...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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That handsome man is Orlando (pronounced or-LON-doh) Soria and he’s quickly climbing to the top of my favorite designers list. I’ve been a fan of Orlando’s for years and I was super excited when he took on the role of West Coast Creative Director at Homepolish last fall. Orlando and the rest of the Homepolish team are doing revolutionary things in the field of interior design!

So about a month ago when the peeps at Homepolish contacted me about a possible collaboration, I didn’t hesitate in saying yes. YES! I had the pleasure of interviewing Orlando and he’s just about the sweetest thing ever. I still can’t believe he took the time to read my questions – let alone answer them. Find my interview with Orlando below then keep reading for details on a giveaway you won’t want to miss.

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There must be some amazing story or unusual meaning behind your name. Do tell.

My mom was reading the Virginia Woolf novel Orlando when she was pregnant with me so I’m kind of named for that character. I have Spanish / Mexican lineage on my father’s side so my parents wanted us to have Hispanic-sounding names so Orlando kind of went with that, too. My middle name is Dumond which is French so I basically have the most racially ambiguous name in the whole world.

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Where did you grow up? Can you tell us a little about your childhood? Perhaps something that influences your work today?

I grew up in Yosemite Village which is a community of about 800 people inside Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. I didn’t really appreciate it growing up but it was pretty much the most incredible place to grow up. Through the window in my childhood bedroom you can see Yosemite Falls which is the tallest waterfall in the U.S. It used to shake and rattle my windowpanes at night.

Growing up where I did made me fall in love with California. My grandparents (on both sides of the family) lived in Steinbeck country (on the outskirts of Salinas, towards Monterey) so I grew up going to Big Sur and Santa Cruz and the central coast all the time. When I moved East for college, grad school, and New York City I missed California incredibly. After ten years I finally moved back and I think a lot of my design sense comes from the romance I had for California while I lived away. I like interiors to feel natural and casual yet beautiful. Kind of like California.

Your dimples…do you use them for good or evil?

LOL! I use them for good. Mostly.

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As a designer you’re challenged to cater to clients’ needs and wants but what is your signature “Orlando” touch? Is there an element you include in every project?

I like to have at least one piece in every project that is handmade and unique. This can be art, a hand-painted dresser or some kind of wall treatment. My hope for every client is that they have something no one else has, something that is inspired by their personality.

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Is there one rule you like to break when designing a space?

One thing I like to do is break clients from the idea that things need to “match.” My pet peeve is people being like “oh that wood is a different color than the wood over here.” While of course it’s nice to match wood tones, fabrics and other finishes for some projects (i.e. ones that are more streamlined and conceptual) most homes look better with a collection of furnishings that are more real, natural. Thus, it’s fine to mix types of wood, etc. as long as it’s done intentionally.

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You’re the West Coast Creative Director at Homepolish. (YAY!) Can you describe Homepolish’s mission for those folks who haven’t heard of it?

I fell in love with Homepolish the minute I heard about it because it’s striving to change the interior design industry from within. We’ve been around for about two years now and we’ve already revolutionized the markets we’re in. Basically, the goal of Homepolish is to take away the hidden costs and confusion normally associated with interior design and make the whole process more transparent. We don’t up-charge on furniture. We have a program called “swatch” which allows us to share exclusive discounts with clients and all our fees are upfront so there’s no confusion on what things are going to cost. There’s no incentive for designers to recommend super expensive furnishings so they are free to design specifically to the taste of the client. We have a huge range of clients – from small budgets to enormous ones – and they all seem to appreciate that we are most interested in meeting their needs and giving them the space they want, not upselling them on overpriced furniture.

There’s also a huge advantage for the designers who work with Homepolish. We take away the annoying parts of their job (billing, collecting taxes, etc.) and allow them to concentrate fully on designing. Also, we’re helping pair them with great clients and helping them build their portfolios. So not only is our company helping clients attain beautiful homes and enjoy their spaces more, it’s also giving young, well-accomplished designers the tools they need to finally have access to clients and thrive in their design practices.

Homepolish has a presence in more than a dozen major U.S. cities. Are there plans to expand? (Ohio needs you.)

