Interview with Erin Hiemstra of Apartment 34 for Toi Art Gallery

February 09, 2022

Interview with Erin Hiemstra of Apartment 34 for Toi Art Gallery



Photo by  for Design Milk

Erin Hiemstra started blogging in 2008 to chronicle the renovation of her condo in Seattle (#34). For more than a decade her blog Apartment 34 has explored the aesthetic possibilities of modern living, including food, traveling, design and fashion. Apartment 34 has a cool and collected vibe, a placid perspective and insight into the everyday perks of home décor. Her texts have a savvy and subtle sense of humor that made us, her readers, want to stay awhile, grab a cup of tea, get cozy and keep reading.

Erin participated as a juror for Toi Art Gallery’s 2021 New artists’ contest.

 What are the best things about blogging?

Blogging has brought me so much joy over the years for three reasons. First it has provided an amazing outlet to express myself. While I don’t get overly personal in my writing, it has been a wonderful place to share thoughts and feelings I might not express elsewhere. Then there is the discovery – I’ve connected with so many amazing designers, artists and makers through the site. And finally, I’ve always appreciated the community blogging created. It’s shifted dramatically in the age of social media, but the community connection is what has kept me at for so long.

 How do you connect with your followers?

In the golden age of blogging the comment section was where it was at – conversations could extend endlessly there. Now things have shifted to social media. I’ve tried to curb my social media use to preserve my own sanity but I am still active on Instagram and regularly engage there. I am looking to re-launch the Apartment 34 newsletter in 2022 to provide more direct access for the Apartment 34 community.

How do you define modern living?

While that’s a really tough question, to me, intentional modern living comes down to “nothing that is not beautiful or useful.” We don’t need more stuff – instead we have the opportunity to make conscious choices and about what we surround ourselves with – where and how it was made, who makes it, the impact it has on our environment and world – that is modern living me.

Maryam Lamei Harvani prints for Toi Art Gallery

You restored your historic Victorian home in San Francisco, tell us about that and what challenges and rewards you’ve found along the way.

Restoring a historic San Francisco Victorian was a realization of a longtime dream. I’ve always loved historic homes and “row houses” since living on the East Coast in my 20s. I never actually thought I would have the opportunity to put my own mark on one, but when we came upon our house I knew immediately it was my prime opportunity. It was a joy to rebirth this house so that it can have another 100 years of life. It was also my opportunity to learn all the things about renovations as I went in very green. There’s nothing better than learning on the job! Six years in and we’re still tweaking, putting finishing touches and taking care of little details. Historic home ownership is a never-ending project.

What is in your opinion the most challenging room to incorporate art in?

I really think you can put art anywhere. I love art in slightly unexpected spaces, like kitchens and bathrooms. I think the toughest room to put art in is perhaps the bedroom. It is both personal and soothing in a space like that.

Lieke van der Vorst print for Toi Art Gallery

How do you work with color?

While I tend to work with neutrals, I’ve been working to embrace color more.  I like selecting a particular hue, blue or green perhaps, and then working with that color in a variety of tones. Darker or lighter, bold or dusty and understated. When you work within a cohesive color scheme you have more freedom to mix and match styles and genres without things feeling too chaotic.

Ivana Kozlai Lauridsen print for Toi Art Gallery

How did the pandemic change the idea of home?

Home has always been our haven from the rest of the world, but now our homes need to be even more functional – to support work, school, and remain a refuge. We also spend so much more time at home now, it has a much bigger impact on our mental health. Having a beautiful, soothing, inspiring space can bring a lot of mental relief during really stressful times.

What are your future projects?

I am putting the finishing touches on a vacation rental property in the San Juan Islands in Washington State, and spoiler alert – in 2022 I will be taking on interior design consulting clients for the first time! I’m really looking forward to helping others create deeply meaningful spaces.

by Karina Miller

Want to read more interesting interviews? click on Interview with Carolyn Gavin 


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.