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Dining Rooms

Makeover Reveal: Mixing Old & New in the Casa Soria Dining Room

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*** Written by Orlando Soria | Photography by Zeke Ruelas
Just in time for what is bound to be a crazy holiday season, the Casa Soria dining room has undergone a massive spruce up (circle back to the intro post to see all the “before” shots and read more on the what’s and why’s). What started as a request from orMOMdo for a new dining table evolved into a re-organization of the space and a case study in how to incorporate family heirlooms, mismatched in both style and scale, into a space. I know that this is an issue a lot of people face (not everyone can just get rid of everything they own and start fresh like we do here inside the Internet!) so I relished the challenge to figure out how to make this space stylish and functional while not losing pieces my parents cared about.

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My parents brought almost everything from the Yosemite house I grew up in to Casa Soria when they moved here five years ago. Most of it found a natural home, but many pieces didn’t integrate as well as they did into our old house. The Yosemite house was small (I think around 1,500 square feet), kind of a craftsman-style bungalow that looked like a cabin. I used to get super pissed when tourists would pass by and be like “HOW MUCH IS TO RENT THAT CABIN?” I’d be like “THIS IS MY HOUSE, DUDE.” I guess it’s fine to call your own house a cabin but if someone else calls it a cabin, it feels like an insult. Be forewarned if you happen upon any forest people, not all of us like you to call our houses “cabins.” Casa Soria is bigger (I think around 2,800 square feet) and the style is totally different, so its furnishing needs are also different.

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I’ve always liked this curio cabinet my parents bought in the nineties. It’s kind of a nineties take on craftsmen and the A-line makes it feel a little lighter. My mom has a lot of pretty objects, mostly Japanese Kokeshi dolls and basketry/art by the Miwok and other Native American tribes local to the Sierra Nevadas.

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This basket might look like it’s just a pretty accent, a way to ground that mini display shelf to the top of the cabinet, but it actually serves a TOP SECRET DUAL PURPOSE. Somehow, in our massive kitchen renovation (details coming soon GET EXCITED) we weren’t able to find a spot for a laundry hamper. So this is where orMOMdo throws dishtowels and cleaning rags after she uses them (we put a little plastic liner inside to prevent it from ruining the basket).

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The new dining table from Rejuvenation has been a huge game changer. It’s the max length for the space, meaning it can seat a lot of people. Unextended, it can seat eight comfortably, but we’ve seated ten there, two on each end, for the fancy birthday dinner my sibling and I threw for orMOMdo and it was perfect. I chose this table because it has a pretty simple design that is traditional enough to satisfy my orlanDAD’s taste but also contemporary enough to feel at home in the house.

Another great update was the addition of a simple, soft Roman shade from The Shade Store. We chose a very pretty sheer wool color called “Cloud” that blends nicely with the wall color (Alaskan Husky by Benjamin Moore). As you probably remember, my parents really fought me on these. They didn’t see the point of adding window treatments in their front rooms because they’re never in there at night and weren’t worried about privacy (hello, what about keeping heat in during the winter and out during the summer?!?). But now that they have them they actually use them, like, daily. And the softness they add to the space makes everything feel cozier. So quite honestly, I’m glad I manipulated my parents into allowing me to get them glamorous window coverings THAT THEY ACTUALLY USE EVERY DAY.

I’m honestly really impressed with the huge Orb-Lando orMOMdo made when they moved in. It’s three feet wide and SO much cuter than the fixture that was there before (see how ugly it was in the intro post). The Windsor chairs from Serena & Lily were a huge upgrade from the ones my parents had before, which were mismatched, half-broken, and wouldn’t push in (their arms were too tall).

