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Orlando’s New Kitchen Intro

Hi Everybody!

It’s me, Orlando (and no that’s not my kitchen above, just inspiration) You may remember me from Secrets from a Stylist and my Orcondo series on this here blog. Well guess what!?! I’ve moved YET AGAIN. It’s not my fault. My boyfriend who I totally loved totally dumped me. BUT DON’T LET THAT DEPRESS YOU. The upside to all of this is now I get to design a whole new apartment and start from scratch ONE MORE TIME (until the next time!). It’s like totally fun except for the fact that life is meaningless and I will die alone and no one will find my body for literally days. MAN THAT JUST GOT DARK. Sorry.

Because I love puns and hashtags, I’ve named my new place Chateaulando. Nothing was ever gonna be as catchy or cute as Orcondo, but we’re all just going to have to deal with that and mourn what we have all collectively lost. The “Chateau” part comes from the fact that my building is French Provincial style and very close to the storied Chateau Marmont. The “ando” part comes from my name. GOT IT?

Today, we’re chatting about the kitchen, which was the first space I tackled when I moved in. Full disclosure: I’m renting and this kitchen renovation has been the biggest waste of money EVER and if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t. It was a huge mistake and I’m an idiot for making it, but I’ve accepted that and am moving on. (You can read a bit more about the harrowing experience I had with my sketchy landlord and my totally ill-timed lay off from my full-time gig here). But, since I’ve already started it and there’s kinda no going back, today we’re going to talk about what I plan to do and WHY.


Above is the plan for the general direction I want to go with the kitchen, but before we even get into that, I feel like I owe you an explanation of why anyone in their right mind would ever pay to renovate their own kitchen in a rental. Firstly, I’d just gotten out of a relationship in which I’d designed my dream apartment with someone who I loved very much who ended up being all “NO THANKS GET OUT.” I had a strong desire to not feel like I wasn’t taking a huge step down into a terrible, depressing apartment. But all the apartments I looked at were either awful and had no character or had gross ugly kitchens. The LA rental market is pretty out of control still, even though nationwide rent prices are apparently downtrending. Second, I am shooting a book right now, so I needed a place I could have photo shoots in that looked presentable and different than the condo (which I shot that before I moved out). Third, my landlord was all “I’ll split it with you!” (read my other post to see what happened with all that). Let’s just say that didn’t end up happening. Fourth, the previous kitchen left much to be desired. Like, not a terrible kitchen. Totally doable. But for a designer/blogger who uses my house a set on a daily basis, I needed something a little more photogenic. I’m saying this to let you know, if your kitchen looks like this, I’m not judging your kitchen, it just wasn’t for me. Like if we Freaky Friday’d and you had to be a design blogger with this kitchen, I bet you’d wanna change it too.


One of my biggest pet peeves in older apartments is when cabinets don’t close. Like you’ll close a cabinet, walk out of the room and when you walk back in the cabinet’s all “HAY.” Like wide open. CLOSE YOUR MOUTH, CABINET! None of these cabinets closed properly and the landlord actually looked into getting them restored. I liked that idea but the restoration company came back with a $7000 quote just for the cabinets (not including new countertops, appliances, flooring, or anything else) so this option was going to be very expensive and kind of a “meh” transformation. Like “OH GREAT WE JUST PAID $7K FOR OUR CABINETS TO LOOK THE SAME!” Also, the cabinets weren’t original to the 1939 building (they seem to have been put in sometime in the sixties) so I didn’t feel like I was ripping out anything historic. Many of them were rotting and the wood smelled like mold. It just wasn’t a pretty picture.


The kitchen is relatively tiny and I wanted to add storage as well as make the space much more efficient. I am a big dinner party person. Like I love having friends over and sitting in circles and all talking about our feelings. It’s so much more fun than being in a restaurant because you can actually hear people. Just thinking about it now makes me wish my friends were with me inside this blog post, and instead of this being a blog post, it was a dinner party, and instead of staring into this computer machine, I was gazing into a friend’s eyes, asking her about her childhood and her dreamz. ANYWAYZ…


I don’t know why refrigerators have to be so big. Like I get it if you have a big kitchen. In that case bring on the giant fridge. But in tiny apartments, NO MA’AM! This guy was way too huge for my lil ol’ kitchen. BYE REFRIGERATORFELICIA.

