Subtle Updates at Orlando’s

Hey guys, Its Emily, real quick. In case you are new to the blog and are wondering who the hell is this dude, Orlando, here’s a recap of our relationship: Orlando was my assistant/sidekick on Secrets From a Stylist (RIP) and then became an associate designer that worked with me on design projects for close to 4 wonderful years where we became very close (like sleep in the same bed while traveling, close). He used to write posts on the blog but then HE LEFT ME to become the West Coast Creative Director of HomePolish. I threatened to tell everyone that he is gay if he quit, but that didn’t stop him. Clearly he never respected me and didn’t think I’d have the balls to do it! Ha. So everyone, Orlando is GAY.  There. Hope you like your new fancy job.

Anyway, now and again he takes over the blog (I have nothing to do with the design or writing), and he’s practically the only one that I let do this. Orlando has special non-team Emily blog privileges because I love him and he’s very hilarious. So check out his blog, check out Homepolish, read the last post he wrote here, and then read this here post:


Dear Emily’s Readers,

As you may have noticed, my place has been getting constant makeovers lately. By now you’re probably sitting at your computer wondering if all I do is give myself home makeovers and yes, the answer is yes. But also, as some of you know I went through a fun breakup last year and when my ex ran out the door with my bloodied heart in his hand he also took some furniture (because it was his, not because he’s a jerk). Anyway, for the past year my place has been a hodgepodge of whatever random pieces of furniture I could find lying around in the gutter so I decided it was time to spruce things up. Because you can only live like a hobo for so long before you start to feel like a hobo.



I started by swapping out my giant aqua painting for some beautiful drawings I commissioned from Erika Gragg, which I framed using an easy service called SimplyFramed. I also swapped out the rug for an awesome graphic rug (Which we are giving away! Well not the same one I’ve been dancing on, but a new one that looks the same. Enter here!).



I gave up on my hand-wrapped coffee table and swapped it out for a more sophisticated, simple option that allows light to pass through and makes the room feel much more open. Also, I got rid of that orchid because all its blooms went away. Sidenote: What are we supposed to do about orchids? Like mine bloom and then they never bloom again and I keep them around because they’re still alive but they become a huge burden for me, like, emotionally because they never bloom again and they make me feel like a terrible person for not being able to make them bloom. My boyfriend (not the old one who ran away with the furniture, the new one who looks like a Ken doll) bought me that orchid and I felt sad about getting rid of it but he was all “GET RID OF THIS” and so I hid it outside behind a banana plant so that it would still get watered but felt guilty about it like I was abandoning a baby. Anyway, I hate orchids now. WHY AM I STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS?




Pretty obsessed with these 80s inspired lamps from Target. Also look at them side tables HI SIDETABLES.


These drawings provide the tropical twist I’ve been craving lately. And since they were made by a close friend I am reminded of love, friendship, and togetherness. Actually pretty much everything reminds me of love, togetherness, and friendship. Except that song “Rude” by Magic, which makes me want to rip my ears off my head and throw them in a well so I never have to heart it again.



This little area is one of my favorite updates. Basically because everything on that bookcase (and the bookcase itself) is from a thrift store, a flea market, or was handmade (with the exception of the throw and the “It Wasn’t My Idea” print). You can read more about this garbage vignette on my blog. I put that umbrella next to door not because I ever need an umbrella, but because I have not given up hope that someday it will rain again in California. I love rain so this drought is totally bumming me out. Mainly because I love to be inside eating soup, thinking about guys, shopping, and the mall while it’s raining, wet, and cold outside. Oh and also because if it doesn’t rain we are all going to die, skeletons, parched, in the beating dry sun.




I snagged this “It Wasn’t My Idea” print from The Thing Quarterly and it makes my life like a hundred times better every day.



Some chairs want pillows, some chairs don’t. My awesome mid-century chairs were all “no thanks” but I found a nice small scale pillow that they didn’t balk at which makes them look much less harsh and aloof than they actually are.


This crab is an ashtray. I don’t smoke but for some reason I have to stare at it at least once a day or I hate my life.


If you follow me on Instagram you might recognize some of the photos that I carelessly flung (read: maniacally arranged while foaming at the mouth) into a basket.


The rug’s pretty rad. Sometimes when my boyfriend doesn’t pay enough attention to me I nuzzle it and tell it that it’s my only reason for living and that no one understands me the way it does.


This poor mid-century architectural rendering (which Emily and I found at Long Beach Flea Market a while back) was sitting in my closet for the past six months so I rescued it and hung it above my television. Which is awesome except sometimes I get too distracted by its beauty to watch television. In other news all I watch lately is the original “Melrose Place” on Netflix because it’s so crazy and I love all their crazy clothes. Fact: 20 year olds today dress exactly like they did in the 90z. Other fact: All those people on the show are supposed to be like 22 except they’re all like high power executives and business ladies in awesome power suits. This is where I got my ideas about what it was supposed to be like to be an adult. Which is why I was so disappointed not to be running my own advertising firm by the time I was 23.