Why did my parents have chairs that were mismatched, half-broken, and wouldn’t push in? The answer is one of the reasons I love my parents the most; their huge aversion to waste. They don’t buy cheap stuff and when they buy something, they want to keep it forever. This has caused frustration for me at times. Like when they spent $5,000 on getting a sofa reupholstered instead of just letting me get them a new sofa that actually made sense in the space. But, for the most part, I think it’s a philosophy more of us could use. Buy once, buy well seems to have been replaced with buy what you can afford right now then throw it away and buy a new one when it breaks in eighteen months.

So while my parents’ inability to get rid of stuff drives me crazy sometimes, I think my generation has a lot to learn from older generations about not being wasteful and gross.

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While I was at it, I figured I might as well source some new dishes and flatware for orMOMdo, so I snagged these beauties by Kate Spade (all the linens are from Parachute). The dishes are distinctive enough to use for a dinner party but designed to be sturdy enough for everyday use, which is how my parents use them.

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The beautiful charcoal drawing by Jane Culp was purchased by orMOMdo years ago, I think at an auction for an arts organization she was involved with called the Yosemite Renaissance. We had a lot of the same art in the house I grew up in and I always thought it was kind of stupid because we could look out the window and see it for real. But now that my parents aren’t in Yosemite anymore, I like the Yosemite art a lot more. It’s kind of like if you lived in New York and your walls were covered in New York street art, I’d think you were super one-note. I think it’s just more refreshing to have art that takes you away, rather than showing you exactly what is outside.

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I often get messages when I post pictures of table settings that I’ve done it wrong. There is a “correct” way of laying out knives, forks and spoons and I actually DO have it memorized at this point (mostly from getting called out so many times about it). But the day I shot this was pretty stressful and I forgot and did it backward (the spoons are supposed to be next to the knife). Here are my two cents on this: I DON’T CARE. Honestly, all flatware looks different, has different architecture, and the pieces interact differently with one another. I tend to set the table the way I think looks the cutest for the style of flatware. I don’t really care that someone in France 500 years ago made some stupid rule about where your stupid fork was supposed to go. If your guest can’t find their dessert spoon because it’s not in the “correct” place, promptly ask them to LEAVE.

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I love layering, so for me, a tablecloth with placemats on it is a dream. These rustic linens from Parachute make the setting feel warm and cozy.

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This classic American buffet was a huge bone of contention between my parents. orlanDAD really wanted it in the house while orMOMdo didn’t like it all. Full disclosure: I have to say that as a designer, I really don’t like this piece in the space, for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s very large and imposing. Second, the style introduces an element that feels a little out of place in the house (it feels more like it belongs in a farmhouse or a more rustic space). And thirdly, there’s already too much furniture in this room. There’s a credenza and a curio cabinet as well, so basically, every wall that doesn’t have a window has furniture on it. This made the previous dining table IMPOSSIBLE because it was so cramped you couldn’t get out of your chair. It was clear from being in there that my parents just took random furniture and crammed it into a room and being in there made me feel absolutely insane.

BUT!!! There’s a huge caveat to my hatred for this piece. While I might think it’s terrible for the room and it still feels hulking and heavy, it tells a story about my family that I think is an important one.

My parents inherited this from my paternal grandfather after he passed away. A reminder now that while I am a pasty white person, half my family is brown (my father’s family hails from Mexico). My Latino grandparents had a house filled with American antiques. I never thought twice about it until I started going to the flea market with Emily years ago, seeing so many Latino faces who deal in collecting and selling American antique furniture.

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I’ve thought a lot about this and wondered why my grandparents were so enamored with classic American furniture that they’d spend their free time roaming around estate sales and thrift shops looking for it. I think budget was probably part of it (my parents are both from large families that didn’t have a lot of money). But I think part of it was a pride and excitement about American culture. The Mexican side of my family always seemed more all-American to me than my Caucasian side did. While my mother’s family is a bit more offbeat and counter-culture, my dad’s side of the family was always more up-to-date on popular American culture, fascinated by it. I think that comes from my grandparents and I see their interest in American antiques to be part of an overall enthusiasm for and desire to be part of this country.

