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Erika Niederberger: Badass Home Designer

We recently spoke to Erika Niederberger, badass home designer and DIY expert. She is passionate about cultivating a home in which she feels comfortable and empowering others to do the same. Additionally, she takes pride in how she has cultivated sustainability within her home. Read our Q&A with Erika to learn more about her phenomenal home DIY work. 

What would you recommend to someone inexperienced in home design and DIY, wanting to get started?

Making time!!! There are so many resources available now. I would say take time to do some research and see what platform you like to use best. Find some motivation from books, from bloggers, and videos (don’t forget to give credit if you do). Then, take some time for your project. Carve out a day or a weekend, make a list of things you need, and plan on showing up! I know from personal experience that the biggest challenge sometimes is just starting. Even an experienced DIY’er had to start with their first project at some point! 

How have you incorporated advocacy for the BLM movement into your home design work?

I don’t oversee a team so I would say the biggest thing is talking to my peers about the movement and what it means to me/us. I advocate through sharing experiences which hopefully motivates someone else! Sharing black/POC designer’s work and being able to give and receive exposure has been wonderful. It is important to me that diversity is appreciated; for me, this comes in the form of paying more attention to how resources are allocated to support a black owned business and finding room for growth in supporting a black/POC business. Being a part of a personal group of women of color that support my work and advocate for BLM has also been a great outlet.

What is your biggest priority or concern when designing a house?

In my own home, my biggest priority is creating a cozy and inviting vibe. To me, a home should feel like it is lived in and not just staged. If you are designing your own home, I would say don’t get too caught up in trends. At the end of the day, you are the one living in your home and you should love being in it always, not just for the lifespan of a trend. You can find a part of that trend that you love the most and figure out how you can incorporate it without having to change out your entire inventory. When working with other people on a design, making sure that your vision aligns is very important.

Always make sure your client is happy, but you’re also your own client when it comes to adding each design that you put out to your “portfolio”. You have to make their dreams come to life, but you cannot get lost in someone else’s dream. Finding a cohesive vision and partnership is extremely important when it comes to working with other people. Set expectations from the start, and set a clear precedent for both parties involved. Your style should be reflected in your design and you should not lose sight of what makes you “you” as a designer. 

How do you get your creative juices flowing when you’re in a home decor slump?  

I take time for myself, using the opportunity to rejuvenate my body and mind through meditation, hanging out with loved ones, and doing things that make me happy outside of styling. Forcing things does not get me anywhere and that my most receptive DIY projects are when I am genuine about how I feel about them. Taking breaks allows me to prepare my mind for my next creative wave of energy, and that is ok! Another good resource is talking to designer friends and getting some creative energy from them. But let’s not forget Pinterest, I love getting lost in inspiration on this platform, and sometimes that is all that I need!

I know that you are passionate about sustainability. Why is that important to you?

YES! It is something about which I am very passionate. Sustainability to me is about being more positive and mindful, while more comprehensively understanding the relationship we have with the environment. Nothing is truly given to us; everything really is borrowed from mother earth, and we should have more respect for her and our future. We need to change our bad habits in order to maintain life for us and for all species. Over the last few years, I have found a sense of self in appreciating organic and natural elements, second-hand items, and upcycling. Furthermore, I am always trying to reduce my plastic waste and find ways to be more eco-friendly. 

What has been your experience learning about sustainability?

My journey started eight years ago when I learned about our food industry through several documentaries. I went on learning more about low waste and zero waste living, and that in turn developed my interest about the effects of consumerism, and cultivating a more minimal and conscious lifestyle. I started with a very simple change: by saying no to plastic bags and utilizing reusable bags! By being more aware of the energy you put out into the world, I realized there are so many ways to help our planet, our animals, and the less fortunate. That is why I am a firm believer in starting with the little steps in your own life and seeing how you can change for the better. I realize not all people may have equal resources, but even the small things you do at home can have a global impact. As designers we should be aware of the consumerism that surrounds interior design, not wasting resources, and understanding the space we take up. I know I still have a long way to go, but I am very excited about the journey!

Featured Image Courtesy of Erika Niederberger

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