While I’d originally planned to get most of the kitchen sponsored, the main sponsor (an appliance brand who will FOREVER REMAIN NAMELESS) turned out to be such a big nightmare that I ended up just paying for a lot of the stuff myself just to get it done. Towards the middle of the renovation, I got laid off and started getting extremely worried about money. I was worried I might have to sublet my apartment and move in with my parents to save money (for serious, read here for more on that, my life is a joke right now but I’m still laughing at it. Mostly). In which case the apartment would need a kitchen because no one is going to rent an apartment with no kitchen. The point of bringing all this up is not to be like WAH WAH LIFE IZ HARD but more to explain that this is a budget makeover. I’m trying to do this for as little money as possible while adding in a few elements that made the kitchen feel polished and exciting.

My goal going in was to spend about $3000-$5000 of my own money, but I have the feeling that when I add up all the costs it’ll add up to around $10,000 to $12,000. Obviously not the kind of money you wanna spend after losing your job, but I kind of felt painted into a corner. Like a corner that hadn’t even been built yet because my kitchen was just an empty box of sadness and failure.

One sponsor did come through in a major way, and that’s Semihandmade. They customize Ikea cabinetry, creating kitchens with a high-end, custom look at a much lower price point. They were great to work with and I’m really happy with what they did. I chose simple shaker style cabinets. Not groundbreaking, I know but the point here was classic. Which is why I’m also going with simple white tiles for the backsplash. If the style of the kitchen had its own hashtag, it would probably be #BASIC or #TRENDING but I think there is a time and a place for going full-on classic traditional, and that time and place is Chateaulando. MMMMMMKAY?

This is the general layout of the room:


Because the gas lines and water were already set up, the layout of the kitchen had to stay basically the same. Which kind of made designing it way easier. Usually, designing under a few constraints makes the process move way more quickly. I always tell clients that as soon as they’ve made a few decisions, it’s a lot easier to make the rest. I wanted the kitchen to have the same classic, traditional feel as a kitchen from one of my previous client’s homes. Since it was an older building, I wanted the kitchen to be relatively in keeping with the style of architecture and the time period in which it was built.


I want to stay pretty neutral with the surfaces, so I’m looking at white, grey, and mid-tone walnut finish on mostly everything. The counter is going to be super inexpensive wooden countertop from Ikea. The flooring is cheap tile from a local store called Cosmos Flooring, and the backsplash tile will be simple white tile, also from Cosmos (If you want the same tile, call them! Support small businesses!). For the backsplash, I am considering doing the same cute parquet treatment I did at the condo, but I’m not sure that goes with the traditional vibe I’m going for.



With lighting as with everything else, budget was the main constraint. I wanted to spend as little as possible while not having a totally depressing kitchen. West Elm had some amazing-yet-affordable brass options, so I went with their flush mount and hanging pendant. I’m trying to get someone to install some very basic Ikea under-counter lighting, so we’ll see how that goes… I can’t really afford to pay an actual electrician to do it (all the quotes I’m getting are around $1200-$2500) so trying to figure out if I can make it simple enough that a regular handyman can do it. We’ll see. I hate dark, shadowy kitchens so I really hope it works out. Here’s hoping I don’t start myself on fire whilst trying to do it myself.


By the time you read this, the kitchen will be NEARLY done. Em and I are teaming up for the reveal NEXT WEEK and I’m really excited to share it with everyone. So many questions left unanswered:






Tune in next week and find out the answers to (most of) the above questions.

Okay I love you bye!

For more info on this kitchen renovation project, and for some hot goss about layoffs and landlords, read my post on Hommemaker.

Inspiration Photography by Tessa Neustadt courtesy Homepolish

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7 years ago

He may just be the funniest person alive! HAHAHA Worth every second of me sitting here at midnight refreshing until the new post came up! Night. Meg Australia x

7 years ago

Orlando, you are my favorite guest blogger on Emily’s website and I miss your frequent posting! And I totally mean it when I say I hope things get better for you really soon. Does Lutron or another brand have remote operated under cabinet lights? Those would theoretically be way easier to install.

