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, a design startup that’s a huge game changer, making design more accessible, streamlined, and enjoyable to clients all over the USA. Anyway, onto his post!
Dear Emily’s Readers,
Something really exciting is happening! So put on your eatin’ dress, have your secretary’s administrative assistant hold all your calls, and tell your boss you can no longer do your job, because this might take a minute. Long story short, I’m moving in with my handsome French boyfriend who looks like a Disney cartoon. I know. If I were anyone else I’d literally want to throw me down the stairs because I’d be so annoyed. As someone who has been single most of my life, it’s weird for me to be doing couple-y things like choosing tile together. But hey, I’ll take it. Short story long, we’re gut renovating the amazingly disgusting condo he bought four years ago before I move in. And it’s pretty much the most exciting thing that has ever happened in my whole life. Or anyone’s life for that matter.
First things first, let me explain “Orcondo.” I know. It’s terrible. But I can’t resist a bad pun. Or rhyme. Or whatever it is. I was conflicted about it because I actually hate the term “condo.” In my mind, it’s just a way for obnoxious rich people to feel better than other people because they own their apartment while everyone else is still renting (everyone else = me currently btw). So a few years ago a snobby friend of mine who’s like always rubbing his wealth in my face bought an apartment and wouldn’t stop calling it a condo and it just seemed SO pretentious to me. So I vowed never to call anything a condo ever. But I didn’t really think about the fact that my name (which is pronounced “Or-LON-do”) rhymes with “Condo” and so it’s pretty much impossible for me not to call this apartment OrCONDO. Oh, and I asked my boyfriend and he doesn’t mind. Even though he totally bought it before he knew I existed.
Click through to see the whole design plan.
My inspiration for this entire project is the wonderful community of artists and creative people (read: weirdos, writers, and crazy actors) I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by here in Southern California. Over the past few years I’ve made it a point to seek out and befriend artists. My hope is that my new apartment will be a showcase for their work and a reminder of the beautiful state I’ve called home for most of my life. So far, I’ve commissioned works from painter Erika Gragg, ceramist Ben Medansky, and lighting geniuses Park Studio. I’m also excited to be working with California-based companies like Fireclay Tile, who make gorgeous handmade clay tile that totally speaks to my crazy pottery fetish (SPOILER ALERT: Emily is using them in her bathroom too HAY!).
My boyfriend’s apartment, henceforth referred to as Orcondo, is in Silver Lake (Bye, West Hollywood!) and overlooks the Silver Lake Reservoir. It’s a three bedroom, three bathroom, 80s dream. And by “dream” I mean nightmare that I wake up from screaming, sitting up at a ninety degree angle yelling “WHYYYYYYYY” on a daily basis. But it’s going to be mind-bogglingly amazing when we’re done. I hope.
We start demolition in a week and construction is going to take most of the summer (keep checking back for updates, I’ll be covering it, room by room, here on the blog). The main changes are adding wood floor throughout, skim-coating the walls to get rid of the orange peel texture, and renovating the apartment’s three bathrooms. Also, getting rid of this amazing track lighting:
I know, I know. It’s amazing. But its time to die has come.
Before Edouard (that’s my boyfriend) moved in, this place was owned by a couple of New Yorkers who were never here. So everything is in pristine 80s condition. Which is probably why no one thought to replace it until I showed up and fainted like the mom in “Home Alone.”
I’m a big believer in working with not against the architecture of one’s home. Thus, I’m not going to try and make this 80s space into something it’s not. I hate it when people buy houses the wrong architectural style and then try to make them into their dream houses. You can’t make a 70s ranch house into French Tudor Mansion. Or you shouldn’t, because that would be gross. So for Orcondo, I’m seeking out finishes and furnishings that will make sense for this 1984 construction, but also update it and make it feel current. Pictured above: Bedside Table from Lawson-Fenning, Painting by Anna Ullman, Lighting from Lambert & Fils, Faucet from Brizo, Coffee Table from Paddle8, Accent Table from Crate & Barrel.
We’re adding built-in shelving in the dining room. Partially to add storage we’re losing by knocking out a wall in the kitchen, partially to make space for Edouard’s book collection and my hoard of pottery and white dishes. Not sure what I’m doing for lighting yet, but loving these Mary McDonald pieces from Lamps Plus.
Something I learned from Emily, which I totally tell people every day still, is that if a space doesn’t get a lot of natural light, it’s often a good idea to paint it a saturated color (meaning something other than white) so it doesn’t look dingy and depressing. The whole apartment has tons of natural light (including a number of skylights, which are lovely). Except the bedrooms, which get good light but are darker and more romantic than the other spaces. So I’m planning to go dark in there, probably a slatey blue.
Not entirely sure what we’re doing in the guest bedroom yet, but loving the idea of some crazy big chandeliers in there. The building has some weird, totally high windows. They’re nice that they let in light but I feel like they were designed for people who are ten feet tall to stare out the window at Dov Charney’s house (Remember him? The American Apparel creeper? He lives up the hill in a terrifying concrete fortress). Also, not quite sure what to do about window treatments on that one. I hate mini blinds (which are currently what’s in there) so I’ll probably go with a simple roller shade or an extremely short roman shade.
I love bright, bold colors, so people are often surprised when I choose not to fill my house with splashes of color. But I also love art and objects too much, and most of the art I like is very colorful. Thus, I’m going for a pretty neutral foundation in Orcondo. Above: Tile from Fireclay, Sisal Stool from Wisteria, Rug from Dash & Albert, Throw from Crate & Barrel, Ceramics by P Lynn Middleton.
I don’t know how they had time to make such gross bathrooms in the 80s, but it looks like they really took their time making these as crazy as possible. I mean, I love pink, I love wood, and I love tile. So why do I hate the current bathrooms so much? The plan in the master bathroom is to knock down the wall separating the bathroom from the closet and add that space the bathroom, making the walls into storage closets. Also hoping to find a place for that crazy lady lion rattan stool we found at Rose Bowl a few weeks back…
I love a circle mirror, so I’m hoping to incorporate one into the powder room (which, like “condo” is another phrase that always annoyed me because it seems, like, exhaustingly precious and makes me feel like if I go in there I’ll come out wearing doilies and a giant “My Fair Lady” hat). The floors are going to be a simple natural stone and the counters are carrara marble, which I know is a pain to keep clean but I can’t find anything else I’m into.
So, there you have it. Two dudes. One summer. An apartment full of possibilities. And dreams. And bewilderment. And love. Will it turn out to be the most gorgeous apartment in history? Will we find out that all the walls we wanted to move are immovable? Will a secret stash of original 1984 shoulder pads be found deep within the apartment’s walls? Will the stress of this remodel make us hate each other forever, causing my Frenchman to scream “SACREBLEU!!!!” at my face over and over and over?
Only time will tell. So stay tuned.
PS: Curious about sources? Check out more design inspo for this project on the Pinterest Page I created for it. It’s filled with links to the products I plan on using.