This is kind of a random tangent but I feel like it’s a story that needs to be told. I don’t fully identify as being a brown person (or a white person for that matter) but what I know from my own family’s history is that Latinos (and other immigrants) are some of the most patriotic, hardworking people around and that classifying them as anything less could not be more off base or disgusting. To me this isn’t a political thing, it’s not about left or right, it’s just about treating other human beings with respect and conducting yourself with a certain amount of dignity.

ANYWAY, REMEMBER WHEN I WAS WRITING A DINING ROOM REVEAL???

As we all know in the world of design, sometimes a piece of furniture is more than just a piece of furniture. So while this huge buffet cramps the table a little bit, it was important for orlanDAD that it be somewhere in the house so I made it work. The way I made it work was by relocating it to the space previously occupied by the curio cabinet. It’s now tucked into a little corner where it fits snugly and is also hidden from view if you’re in the sitting room. You kind of have to go into the room looking for it to see it now, which is how it should be. To make it feel a bit more on-brand with the rest of the room, I added a Tom Killion print and some accessories to make it feel a bit more considered.

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It’s probably not surprising that orMOMdo shares a love of blue with Emily and me. She’s been collecting blue dishes for years, so we installed some neat white shelves to display them. This display always makes me happy to look at. Although sometimes when I visit I notice she’s put something red in there that throws off the whole Zen vibe. At which point I take it down and hide it somewhere. I have been doing terrible, controlling things like this my whole life.

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So, there you have it! My entire autobiography and the biography of how I took my parents dining room from NASTY to RHINOPLASTY in a matter of minutes. It’s definitely a happier, more useable space now thanks to the furniture reconfiguration and the addition of the new table and chairs. It only took five years, but the dining room is finally usable!

1. Roman Shade | 2. Paint Color (Alaskan Husky by Benjamin Moore) | 3. Orb Lantern DIY | 4. Painting by Jane Culp | 5. Blue Drinking Glass (similar) | 6. Stoneware Pitcher (similar) 7. Dining Chair | 8. Dining Table | 9. Vintage Curio Cabinet (similar) | 10. Dinner Plate | 11. Salad Plate | 12. Flatware | 13. Striped Linen Placemats | 14. Grey Rimmed Linen Placemats | 15. Linen Tablecloth | 16. Mud Cloth Tray | 17. Vintage Brass Cranes (similar) | 18. Mexican Majolica Blue & White Serving Dish (similar) | 19. Mexican Dinner Plate (similar) | 20. Hey Sosi Print | 21. Display Ledge | 22. Contemporary Chinese Japanese Blue and White Tree Porcelain Teapot Set 

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JB

I loved the part about your family – the patriotic feelings and excitement about America. So neat to hear. ❤Also I think the round display shelf on the curio is a really smart moment…it makes all the littles become one big item…and that’s an idea I woild have never thought of and will DEFINITELY incorporate!

K

I like this home reveal because it’s not full of ALL new and OrMomdo has a great, unique taste so it’s a good blend and feels more real.

Celeste

Totally agree! I have been excited about Orlando’s reveals of his parents’ home because he so thoughtfully included so many pieces they already owned. This is beautiful (even if there really is a ton of furniture in here).

Ashley

That piece of pottery holding the salad is GORGEOUS!! I love when y’all explain the background of working with the furniture that exists in a home, it never fails to inspire me!

Carrie

I am so with you- I am obsessed with that salad bowl. Orlando, please tell us about it!

Fern

agreed! scrolled down to see who makes it, I need it!

Elizabeth

Me too! and the pitcher!

Magali

I love this room but I’m French so I have to tell you I’m shocked 😉

Forks on the left
Knives on the right and soup spoon on the right right
Small spoon on the top

Happy to see Orlando’s work!

Alice

Magali,

I am French too and I was going to say the exact thing ! 🙂

Alice

Magali

I was going to say the same exact thing (i.e. I am French, I am shocked and the table is dressed wrongly, but great work 🙂 ) !!

