Story of My (Pre-Reno) Kitchen: Orlando Soria

Orlando Soria is a California-based interior decorator who has taken one of the biggest home-related pandemic challenges we’ve seen: buying and renovating a house just outside of Yosemite National Park, near where he grew up. In his words, it’s “kind of ugly, but has a good layout,” perfect for hosting his family—who still lives nearby—for holidays. We spoke to Orlando about his kitchen design ethos, the inspiration he draws from his mother’s kitchen, and what he’s been baking during quarantine at the new house.

Orlando's childhood home in Yosemite
Inspiration: A nostalgic, heirloom feel (@ikekligermanbarkley)

My Kitchen Dream

What’s interesting about this house is that it was clearly designed by someone obsessed with kitchens—it has a gigantic kitchen. The finishes are ugly right now, but it’s well designed. When it’s done, I want it to look like a Nancy Meyers kitchen: giant, inviting, and classic, with a historic feel. So I’m gonna change all the surfaces and materials to feel like a traditional craftsman home with a rustic cabin feel. That means marble look countertops, shaker-style cabinets, and a wooden ceiling with beams. No recessed lighting, only visible light fixtures, and classic style appliances, like a Bertazzoni range. I want things that look a little bit more traditional than what I bought.


The Layout

The great thing about this kitchen is that it actually has a large peninsula as well as an island, so the layout is already pretty great. I do want to do integrated appliances for the refrigerator and dishwasher. I want this to be a holiday house, with enough room for everybody and a kitchen where people can cook together.

The kitchen, pre-renovation
The kitchen, post-renovation (as envisioned by @alextestere)

My Best Kitchen Advice

My biggest pet peeve is when people leave a gap above their cabinets. I always tell people, fill in with either drywall or a trim piece. Also, my general design idiom is that normally the simplest answer is the best answer. If you're trying to figure out what to do somewhere don't make it too complicated. If everything is a statement piece, your house is gonna look insane. Remember that not everything can be the star.


My Collections

I love collecting colorful tea towels—I kind of got that fetish from my mom. I think homes are like living organisms, and you need to be constantly refreshing things and getting new things to make it alive.

I also have a lot of glassware that I’ve gotten at thrift stores over the years, whether they be weird cocktail glasses or glassware that feels unique. I use them very infrequently, but it’s so fun to open up your cupboards and look at the collection.

In-between makeover, before farmhouse table and wide plankwood flooring
Inspiration: Rustic wood beams and visible light fixtures (@studiomcgee)

My Dining Room

Right now the dining area is kind of transitional. It's got a modern table, and I just got these chrome and rattan chairs delivered. What I want eventually is to have a giant farmhouse table. But right now I’ve done a quick makeover that’s a little artist loft-style. There’s a big paper globe above the dining table, the floor is painted large scale black and white stripes, and I’m getting a nice big neutral rug.


My Cooking Style

One of my fave things to do is make giant pots of soup. I’ll make chicken soup with bone broth, carrots, celery, and ginger, and it’s just really hearty and filling. Especially since I moved to a cold place, it’s one of my favorite things to make.

Also, since my sister and my nephew have been visiting, I've been making cookie dough and freezing it to make freshly baked cookies after dinner. It's so easy to make chocolate chip cookie dough and freeze it, and then you can constantly can have fresh chocolate chip cookies.

The house, pre-renovation

Some of Orlando's favorite finds so far?

+ 70s mod dining chairs from Scandinavian Designs Furniture

+ Paper lantern light from AllModern

+ Rug from Annie Selke

+ Address planter from ModernAspect

Stay tuned for more on Orlando’s kitchen renovation and follow along on his Instagram.