Chateualando: Planning the Living Room

Dear Design Diary,

Looking for an apartment in LA these days is no simple task. When my ex broke up with me, the first thing I did (after staring into a mirror forever wondering why I’d gotten myself into the pattern of falling for people who would ultimately do nothing but disappoint and hurt me) was look for a new place. There were lots of good options and lots of terrible options and the good options kept getting snagged right before I could get to them. For every apartment there were multiple applications. And there were so many apartments in weird areas or had weird kitchens or bedrooms that overlooked sidewalks where peepers could just stare directly into the window.

So when I found Chateaulando, I immediately jumped on it. Sure, the bathroom was ripped up and the kitchen was a big ol’ mess.  But I could tell it was going to be a great place to shoot my book. And to live. But mostly to shoot my book. It has a great deal of cute character and stylistically is very different than Orcondo. So choosing it felt kind of like saying, I DON’T NEED YOU ORCONDO, I’M MOVING ON.

The living room is what really sold me on Chateaulando. I loved that it has a [non-funcitioning] fireplace, crazy floral crown moulding, and sexy wooden floors. Everything needed a fresh coat of paint and there were many other things to update, but I knew I could make this place perfect, so I jumped on it the second I saw it (a full month before it was even ready for move-in). Below I discuss what I’m planning for the living room, which is currently midway through its transformation.


Resources: Rug from RugsUSA, Painting Concepts by Orlando SoriaPeacock Blue Deco Sofa from Wertz Brothers, Rounded Sideboard from Wertz Brothers, Memphis Style Cactus Sculpture from Wertz Brothers, Coffee Table from Craigslist, Esme Sofa from West Elm, Black and White Art Prints from West Elm, Indigo Throw from Ara CollectiveGold Cocktail Table from CB2, Celadon Vase from West ElmRound Mirror from CB2

My initial inspiration for the space came from Kelly Wearstler. I’ve loved her work for a long time and saw this apartment as an opportunity to be a little more daring with my design decisions. I thought it was a great opportunity to go a little crazy and do things I might not do if I had a boyfriend whose needs/design aesthetic I had to keep in mind. I love that bold, sculptural furniture pieces are making a comeback and are more readily available at places like CB2 and West Elm so I definitely want to include pieces from those collections in my new place.

When I saw the place it was a disaster. They were redoing the bathroom and the whole place was covered in construction dust. But as a designer I see what can be and not what is, so I immediately fell in love with the character of the place. This ability can be kind of a curse sometimes, when I’ll look at something and be like “OH MY GOD IT’S AMAZING” and the person next to me is like “That’s literally a pile of garbage under a freeway overpass.” If I have a gift, it’s being able to see potential even when things look like a crazy mess. Like my apartment was when I moved in.

I am obsessed with the fireplace and it’s maybe the reason I rented this place. The sconces were lovely and appropriate for the traditional vibe of the space, so I removed them and put them in storage. The aesthetic I want is old European apartment meets contemporary, deco, and Memphis design. So I wanted sconces that contrast more with the innate old European feel of the space. Local LA lighting designers Park Studio custom-designed some sconces for me and I can’t wait to share them with you. They’re gorgeous.

Horizon by Benjamin Moore has become one of my favorite go-to’s for gorgeous greys. It’s light and luminous and warm. It’s a great color for bright rooms where you still want some neutral pigment on the wall.

The first thing I purchased for my new place was this sofa. I saw it at Wertz Brothers (left) for $499 and had to have it. The fabric to reupholster it was about $450 (from Home Fabrics in Downtown LA) and the upholstery job was $1200, so overall it was about $2150. Which isn’t cheap for a sofa but is cheap for a custom sofa in exactly the color I wanted. People often think vintage furniture is going to be way cheaper than new, but sometimes it costs just as much. That being said, I love this sofa. It’s so comfortable and I love how sculptural it is. The pink painting (by the amazing Anna Ullman) actually made the sofa look a bit toothpastey, so I used it for another project where it looks STUNNING.

While Wearstler was a huge inspiration, her spaces can be a little cold and foreboding. I wanted the living room to feel warm and inviting. So I incorporated warm-toned woods in desaturated stains to bring in a bit of a vintage/coastal vibe. All of these pieces are from Wertz Brothers, a vintage showroom in LA where I find many a treasure.

One of the things I love about Kelly Wearstler’s work is how graphic and sculptural it is. I’m incorporating this not only in art, but also in the accessories and objects that I bring into the space. While I am bringing in some gold/brass accents, I am keeping most of the accessories earthy and inviting. The goal is to make the space feel warm and inviting while also feeling edgy and modern. That won’t be easy butI think it’s possible.