So there you have it! My new, improved living room! Like Renee Zelweger’s face, the change is subtle, and hard to put your finger on. But it’s different, better, more mature and prettier than it was before, more respectable somehow. Like it went from Tara Reid to Helen Mirren overnight. Okay I’m totally not even talking about my living room anymore now I’m literally just talking about Renee’s face BECAUSE I’M STILL OBSESSED WITH IT. I think she looks awesome. And like a totally different person. Kind of like my apartment. Which looks the same, but different somehow…


PS: Homepolish Magazine is hosting a Giveaway of my new rug! ENTER! >>>

PSS: Full resources and more info on the project can be seen here.>>>

Photographs by Sean Gin Courtesy Homepolish update/sneak peek

The party house is still happening. Sure it might be taking a little while – Jen and I are both busy with our jobs and also we’ve insisted on doing some weird stuff that took some troubleshooting. When we shook on it (in that first photo and in this post) Charlie was only 4 months old, Jen’s hair was blonde (it’s now pink) and Reagan was in office.  Some projects just take a while.

But now that we are 90% done I figured it was time to show you some sneak peeks …

Shopbando Office

We are shooting it in 2 weeks and man is it exciting. Its pulled together enough that they can work in it, don’t worry, but we do still have some finishing touches. The wallpaper is up, most of the furniture has been recovered/installed, and a lot of other secret weird things are happening involving glitter, disco balls and neon plexi – you know like most corporate offices.

Shopbando Office

That beautiful desk we got from Chairish and I love it so much. Plus it makes Jen feels like the president of the united states, except without the whole ‘running the world thing’. That sounds so boring.

Shopbando Office

We have some lovely lavender stools from Industry West white table from Dot and Bo, and yes, those are vintage lucite chairs  recovered in shiny-ass pastel blue velvet.

Shopbando Office

Like most party houses, the girls make out with the wallpaper, as seen above. You would, too, if your wallpaper looked like that. I don’t think I’ve ever been so jealous of a client’s wallpaper before – like seeing red kinda jealous. Or in this case a shiny/shimmery soft blush/pink.

So, that’s a little sneak peek for ya. The next time you see the Party House you will most likely get the full reveal, the full tour, the full frontal. Stay tuned.

My Guest Room Makeover

Alright. This is a dooooooooziiie of a design post, including ‘before’ shots, the process, an EPIC FAIL, the remedy, the ‘after’ photos, resources, ‘get the looks’ and a VIDEO. Tell your boss that you ate bad salmon and that you and that you need to go to the hospital for an emergency surgery, possibly even a C section or kidney removal. Something that could take hours. Then go home, grab a cup of coffee, diet coke or wine (I like to give you options) and settle in to read the epic guest room make-over post.

Here goes: The guest room is FINISHED thanks to a partnership with DutchBoy paint. Dunzo. Like President Obama and Michelle could randomly show up at my door for the weekend and all we’d have to do is add some flowers. I mean, for them of course we’d have to get REALLY beautiful flowers, probably open garden roses flown in from Holland, watered by the tears of angels, but other than that, this room is good to go. Finally.

But before I show you the ‘after’ you must suffer through the process. Because I had to (and because the process is what this blog is all about).

We moved into this house 9 months ago and started fixing up this bad boy. BEFORE we moved in the room looked like this and I blogged about its needs HERE:


To recap: disgusting pee carpet, gross painted ceiling, lovely ‘vintage’ ceiling fan, etc. Oh and you can’t tell but there is an insane texture on the walls – as if it was a gothic cathedral in Prague in the 1700’s. Like serious texture.



So we skim-coated, painted the walls, put down new beautiful hard-wood flooring and it started looking way better.


TA DA!!!!! Isn’t it beautiful, you guys? It only took 9 months, 2 design assistants and 3K to do that.

Kidding. This is what it looked like after we moved in and unpacked and it clearly wasn’t designed or even thought about. It was good enough for the parents to come and sleep in for the holidays but needed some serious considering.



We lived with it like that for about 6 months while we worked on the rest of the house.

I’ve gone back and forth about whether I like that brick wall thing ever since we bought it. But dry-walling it sounded annoying and expensive, so I wanted to try to work with it and it seemed like a good opportunity to use the grid of bricks in an interesting way.  So one night, 3 nights before the Domino shoot I decided to grab some beer, put on Season 3 of the OC, grab 18 different colors of paint and see what the beer tells me to do, because that’s how real designers design.

In my defense I will say that this idea was endorsed by Ginny, Brady and Scott and we all picked out the colors together. It was kinda thought out, but we all had our doubts.

all paints_evening

What I did to that wall was a G.D. masterpiece. I’ve since decided to quit styling and dedicate myself to my true passion – tipsy public performance painting. How do I create such beauty, you ask? Well, how did Mozart compose such melody, or how does Sara Silverman think of a joke?

You can’t explain it, the genius is the true miracle.