Paula Carr

Plus, the reason for having the knife and fork on different sides of the plate is because you pick them up at the same time usually with different hands!

Mary Lou

The white shelves mounted over pale blue wall presents a United Nations of ceramics. Who knew that would work? I love the blue and white collection. Bravo for the light and airy feel while displaying refined and rough together.

Erin

I love this – thanks for walking us through how you thought about the changes. Families are beautiful, and spaces are about complementing families rather than vice versa. Thank you for the reminder!

celine

Love this room, it’s beautiful and real. I love reusing meaningful pieces and not just getting everything new from a big box. But I REALLY loved your observation about immigrants often being the most patriotic people in this country. As a daughter of immigrants, I’ve long held this belief and I think that it stems from the appreciation of being here, opposed to their home country where you don’t have the same freedoms and opportunities. Thank you for sharing!

Meg

Well, now I have to start collecting pottery. Thanks, orMOMdo…

KWu

Really enjoyed this reveal and the writing both. I appreciate the talking through how to handle designing *not* from scratch and working with existing furniture and preferences. I liked the buffet but then saw what Orlando was talking about in terms of it belonging more in a farmhouse style–that’s probably why I like it as a standalone piece! Also thanks for sharing the family stories. I’ve always thought it’s a big missing piece in discussions about immigration to America because to me it’s like… The immigrants picked us! We won! This is great! My parents are immigrants because they thought… Read more »

Cambria

I love, love, love Orlando. His posts always make me laugh a true, out-loud belly laugh, which is just the best feeling and we all need more of that, amiright?!

Colleen

Orlando you’re so funny and smart; I’d read anything you write. Nice job on the space too – what lucky parents you have.

Meaghan

I really appreciated this, especially the reuse of furniture that a designer might find less than perfect but that needs to stay in the room. The room looks more interesting as a result. Perfectly designed rooms are boring, especially since they all seem to look a like these days.

Lana

I love this all so much! The design, the writing, the phrase “NASTY to RHINOPLASTY”. Orlando, come style my home and be my friend. You are uniquely awesome.

Loveley of honeymoonvintage.com

i always love orlando’s posts because he is awesome. BUT, i love this one way more for a few reasons: 1. the first thing that made me fall in love: “about not being wasteful and gross.” – that is literally the perfect description for the wastefulness i see in our society’s way of living, and i call this gross all the time, so it totally jumped out at me. 2. the second thing that made me fall in love: the tangent about immigrants and patriotic-ness was so nice to read. i feel like we’re living in a time of more… Read more »

thelady

The blue pottery wall blew me away! It’s wonderful. Orlando can style the HECK out of a horizontal surface

jen

YES! Those tea cups stacked on the cake stand-so lovely!!

Jennifer

I love this reveal! I would love to see more makeovers/reveals of homeowners in this age bracket as they downsize/streamline their homes and want to incorporate a lifetime of collections/furniture/STUFF in t heir new home in a fresh way.

AM

I have that exact curio! It’s from Ethan Allen. I’ve been on the fence about whether to keep it, but if it’s good enough for Orlando, it’s good enough for me.

Deb

Love that this is a beautiful, not overly styled space that looks like it truly incorporates memories and things are important to your family. The story of your family is the best part.

Kristin

I would kill for that buffet–I can’t believe it was an issue at all in the room! I love it so much. It’s got a million times more beauty and personality than that white credenza, for sure. The room looks amazing and a huge shout out to Orlando’s mom’s collections. So unique and interesting! I would walk in this house and want to talk about every piece. Really cool stuff, and Orlando did a great job integrating it into the design of the home.

Jessie

I had the same “OH look at that” moment when I saw that antique buffet. I completely understand that maybe the scale is off for the room when you’re looking at it in person, but man my breath actually caught in my chest when I saw it.

barbara

AGREEE! if too much furniture let go of the white one…the buffet is beautiful…and i am not an ‘antique collector.” great job making it THEIR space!

