For a local photographer, a small downtown space is just enough room for everything that matters most

When Eric Garcia first toured his empty apartment, it reminded him of a gallery.

The concrete floors, plain white walls and expansive windows offered exactly the industrial, blank-canvas vibe he was searching for.

So when he first moved in, he did what any photographer would do: He got right to work hanging photos.

A gallery wall behind his TV is full of memories: a sprawling view of Arizona’s Horseshoe Bend, where he experienced what he’s dubbed the best sunset of his life. Photos of nearby New Orleans, one of his favorite places to bring his camera. A vintage accordion-style Polaroid camera, an homage to his Geaux Garcia Photography business.

Garcia has around 30 different coffee mugs in his collection. He loves to hunt for unique ones when he’s traveling, and friends and clients will often send him mugs as gifts.

On left: A rustic table off the kitchen doubles as Eric Garcia’s dining area and a workspace.

On right: A metal cart off the kitchen provides extra storage for Garcia’s cocktail supplies and cookware, including his trusty Le Creuset dutch oven. A wooden ledge is a catchall for cards, photos and small art pieces.

Works by his local artist friends are peppered throughout the room, including a colorful abstract piece by Chad Schoonmaker and a bold orange print by his best friend, Jordan Hefler. Off the kitchen, snapshots of his friends are propped on a ledge.

It’s early March, and Garcia has only lived in this space one month. But he already has it outfitted with furniture and mementos.

He moved to the 875-square-foot one-bedroom in the Commerce Building downtown after deciding to downsize from his Spanish Town three-bedroom.

“This has been very easy to make home,” he says. “I think this has more of an Eric vibe.”

The living area is an ode to all of Garcia’s favorite things: photos from memorable vacations, throws, plants and his caramel-colored leather sofa from Article.

Those Eric vibes? Are all about what feels clean and cozy. He’s crafted a space where he can curl up cross-legged on the crinkly leather couch, digging into a good book or TV show. Chunky knit blankets are stashed in baskets and strewn across the couch, ideal for burying himself under in the cool 68 degrees he maintains on the thermostat.

He has a small collection of plants, which he half-jokingly says he likes to make conversation with. Each one seems carefully chosen for its personality, with nearly human-like qualities. By the window is a skinny, fuzzy fairy-castle cactus. Next to the TV, there’s a charming little Chinese money plant, with cheerful, almost lily-pad-round leaves. A fiddle leaf fig, though, is his plant pride and joy. It towers over his dining table, branches and bright green leaves growing in every direction. He has affectionately named it Theo.

Garcia describes his style as modern but colorful, pulling a little inspiration from his idol, Joanna Gaines.

His furniture is a down-to-earth mix of quirky finds from shops like The Market at Circa 1857 and Dirt Cheap, trendy budget buys from IKEA and Target, and a couple online investment pieces from brands like Article and West Elm.

And just as quickly as he’s decorated the space, he’s settled into a routine here. He runs his portrait and wedding photography company from home. He pops open his laptop at his dining table each morning to tackle emails and scheduling. While he types, he sips coffee, always with one scoop of sugar and a splash of 2% milk. Gilmore Girls is his go-to background noise, because he likes listening to Lorelai and Rory banter.

He’s bound to have a bouquet from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods on the table, and the room is usually fragrant, scented either by a candle burning or something delicious baking in the oven.

You can count on him to have lemons in his fridge, ready to throw on his striped apron and try a new recipe for dinner or dessert. This afternoon, he’s just finished a lemon layer cake. It’s perched on a cake stand, icing dripping down its sides.

Following afternoon meetings and photo shoots, he’ll stop by Matherne’s Market or Albertsons to pick up chicken or fish to cook for dinner. He will unwind for the night with a movie or a sunset walk on the Mississippi River levee.

As comfortable and complete as the space seems now, Garcia insists he’s still not done decorating—and maybe never will be.

“But to me,” he says, “that’s the fun part.”

This article was originally published in the 225 Extra: 2019 Spaces & Places issue. Click here to read more articles from this issue.