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A Dark, Depressing Room Becomes a Bright Spot at Casa Soria

Photography by Zeke Ruelas

You guys! Life has been totally insane and wonderful lately which is amazing but also annoying because I haven’t had time to share any of the images of the fun makeovers I’ve had in the works at Casa Soria, my parents’ Sonoma County home. I’ve been hard at work shooting a pilot FOR A MAJOR NETWORK which has been so exciting and totally consumed my life. Today, we are chatting guest bedroom, as I recently spent a weekend with orMOMdo (my mom—that’s legit what I call her) painting and making over the space. It was the definition of a weekend makeover—we literally started Saturday morning and were done by Sunday afternoon.

Honestly, my favorite thing about all the design projects I’ve been doing at my parents’ house is that they’re an opportunity for me to hang out with my them. It gives us an activity to do while we talk about our feelings. And the design process is a chance for me to get to know my parents better, to learn what they like and what they don’t like. What people choose to put in their home reveals so much about them.

Before Side By Side

The room, like the rest of their house when they moved in, was previously painted a dull beige color. It’s a tiny room (I think about 12’x12′) which presented a challenge. I knew I wanted the space to feel cozier and more inviting. And because it’s so small, I wanted it to have a consistent color story that gave the room a more intentional feel.

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

Before orMOMdo and I embarked on our weekend makeover, the room was pretty much a blank slate in terms of style. Just a mishmash of extra furniture and bedding my parents have had forever. One thing she did do previously was to hire a handyman to build her some shelves for the TV in there, inspired by these shelves my friend Justin built for me at Orcondo:

Orlando Soria Open Shelving

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

Her shelving came out beautifully and is the perfect place for her books and the objects she’s collected over the years. The TV is in there for a few reasons. A) It’s my parents’ old TV and they’re literally incapable of getting rid of things and B) Sometimes my mom hangs out in there with my 7-year-old niece for cozy movie parties. The TV came in handy the week we shot this (and much of the rest of the house) as my photographer Zeke got super sick and was trapped in bed for days. It’s the perfect room to hide in if you don’t feel good.

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

One of my favorite things about designing and styling at my parents’ house is that I’m never wanting for vintage accessories. My mom is an avid collector of objects, art, books, sculptures, and both my parents have a love for any art relating to the Sierras and Yosemite, where I was raised. The Japanese screen below had previously been in a room where it didn’t really fit color-wise, so I was happy to find it a new home in a space where its warm colors felt more appropriate.

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

One of my favorite design hacks ever is using paint to create a simulated crown molding, which is what we did in here. It was a little tough to get orMOMdo on board, as she originally just thought it sounded annoying and like a waste of time, but I like it for a few reasons:

  1. It creates a natural, intentional stop for the wall color.
  2. It’s much easier to create a crisp paint edge than it is if you try to meet the colors at the ceiling line.
  3. It gives the space a much stronger sense of architecture.

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

If you want to get more info about how exactly I did this paint treatment, head to my Instagram Story Highlights and check out Paint Tricks (it’s kind of hard to describe in words how you get a perfectly crisp line and how the whole painted crown molding thing works).

Pink Room Details 002

Rebecca Atwood’s beautiful bedding provided the color inspiration for the room. The wall color is Sweet Clover by Glidden (ceiling is White on White). The hand-painted look of the bedding along with the cute cat pillow (it’s from West Elm a few years ago) make the bed super inviting and cozy.

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

In addition to being a welcoming space for guests, we wanted this room to be a place to display a collection of family photos that span over a hundred years. My background is pretty diverse—my father’s family is from Mexico and my mother’s is from all over Europe. So I love seeing all these photos displayed here together.

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

One of the things that immediately confuses people when I meet them is how my name is pronounced. It’s “Oar-Lawn-Do” not “Oar-LAYN-Do” (like the city in Florida that NO I AM NOT FROM) the way most people want to pronounce it. The reason for this is that I’m not fully a white person as part of me is Latino. And I’ve always been kind of confused as to how I should identify because I’m so white-looking. But over time, something that once brought me shame and confusion (not knowing what I am, not my actual heritage) is something I’m really proud of. I think being mixed gives you the ability to identify with more people, to see how interrelated we are. So I love looking at all these photos and being reminded of how my ancestors come from all over, from that white lady petting a horse to my pretty Latina grandmother.

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

One thing we lucked out on is that all these photos were already framed in different frames, so we didn’t have to reframe anything to make them all match or to look purposefully mixed (like my ethnicity!). A good rule of thumb for creating eclectic gallery walls is that you should either make the frames all match intentionally or you should mix them up. If mixing, you probably need at least three frame styles so it looks substantially collected.

