Happy Monday from inside this phone, where I’ve convinced model, actress, and actual Miss Universe @oliviaculpo to come and hang out with me. It’s small in here, and sometimes we get bored because we’re less than an inch tall, but there’s some good stuff about living inside your phone I guess. One of those good things is the fun home makeover I got to do for Olivia with @homepolish + @hayneedle, in which we transformed her Hollywood loft from MEH to ‘MEHZING in twenty seconds.* LET THIS BE A LESSON TO ALL OF US THAT YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU SET YOUR MIND TO, UNLESS THAT THING IS TRYING NOT TO FEEL PASTY, OLD, AND GROSS WHILE POSING NEXT TO AN ACTUAL SUPERMODEL. Okay bye. Photo by @zekeruelas PS: DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND I’VE POSTED FOOTAGE OF ME WEARING OLIVIA’S MISS UNIVERSE CROWN TO MY STORIES TODAY. OK THAT’S IT. #oliviaculpo #homemakeover #drama *978 Dog Years
One of the guest bedrooms at Casa Soria is home to my parents’ collection of old family photos, which run the gamut from stodgy white people to my beautiful Latina grandmother. I’ve always had a pretty uncomfortable feeling about my own ethnic identity. Mainly that I was never sure if I was allowed to say what I was or if I had to wait for someone else to tell me. My dad thinks of himself as Mexican-American, and while he doesn’t speak the language and doesn’t have intimate knowledge of his ancestral homeland, is quite proud of his heritage. My mom, like many white Americans, has a certain level of complacency about her pan-European background. My parents both did their DNA testing recently and found results they weren’t fully expecting (my dad’s family didn’t have a lot of indigenous Mexican ancestry, my mom’s family was predominantly Scandinavian). Their test results were kind of a testament to how conceptual identity can be. I understand fully that I possess white privilege and have enjoyed its benefits my whole life. But I do have conversations nearly every day about what my background is because every time someone hears how my name is pronounced (Oar-Lawn-Doe, in pseudo-Spanish), I’m asked to explain why. I don’t have a lot of specific pride about either of my ethnic sides, they’re too many generations removed for me to really feel them. But I do have a sense that I am made of people and histories from all over and I that brings me pride. Because of my dad and how much of an emphasis he puts on his Latino heritage, I’ll never fully identify as a white person. Which I know sounds ridiculous if you look at me. I think because I’m mixed and have known other mixed people most of my life, I had a sense that we were living in some kind of incredible post-race world where everyone was magically getting along and loving each other and being decent human beings. The crazy violence and displays of white supremacy in Charlottesville a year ago opened a lot of eyes, including mine, to how much hatred for black and brown people still exists in this country. Not sure what the answer is, but hoping acknowledging what’s going on helps us find a solution. Photo @zekeruelas
PLZ ENJOY THIS IMPORTANT JOURNEY BACK IN TIME TO THE 2011 PREMIER PARTY FOR @em_henderson’s TV SHOW “SECRETS FROM A STYLIST.” Getting a job on this show totally changed my life and sent my career into an upswing (after basically not being able to get a job for like all of my twenties). It was a hard job, Emily and I worked very long hours seven days a week (shooting six days a week, shopping for the next episode on the seventh). But it was an amazing experience I’ll never forget. DON’T WORRY I’M NOT JUST BRINGING THIS UP FOR NOSTALGIC REASONS. The Circle of Life has continued and now I’m getting a shot at my own TV show. And I need an Orlando! I’m looking for a design assistant to help me with real life and TV design projects. YOU GUYS THIS IS YOUR ONE CHANCE TO CLAW YOUR WAY TO THE TOP! What I’m looking for is a human person with BRILLIANT CAD/Sketchup skills to help me behind-the-scenes and on air. While this is a mostly off camera situation it’s important you be ok with being filmed. THIS IS A BIG DEAL THAT EVERYONE SHOULD BE FREAKING OUT ABOUT, K? If you or someone you know is interested have them email my Assistant Hotline [email protected] But hurry, your entire future relies on you getting this job. No pressure. Okay bye. PS YES I HAVE BIEBERHAIR AND I REFUSE TO APOLOGIZE FOR IT. #OrlandAssistant
