A couple of months ago, Sara mentioned she had shot Erik’s (EHD alum and stylist’s) apartment entirely for fun. As soon as we saw the photos we knew we had to run it on the blog (not that we were surprised). And if you can’t tell from his joyously designed home, he is a real-life ray of sunshine. It’s impossible to not be happy when he’s around and his talent has secretly graced many, many projects on this blog. So it is with extremely excitement that we get to introduce him to you, properly and completely in his element. Erik, take it away…
Hey Henderson Heads! (Is that a thing yet!?) Before we get started, I need you to grab a statement earring, pour yourself a cocktail (mine will be a dirty gin martini), and BLAST Diana Ross’ “It’s My House”. Because in order to fully understand my living room, you’ll need to live like me. Oh and honey, I do a lot of LIVING in this space.
Charmed to meet your acquaintance, my name is Erik Kenneth Staalberg (I think the middle name adds a little something don’t you?). You might not recognize me, but I have been a long time friend of EHD. Emily basically launched my career as an Interior Prop Stylist. I assisted her for many years back in my mid-twenties, and she absolutely taught me many “Secrets From a Stylist” 😉 Then after lead styling in the biz for a few years working on catalogs, campaigns, and design magazines I was fortunate enough to come back to EHD last spring to style for the much anticipated 2nd book Emily is bestowing upon us! Talk about a dream job!
However, styling my own apartment is completely a different game altogether. When I create a space “on set” I am bringing together a room I don’t live in, and it really just needs to be balanced and chic. But my home must incorporate all of my many treasures and heirlooms, while also being functional enough to hold the dozens of soirées I host and satisfying my overly critical eye.
Just as my expression as a queer person wasn’t an overnight development, neither was my home. It’s a muscle that must be worked out daily. My personal style started with movies that stimulated me (usually something with drag in it), which then evolved into wearing anything that Jackie O would rock, and finally seeped into my home. Trust me, seeing a space day in and day out that reflects your unique point of view proves to be constantly gratifying. It reminds me of who I am and where I can go. I want to be the queer Martha Stewart that treats every aspect of life with dignity and respect. To me, expressing myself through my home is the ultimate form of self-love.
My living room is fluid and ever-evolving, just as we are as people. I tried not to map out too much when I first moved in and instead locked down a layout with the pieces I already had coming into it. The mahogany credenza was in my grandfather’s office, that my mother more or less stole when she retired from the same company. And the well-loved campaign desk is from my late cousin Heather, who absolutely taught me all about being unapologetically myself in every corner of my life. Everything else was up to the universe!
I knew I needed a new couch that the room could revolve around, to act as the centerpiece. With rounded curves, low back and saturated color this West Elm burnt orange beauty and I met on super sale at $350, which is the most expensive item I have purchased for my home. I am a bargain girl and always have my eyes peeled for any opportunities to elevate my world. I have even started doing it for friends now, sending them deals I stumble upon.
Now, after 4 years of living in my 1931 apartment suite, I feel like I finally reached my own design nirvana. My living room, or as I tell my distinguished guests, the drawing room, is a culmination of inspiration and memories from my life’s experiences. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was my home. It was brought together bit by bit, a garage sale here, an estate sale there, an impulse stop at goodwill, a family heirloom no one in my family saw value in, trips with my partner in thrift, and my amazing mother. This room is an ensemble show and I am the star.
Now, please welcome to the stage, the 7-foot art ledge I built myself!!!!! It was NOT a labor of love, but she hasn’t fallen down yet so we are still friendly. It was a perfect solution that allowed me to remain loose with my styling. For every room I style, I like the art to be related and my collection of vintage portraits seemed to be best highlighted in the room I spend most of my time. But they needed a place where I could rearrange easily due to an addiction to thrifted art.
It probably goes without saying I am close with my framer, Summer Camp in Ojai, CA. Well, one day when I was visiting they had some furniture pieces in their very stylish shop. Like out of a Nancy Myers movie I turned and saw my two mint armchairs. Without blinking I threw the incredibly cheap $200 dollars down and skipped off into the sunset with the pair. The search was over after 3 years hunting for a matching set of cocktail chairs. Once those pieces fell into place everything else moved quickly.
At this point, I had several muted colors and accessories that needed to pop. Against white walls, everything just seemed foggy and dull. The only way to punch up the drama mama was to paint the entire room a saturated hue (enter Valspar’s Jaded Lime). And that’s when everything clicked. It was like Dorothy landing in Oz, I was seeing my cherished pieces for the very first time.
Most wouldn’t think to paint last but I would have never gotten this dazzling outcome if I had started with paint. I was able to finish it off with just the right key lime custard shade and it was the cherry on top. The rest was history! It instantly became a palace where I could hold court with my sensational queer family. Creating a space that gives my community safety and fantasy all rolled into one.
Who knows what it will look like in another 4 years, but that’s the fun of life! My expression allows me to show the world who I am on the inside, and who I am on the inside is ever-growing. So turn a look, ascend the stairs to suite #4, and turn up that disco cause the martinis are shaking. Cheers!