Sleek apartment in Grove neighborhood is inspired by Air Force officer’s passions | Home & Garden

Emilee Geist

A wall of industrial-style paned windows fills the space with natural light. Eckholm bought the eight-foot fiddle leaf fig tree, aptly named “Figgy,” at a local nursery. The white sectional sofa is from Florida manufacturer City Furniture. […]

Sam Eckholm refers to his light-filled apartment in Forest Park Southeast’s Woodward Lofts as “The Hangar” — a nod to his love of aviation and his job as an officer in the United States Air Force. The long entry wall leading from his front door into the open living space is lined with large, framed photos of military aircrafts that Eckholm took himself during his time as an Air Force photographer traveling the world with the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor demo team.

Air Force public affairs officer and YouTuber Sam Eckholm gives a tour of his industrial-style loft apartment he calls the hangar on Monday, Nov. 21, 2021. Video by Daniel Shular, [email protected]

Originally from Dallas, Eckholm graduated from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in 2018, following in the footsteps of his dad, a former Air Force pilot. He was initially stationed in Virginia, where he got his first apartment — though he never furnished it because he was traveling 300 days a year to places such as Dubai and Singapore doing air shows. Growing up with social media, Eckholm loved to make videos and started his journey as a YouTube content creator by documenting his experiences in the Air Force.

In January, he was assigned to Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County, but being young and single, he knew that he didn’t want to live in on-base housing, which is typically occupied by families.

“I knew nothing about St. Louis except that there was an Arch,” he says. “When I found out that I was getting assigned here, I immediately started looking at cool places to live and booked a trip to go apartment hunting. I toured a dozen different apartments, and I was blown away at all the different districts.”

At Home with Sam Eckholm

The entry to the industrial modern Woodward Lofts includes a communal sitting area and bike storage. The lofts were developed in the historic former Woodward & Tiernan Printing Co. building, on the National Register of Historic Places.

Daniel Shular, Post-Dispatch

When he toured the Woodward Lofts in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood, also known as the Grove, he knew it was perfect for him. Developed in the historic former Woodward & Tiernan Printing Co. building, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places, the lofts combine historic industrial architecture with modern amenities including communal workspaces, a fitness center and a rooftop pool.

“This building had everything I was looking for and is perfectly located,” Eckholm says.

“What I love about the Grove is that it’s not overwhelming, but it still has awesome spots and nightlife. I love being able to walk to restaurants and breweries.”

At Home with Sam Eckholm

Eckholm’s apartment features an open kitchen in shades of gray and white. Polished concrete floors and exposed ductwork are part of the building’s industrial modern look. Eckholm purchased the large format modern wall clock from Beyond Object.

Daniel Shular, Post-Dispatch

The space itself also drew him in, with a wall of industrial-style paned windows, 15-foot ceilings and a modern kitchen in shades of gray and white.

“I’ve always been into a bright environment — I like the lightness of it. It has character but is also very modern,” he says.

Moving in mid-pandemic, a lot of the building’s amenities were still closed, so Eckholm focused on making the space his own with new furnishings and décor that spoke to his passions and sense of style.

At Home with Sam Eckholm

Eckholm’s bedroom, while small, features ceilings that are over 20 feet tall with a row of industrial-style windows at the top that fill the room with natural light and make it feel larger than it is. On a set of metal wall shelves, he’s created a mini Zen garden of small succulents. A luggage rack sits next to the bed for easy packing and unpacking for his travels and a world map hanging on the wall marks every place he has lived or traveled with small pins. Over his headboard, which he framed in LED light strips, hangs a large canvas of an F-22 Raptor.

Daniel Shular, Post-Dispatch

“I couldn’t wait to design this space. I had nothing when I came in, and I slowly started to build each section,” he says.

The open kitchen/living area is sleek and stylish. Eckholm had long coveted the signature sectional Cloud Sofa from Restoration Hardware, but the size he needed would have cost around $20,000. By researching online, he was able to find a Florida-based manufacturer called City Furniture that made a nearly identical one for a fraction of the cost. The deep-seat white fabric sectional is the perfect centerpiece to the space. He complemented it with a gray and white shag area rug from Overstock that is so soft and comfy, he often sits on the floor.

The windows overlook train tracks, but foot-thick walls keep the sound to a minimum, and Eckholm says he’s grown accustomed to watching the rail cars rumble past, wondering what they are carrying.

At Home with Sam Eckholm

The “Creation Station” is where Eckholm creates his YouTube video content. He had the real neon sign custom made locally by Dale Signs. The Smart Desk from Autonomous AI can be raised and lowered at the touch of a button.

Daniel Shular, Post-Dispatch

The area of greatest importance to Eckholm is his “Creation Station” — a designated space along the back wall of the living room that functions as a mini-studio where he creates his YouTube videos. It is anchored by a black-and-white smart desk from Autonomous AI that can be raised and lowered at the touch of a button, paired with an ultra-modern ergonomic chair from the same company.

In addition to all of his technical necessities including an adjustable ring light, 32-inch swiveling monitor and professional microphone, the crown jewel of the setup is a custom-made neon light that says “Creation Station” in blazing red and blue, created by Dale Sign Service of Ballwin.

At Home with Sam Eckholm

Eckholm’s acoustic guitar rests in the corner of the living room alongside a poster for the film “The Tomorrow War,” that he worked on, helping coordinate and film the F-22 fighter jet scene with the production team.

Daniel Shular, Post-Dispatch

“I always loved neon signs, but I wanted the authentic glass tubes, so I reached out and asked them to make me a custom sign. I absolutely love it,” Eckholm says. “I spend 90% of my time in this space when I’m at home.”

A nearby shelf is well-curated with items of personal importance to Eckholm including a custom Lockheed Martin F-35 model airplane, his Air Force ring, and his Air Force Academy saber and yearbooks. In a nod to his love of all things “Star Wars,” he also has a small bust of Darth Vader, a linear floor lamp next to the shelf that reminds him of a lightsaber and a runner rug in the hallway featuring the Millennium Falcon.

Having the apartment finished exactly as he envisioned has allowed Eckholm to further expand his YouTube content and other interests while exploring all St. Louis and the Grove neighborhood have to offer.

“I really like the change of pace because I can put a lot more into the personal side of things and doing my job 9 to 5, but then coming home and focusing on my own stuff,” he says. “I love the area, but the setup is everything I wanted. I’m so happy with how it came together.”

At Home with Sam Eckholm

Sam Eckholm poses for a portrait in the sunlight coming through the large windows in the living room at his loft apartment in St. Louis on Monday, Nov. 21, 2021. Photo by Daniel Shular, [email protected]

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