7 years ago
Reply to  Phoebe

He’s back!!!! We all miss Orlando – and now i’m extra sad because he moved across town just as I moved into his neighborhood. Always fun to have him here. xx

7 years ago

Orlando you are the BEST!


Such a bummer that your life is a hot mess right now, but you are certainly swinging for the fences and I am sure you will see a ton of success in the future. Especially with your book and what you’ve got going on at Chateaulando. Can’t wait to see the end result!

7 years ago

This is one of the funniest things I’ve read. Ever. Please do NOT set yourself on fire–I need to read more! ?

7 years ago

This is going to be so much fun to follow along with!

7 years ago

Orlando – I love your writing style! I was very sad to learn about your breakup through the post here a few weeks ago and have since been following your blog. I am sending positive thoughts your way because I am weirdly invested in your happiness. Can’t wait to see the reveal!

renee johnson
7 years ago

Oh Orlando, my heart goes out to you!! Although my heart was aching while reading this post, you managed to make me crack a laugh at almost every other sentence. Keep on keepin on with your glamorous, melodramatic, design-savvy self. Thanks for posting such wonderful inspiration! You better take every last cabinet & appliance out when you move out!

7 years ago

Good lord. I need more Orlando in my life. More please! Long live Orlando!

7 years ago

Hi Orlando! Thank you for sharing your kitchen makeover and your heart with us! I absolutely love your work, your candor, and your humor. Praying everything in life works out beautifully for you! And, I can’t wait to see your kitchen reveal!! 🙂

7 years ago

What’s going to stop your landlord from raising your rent once you finish this renovation? Won’t your apartment be worth so much more now, and you might not be able to afford it, right? You have good reasons but without significant savings to cushion in case something comes up (losing a job), an agreement in writing that the landlord was going to pay for half of the renovation, and a strict budget, I think this is careless. This situation stresses me out! I hope something wonderful is just around the corner for you. Next time, get an agreement in writing and take care of yourself first!

7 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

Concern troll alert!
The situation is stressing YOU out? Be nice, don’t make it worse.

7 years ago
Reply to  rebecca

Relax, Lisa’s comment sounded like a genuine and sound advice.

7 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

Even though LA isn’t a haven for tenants’ rights, I think it’s more likely than not that Orlando’s apartment is covered by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which limits how frequently and how much one’s rent can be raised.

Orlando, I hope you look into some of the suggestions people made on your previous post for recouping your losses on this project!

7 years ago
Reply to  BSM

Yep, in LA, rent can’t be raised more than 5% per year. Not to mention if he’s in a year-long lease the landlord can’t raise it till he’s up for renewal. I’d encourage you to read his blog as he talks more about the landlord situation, and admits he made some mistakes. But I doubt he needs any more outside criticism than he’s already given himself. He’s making the best of it 🙂

7 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

I agree that doing renovations at the place you rent is not a smart idea. You can decorate, but not remodel. Perhaps if someone likes the place, location, price is right and you intend to stay there for 5-10 years, maybe it makes sense. But you got to have everything in writing and even then it’s risky. But he has learned the lesson, no reason to make him feel worse for it.

7 years ago

Ah, Orlando, you are a breath of self-effacing, fun, fresh air on this Wednesday morning! Keep making sad places more beautiful, you’re very good at it.
And on a more serious note, it’s ok to be sad and heartbroken. You’ll never have an identical situation, so appreciate it for what it is, knowing one day it will be gone. I mean, duh, you want the sadness to be gone! But these are the things that shape us and make us who we are, so there’s good in that. <3

Ah, parece meu marido, já nos mudamos inúmeras vezes, mas sempre é bom para redecorar rsrsr.


Eli Martins | eh!DÉCOR

Carly Waters
7 years ago

Tim at Cosmos is the best – so glad they came through for you. I always spent money on rentals and here’s what I say- whatever you need to do to elevate your life and your home is worth it. You have to live there and be happy.

7 years ago

*Hugs” to you, Orlando. Whomever it was who broke up with you wound up getting the raw end of that deal. You a true gem. Keep on keeping on. You are priceless.

7 years ago

Oh, I love Orlando so much. His blog has been super real lately, in a way that I fully appreciate. Hang in there, buddy! You’re hot AF, and super funny, with impeccable taste. Someone very lucky is gonna snap you up in a second, but you gotta do YOU first.

