We are the women who live in tiny apartments. We are the women stretching out on our beds alone. Our laundry and our empty bottles of La Croix and scribbled notebooks, our own. We are the women that cry in our pajamas late into the night. We are the women that feel the strongest we’ve ever felt, cooking a roast in our kitchens listening to Solange, growing well into the seasons of our lives. We are the studio apartment society. The big-hearted variety.
A talented friend of mine, Laura Rae, and I are venturing on a little journey to share the story of these quaint apartments and the women living in them – here on Wit & Delight. She’ll capture the visuals and I’ll try the best I can to tell their stories. Studio Apartment Society will follow the stories of the things they keep, the spaces they tend, and the people they love. Out on their own in the world.
Without further ado – come inside with us first to Emily Eaton’s studio sanctuary. It’s warm and we won’t run out of cold La Croix to sip…
“Make Yourself A Priority” written in pink, framed. On top of the frame, three gemstones, cobalt blue. A picture of Beyonce stuck on the wall with red tape, “FLN MYSLF” in bold black letters below. A hot sauce shelf: Cholula, Sriracha, Tapatio, Frank’s Red Hot, Tabasco. A “Bring Me Tacos” rainbow banner hanging beneath it. A golden frame with Oprah dressed as the Pope, labeled Poperah. The stark lighting of a March afternoon in Minnesota pouring all over the apartment’s chestnut hardwood, the white walls. The unnatural lighting in the room, minimal, lit with a peach and yellow shade – salt lamps and candlelight.
These are a few of Emily Eaton’s favorite things.
The room smells like earth, sage and Palo Santo. “Welcome to my curated chaos,” Emily tells us when we walk in. Jazz is playing softly in the background. I think of Sunday rituals, the music and relaxation clearly a part of hers.
“Sundays. I do my dishes. Listen to easy music. Turn on soft lights. Water all my plants; that takes an hour.”
And I know why. Greenery takes over the room. The presence of growth, the first thing you notice when you walk in, paired well with the warm and sacred wood aroma. Succulents are everywhere, giant leaves in ocean blue mason jars, vines with single leaves sprouting in tall water glasses. A corner of the room replicating a Tulum coffee shop. One shelf, above a tiny white desk, has only pink pots. One of them, a giant pink face. My personal favorite, a medium-sized plant with erect fuchsia leaves, perks up behind a love seat covered in pillows. Emily is perched there, her chin in her hands.
“I feel like the air is better in here. Because of all the plants,” Emily tells us. “It’s like a greenhouse.”
She’s right. Her studio apartment is a sanctuary. A curated chaos of inner strength, color, and Beyonce. And llamas. I notice llamas all over the place right away. A giant colorful painting accompanies an entire wall of random art. Beyonce/llama wrapping paper is hanging over her bathroom door. A llama figurine sits proudly on a shelf in her kitchen. “I really like llamas. I don’t know why. But, I told one person and now all of my friends buy me llama stuff. I’m like, okay guys. I’m good with the llama stuff now.”
I don’t see a television. She confirms. “I haven’t had a TV for the entire ten years I’ve lived here.” I’m both envious and in awe. The TV in my place centralizes the sound in the room. At my house, we orbit around it. In her space, she orbits around the vines and Palo Santo. She orbits around her kitchen, filled with utensils in every nook and hot sauce and pictures of friends on her refrigerator and a tiny postcard that says “PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN” in all caps.
“So, what’s your Sunday playlist?” I ask.
“Just like…Alexa, play jazz,” she answers with laughter. We laugh with her.
A Beyonce Naughty Girl record is framed and hangs above her sink. A Destiny’s Child record is nearby. A jean jacket with a “I’d rather be washing my face” painted quote on the back, hangs on her closet. A crochet design with the word “TITS” in all caps hangs bedside, near the retro orange heart, lit up over her bed. Also on this wall, a pink wooden heart with a girl painted on it, laying in a bed holding the pink rainbow Care Bear. I googled the name. It’s Cheer Bear. A dozen prayer candles sit on a giant “E” the size of a nightstand, pictures of Blue Ivy and Saint West taped on the shoulders of the holy.
Because of this, the things she keeps, her apartment feels like a museum of love. The walls are full of gifts, prints her friends made for her, and notes. One note, a set list from Future Island, is framed and written on the back of a postcard. Another reads “Emily! I <3 U! XOXO Mom.” This one is wrapped in a bedazzled frame. Right next to it, a crotchet quote, “Let’s find some beautiful place to get lost” in cursive.
“My mom passed away. She always used to write me letters. I framed this one,” Emily touched the jewels on the frame. “And I bedazzled it.”
I notice a frame of a young, beautiful woman on her kitchen table, surrounded by sage. I notice another photo of her near her entryway, a bunch of them actually, on a small shelf. I’m feeling bad now, as I type this, that I didn’t ask her more about her mother. I imagine the space here, this independent room is a place she has spent a lot of time healing. A lot of time remembering. A lot of time turning into the woman she loved in her own mother, becoming.
Her sanctuary is a personal love story. The walls support more than the ceiling. Her home a storytelling of the past and warm, open arms for the future. She tells us the space reflects her personality well. It’s colorful. It doesn’t make too much sense. She expresses these items surrounding her are things that make her laugh. This personal, private world something she created to make herself happy and no one else. Memories are opened, closed, reopened and celebrated here. They’re nostalgic and strong within her, displayed all around a space she made her own.
“I really like the concept of small space. You have everything you need in arms reach.”
Brittany Chaffee is an avid storyteller, professional empath, and author. On the daily, she gets paid to strategize and create content for brands. Off work hours, it’s all about a well-lit place, warm bread, and good company. She lives in St.Paul with her 80-year-old cat, Butch. Read more about her latest book, Borderline, and go hug your mother.