).

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Lanterns also helped illuminate the night.

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I gave a super awkward speech.

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But it made my sister cry so I guess I did a good job.

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This piñata, it turned out, was filled with ibuprofen, vitamins, and bubbles. All of which we used the next day to get over our crippling hangovers.

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After the sunset, the super talented Stephanie Secrest, took these amazing photos of my sister and Jess running around in my parents’ back yard.

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And then we danced until midnight in my parents backyard. And it was all over and we were exhausted.

Seriously one of the best weekends of my life. My sister and her new wife were so happy. My parents were happy. All was good.

If you grow up secular, like I did, there aren’t that many ceremonies in which you get to participate. Thus, weddings, graduations, etcetera become of utmost importance. This moment with my family is one I will cherish forever. This great time when we officially welcomed Jess into our family. When as a group we celebrated the love she shares with my sister. And, as a family, celebrated this amazing space we’ve been lucky enough to call home for the majority of my lifetime.

Love,
Orlando

PS: Answers to a few questions some of you may be having:

1. Yes, there are two gay kids in my family. My sister and me. We have an older brother who is straight. I am the youngest.

2. Yes my family is fine with that. They always have been.

3. Yes the Rim Fire was burning during the wedding. No it was not smokey. Luckily the wind was blowing away from Yosemite Valley where the ceremony was happening. Although a friend of mine went to a wedding there the week previous (two gay dudes getting married) and it was apparently like the seventh layer of hell. Super smokey.

4. Yes this wedding looks strikingly similar to Emily Henderson’s. Which is weird because I asked my sister if she’d seen any images of it and she said hadn’t. Great minds think alike.

5. Yes, my sister is a hair stylist. At Grasshopper Salon. If you live anywhere near San Francisco you should make an appointment with her right now.

Special thanks to Stephanie Secrest for her gorgeous images.

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This Week in Instagramz

Dear Reader,

You know, sometimes the week gets away from you and then it’s next week already? That’s kind of what happened in the last few weeks. A huge wildfire raged near my hometown (don’t worry, my parents are fine and the fire is far away from where they live), some big job prospects (which I can’t talk about just yet) arose, and I continued working with my design clients and meeting new ones.

Because I have codependent relationships with all of my friends, I tend to make plans to hang out with them almost every night. Last week, I spent the night watching my genius friend Nathan make props for a TV commercial. I was especially fascinated by his glamorscissors shaped like a bird.

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This is a street near my apartment called Harper that I’m obsessed with. It’s filled with pretty Spanish style apartment buildings that I want to live in.

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I’m also in love with this building near my gym. The zig-zag roof really does a lot for me. I just found out this whole thing used to be a gorgeous Spanish style hotel building until they tore it down to build this strip mall. And now they want to tear down the strip mall to build mixed-use residential.

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Below is what the old hotel, The Garden of Allah, which previously occupied the site used to look like. It kind of makes my blood boil that yet again they want to tear down an awesome building and put up something new that they will just tear down and replace in another 30 years. Here is a chance to preserve some history and instead it will probably be replaced with some faux-Mediterranean piece of garbage apartment building. End rant.

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In more positive news, they replaced the grass at Wattles Park (where I like to enter when I hike Runyon). It looks like the perfect place to have a film screening. Or the future wedding I’ll never have.

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The weather finally got hot this week. And by “hot” I mean “boiling.” And by “boiling” I mean “living in LA turns everyone into a huge baby that can’t handle when the temperature varies more than one degree away from 70.” With all these hot days, our nights have turned into those magical summer nights where the air is warm and the Santa Ana winds, according to Joan Didion (according to Raymond Chandler), make wives want to stab their husbands. The air kind of glows when it’s like this outside, as it was last night on my way to a friend’s birthday party.

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I wandered by this building on Melrose yesterday and was informed it was designed by Frank Gehry in 1975. There is a lovely see through wall that lets you see into the staircase.

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I wandered inside at a glamourous pool party recently to discover this amazing gold teapot. While everyone else was outside looking like Ken Doll/models, I creeped inside to take pictures of dishes. Typical.

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LACMA, perhaps my favorite outdoor space in Los Angeles, hosts Jazz nights on Fridays during the warm months. Even if you don’t care about jazz, it’s a great place to meet up with friends enjoy a picnic amongst the Renzo Piano-designed buildings.

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LACMA’S Elevated Mass.

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A beautiful dying khaki-colored palm frond in front of a beautiful khaki-colored building provided the perfect color inspiration, desert safari hues on a Friday night.

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My genius friend Miguel wearing a genius Elizabeth Taylor shirt. I want one.

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I’ll be featuring more images from LACMA next week. Until then, calm down and enjoy your life, staring at everything beautiful thing as long as possible.

Love,
Orlando

PS: Follow Hommemaker on Instagram. Now.

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Take Me to Haverland: Part 3

Dear Michael Haverland Architects,

One of my favorite houses ever is the house from Beetlejuice after Delia Deetz (Played by WORLD TREASURE Catherine O’Hara) revamps it completely. It’s the perfect combination of old timey East Coast glamour and 80s ridiculousness. I know that we’re supposed to hate that house because it represents O’Hara’s crazy character but I have always loved it and wanted to live there.

The Beetlejuice House

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Michael Haverland’s Shelter Island House

Below photographs by Laurie Lembrecht

Being that I love that Beetlejuice house so much, it should come as no surprise to you that I love this amazing home designed by Michael Haverland. It’s called Shelter Island and, boy, would I love to shelter my island in that place. Sorry, I don’t really know what that meant. But I’m pretty sure it was gross. I’m so sorry.