Also, the kitchen mood board looks cool. Is this a design blog? Who cares! Let’s get back to spilling!

I hope you bought those Birkenstocks and dyed your hair platinum!

7 years ago

OR a herringbone with subway tiles:) Advice: don’t add up the final cost. You’re already spending it, why depress yourself further:p LED battery powered under cabinet lighting isn’t the worst thing out there. Life will get better sir:) bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun:)<3

7 years ago

Ok, I really this today, thank you!!!
Can’t wait to see more ??

7 years ago

“…Like you’ll close a cabinet then two minutes, walk out of the room and when you walk back in the cabinet’s all “HAY.” Like wide open. CLOSE YOUR MOUTH, CABINET!”

You get me. That is my BIGGEST issue with our current apartment and my husband just doesn’t understand why it’s sooo annoying! Also, totally coveting your new kitchen, even with all the landlord drama. Wishing you the best, and hoping for MANY more Chateaulando posts! (Which I think is equally as catchy as Orcondo!)

7 years ago

LOVE YOU ORLANDO!!! Thanks for the early morning chuckles. You are crazy to renovate a rental kitchen, but it sounds like it’s going to be beautiful. Thank you for the sacrifices you make for your loyal followers! xoxoxoxoxo

7 years ago

Your project is going to be amazing! Love white kitchens. I’m drawn to light and airy design in everything. It’s even my style as a photographer.

7 years ago

Dear Orlando,
You are a sweet gem of a man and I adore (no, seriously, ADORE!) your talent, your humor and your lovely self. The Ex is a tool and you will do soooooooooo much better. The true love of your life will be a nicer, hotter, kinder, funnier, amazing, smarter, more accomplished and dignified man than the aforementioned tool. And yeah, you totally know this. 😉 Meanwhile, I’m excited to see the finished kitchen and I love how you are able to make a tiny rental kitchen blossom with possibilities. May the returns ($$ & love) be so great that there is no room enough to receive it.
Much love from one who wishes she could come to a dinner party but I live in Utah,

7 years ago
Reply to  Tonya

Tonya, you have a way with words. But more importantly, with generosity.

7 years ago

It is sooooooooo refreshing to see a “real” kitchen renovation, aka the way I would have to do it – on a tight budget, with Ikea cabinets, in a small space. I can’t wait to see the final result.

7 years ago
Reply to  Julia

I agree! This is what I am about to do to my tiny kitchen, so I love the real life, on a tight budget, inspiration.

7 years ago
Reply to  Julia

My thoughts exactly! I’m sorry it’s under less than ideal circumstance for you Orlando, but so excited to see a renovation that I could realistically pull ideas from!

7 years ago

Oh Im sitting here reading and smiling (and laughing!) First time reading an Orlando post and I will look forward to more!!

nancy m
7 years ago

Orlando is the best.

7 years ago

Your just brilliant Orlando! You exude such radiance through your writing and even during such a crappy time in your life. I’m so happy for you that so many people are rooting for you because you deserve it. And oh, the kitchen is grand even on a budget. Can’t wait to see and read more. Including your book. Hugs!

7 years ago

Your honesty is so refreshing (and funny)! I can’t wait to see how it turns out, and I hope it makes you happy!

7 years ago


7 years ago

I have no affiliation whatsoever, but have you thought of putting strip Hue lighting under the cabinets? You could also take them with you if/when you leave this rental.

Amy Madeline
7 years ago

Here’s hoping this crazy investment in a kitchen that isn’t yours pays you back in spades! I am very much looking forward to seeing it. I am gearing up to remodel a rental kitchen and am eager for ideas. And always thanks for bringing your honesty and humor along with your fabulous design skills.

Rachel M
7 years ago

Yay! I’m so excited for the reveal. I’ve been following along on your own blog and your insta and I can’t wait!

7 years ago

Oh, Orlando, I love you so much. I hope things turn around for you soon. What’s-his-face was an idiot for breaking up with you. I can’t wait to see the finished kitchen; you have amazing taste, so I know it will be terrific!

7 years ago

Orlando, your posts always make me so happy! You are hilarious. I hope things get better soon. With talent like yours and great friends like Emily, I’m sure you’ll be on the other side of this rough patch in no time.