Please enjoy this cool, serene photo of a bedroom. You know what’s not so cool and serene? LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE. It’s been a weird summer and I’ve been listening to the news too much (I always listen to @npr while I’m sitting working ALONE at Chateaulando). It feels a little bit like ENDOFTIMEZ out here in California as everything is on fire (including my hometown @yosemitenps - my childhood home is fine for now thanks for all who expressed concern). We’re been in the middle a of gnarly heatwave, the NYT wrote a terrifying article about how the environment is too far gone (that I was too scared to read), and I found out we’re running out of sand. WHO KNEW WE HAD TO BE FREAKED OUT ABOUT RUNNING OUT OF SAND??? Apparently there’s not gonna be beaches soon (and resort communities have been mining sand from the ocean floor to build the beaches back up for decades). Without even getting into the dumpster fire that is American politics, the world just seems like a mess. I kind of understand why some people bury their heads in the sand (oh wait, WHAT SAND???) and pretend that climate change isn’t real. What a beautiful, blissful feeling it would be to wake up one morning and think that the giant trash heap in the middle of the ocean was made up, that the ice caps weren’t melting, that species weren’t going into extinction and our oceans weren’t falling victim to coral bleaching. ANYWAYYYYYYYY, I *DID* come here to complain but I also came here in an attempt to emerge from this circle of negativity that I feel so overwhelmed by (maybe you do too). So I’m trying to think of funny and/or happy stuff that’s going on and I need your help. In the comments below, please write something funny, stupid, silly, or happy that happened in your life recently (I’ll start). I think we could all use a good story to distract us from HOW LITERALLY AWFUL EVERYTHING IS RIGHT NOW. Photo by My Own Personal Ray of Sunshine @zekeruelas #victim #COMMENT #helpme
The cozy backyard at Casa Soria makes up for in majestic greenery what it lacks in ample space. The giant redwood trees in the yard were one of the reasons #orMOMdo and #orlanDAD fell in love with the house. But their extreme height (and the privacy and shade that come with it) comes with a big footprint. So in conceptualizing this backyard oasis I did my best to optimize space, designing a custom-built deck/shade structure with @getredwood. The amazing and beautiful redwood posts contrast beautifully with the perfectly scaled teak table and chair from @article. The modern-meets-traditional vibe of the whole Casa Soria makeover is reflected in the sweet Columbia pendants from @rejuvenation. It’s now a happy space for my whole family to have fun parties in without me because I’m too busy with work to visit. AND THAT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN IS HOW YOU DESCRIBE WHAT’S GOING ON IN A PICTURE. Okay bye. Photo @zekeruelas #CasaSoria #backyarddesign #victim
Heading down to Orange County (where this pretty sitting room lives) today to scout a location for my upcoming breakup/renovation pilot for an UNNAMED BUT VERY LEGIT NETWORK THAT YOU’VE DEFINITELY HEARD OF AND IS PROBABLY EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE THINKING. Yesterday I asked my friends to think of show title ideas (the working title is “Design in the Dumps” but I don’t like the word “dump”). Their answers had me DYING. My favorite was “NEW HOME WHO DIS?” But I also liked “My Love DOES Cost a Thing,” “From Bitchslap to Shiplap,” “Love Don’t Live Her Amymore,” and my own creation “GET AWAY FROM ME.” Such a reminder of how insane and funny my friends are. NOW IF YOU’LL EXCUSE ME I HAVE A TV SHOW TO (TRY TO) MAKE! OK Bye. Photo @zekeruelas #showlando
RISE AND SHINE, THE DAY WE HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR HAS FINALLY ARRIVED. I’m revealing my parents’ MEGADECK on @em_henderson blog today (stylebyemilyhenderson.com). This project has been an epic journey, from the redwood forests of Humboldt Redwood Company (@getredwood), to working with an architect and an engineer, to consulting with #orMOMdo and #orlanDAD about what they wanted and how they planned on using the space. I’ve tried to use this project as a learning experience, so I really wanted to know as much as possible about the materials I was using at Casa Soria. What I found out about redwood is that it’s a sustainable, renewable wood source and that companies like Humboldt actually monitor the habitats in their forests to make sure their harvesting isn’t harming the animals that call it home (Hoot-Owls, for example). They also don’t clear cut, which was something I always assumed all lumber companies did. Not only did I learn about the environmental friendliness of redwood, I also learned about the intense architecting and engineering required of such a large structure jutting off a house. The amount of engineering that goes into making it wind-resistant enough is kinda crazy. Even with the giant timber posts, we had to add a lot of cross bracing so it wouldn’t topple over the second #orMOMdo and #orlanDAD decided to simultaneously do jumping jacks on the upper deck. This project, as well as the kitchen and other projects around the house, has changed the way my parents use the house and that’s so rewarding to see. They love how it turned out. Oh, and finally we painted the outside of the house and got rid of the depressing beige that lived there before. New colors are @behrpaint White Veil (walls) and @behrpaint Limousine Leather (doors). Go read the rest on @em_henderson’s blog OKAY BYE. Photo @zekeruelas #casasoria #outdoordesign #deck #deckdesign
REMEMBER WHEN I MADE THAT HANGY THING AND PUT IT ABOVE MY BED??? ME NEITHER. #drama
