A Dark, Depressing Room Becomes a Bright Spot at Casa Soria
***Written by Orlando 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
It creates a natural, intentional stop for the wall color.
It’s much easier to create a crisp paint edge than it is if you try to meet the colors at the ceiling line.
It gives the space a much stronger sense of architecture.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.