Hello dear readers! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a captivating Q&A, and so starting 2015 with a MBB bang, I’m excited to share an interview with the ever talented and charming Orlando Soria! He began his career as Emily Henderson’s design assistant on HGTV’s “Secrets from a Stylist” (oh how I adore the Home & Garden Network!) and since then has launched a must-read life and style blog, Hommemaker, and been named creative director for Homepolish. A portfolio to envy, Soria has masterfully created gorgeous spaces for Kevin Keating for Goop and Gray Malin for One Kings Lane to name a few. Couple his keen eye for interiors with an innate gift for entertaining, and you have an absolute winning combo. And so, I give you a Q&A with Orlando Soria. Enjoy!
Tell us about your background in interior design.
My career began in entertainment, where I worked in the art department on a number of films, music videos, ads, etc. From that, I was cast as Emily Henderson’s design assistant on her TV show ‘Secrets From A Stylist.’ Even though I’d already been designing for years, that show was like design boot camp. The show helped me gain efficiency and also allowed me to learn so much from Emily Henderson, who is a wonderful stylist and a great artist. Once the show wrapped I began working with clients and was quickly snapped up by Homepolish. I serve as the West Coast Creative Director, and create content for our awesome online publication, Homepolish Magazine. Homepolish is literally my dream job, because I get to work with clients to design beautiful spaces, but I also get to write and direct photo shoots, which I also love.
What inspired you to start your blog, Hommemaker?
I started Hommemaker as a satirical site about domesticity and homemaking. I grew up with mom who made great dinners every night, who handmade our Halloween costumes, who made the most magical holidays possible, so I have always loved domesticity and homemaking, creating a lovely life at home. At the same time, I am also totally aware of how alienating it can be when people are totally perfect robots, so I try to keep it funny and relatable.
As an accomplished interior designer, you know a great deal about creating a beautiful yet functional space. When designing homes for clients, how do you make sure they are entertaining-friendly?
Seating is the most important thing to keep in mind for entertaining. Lots of comfy seating makes a party feel much more welcoming than sparse, uncomfortable seating. I also like to create spaces that can be reconfigured for parties (i.e. side tables that can double as extra seating during a party). The thing I always tell clients is to rearrange for parties so there is more space to get around and the layout makes sense for the activities happening at the party. So if you have a huge array of food, maybe set the dining table to one side of the room so everyone isn’t crowded around it, clogging up the flow of the whole room.
For those with smaller nests, do you have any tips on how to utilize space so that they can still have a cocktail party, bridal shower, or friends over?
Oh my god, you should have seen my first LA apartment. It was a studio near the Hollywood hills, a little 1930s bungalow and I LOVED IT. But yeah, wasn’t the best place for parties. For people living in smaller places, I recommend renting/borrowing comfortable seating to create a welcoming seating arrangement. Work with what you’ve got but don’t be afraid to change it up!
When it comes to decorating, do you have a favorite room?
To date, my favorite rooms have been guest bedrooms and kids rooms. Mainly because with guest bedrooms you can be more playful than with bedrooms people are going to sleep in every night. And kids rooms are great because it’s so fun to see their reactions. I have these lovely clients who have the cutest kids on earth (aside from my own niece and nephew, of course) and watching them see their redecorated rooms for the first time nearly made my heart explode out of my mouth. So cute.
I have no doubt you are an amazing host. What are your secrets to flawless entertaining when you host family and friends?
I try to keep it cool when I’m hosting, and that can be super helpful in making people feel comfortable, happy. I am a perfectionist, so for a long time I’d host parties and I’d be super stressed out the whole time. Like, “Why did I time the dinner wrong?” or “I forgot to pair the quince paste with the cheese plate!” But then I realized most people are not being as critical and they respond more to your energy. You could literally be serving a bowl of chips, but if you’re inviting good friends over they’ll have a good time as long as you are having a good time. So ultimately, my secret is to just do you best to relax and tell that inner-perfectionist to shut up and have a good time.
Who are the interior design icons that you admire?
I love Robert Stilin, who is a New York designer who does lots of beautiful coastal homes. I love that he uses distinctive, unique pieces without making the spaces look crazy. His spaces all look comfortable and inviting. Also, like me he loves using art as the centerpiece, using a lot of neutrals so the art dictates the color and energy in the space.
How would you describe your style?
I’d say I’m like 50% crazy artist (I studied art for six years) and 50% preppy (both my undergrad and grad school degrees come from Ivy League schools). I love combining wild, interesting furnishings with things that are more classic and subdued. I think for a space to work it needs a balance. Of masculine and feminine. And of wild and classic. My goal is to have a style which reflects that balance.
When entertaining, spills and messes seem to be inevitable. Have you discovered any secret fabrics or tricks to keeping one’s decor intact even if a guest spills red wine?
The only trick I’ve discovered here is to ALWAYS opt for the stain guard if you’re having a piece of furniture made (most furniture stores will offer this if you’re buying something new from them). You can also buy Scotchguard and spray your upholstered items, post purchase, to minimize risk of staining. Also, choose fabrics wisely. I’m not a huge fan of synthetic materials, but they are WAY better at stain resisting than cottons/linens. So if you’re a habitual “wine spiller,” opt for something with more poly in it. Or leather, which is practically stain-proof and looks better with a little age anyway.