The cozy and delicious kitchen of @oliviaculpo, which I designed in collaboration with @homepolish + @hayneedle. Olivia has a preppy east coast vibe about her, so I wanted to give her a kitchen that fit her personality. I basically wanted to give her a Nancy Meyers kitchen come to life. So the island (previously high-contrast black) went light grey, the lighting and hardware went brass, and we added some supple seating for Olivia to enjoy with her guests. The result is a soothing and happy kitchen where it’s not hard to imagine Diane Keaton, flailing her arms and acting flustered in a turtleneck as Jack Nicholson does that spooky thing with his eyebrows. Okay bye. Photo @zekeruelas #oliviaculpo #drama #hommemadekitchens
DROVE LIKE A MILLION HOURS DOWN TO LAGUNA YESTERDAY TO CELEBRATE THE BIRTHDAY OF SOMEONE NAMED ANDREW WHO IS A TRULY MAGICAL HUMAN THEN I GOT A STOMACH ACHE SO I LEFT BUT IT TOOK LIKE TWO YEARS TO DRIVE HOME BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE IN THIS STATE SO IF YOU’RE THINKING OF MOVING HERE DON’T AND IF YOU ALREADY LIVE HERE PLEASE MOVE ANYWAY I STILL DON’T FEEL GOOD HOPE YOU HAD A GOOD WEEKEND ALSO I REALLY WANT THIS HOUSE BUT I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO AFFORD LIKE ANYTHING EVER OKAY BYE. #victim
Last year (and many other years in my adult life) brought extreme amounts of financial stress. Times when rent was late and I worried about losing my apartment. Times where my car payment was months behind and I worried about losing it. Times where all my bank accounts and credit cards were drained and I wasn't sure where money for food was coming from. Financial stress has a way of eating at you and overwhelming your consciousness. But during that time, I kept getting interview requests from writers wanting ask me questions like "How did you become such a huge success?" While I struggled, people saw only thriving. At the time, I wanted to write about how ridiculous the juxtaposition between my perceived success and my actual financial situation was. I've always wanted full transparency. But the problem is that this tool demands of "influencers" that we project an image of success at all times. The worry being that if you don't you could lose potential sponsorships and get deeper into a financial hole. As you might remember, last year I was recovering from the loss of a job. And when I look back at how much shame I had about my financial situation I'm like "WHY? I literally was creating a job from nothing." The reason I'm sharing this is that people tend to only see the fun parts of creative careers. They don't see the no health care, the worrying about where their next paycheck will come from, the constant pressure to project an image of success. Most of the creatives you follow, all the creatives I know, have experienced (or are currently experiencing) periods of extreme financial stress and overwhelming uncertainty. It comes with the territory. This is why I don't resent actors, writers, influencers, etc who have "made" it and are finally making decent money. It's likely that they've been living off fumes for years. I have two points here: 1- Don't quit your lawyer job to be a creative unless you have someone else to pay for you or you've saved a ton of money 2- There is no shame in being poor, financial struggles are something that almost everyone can relate to. Oh, and 3- I'm financially great now, I'll be writing more on that soon. Photo @zekeruelas #fbf
You guys!!! Something truly mesmerizing and hypnotic has happened. Well actually it happened like months ago but I’m just now allowed to peep about it. PEEEEEP!!! Here’s what happened. I crashed through @oliviaculpo’s brick wall Kool-Aid Man style, started screaming, and then made over her whole glamourapartment with help from @homepolish and @hayneedle. It was one of the funnest makeover projects I’ve ever done, mostly because Olivia and her team were so enjoyable to work with. GOSS ALERT: sometimes celebs are terrible and annoying to work with. BUT NOT MS. CULPO. She was totally mellow and sweet and SOOOO funny she had me dying every time we met. She even forced me to put on her Miss Universe tiara and sash while I designed her house and it was the stupidest, funniest thing that’s ever happened. She has a great sense of humor and provides never-ending LOLs. I’m really happy with how the apartment transformed into a light and airy wonderland (thanks to all the magical finds from @hayneedle). LET THIS BE A LESSON TO ALL OF US THAT IF YOU SET YOUR MIND TO IT YOU TOO CAN DESIGN HOMES FOR LITERAL BEAUTY QUEENS WHO WILL LET YOU PUT ON THEIR TIARAS AND WAVE TO IMAGINARY CROWDS WHILE FAKE CRYING. Photo @zekeruelas #drama #oliviaculpo #homepolish #hayneedle #homemakeover
He graduated from Cornell's University's College of Architecture, Art and Planning as well as the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design.
He is the creator of the lifestyle blog Homemaker.
He has a sister and a brother.
He appeared as the assistant to Emily Henderson on Secrets of a Stylist.