YES! We want to be in EVERY CITY as soon as possible. Since we are getting so much press and doing so well in all the cities we’re already in, we are balancing the need to be responsible with the desire to help as many clients as we can. Eventually we will be a truly nationwide service but for now we are expanding as quickly as we can. Starting up in a new city takes some time because we have an intense (and ridiculously competitive) selection process for our designers to make sure we only have the best talent. So, in short, yes we will be to Ohio as soon as we can!

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What has been your favorite Homepolish project to date? Why?

Well, the answer to this question changes every day. Right now my favorite project is The Beach House because it’s so different than anything I’ve ever done. (Fact: designers actually like designing for clients that have a style totally different than their own.) I’m sure if you ask me this in a month I will have a different answer. I am working on Kelly Oxford‘s new house right now and when that’s done it’s going to be disgusting(ly amazing).

In design, we’re told everything is better in 3′s. Please respond to the following:

3 things on your bucket list

1. Learn a language other than English. Preferably Spanish because it would be super useful to me in southern California.

2. Buy and renovate a house in California before the whole state falls into the ocean.

3. Own a brownstone in Chelsea before New York falls into the ocean.

3 things every room needs

1. Art. By real people not Urban Outfitters.

2. Rugs. Ever notice that if there’s a rug in a room everyone is hanging out where the rug is and no one wants to be where there is no rug? There’s a reason for that.

3. Lamps. Even if you don’t have anywhere to sit, you need light. Or you’ll get depressed and sad.

3 things you can’t live without

1. Avocados. If a day goes by where I don’t have at least a little serving of avocado I feel like life is not worth living.

2. Knowing where the coast is. It’s true, if I don’t know which direction the ocean is I get disoriented. For this reason, I have never not lived in a coastal state.

3. Light. I have window treatments in my bedroom but they’re just for looks. I never close them because I love having light shining in my windows at all times. When it gets dark and gloomy in the winter, I want to stab myself with a sword.

3 things you like to do outside of interior design

1. California road trips. Ojai, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, Yosemite, San Francisco, Sonoma County. I love just getting in the car and driving somewhere, just to stare at it and be in love. Living in a car city has its disadvantages but the advantage to having a car is that you can just wake up on Saturday and be like “I’m going to Santa Barbara!” and it’s super easy. We live in a beautiful country, so much to explore. I think our wild areas, our beautiful cities and our amazing parks are our greatest national treasure. Oh my god that’s so cheesy but I totally believe it. Sorry.

2. Art. I paint and make drawings. It’s what I studied in school and I still love it. I also love ogling other people’s art. My favorite place to do this is LACMA, which in my opinion is the most beautiful, relaxing art museum in America.

3. Outdoor movies / concerts / picnics / events. I am down for anything if it’s outside, whether it’s Coachella, Tchaikovsky at the Hollywood Bowl or The Addams Family screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. If there’s food, friends, and some kind of entertainment, sign me up!

3 places you’re dying to visit

1. Soria, Spain, where my last name comes from and from where, apparently, our Jewish ancestors fled during the Inquisition.

2. Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico City (I’ve been a huge fan of hers since childhood.)

3. Berlin. Just because it sounds cheap, gross and kind of scary.

3 jobs you’ve held

1. Indie music publicist (first year out of school in New York).

2. Graphic designer (for a great stationery company in Los Angles, Jonathan Wright and Company)

3. Production designer (I worked on a lot of small / indie movies and music videos and photo shoots)

3 traits of a perfect client

1. Decisive. (Because slow decision making is what always leads to lagging projects.)

2. Realistic. (I’m a designer, not a magician. As much as I like to make my clients happy, there are limits to what a certain budget / space can do.)

3. Humble. (I’m down to earth and pretty self-deprecating so I don’t do well with pompous, entitled people).

3 adjectives to describe your personal style

Colorful, artistic, handmade.

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Thank you so much Orlando and Homepolish!

Orlando’s answers only make me adore him that much more. I love his reply to three things every room needs. How cool is it that he grew up with a waterfall right outside his bedroom window?! And who knew a SAHM in Ohio could have anything in common with a legit designer in LA? I, too, am a lover of avocados, living in a fish bowl and outdoor shenanigans.

Now about that awesome giveaway…head over to Homepolish to enter to win a pair of brass swing lamps from One Forty Three! Coincidentally, they’re the same lamps flanking Orlando’s bed above. I’ve long admired OFT’s workmanship. Good stuff and good luck, friends!

images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7) Tessa Neustadt 5, 8) Zeke Ruelas 6) Bethany Nauert

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Carrie who is eyeing some ballet flats!