Resources: Ivory Pillow from CB2, Abstract Chevron Pillow from CB2, Marble Sculpture from West Elm, Staircase Sculpture from West Elm, Celadon Vase from West Elm, Sculpture from Ben Medansky, Table Lamp from CB2, Rings Sculpture from MQuan, Gold Planters from West Elm, Leather Pillow from CB2, Pink Painted Pillow from Consort

I’ve really been vibing on these rugs from Rugs USA. While the overall look of the space is contemporary, I wanted some nods to the old world as well. As you probably know, rugs can be CRAZY expensive, so the fact that this one was only $300 and looks like it could be a heirloom vintage rug makes me happy. As for throws, I wanted to choose colors that would help tie the two sofas together. So for the taupe/sand colored sofa I chose a vibrant indigo throw from Ara Collective. For the peacock blue deco sofa I chose a sandy/ivory colored throw. This helps relate the sofas to each other color wise and ties the room together.

I’m planning on making some of my own art for the living room, but I also love the work of Anna Ullman so I want to add some of her vibrant, abstract paintings. I also came across these cute/affordable prints from West Elm that totally go with the vibe of my place.

I ended up choosing this configuration for the paintings I’ll make from the wall above the dresser. I love that they become one united piece even though they’re so disjointed. And the color feels more at home with the sofa without being too matchy.

This shot was taken pretty shortly after I moved into the apartment. Needless to say, the room has been rearranged about 45 times since then. I’m slowly finishing up Chateaulando, room by room. And it’s a relief whenever I finish one. The goal for the living room was to be a space where I could have friends over to watch TV and hang out, so while I’d normally love to keep the TV hidden in a separate, cozy family room, I opted to keep it in the living room of my new place.

The room is shaping up to be the type of cozy, loungy space I wanted. There’s plenty of seating and places for guests to set their cocktails. Now all I need is to get it all finished so I won’t be ashamed to have people over. Because nothing fills a designer with shame more than having people over to his house before it’s magazine-ready.


Inspiration Images via Kelly Wearstler.

12 thoughts on “Chateualando: Planning the Living Room

  1. Hello Orlando,
    First, let me warn you that my English is bad and Google does not help much, but let’s go!
    I found in Pinterest a photo of Orcondo (beautiful to live) and I came here.
    Look, I’m sure soon the ex story will be more than past, this place you found is wonderful, a dream!
    It’s my favorite style, the fireplace is amazing with a lot of style, its sensational choices.
    The couch was really something else, nor does it look the same. Velvet is one of the most beautiful fabrics you have. Here in Brazil it is very difficult to find quality furniture with affordable price that are worth the renovation, surely here it would cost much more, so it was a great investment that made.
    Anxious to see every transformation, especially the kitchen that promises to be charming.

    Eli Martins | eh!DÉCOR

  2. love it! will you be doing a tutorial on the art above the dresser, or making some that will be for sale?

  3. I looks like it going to be amazing. Fantastic work. Such talent! Can’t wait to see it finished.

  4. I’m ridiculously sorry (for a stranger, I mean) for your pain about the break up. But I’m thrilled to watch this new space come together.

  5. Will you PLEASE center that console under the TV?

    Now that I got that out of the way – can I be honest here? I like the picture without the blue sofa much better. The room looks a lot more open and relaxed with just the chairs. That pink painting and the grey wall colour were a brilliant combination. Also, for my European taste it’s all a bit much with the accessories, but I guess that’s just the cultural difference. I love that concrete table though! How heavy is that thing? I sincerely hope it’s hollow, and I won’t have to read a post about how your neighbours died because the coffee table crashed through the ceiling.

    Is that your loo in the background?

  6. Stopped over here after reading your post from Emily’s blog and I have to say – I think you’re my new favorite blogger. I followed your story through Orcondo and can’t wait to see where Chateaurlando takes you! Wishing you all the best – and thanks for being so honest and open with your readers (while providing some great eye-candy inspiration, of course!). You’re like a breath of fresh air.

  7. Hi Orlando — Just wanted to point out that your projects page on this website still says you’re employed with Homepolish, and that we should contact them if we want to work with you? Not sure if that was still true given your postings about having lost your job, so thought I’d point it out in case it’s something to tweak? Good luck!

  8. I love it! and I love Kelly Wearstler too for inspiration even though I am a minimalist like you. Very cool to feel like we are kindred design spirits. I get to live vicariously through you, watching you complete a whole design plan in a space. I don’t think I will ever get to do that!

  9. That coffee table! What is it? Is it actually made of concrete and does it weigh ten thousand pounds?

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