Orlando Soria Pink Guest Bedroom

The side tables were a last minute purchase and were a total bargain (about $90 when I bought them). Originally, I’d wanted to replace the IKEA Malm bed with a more luxe option. The reason I ended up keeping this one is that I actually found it difficult to find a reasonable bed that had such a low profile and took up as little floor space. This room is really tight, so I didn’t want anything higher that took up more visual space. And I also didn’t want anything that took up too much floor space. I think eventually I’ll find them a woven or rattan bed (that’s what I was originally envisioning in there) but for now, this one still works in there.

I’ve said this a million times and I’ll keep saying it until my head pops right off my body. WHEN IN COMES TO DESIGN, PAINT IS THE BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK. This room completely transformed with just a coat of paint. And the painted crown molding gives it a little more prep, an added bit of structure. LET THIS BE A LESSON TO ALL OF YOU TO GO TO YOUR ORMOMDO’S HOUSE THIS WEEKEND AND DO A MEGA MAKEOVER WITH HER. Okay bye.

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1. Paint | 2. Duvet + Pillowcase Set | 3. Curtain Rod (similar) | 4. Linen Curtains (similar) | 5. Embroidered Eye Lumbar Pillow | 6. Speckled Vase | 7. Platform Storage Bed | 8. Lamp | 9. Nightstand | 10. Basket (similar) | 11. Striped Coverlet | 12. Linen Sheet Set | 13. Vintage Kokeshi Daisy Doll (similar) | 14. Short Vintage Kokeshi Doll (similar) | 15. Dark-Haired Vintage Kokeshi Doll (similar) | 16. Pair of Vintage Kokeshi Dolls (similar) | 17. Shelf (similar) | 18. Shelf Brackets

Other Posts About Casa Soria:


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45 thoughts on “A Dark, Depressing Room Becomes a Bright Spot at Casa Soria

  1. I absolutely love the way Orlando writes! His book was amazing too (except for all of the swearing in it, that was a little distracting). His writing is just so distinct and funny and engaging. I would totally watch a show starting him. And this room is very cute. Nice job dude!

    1. I second these comments. Crazy, crazy talent… But I actually returned the book bc of the swearing. ?

          1. It’s actually really interesting to me that this is coming up. Quite honestly, I thought a lot about whether to swear in the book. The reason I ended up deciding to is that when you write online, you get painted into a corner a lot by people asking you to fit into a certain box. They get mad if you do something outside your typical online “character.” Before I wrote the book I read some report that something like 75% of American’s admit to cursing in their daily lives. Yet all we internet people keep pretending to be perfect. When you create content you don’t always get to choose who sees it. For example, my Insta stories get a lot of views, and something I didn’t expect was that a lot of people watch them with their kids. That kind of puts me in a place where I can’t curse or talk about adult themes in them. Even though in my real life I might do both those things. I’m a full person with a dating life and beliefs, not just someone to talk to you about curtains. For the book I just wanted to talk however I wanted to talk. I didn’t want to be confined to the expectations other people put on me. I know that drives away certain readers, and I respect that, but I hope being my actual self brings in others who might be alienated by an understanding that I was somehow not being “real.”

  2. I love this for lots of reasons, but particularly the theme around your ethnicity. My kids are also very white-looking and half Latino with names whose pronunciation confuses people, and I want them to feel comfortable and happy owning all of it. Hopefully this will become easier over time as we all own the complexity of own stories a little bit more. Thank you!

  3. This room has come up a treat.
    I did a framing course many moons ago and the first thing the taught us was to always match the frame to the photo (not the decor or other photos).
    I had baby photos of myself and another of me and my siblings framed separately, and they have looked great in my 3 houses I have owned (in different styles) as the frame suits the photo.
    If something looks odd, its because the frame needs to be changed (the snow photo in the yellow frame for example).
    Look at them all separately, assess frames, and they will come together beautifully.

  4. This is beautiful and so appropriate to home owners and location. I have a question about the photo gallery over the headboard. Do you worry about earthquakes? I live in SoCal and fear of things falling on us while we sleep has completely stymied me from hanging anything over the bed.

    1. Exactly my thought (NorCal resident here …) The wall above our bed is empty. Did you use special precautions, e.g. plexiglas in frames instead of real glass? I love the entire room especially the wall color and family gallery wall. Thanks for sharing.

    2. Hang light frames with only 3M velcro strips, and add them to reinforce heavier ones that need nails/screws. They won’t go ANYWHERE! Bonus: no nails holes in the walls to cover up when you move things around. 🙂

      1. They’ve always stripped my dry wall after time when it was time to remove them. Have you had this experience?

    3. Yes! I definitely thought about this. Here’s what I’ll say. I don’t think I’d do this in a bedroom where people slept every night. This bedroom is only occupied during holidays and when there are out of town guests (there are two other guest bedrooms at my parents house that are more frequently used than this one). My best tip is to use earthquake hooks (they snap over the top of the hanging wire to secure the frames better). But in general, yes, it’s not great to have a ton of antique frames over a bed. The question I ask myself before hanging stuff above beds in California is “CAN IT KILL ME?” One of these could definitely give you a big bruise or cut if it fell on you but it’s probably not going to to decapitate you like a giant piece of glass hanging above the bed.

