Erik Kenneth Staalberg is right—every feature in your home is important enough to indulge in. The prop and interior stylist has been renting his prewar, Hollywood-based apartment for years and has poured love into every corner. From the nightstand's Selenite crystals and covered water carafe to the mounted Delft tableware in his dining room to the living space's jade-key lime walls, Erik's home is a testament to his glitzy and impeccable tastes. Walking into his place, you see all the hallmarks of his interior prop stylist work, the sense of a space worth living and flourishing in, and the touch of sweetness and sentimentality. As we discovered during our recent home tour and chat with Erik, that latter quality comes from his love of hosting, which was picked up from his mother. We have been huge fans for a while now and are excited to partner with him on a dining room styling tutorial to pick up some advice on summertime hosting. Making your guests feel cared for in your home is an art form, and during these hot summer months, the key is planning ahead. Make something that is stovetop only, or prepare a big salad beforehand. Keep your bar stocked with plenty of ice, water, and citrus wedges. Lastly, turn the lighting down and have a few hand fans ready. Read below for more from Erik, and watch our reels and TikTok videos to see the full tutorial.
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Tell us about your professional journey as an interior and prop stylist. How did you cultivate your editor's eye and sense of curation throughout your career?
If I had known that being an interior prop stylist was a career when I was younger, I would have instantly known it was right for me. Even at the age of 9, I was rearranging the room that I shared with my older brother. I was lucky enough at the beginning of this path to have assisted a large handful of prop stylists, all specializing in different types of styling: floral, food, bed, tabletop, and product. I learned so much. It was an education and helped me approach each gig holistically.
What qualities do you like to always be present in your work?
Besides the obvious "pretty," I want all the images I touch to have a sense of life—as if you could step right into the space. For the image to have balance, whether that means different heights, styles, or otherwise. Lastly, for it to always have a sweetness, a sentimental note.
What's your favorite current interior trend?
80s deco! It's a bit more affordable than 20s deco, and it's the next best thing!
We love that, as a renter, you've completely transformed your apartment over the years. Would you say there are any dos and don'ts about curating your rented apartment?
I get this question a lot, but I knew when looking for a space of my own in Los Angeles that I was looking to pour tons of love into it. Improving even the smallest features never seems too indulgent because I interact with the space daily. Why shouldn't I go the extra mile to make this gem really shine!
Similarly, how have you approached decorating your home? Do you feel as though your work and your personal aesthetic overlap?
Like most stylists, I am obsessed with individual items, and I have simply let a collection of those dictate the design. Making everything work together cohesively is the name of the game, but it has proven to be really fun! I wish my work life required more of an ostentatious style, but it typically is much more minimal and reserved. It's a good muscle to practice, but at home, I can really let it go and just be myself.
What drew you to these Lulu and Georgia pieces? Do you feel they help create different "moments" in your home?
These Lulu and Georgia pieces have really polished several rooms. Each one has added a distinguished layer to the space, making an artful statement that feels much more mature.
Let's talk about your living room design. We love the overall feel and color story you went with. What was your inspiration?
Oddly the room was never meant to be this color. I was slowly designing the space to have white walls. After bringing a slew of muted hues in green, blue, and deep oranges, I realized they were not popping the way I wanted them to. So I impulsively painted the space a jade-key lime, and BAM! Every element zinged! Adding tons of old-world items to couple these splashy colors made all the difference. With the addition of the Sarah Sherman Samuel Irregular Grid Rug, I can honestly say it turned out way better than I ever imagined.
Personal touches make a room—tell us about your favorite pieces on your nightstand.
Selenite crystals to aid sleeping, a covered water carafe to sip as soon as I wake up, a stack of books I want to read but probably won't, and a polaroid of my boyfriend, Robert.
We're beyond excited for your dining room styling tutorial! What do you love about styling a dining room, specifically?
I absolutely get my love of hosting from my mother. Making guests in your home feel cared for is an art. Since I collect vintage tableware, it makes each event special when I get to set the table with them. When your company sees the time you've taken to set the scene, they will know they are in for a lovely evening.
Summer is here! What is your favorite tip for entertaining?
Unfortunately, I don't have AC in my 1930s apartment, so I always have to be strategic when having people over in the warmer months. Under no circumstances turn on your oven. Make a meal that is stove top only or even a big salad already prepared before anyone arrives. Always keep lighting low—everyone will look better, and it will help keep the temperature down. Make sure your bar is stocked with plenty of ice, and don't forget a large water pitcher. Hydration is imperative. Lastly, keep a drawer of hand fans stocked to hand out to your more warm-blooded guests. It's a sweet party favor and makes everyone feel like a drama queen when fluttering over cocktails.
What about the summer cocktail you're always up for?
A french 75. A champagne and gin cocktail that is refreshing but mostly fancy!
You have a knack for finding amazing vintage pieces. What goes into finding just the right (and eye-catching) piece when vintage shopping?
Firstly, when hunting, you must have the requirements clearly outlined. The material you're looking for, the scale, the price range. And then throw all of those requirements out and be present. Walk into each experience with an open mind. You might be surprised what will jump out at you.
What's a song you can always return to or have on repeat?
Bette Midler's "Friends." It's been helping me focus on what's important.
What's next for you? Is there a project you're super excited about?
Do you mean besides this Lulu and Georgia one?! I recently had a film crew from HGTV come shoot my pad for a cute little home tour that should be coming out in the next few months. To get to blab about this little palace I have curated for a network that was so instrumental in piquing my interest in interiors at such a young age was truly a full circle moment. I have so enjoyed being able to share my space with more people!
Finally, what's the next place you want to travel to:
I haven't seen my little Dutch Oma in over a decade, so a trip to Amsterdam has been tugging at me.