Designer Crush Q&A: Erin Hiemstra of Apartment 34


The evolution of Erin’s own SF home totally caught out eye too, and we’re so excited to bring you pictures from her place along with her answers to the Designer Crush Q&A!

1. Where do you currently live in CA and what’s your favorite thing about how you’ve designed your personal space?

I live in downtown San Francisco, in a little no-man’s land between the Potrero Hill and Mission neighborhoods. I recently heard it referred to as Media Glutch I believe? I call it our little slice of urban heaven. When we discovered the three story loft, situated on a quiet little street only blocks away from some the city’s best restaurants & my favorite coffee shop, I knew it was where we had to be. The 1,100 square feet is the perfect amount of space for myself, husband and our two dogs. I now have my first flown-blown Apartment 34 office which I love both for the inspirational environs, but also for the separation from home life and work life it provides. No more pinning from the couch! We designed the rest of the house to be a relaxing, slightly modern, slightly eclectic space that maximizes every square foot without ever feeling cluttered.

2. What’s your dream design project? Who would it be for (dead or alive)?

My dream design project I hope is still in my future: designing my own dream home. That is, after all, how Apartment 34 was started – it was originally meant to chronicle the renovation of my first condo in Seattle, a renovation that has never taken place. I’ve spent years bookmarking and filing inspiration for the ideal kitchen, bathroom, master bedroom, really every space in that fictional home that I hope someday will be mine.

3. In real life, what’s your favorite design project you’ve completed to date?

Right now my home office is my crowning design jewel as I got to start from absolute scratch. I had such fun putting together a space with zero restrictions or expectations because I was designing for me! Of course, the designer in me is already itching to change it up!

4. You’ve been gifted a fabulously furnished dream home but can only bring one item from your current space. What would it be?

I would have to cheat and bring three – the three framed images from our wedding in Mexico shot by Jose Villa that hang above our bed. They are just beautiful and make me smile every time I look at them.

5. What’s your creative process when designing a space?

Given the fact that I’m not a trained interior designer and focus my work on styling, I have a rather unconventional, intuitive process. I’m a visualizer. I can walk into a room and immediately envision it, from furniture placement to colors to the configuration of art on the walls. It usually just hits me as soon as I see a space. I then go about turning that vision into reality. It can be a bit frustrating as it feels like shopping for a dress when you really need one – you can never find the perfect thing, but I hunt and hunt until I can make what’s in my head a reality. Then I style and style and style over and over again. I’ve been known to be late in the morning because I suddenly had to restyle the way our bathroom counter looks!

6. Where do you score your favorite interior design items? Any shopping tips?

I’m a big supporter of small business owners and local boutiques so I try to do the vast majority of my sourcing from bricks and mortar stores. As I’ve only been in San Francisco for a little less than two years, I feel like I’m still discovering new places everyday. There are great shops tucked into almost every neighborhood. I love March on Sacramento Street and am so excited about new shops coming into that neighborhood like Hudson Grace and The Future Perfect. There are also some amazing little spaces tucked in on Valencia Street in the Mission. When all else fails I head online and search One Kings Lane, 1st Dibs, and Pieces for those glamorous, statement making scores. Then again, I’m not above grabbing a really well designed lamp from CB2 or a great coffee table from West Elm or even Target!

7. Ever had an epic DIY disaster? What project would you never take on again yourself?

I am not a great example of a DIY-er. I’m too much of a perfectionist who lacks patience. A bad DIY combo. My husband and I did renovate our master bathroom in our previous home in Seattle ourselves, including laying 6″x12″ subway tile throughout the shower, shower ceiling, and around all the walls. What would have taken expert tile installers three days took us three weeks. Never again. I say leave those things to professionals. I’ll stick to repainting a side table or DIY flower arrangements from now on!

8. What new design trend are you excited to integrate into your next project?

I’m a big lover of large architectural chandeliers. If I could invest in serious lighting for our current apartment I so would. I would love to drop a piece by the likes of Billy Cotton, Apparatus and The Future Perfect over our living room coffee table. I think dramatic lighting needs to go beyond the dining room and into living spaces!

9. Lightning round!

Beach or mountains?


Twitter or Facebook?


Architectural Digest or Wallpaper?


Should you spend money on a fabulous bathroom or kitchen?


Would you rather shop new or vintage?

Every home needs a mix of both.

Great view or perfect pool?


SF or LA?

SF all the way.

10. What’s one tip you wish someone had told you when first starting out in the design world?

Don’t be afraid to go with your gut. There really no right or wrong answers, only opinions. Oh and measure twice and cut once.


Want More Erin?

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