      1. I agree with Alexandra’s comment — I always replace the glace in antique frames with acrylic. They’re lighter, and therefore easier to hang, but also less lethal in case of an earthquake!

        Of course, over MY bed, I have a very large framed poster of Arthur Hughes’s Ophelia with glass.

  5. Such a wonderfully eclectic room! The shelving is great way to design around a TV (a budget friendly option compared to built-ins).

  6. It’s a wonderful bedroom makeup. Very simplistic lines. I just can’t get over someone paying $469 for a duvet set.

    1. I think the price is all balanced out. When you consider that the bedding, the paint and the side tables were the only purchases made for this makeover, the overall price isn’t too bad. Throw in Orlando’s free labor and interior design advice and the room is pretty inexpensive!

      1. I agree totally, Brenda. The bed is the main component of the room and it’s so worth the splurge to have it look this fantastic. It’s so pretty and inviting. And costs were low everywhere else.

        Once again, absolutely inspiring work, Orlando. You’re one of my favorite designers.

  7. I *LOVE* this room!!! I love that paint color and how it plays with all of the family photos from all different time periods. I love the shelves and the display of things lovingly (and beautifully) collected over time. Awesome job, Orlando!

  8. I lovvve the pink! And also really resonated with the talk about a mixed background. That’s my husband to a T–and he definitely grew up a little embarrassed that he didn’t really know “what” he was. I think it’s beautiful.

  9. Thank you! Thank you!

    When I roll my curser over the roundup, it pops up with the price and description!!!

    Man on the moon, roll over price and description….what’s next?? possibly sports bras that don’t lose the lining cup in the wash??

  10. I appreciate how the pink walls work as a neutral but fun room color. I also love how Orlando describes his thought process behind many of the design decisions he made. It’s clear that he was really thinking about his parents and family the whole time he was designing the room!

    1. It’s why he’s such a great designer! His work is always so personal–the client is really at the center.

    1. Love this room. Colors, linens, pictures and accessories. I especially love the way Or-lawhn-doe writes!

  11. Wow. What a beautiful room, and honestly such a personal approach to a space. I love how you obviously have such a connection to your parents and your heritage, and it was incredibly fun and refreshing to hear how you incorporated that into a design space in such a beautiful and seamless way. Great post.

  12. I am totally onboard with your philosophy that paint is the best bang for your buck when it comes to design. I would like to apply that to my master but the room is massive and I am feeling overwhelmed. Any paint colors you’d recommend for a large space? Thank you for another great post!

  13. Orlando! So funny you would talk about your name because it’s also my surname. I was born in Argentina (100% Latina :)) but I’m of Italian descent, and did you know Orlando is also a not uncommon Italian surname? Anyway, I love love love your honesty and writing style, thanks for sharing :).

  14. I really enjoyed the family pictures and the glimpses into your heritage.

    Loved “the white lady petting the horse.” LOL!

    The room looks really nice, and it is inspiring. One of the major parts of that is displaying family pictures (a “need” for a lot of us – maybe particularly our parents?), and using old frames that we already have! So cool. The paint color has such an impact, too.

    Always love the Orlando posts.

  15. This article is really well written and I like the styling as well.
    My comment is about the video trailer above: do you people ever do anything else then giggle?? So annoying.
    Or is it the US ultra upbeat style?

  16. Orlando, could you please comment on the curtains. You link to Ikea panels and a BB&B rod but it looks like you used some sort of rings too. They make the room look so much more custom and would love a tip on how to achieve a custom look that is on semi-custom budget. Could you explain what rings you used and what top pleat/hanging method? Also, did you end up having to hem the curtains. Thank you!!!

    1. My thoughts exactly. And “dark” and “depressing”? Are you for real? It was a perfectly average room before – with quite a lot of light due to that huge sliding glass door.

    2. Yes! But based on the amount of space between the end of the bed and the shelves, I think the actual width might be closer to nine or ten feet? Not that that’s exactly tiny either.

  17. Love love love! Orlando’s pieces are so much fun and this room is darling. I love all of the personal touches and that bedding is just dreamy.

  18. Hi Orlando – as someone who also looks white and has a Latinx mother, I totally get this. Thanks for sharing!

    1. LOVE the pink – so warm, cozy, and inviting. The house is in Northern Californian – earthquake country – so pictures over the bed is not usually the safest way to go. Not a regular event, but when it happens, you don’t want to be in that bed.

  19. Orlando! What a wonderful transformation. I love how the things in the room speaks to each other.

    Just curious— how true to color is the nightstand? The product photo makes it look very orange but it is a lovely brown/walnut in your photos. Is it just editing?

  20. Or-lawn-do, this was fun to read as well as see your work. I thoroughly enjoy how you work with what you have and still manage to make very big differences. Appreciate you

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