Post title runner-up: The One Where I Have a Midlife Shoe Crisis in Front of My Elderly Garage Door (I thought it was too wordy.)

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I don’t know why but I’ve had the urge to dress a bit edgier recently. It’s not so much about following a trend but has everything to do with the desire to try something different. It all started with a new pair of black jeggings. Once I discovered how comfortable and versatile they are, I’ve been wanting to wear them every day. (Luckily, our summer has been relatively mild. I’m one of those people who chills easily at the slightest breeze and in air-conditioned spaces so wearing jeans midsummer is completely reasonable to me.)

My only problem was that I didn’t own a pair of shoes that looked right with black jeans. I have mostly nude and saddle leather sandals for summer. I’m short and one trick I’ve learned to appear taller is to match my shoes to my bare legs / pants. That way my feet, ankles and legs are one continuous line of color which gives the illusion of longer legs. I needed black kicks!

That’s where ShoeMint comes in. The free, members-only website stays on top of what’s hot in the shoe arena so busy moms like me don’t have to. Inventory is updated monthly based on current trends. Whether you’re in need of something classic or runway-esque, you’re guaranteed to find high-end, high quality options. Refined materials – such as leather and suede – abound and shipping & returns are always free.

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I found the perfect black ankle boot for summer. It’s the Dahlia and it’s part of the exclusive collection designed by ShoeMint’s co-founders, Rachel Bilson & Nicole Chavez. The perforated suede allows for plenty of ventilation and gives the boot a sexy peekaboo vibe. Gold buckles round out the edgy look. A modest 2″ heel is enough to give my (lack of) height a boost but easily walkable. I have never in my life owned such provocative shoes. They are surprisingly comfortable and I genuinely LOVE them. Who knew switching up your footwear midlife could be so fun?!

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Another little trick I’ve learned to appear taller is to show some skin up top. (Not to be confused with going topless.) It doesn’t have to be a cleavage fest. Although, if you have it by all means flaunt it and I hate you. Just kidding – about the hate part not the flaunt part. For me, bare shoulders and a swooping neckline do the trick. I’m particularly fond of sleeveless tops with racerback detailing. Pulling my hair up into a high ponytail puts my shoulders front and center and keeps me cool, too.

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I also find it helpful to draw the eye up with a brightly colored / patterned top and an interesting necklace. I prefer flowy, loose-fitting tops that fall below my natural waistline. Ironically, the wood bead necklace I’m wearing here was a purchase from our current home’s estate sale.

In summary, I’m the Jon Stewart of DIY blogs. If you met me in real life, a warranted reaction would be “I thought you’d be taller.” In case you missed ‘em, my tricks for dressing taller:

*Wear shoes similar in color to your bare legs / pants. This creates the illusion of longer legs.

*Get a boost with a little heel action. An additional one or two inches can make all the difference.

*Show some skin up top. (But keep your shirt on, folks.) Bare shoulders or a low-slung neckline visually lengthen short torsos and necks.

*Draw the eye up with interesting colors, patterns and / or jewelry. Keep your bottom half mostly solid in color then add a fun top and necklace to draw attention to your upper half.

And just like that you’re 6′ tall! Haha.

 

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But enough small talk. Whether you’re 5’2″ or 6’2″, ShoeMint is graciously offering up a new pair of kicks to one lucky reader. See entry details below.

PRIZE: one pair of shoes from ShoeMint (retail value $70-$150). The choice is yours!

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. or Canada. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Sign up for ShoeMint here. (It’s completely free and there’s no obligation to buy.) Browse the selection then leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite pair of ShoeMint shoes.

DEADLINE: Enter before Sunday, July 13th at 9:00 p.m. EST. One random winner will be announced Monday, July 14th.

BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: Score $40 off your first pair of shoes by clicking here. Enjoy!

This post is sponsored in part by ShoeMint. All content, clothing, short jokes and images are my own. I do NOT earn commission on purchases made via the links above. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

I’d love to hear any tips you have for dressing taller. I’ve tried dressing in a single, solid color from top to bottom but found it yawn-inducing. On a side note, the crumbling, weed-riddled driveway is getting ripped out this week. Ahhhhh!!!!!