Paula Carr

Absolutely! Quartersawn oak is so gorgeous, and you can’t find that quality in new pieces hardly at all anymore.

Zoe

I agree, that buffet is my favorite piece in the whole room and the way it’s styled makes it feel very functional for the space. It definitely has real soul! Also I always crack up when reading the comments on Orlando’s posts because according to the readers of this blog, HE CAN DO NO WRONG!!! In the age of the internet it’s so rare to see people not being the PC police or saying mean things in the comments. That never happens with Orlando, even when he spices up a home makeover post with topics that are a tad more… Read more »

Julie

I love the comment about moms always putting a random object that throws off the whole vibe, I take those down and hide them too. Every time I come over my mom’s shelves get a small makeover! The amount of collected and passed down cultural items that your parents own makes me so envious though, our family immigrated here in like 2004 so we have nothing but new stuff. Well, other than what I’ve collected myself over the past few years, but things that have been in your family for generations are much more special!

CW

Such a great post! Thanks for sharing about yourself, and thanks for not sacrificing family history on the alter of design. You have my respect and gratitude.

kathy

aw. the thing i love about emily and orlando is that they seem like good people. and they are funny. 😉

Kelly

great transformation, love it all the more because of working with existing pieces and showing off family history! Love the comments on immigrants…my great-grandparents came over from Ireland. They were impoverished AF, uneducated and all the rest. I’m 3rd gen American, but it was still ingrained in me how lucky the family was to be here, the greatest country on Earth. And that we had to live up to that and take advantage of our education etc etc. Hard to hear the dialogue today that doesn’t seem to acknowledge this background for so many of our current citizens (including our… Read more »

meg

Salad bowl details PLS!!!!

Rae

Orlando, bravo for a job well done! Designers have to use their clients existing pieces more often than the interior design blogging community likes to admit. It’s so refreshing to see it here! Thanks for sharing this beautiful room with us! The blue and white collection is my favorite. Your parents are super lucky to have you… though I’m sure you already knew that! 🙂

Allison

Love this post (and the tangents!) Please – do more posts on not designing from scratch! We all have furniture that someone in the family can’t part with – but the rest of us can’t stand. Or we can’t afford to start fresh. Or we feel bad about throwing out/giving away half-decent stuff we spent money on. It’s so helpful to see how you dealt with that/made it work.

Lisa

bump. I so agree.

Liz

Yes, agreed!!

karen

Love Orlando, and this just made me laugh out loud: “Although sometimes when I visit I notice she’s put something red in there that throws off the whole Zen vibe. At which point I take it down and hide it somewhere. I have been doing terrible, controlling things like this my whole life.”

Sarah

Man, I love this. Especially the part not being “wasteful and gross”.

I always think homes that have lots of older, storied pieces FEEL so much better than a “perfectly” designed space. I’m sure that’s something that’s really hard to capture in pictures. But this dining room looks like a place I’d actually like to hang out, not just stare at.

Orlando, I love your approach to design and writing!

Liz

Like everyone else here, I love Orlando’s writing style, his humor, values, and love for his family. But what I especially love about the posts he does about his parents house is that it is much closer to what most of us experience when we decorate our homes. Whether for sentimental reasons, differing opinions/styles, or financial reasons, we can’t replace everything. A home like this is so much more interesting and requires so much more talent than most of the stuff on design blogs these days.

Elizabeth

I love that buffet, and love the story you shared around keeping it. Personally I think it’s gorgeous and in such good shape! What a treasure to have and share with your family.