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The lines. The color. That American gabled roof. The geometry of the window panes. The verticality. It all screams Beetlejuice. In the best way possible.

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“Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just sitting outside. Dining al fresco. Staff, bring me a lemonade!”

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“Sadly, this house has totally ugly views.” Said no one ever.

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I love this dining room with its glamourous, high white ceilings. I don’t love those sunflowers though. Not one bit. Get out  my house, sunflowers!

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That chandelier is whatever but those floor-to-ceiling windows! I love them. I want to practice French kissing on them. wouldn’t you just love to wake up to those windows? The sunshine streaming in to wake up, the condensation still there from the night before when your stalker stood right outside, steaming the window panes with his nostrilbreath.

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Oh my God. Sunflower. Dude. I totally told you to leave. Seriously, GET OUT! I’ll take that glamourcredenza though…

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This room does everything right. Just allowing all that natural gorgeousness to come through the glass. I want to die and come back as that arc lamp. So I can stare out the window all day and think about how beautiful I am.

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I think the living room is maybe a bit busy, but I applaud them for choosing such a bold, Candyland color scheme. Actually, the color scheme was probably inspired by the genius video for Katy Perry’s California Girls.

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The gabled ceiling gets a little confusing here, but the simplicity of the decor makes up for it.

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The simplicity of the color palette definitely helps too. Unlike the living room, this room is serene. Yet the yellow provides just the pop of color so that whoever sleeps in there wont be totally bored and sad.

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I can’t really tell what’s going on with this bathroom, but I know I like it.

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So there you go. A Beetlejuice house that manages to be both ridiculous and chic. Just. Like. YOU!

Love,
Orlando

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D.I.Why? How To Stretch A Canvas

Dear Aspiring Artists,

As someone who went to art school, I’m often approached with people asking about how to make art. So I’ve decided to do a little mini-series documenting how to make a giant painting. First, if you’re doing a custom size, you have to stretch your canvas. Of course, they sell pre-stretched canvases, but those don’t come in every size. So, if you love making giant paintings like I do, you must stretch it yourself.

Now, a few caveats. Firstly, this is an easy way to stretch your own canvas at home. There are certain shortcuts I use (ie buying pre-cut stretcher bars instead of making my own) because I don’t have a big giant workshop and I don’t have like 4000 years to make this painting because I, like you, have 75 million different projects going on at once and also the world’s worst A.D.D. Anyway, onto makingtimez:

What You’ll Need

1. Unprimed Canvas, Price Varies by Size

2. Heavy Duty Canvas Strecher Bars, Price Varies by Size

3. Stretcher Crossbars, Price Varies by Size

4. Hammer, $8

5. Staple Gun, $16

6. Gesso, $20

7. Gesso Brush, $5

Now Let’s Party

All photos by Alexander Evans

Step 1: Lay out your stretcher bars and pound them as hard as you can with your hammer until they fit together into a perfect rectangle. As you hammer, think about how frustrated you are with everything in your life. How annoyed you are that your coworker got that promotion even though you’re smarter.

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Step 2: Attach your crossbars. These will ensure that the frame wont bow or warp when you paint the canvas. Oftentimes these crossbars don’t come in the correct size for your frame so you may have to have them custom cut at your unfriendly local hardware store.

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Step 3: Like Sarah Palin on a serene, untouched natural landscape, drill baby drill!

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Step 4: Once you’ve finished constructing your frame, lay it on top of canvas which you’ve placed on the floor.

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Step 5: Starting at the center of each side, staple 3-4 staples, moving around the canvas. Work your way out until you’ve reached the corners.

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Step 6: Once you’ve reached the corners, do something fancy with the side of the canvas. I like to fold mine like this so that a little triangle of folding action is visible from the side. This makes it obvious that the canvas was custom-stretched. Which then makes the painting look more expensive. Which then makes whoever is buying it want to pay more. Which then makes you rich.

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Step 7: The last step is to prime the canvas. Fine art primer is called “gesso.” You can usually get away with using a gesso brush but if the canvas is particularly large you may have to use a paint roller (otherwise you’ll be there, like, all day).

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Step 8: Stare at your canvas, terrified when you realize that, like your heart, it is large and empty.

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So go out, buy some supplies, and stretch a giant canvas. It’s up to you what goes on it. But remember you can do it!

Love,
Orlando

PS: Step by step instructions on how to make a giant paint-by-numbers painting coming soon…

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Whut Glamour: Emily & I Makeover A Luxurious Los Feliz Home!

Dear Homelovers,

Ever wonder what it’s like when Emily and I install at a house we designed? Check out this video of us installing, pillow-fighting, and dancing. The video even has a SHOCKING surprise ending where you find out that Emily and I are in love and that I am the real father of her upcoming baby. YAY!


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Thanks to JBL for sponsoring this video series!

Love,
Orlando

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Fashion Fridays: Catsweatshirttimez with Landon from Fashion Goggled

Dear Landon from Fashion Goggled,

Things I’m entranced by:

1. Your cat sweatshirt:

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2. Your cat sweatshirt:

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3. Your tattoo. I have been blabbing to everyone for over a year about how I want a tattoo that is a perfect circle 1 pixel wide on my inner-forearm but no one knew what I was talking about until I showed them your tattoo and said “This, but a circle.” Now everyone knows what I want and I have you to thank you for it. Bless ye.

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Photos by Tan Camera and Kristen

Read more about Landon’s uberluxurious cat sweatshirt and glamourgeometry tattoo on Fashion Goggled.

Love,
Orlando

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