UPDATE: Due to popular demand, sources for my entire outfit:

*racerback tank – Juniors Eyelash, Kohl’s

*hoop earrings – vintage

*wood bead necklace – vintage

*black jeggings – SO, Kohl’s

*mesh ankle boots – ShoeMint

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Maria Rose! She’s all for the black version of the Barcelona chair.

Rove Concepts is your source for high quality, luxury furnishings and is a longtime supporter of House*Tweaking. The modern furniture company is graciously offering up one of their Barcelona chairs for today’s giveaway!

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Fancy, no? To enter, see details below.

PRIZE: one Barcelona chair in black or white courtesy of Rove Concepts (retail value $1,195)

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old. One entry per email address. This giveaway is open to international entrants! (No P.O. boxes please.)

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “Barcelona or bust!”

DEADLINE: Enter before Sunday, February 23rd at 9:00 p.m. EST. One random winner will be announced Monday, February 24th.

Thank you for supporting the companies that sponsor this blog. Best of luck!

images: collage by Dana Miller, Rove Concept images

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Genny Ramer!

Some of you may remember this instagram post. Besides the obvious laughs, that photo also yielded many questions about my glasses. The short answer is they’re from BonLook.

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The long answer? The really REALLY long answer? I had 20/20 vision until my second year of college when I found myself squinting at the board. {That right there totally dates me. Do colleges and universities still use chalkboards nowadays?} In my early 20′s, I got my first pair of glasses. Since then, my vision has changed. A lot. Pregnancy was a huge factor. Sometimes my vision improved; sometimes it worsened.

Fact: When I was pregnant with Mabrey, I failed the vision test at the DMV when I was renewing my driver’s license.

The clerk took pity on me and said, “Hmmm…maybe it’s your hair. It looks like your hair is in your eyes. Would you like to try again?”

“Uh, yes…YES, it’s my hair,” I lied, pushing back my hair dramatically, not wanting to come back another day and wait in line two hours. I tried again and passed by the skin of my teeth. Nicest DMV clerk ever, right?

Anyway, I got lazy with my eyes. Getting new glasses every year was a hassle, not to mention, expensive. I pretty much never wore my glasses because they weren’t up to date and they had teeth marks in them from our dog who has since passed away. I went five years with no vision test, no eye exam of any kind. Oops. Then, a few months ago, I developed the most annoying twitch under my right eye. It would start as soon as I woke in the morning and last all day. This carried on for two months. TWO WHOLE MONTHS OF EYE TWITCHING. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy. HH finally talked some sense into me and I went to see an optometrist.

Turns out, the vision in my right eye had changed for the worse. Not wanting to drag my kids around an eyeglass store while I chose one pair from the million on display, I thought I’d try shopping online. Our vision insurance doesn’t cover frames so I was looking for something inexpensive yet stylish and versatile. I wanted my new glasses to be appropriate for everyday and for dressing up from time to time, too. I found all that in BonLook. And, bonus!, they offer an online tool that lets you virtually “try on” glasses from the comfort of your home. Sold and sold.

After “trying on” several pair and selecting one, emailing a copy of my prescription to BonLook {some states require vision prescription verification} and calculating my pupillary distance with BonLook’s online measurement tool {super convenient since my optometrist failed to record it on my prescription} my order was ready to go in a matter of 20 minutes one evening after the kids were in bed. I found a coupon online and spent less than $80 on my new glasses. I have never spent so little on a pair of glasses! And I love them to boot.

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As luck would have it, a week into living with my new glasses, BonLook contacted me and asked if I would like to become one of their brand ambassadors. Of course! The brand is affordable, high quality and stylish and offers a quick and convenient online shopping experience. It’s a brand I stand behind.

And, and, AND!…BonLook is offering one House*Tweaking reader a FREE pair of glasses! See entry details below.

PRIZE: one pair of BonLook glasses {$99 retail value} Prescription or non-prescription. Eyeglasses or sunglasses. Shipping not included.

RULES: You must have a shipping address {no P.O. boxes please} within the WORLD. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Go here to enter to win.

DEADLINE: Enter before November 22nd. One random winner will be chosen.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: BonLook has an interview with me up on their blog today. It covers blogging and my thoughts on glasses. Check it out if you’d like!

Yes, I have a new blogging stool that I need to write about. No, I don’t normally blog in a skirt.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking