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Orlando’s New Place: ORCONDO



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.

Want more Orcondo? Check where we are now: Let There Be Light | Foundational Elements | Rug Life | Modern Windows | Furniture & Accessories 

Fin Mark


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Is that Cleon Peterson wall paper in the top image!?!?! I kinda need that.


Hi Geri – yes. It’s not available as wallpaper but Cleon sells some beautiful prints.


Love what you have planned for the Orcondo! Looking forward to seeing the progress.

Sarah W

I can’t wait to see your progress!


I love this. I love all of this.

Questions: What’s the source for the chandelier light fixture in the bedroom mock-ups? Also, that circle mirror in the last picture – I’ve been trying (and failing) to find a large circle mirror. WHERE do you find a large circle mirror that doesn’t have an obnoxious frame?? Inquiring (and house-building) minds need to know. 🙂

emily jane

Hi! I have a frame-free, 30″ in diameter round mirror I got quite inexpensively at Ikea -fairly certain they still carry it… Good luck : )

OH. The lighting you’ve chosen. I want all of it. So exciting!!!

Lovely plans! It’s all super beautiful, but I think my favorite part is that wicker bear thing in the bathroom 🙂


Looks amazing! Could you let me know what software you have used to create the ‘next’ mockups? Thanks!


I just used photoshop actually, manipulating existing photos until they look how I want the room to eventually look…


And by ‘I’ I mean ‘Orlando’ 🙂 We are the same person so we use the collective ‘Emily’ to respond to emails (apparently). xx

Wow, This is gonna be just fabulous!


Yaaay! I’m so glad you’re going to share your updates with us on the blog, Orlando! Lucky us. Good luck with the renovations. Try not to kill each other. P.S. I love that spiral staircase. Plus one for 80s architecture there.


As long as you find a place to hang your existing “Djellaba” in the new powder room!! (I googled that)
Just love these plans. Can’t wait!


hello! I’m so curious about the process to pick out your flooring- because that’s a project I’m working on… can you help a girl out?


We chose a wide plank wood that’s mid-tone, very neutral color. I’ll def be sharing the resource here, but haven’t been able to get the dude from the showroom to cough it up yet (it’s from one of those stores where they won’t tell you style numbers because they’re worried you’d just order it yourself online, which I probably would tbh so it’s good they didn’t).


I’m thankful for the warning about looking at this at work. I grunted and had a few “I’ll have what she’s having” moments at my desk. The lighting alone…now I need a cigarette.


Love it all. Lucky you!! So excited to see the transformation …

LOVE it. Can I recommend opening a space above the sink so you will have natural light coming in the kitchen and a makeshift window there?

NEVERMIND> I see it in the latter pics. LOVE!

My father bought an 80’s condo a few weeks ago, and we’ve been busy trying to un-80’s it a little. And by “a little”, I mean painting, taking out the carpet in the bathroom (ick) and replacing the broken and busted items. I wish we could afford to re-do it like your’s – OMG gorgeous! Good luck! Can’t wait to see it all finished.

Jamieson Mackie

Not that Carrara is too crazy to maintain – but if your’e looking for something that has a very similar look but is no maintenance, consider Quartzite. It’s a natural stone, can look very similar to marble, and is completely impervious – I used some for a bathroom counter in my previous house and it was gorgeous. Here’s a stone yard in LA with something similar – check out their calcatta quartzite:

Oh, wow! So happy that Orlando found love, though I was secretly hoping that he would marry a buddy of mine. If this remodel breaks you up, get in touch with me, ha ha, and I’ll work out a meet-n-greet. But….so happy that you are happy and involved in a super cool project. You rock!

Marilynn Taylor

This inquiring mind wants to know which software program was used for the imagery. It’s SO good. So is the design. :o)


Just good ol’ photoshop!


I think he just used photoshop. 🙂


Yay! Can’t wait for more updates!!


Love it! Can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

Can’t wait to see this come together…the renderings are beautiful and I got some good laughs to start my week 🙂


So happy when I realized you were redoing this in CA…..when I read your post about Europe I thought you might be moving to NYC. I just hated to think you would be so far away from Emily. Yes, I just realized I have missed watching the Soaps for the last 30 years so I’ve subbed you guys in.
Very happy for you and I can’t wait for all the postings… looks like it will be amazing.


Lambert et fils!!! I love to walk by that shop and ogle. It’s so small and understated, and so beautiful. Really looking forward to seeing the finished apartment! Those circular stairs <3

Lisa Mills

Can’t wait to see it in progress and hear more from you, as I always enjoy your writing. And YAY! Congratulations on moving in with your man!


Looks fantastic! Looking forward to this feature:)


Yes, yes, yes!


Wait. Do we follow along here on Emily’s site, or your personal website/blog? Need to know because this shizz looks like it’s going to be amazing.


Definitely here, but I bet he is doing something over there, too. But i’ll say ‘here’ because I want you to come here 🙂


Love this (and love your posts generally)! Also, nerd alert: “Orcondo” is a portmanteau. Casually throw that into a conversation like only a true, condo-owning snob would


his blog used to be call ‘Orblogdo’. by the way. And when he wears a blonde wig he is ‘Orblonde-o’,etc. it never gets old.


That’s Awesome!

Can’t wait to see the progress 🙂


I love that Orcondo not only rhymes with “Orlando” but sounds like “our condo.” 🙂

1. is that a pink balloon at the ceiling in first photo? and 2. I adore built-ins and 3. Thank Emily that she’s letting us follow along on your project on her site so we get you both again and maybe we will be lucky to get another Secrets from a Stylist after she has the baby Puh-leez!


LOL! Yes it’s a balloon I got for Edouard’s 35th birthday a few weeks ago. He thought it would be cute to cut it off the ribbon and let it float to the ceiling. Which was cute until it NEVER lost it’s floating capability and got trapped up there for a month. Also, I wanted gold and they ran out so I had to look at the bubble gum pink color for a month.


I love the fact that not every amazing designer lives in the perfect place at all times. Still loving the fact that Emily shared the reality of her family room (she’s human!) and love the real honest before shots, which are in reality a glimpse into lives rather than a stage. Thanks for this post (and thanks again to Emily for sharing the family room).


This is sooo very nice, can’t wait to see the process and finished look!


Love this post! I should hate Orlando so much because he is younger and thinner than me, but I just can’t because he comes across as so likable. I hate the word condo too, and refer to ours as an apartment to the point where people get confused. Definitely agree with so many of his choices for this place.


Thank you, thank youth both of you. First to Emily for continuing to open up your blog space to Orlando, so great to get another two-fer posting. Second to Orlando to sharing your plans and reno as it goes along (congrats on the new digs and fingers crossed on the renovation). So excited for the future!


I’m embarrassingly excited for this… I mean, I don’t even know the man…

Orlandy is right, if it were anyone else but him I’d probably be throwing myself down the 4 flights of stairs in my apartment currently, BUT since it is him I’m sitting here captivated.

Josh – The Kentucky Gent


Oh sadly I have the exact same melamine cabinets in my kitchen and bathroom. I was cautiously optimistic that you might have found a way to turn them into something spectacular. Ok, i don’t need spectacular, I just need NOT HORRIFICALLY UGLY. The only thing I can think of is to drive them straight to the dump. 🙁


I hope everything works out with the Orcondo and the relationship. Maybe you need a prenup/prereno contract – in case of a break up, Orlando gets the art and the light fixures!


So glad the lion rattan stool made an appearance.



Where did you find those 2 old maps from Long Island?
(Top right corner, above a bench).
Want them so bad!!


I LOVE YOU ORLANDO COME BACK OFTEN OR ALL OF THE TIME!!! (But I’m excited for the Homepolish opportunity!)


I’m thrilled with this exciting decorating post and even more thrilled to know Orlando has found a good guy. Orlando, you were the hottest catch in LA! Eduardo must be amazing.

I’m really glad that you’re keeping the 80’s feel of the place and just modernizing it a bit! I really kind of enjoy 80’s design and I don’t think it gets enough credit!



I am so happy that you found love as I have been alone all my life and If I find love, you will be able to relate to me. I hate the 80s It’s just sucky. I hope you will remove all traces of it. lOve what you are going to do Hope it has some color. I like color.


Can’t wait to see the progress especially with the kitchen and bathrooms. Also, those mock-ups must have taken ages in Photoshop!

Not sure if you’ve considered this but I’d be a little careful of the storage in the bathroom especially if it is for clothes; the bathroom will need good ventilation and even then steam might make things mouldy.


I don’t get it. At what time were those almond melamine cabinet doors with the oak strips considered attractive? I had them in one of my townhouses too and wasted no time replacing those suckers with white Shaker doors. But honestly? They belong in the same category as vertical blinds and shag carpet in the bathroom and corporate art. How do such bad things become so ubiquitous? The first time the designer showed the melamine oak strip door to someone, why wasn’t that the end of it? Like, “Oh, Hell, no, Frank. That’s really ugly. People will hate us for… Read more »


Ok… I’m French and wouldn’t mind a Californian boyfriend… Seems like a good fit 🙂 Congrats!!


Great post. You funny. Orcondo is a portmanteau.

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