Also I did have some inspiration pics/references to work off of, these weird 80’s color blocked buildings, but sadly the wall never really came to resemble them at all.

color inspiration

I started with just a few colors and kept them looking more ‘water-color-y’ without hard edges (especially since there aren’t any hard edges – the bricks were rough). Then I was all, MORE, I NEED MORE NOW AND COLOR MORE COLOR FAST HURRY I’M SOBERING UP!!!

wall paint treatment steps

But then that looked like a drunk monkey took over painting the wall with those crazy pops of color. So I decided to have it be more tonal and just do these kinda weird pastels together (the last photo). And then it looked like Easter threw up on my wall. It was terrible and incredible all at once. I hated it in an aggressive sort of way where it actually made me angry. It’s probably because the rest of the house is open and white/bright so all of a sudden when you caught this through the doorway your eyes were bombarded with these annoying colors, challenging your controlled temper, making you want to do violent things to helpless animals. It was that bad.

Click through to see the afters …


Orlando’s Dining Room Comes Full Circle


This post was written by Mr. Orlando Soria, himself. Please check his blog for general hilarity and good design.


Dear Emily,

I’m sitting here, writing on my computer, thinking about all the things you taught me, all the things we learned together, and all the things I learned from ogling all your beautiful designs. One thing I learned from you (in addition to looking happily into the camera as I pretend to type this post), is to always be adventurous and inventive when designing a space. This is what gave me the idea to paint a big ol’ circle on my dining room wall.

My dining room was actually kind of okay before, but I was getting bored of the black metal bookcases and the art I had in there so I decided it was time to pep things up a bit. Add some color. I’ve always been a fan of wall graphics but I thought my style was too simple and paired back to use one in my own space. Which is exactly why I decided to do it. Sometimes, when you’re scared of doing something the best thing you can do for your own sanity is just to do it and see what happens. I mean, like don’t go trying crystal meth or heroin or anything, but if you’re just painting something, HELLO YOU CAN ALWAYS REPAINT IT CALM DOWN.


So that’s what the dining room looked like before, and now it’s all:


How’d I get from Point A to Point B, you ask? Paint. Like basically all I did was paint everything. Which is kind of a testament to how awesome paint is and how transformative it can be. Also, I studied painting in college (HAY PRACTICAL MAJOR!) and so my first instinct is to just paint everything. Like if I could paint over that one time my aunt told me Santa wasn’t coming because I opened a gift on Christmas eve I totally would. Oh my god, Christmas is coming in like three months I am like so excited. Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, paint. Here’s what it looked like when I repainted my shockingly well-priced Ikea bookcases:


Don’t let these pictures fool you. Painting these things took like five hours and burned off the top 13 layers of my skin. Just kidding not really, but it did take way longer than I expected. Going from black to white with spray paint takes lots of layers and LOTS of patience. So put on a Cranberries album, drink a Snapple, and get into the groove of spray painting because QUALITY TAKES TIME PEOPLE.

And now it’s time to trace your mega graphic onto the wall:



To trace the giant circle shape onto the wall, I hammered a nail into the center of the wall and attached a string with a pencil tied onto it at the radius I had determined beforehand. This sounds confusing but it’s not. Basically tie a pencil onto the wall on a piece of string half the length of the diameter. Do you get what I mean? WHY IS THIS CONCEPT SO HARD TO EXPLAIN I CAN’T TELL IF I’M MAKING ANY SENSE!!! HELP ME.


Once I’d repainted everything, I did a little shelf styling and kept it lighter and airier than it was previously. When placing bookcases in front of a hyper graphic, you have to keep the background shape in mind when composing the shelves.


So there you go. Now go out there and paint some big ass shapes on your wall and it they look like garbage paint over them and start again because you only live once and a life without shape is a life without purpose!



PS: For more pics, tips from Orlando on shelf styling, and full before/after shots read more of the story on  Homepolish Magazine!

Photographs by Sean Gin courtesy Homepolish

Oprah Magazine Weekend Makeover

One time Oprah called and asked if I would do a budget weekend makeover for her magazine, and I was like, ‘Opes, for you … anything.’ The job/challenge was to show their readers what they can actually do in a weekend, with a limited budget. It’s not ‘just buy a new sofa’ or ‘wallpaper your ceiling’, its easy upgrades, simple solutions, etc, that you can really do to improve your space in 2-3 days. Having those parameters was VERY fun, indeed, and has inspired another big makeover post (and possible series) that I’m launching with Target soon.

The budget for decor was $1800, which isn’t nothing and certainly isn’t what a lot of people have just lying around but it still goes really fast. Trust me.

Oprah Makeover_Omagazine

It’s out now in the September issue, but let’s go back in time and check out what it looked like when we found it:


The apartment itself is beautiful – big, white, open with pretty, classic architecture. Her pieces were simple and easy to style on top of, which was good since we didn’t have the budget to buy a new sofa, etc. And OH YEAH, SHE ALREADY HAD TWO PLATNER STOOLS. She inherited them from her mom and I was VERY jealous.


Things were just kinda mismatched, without a specific point of view and it just didn’t reflect her personality.


There was something very classic and Victorian about the space so we felt like we could go for a more feminine, almost regal color. And since she lived by herself and didn’t necessarily need to take in her boyfriend’s opinion so much we wanted to go a little bit girly.