Installation Stories: Orlando Soria's Kitchen and Bath Debut
Talented designer and the witty voice behind Hommemaker, Orlando Soria has the ability to visually inspire, all while making you laugh with his trademark humor (head to his website or Instagram and you'll see what we're talking about). We were of course thrilled to be able to partner with him on the tile portion of his "Orcondo" renovation, where he opted for all white tile. Orlando decked his kitchen out in our specialty shape, Chaine Homme, and featured various field tile sizes in a parquet pattern in all three of the condo's bathrooms. This installation goes to show that you really can create a big statement with white tile, especially if you go with unique shape and pattern.
Below, we talked to Orlando about his design style and process, the renovation process and tile (of course):
How would you describe your design style?
I hate to say it because I feel the word is so overused these days, but I gotta go with "eclectic" here. I love so many different styles. Mid-century, organic modern, minimal, maximal, 80s, 90s, traditional, American, Japanese, contemporary. I think if you seek out beautiful items that speak to you, they'll end up having some kind of coherence because they're related to your personality and aesthetic.
Image: Tessa Neustadt
How did you get into design?
In 2010 I was a struggling art director/production designer when I was cast to be Emily Henderson's assistant on an HGTV show. That show ("Secrets from a Stylist") was kind of like design bootcamp. We designed 26 houses in a year, and each house got two looks so it was basically like designing two houses a week. And we did all this while shooting and being on camera and helping come up with content. It was exhausting but so exciting and the best intro to interior design ever.
What was your design process like doing your own home? Was it more or less difficult making choices for your own space?
So much easier and so much more fun, to be honest. I have been lucky in that every single client I've had has been fun to work with and had a great personality. But it's just so much easier choosing stuff yourself and not having to convince someone else they should like it too. That's my biggest frailty as a designer. I have great taste but I'm not pushy, so it can be challenging for me to try and get my clients to do what I want them to do. With your own home it's just like "This is good so I'm using this." And there's none of the salesmanship involved in designing for someone else.
What was your inspiration for the kitchen? What did it look like before?
The kitchen was a NIGHTMARE before. It had the worst brown tile and the ugliest formica cabinets. My inspiration came from looking at minimal, European kitchens. I love monochromatic spaces where the visual interest comes from texture and pattern, so I wanted the gorgeous Chaine Homme tile to be the one distinctive flourish in an otherwise very minimal space. It's something that doesn't read as well in pictures as it does in real life, but people always respond to the pattern and texture when they see it in real life.
The kitchen before:
How did you land on the Chaine Homme shape? And how about the color?
I'm going to be really honest here. My boyfriend and I argued about Chaine Homme vs Chaine Femme. I loved the Chaine Femme and wanted it in the kitchen, he thought it was a bit too wild (he's an upper crusty Paris native, I'm a made-in-nature Californian). So we compromised and used the Chaine Homme, which has some of the playfulness of the Femme pattern but is a little more reserved and classic. As for the color, after getting rid of the awful 80s brown tile that was in the space before, I wanted something that would still look good in 30 years, so I went with white. I love bright white kitchens, so I didn't feel like I was making a compromise here. Also, if you have an interesting shape like the Chaine Homme, you can get away with a more reserved color palette.
And onto the bathrooms (loft, guest and master)...what was were they like before and what did you envision for them?
The bathrooms were mostly about opening up the spaces, getting rid of the brown tiles, and creating a relaxing place to get ready. I'd originally wanted to do marble countertops in the kitchens but decided they were too delicate, so we put marble floors in all the bathrooms as a compromise. We added warmth by bringing in a wood finish on the vanities and added a handmade vibe with the gorgeous Fireclay tiles.
Here is a peek at how the bathrooms looked before (they all had brown tile like this):
And here's the master bath after:
How did you decide on the shape, size and color of tile?
During this project, I became obsessed with the parquet pattern and I used in all three of the condo's bathrooms. I wasn't sure which size to use, so I actually had the friendly designers and Fireclay layout each size for me and show me which would work best for each bathroom. We ended up choosing the scale of the tile based on the size of the space. Thus, the smallest bathroom has the smallest tile and the largest bathroom has the largest tile. I was really pleased with how it turned out because the pattern reads as classic, but more interesting than subway tile, which seemed a little too traditional for a modern condo space.
The guest bathroom features 3x12 tiles in a parquet pattern:
Detail of the 3x12's from Orlando's Instagram (such a great one to follow if you don't already):
Image: Orlando Soria
Speaking of tile, how did you hear about us?
I found out about you while working on a project with Sunset Magazine last year. I designed their idea house for their Celebration Weekend and we used the most amazing tiles for it (Both Chaine Homme and Chaine Femme)!
Here's the Kitchen from the 2015 Sunset Idea House:
Tile Shown: Chaine Homme tiles in Halite.
And here's the bathroom:
Tile Shown: Chaine Femme Tiles in Halite.
How did your tile installation process go? Any challenges? Did you work with a tile installer or contractor?
Everything went great! Our contractor brought in a tile installer and we went over the pattern with them and they installed it perfectly. I will say to anyone who embarks on doing this parquet pattern: your contractor or tiler is probably going to try and convince you to just do a subway pattern because it's A LOT easier for them to install. It just involves a lot less measuring and calculating. I was really pushy and bratty about it though because I knew I wanted something a little different. I'm so glad I stuck to my guns!
Any lessons learned or design advice that you'd like to share?
Something I've learned over the years is that really small things can have a huge impact on how a design comes across. So even though some people might be like "Oh cool. You put white tiles in your kitchen," the fact that I have these beautiful handmade tiles that are an interesting shape makes the space so much more interesting. I tried to be conscientious about all the decisions I made in the condo, down to the vents and registers (which I had made in custom parquet/chevron patterns). It's small details like that (and pretty, high-quality, handmade tiles) that makes the difference between a cookie cutter, replaceable home and one that feels distinctive.
Want to see more of Orlando's condo? See it (along with before and after shots) here.
Love Orlando's all white tile look? Order samples online now. Need some help? Simply call, chat, or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.