7 years ago

So glad to see you back Orlando! You + Emilly = Dream Team!!

7 years ago

Oh Orlando. I love you and your amazing writing and super cool design skillz. I am so sad for the pain and turmoil you’re in (Emily linked you up a few weeks ago so I’ve totally been reading you there).

So, yeah, all of that super sucks like the most sour of lemons but I’m glad you’ll have a new kitchen to put your lemon slices in.

7 years ago

I love it when you guest blog, Orlando? And is it strange that I felt truly sad to hear about your break up? I mean, COME ON, you worked so hard on that place, that guy is a big old loser for making such a crappy decision! Anyway, I think it looks great and that you’re crazy for renovating a rental ?. But now that I know you’re blogging more, I’ll be sure to pop over to your site more often!

7 years ago

Might be too late but how about no backsplash? at least for a while? I remodeled my kitchen 8 years ago and put off installing a backsplash because I just could not make one more decision. Guess what? never missed it. Yes the wall over the stove gets splashed sometimes. cleans up with a magic eraser. Repainted that area once. Seldom has anyone noticed that there is no backsplash. Or at least they dont mention it to me.

7 years ago

….well I know where I’ll be lurking next week, impatiently waiting for the reveal…………………..?

7 years ago

More Orlando All! The! Time! Love this post and Orlando’s humor. Also the name Orcondo always bothered me for some reason. I may be the only one but Chateaulando makes me infinitely happier. ❤️

7 years ago

Orlando! I love your humor despite difficult circumstances! Screw that guy – he didn’t deserve you! Love to Orlando, from Orlando (Florida)! 🙂

Karen Lurie
7 years ago

Okay, I love you too, bye!

No, seriously, chin up my man as things will get better! And, I love hearing about Chateulando!

Looking forward to the big reveal next week.


Niki Kahn
7 years ago

You are hilarious! We’ve all been where you are. I’m rooting for you!!!!! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

7 years ago

Orlando– I installed my under cabinet lighting myself — and I even daisy chained them all together so I only needed to connect two to actual hot wires. I got them at an electrical supply store (don’t go to big box store, too $$ and shit options). I got LEDs and put them on a dimmer switch. To be clear, I am not an Electrican but I can read directions. The hardest part is screwing them in while laying upside down on your counters. Would have been easier with two people — but I propped the lights up with a mop bucket while I worked and it all turned out great. My husband, who is allergic to DIY, was totally impressed. And If I can do it without a man, since you are one, you are 23 chromosomes ahead of me. Plus I can just see you have more arm strength than me. Dude you are golden!

Ps I can look up the brand name of the lights I got if you want. They come in white!

7 years ago
Reply to  Kim

Interested in name of lights, please!

7 years ago

Can’t wait to see your kitchen Orlando!
Also love hommemaker , your lovely pink bedroom and really want to get my hands on your book!
You have so much to offer and the rest of the world is embracing you!
Regarding budget under cab lighting, could you go with a plug in, stick on option from our favourite Swedish retailer?
No need to hire someone…
Love from Canada

7 years ago

This post was incredibly entertaining. I hope Orlando believes that, despite these serious life setbacks, someone as awesome as him is destined to recover and live an even better life in the near future. You’re going to make it, Orlando!

Lynn W
7 years ago

I love Chateaulando!!!
Can’t wait to see it done.
Enjoy your new place and throw an amazing party to celebrate ?

PS. I love it when you guest post? I always am guaranteed a good laugh. Thank you!

7 years ago

This is my favorite design post ever. The end.

7 years ago

Orlando we’ve missed you!!! Congratulations on your new space!

7 years ago

Love Orlando! So sorry about all the bad stuff but I know you will be fine soon. The “leaver” is a loser and not worthy of you. The kitchen will be great. Can’t wait to see the finished room.

7 years ago

I love this post. So many times, I’ve upgraded a space or design that wasn’t permanent and felt foolish. So happy you are going for it Orlando. You will enjoy it.

7 years ago

I just installed white subway in a DUMB PARQUET in my kitchen and shower and I LOVE IT! (Quartzite counters were budget busters, so white subway to the rescue!) Your condo was the inspiration for the install pattern, so thank you. It makes me happy to look at and I’ve received a ton of compliments.