Amanda

This was such a treat to read, Orlando. You are a hilarious writer! The reason this post felt like a breath of fresh air is because you kept pieces that your parents have collected and it still feels like a **home**. Scrapping every piece of furniture in the name of an internet makeover (while fun) ends up feeling a little cold in the end. The stories behind the pieces you kept make this house a true home and I think that’s what I identify with. Thank you for listening to your parents and keeping their things. As a lover and… Read more »

Laura

Love this! What a gorgeous space with a melding of old and new. Also really enjoyed hearing about Orlando’s family and all of the sentimental attachments. Thanks so much for sharing!

eileen

Orlando! Here’s a tip that my very sweet Grandma taught me when I was a kid that will help you remember the correct order for flatware: Set them out alphabetically–fork, knife and spoon (f, k, and s).

Lindsay

Another one from my grandmother! Fork on left because both fork and left have four letters. Knife on right because both knife and right have five letters 🙂

Vivian

Don’t know if you read comments, but on the top right side of the white shelf there is a plate and an outline of a pitcher in front of the plate , what is this ? Something you drew into the photo? Or am I not seeing what it is ? Thanks anyone who can answer .

K

I think it’s a bud vase that looks like the outline of a pitcher. At least I’ve seen something similar that was a single flower vase

Azure Bevington

LOVE it all!! Thanks Orlando!

Lil

Really enjoyed hearing about Orlando’s family and I love the idea of the basket in the dining room to hold dirty towels, etc. This may be the solution I’ve been looking for!!!

Julie

I love this post a LOT LOT LOT – the style, your voice, and your thoughts. SO jealous of all the white and blue ceramics and plates. I really love that tablecloth and will try to save up for it! So well done, bravo!

Jessica

I love the part about how you take the red thing out and hide it somewhere. I have secretly swapped paintings in a restaurant restroom before, so I know what you’re saying. ; )

Amanda Taylor

What a great post! Just like the beautiful design of this room, which combines several styles in a great way, your writing effortlessly combines discussion of “cuteness” with important commentary about our culture and society.

Molly

Yes!!!

Sarah

❤️

Lauren

Wow, it looks incredible. I love the buffet and think you worked it in perfectly.

Stephanie

I actually love the buffet. The shape, the age of the wood. It’s a nice juxtaposition with the lightness and angles of the table and chairs. Such a pretty room. And sneak peak into the kitchen!! Woot woot! Can’t WAIT to see that.

Teri

Love that you used old and new. Need more posts (from you)like this. This is real life!

GORDON SUBJECT

Everything is breath taking!!

Joanne Michael

Orlando, you gave a beautiful gift of yourself to your parents. Great attention to design detail while respecting what is important to them. Thank you and Emily for including us on the journey.

Paula Carr

That person-shaped vase. I want it. Now. Is it a Japanese objét from your mom? Personally, I like both the curio cabinet and the buffet in the room…keeps all that white from floating away. And there’s something about white painted furniture that reminds me of cheap particle board with plastic white laminate. It’s a nightmare from MY childhood that I’m trying to forget. Also, the legs on those chairs are going to be sooooo scuffed and dinged. I think I might have left the legs unpainted …. although if you got them from Serena & Lily, I’m sure they came… Read more »

Katherine Garrison Sherman

Hey Orlando–I love seeing one of Susanne’s pitcher in a photo of your parents table! I appreciate how you continue to pull your parents’ personalities, belongings and treasures into an updated and fresh, usable space! Love your writing, too! Katherine

Kathryn

Orlando, I love how you work with your mom’s curio collections & your dad’s family heirloom. xo

Caroline

I love the entire post, Orlando. Your voice comes through so clearly, both in the hilarious parts and in the more serious explanations. I just love that you say “I don’t care!” about the silverware placement, even though I DO care, just a little bit, about things like that. And I love that you bring all the stories of your family into the room and into the writing.

Kara

Another vote for more rooms designed that incorporate existing furniture that isn’t ideal! Loved this whole post (hear, hear on the patriotism of immigrants!) but especially lol-ed at “I have been doing terrible, controlling things like this my whole life.”

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