Eye Candy: Inside Blogger Erin Wheeler’s Cheerful Home
The Raleigh darling behind the popular design site Sunny Circle Studio shows us around her space, full of unexpected ideas. by Ayn-Monique Klahre | photography by Catherine Nguyen
Step into Erin Wheeler’s home for the first time, and you might have a sense of dejà vu — have I been here before?
Probably not, but it’s possible you have seen her spaces on Instagram or Pinterest. Wheeler is the brains behind Sunny Circle Studio, a blog and interior design firm known for its upbeat, layered designs. And her Westlake Village home in Northwest Raleigh is where she tries out her ideas — a place to play with visuals and come up with solutions that work for herself and her family. “The sky’s the limit,” she laughs. “There’s always a next project!”
Wheeler started Sunny Circle Studio as “an experiment” in 2017, while working in graphic design. She’d long had an interest in interiors and an eye for photography, and she channeled that passion into her home. “I just wanted to play around and share it with my friends, then was lucky enough to pick up people who were interested,” she says. “As a creative, you drift to things that inspire you, and my home has always been that way.”
Wheeler and her family — husband David and children Wyatt and Zora — have lived here since 2014, when they moved to Raleigh from Winston-Salem.When they got into the house, which was built in 1989, it was “very 90s, lots of brown and yellow tones.” But the floor plan was friendly, and it offered classic detailing in the molding and doors. “I really saw potential,” she says.
The first, sweeping change was paint: Wheeler filled the home with bright whites and cooler tones of blue and gray throughout. Then the rest of the house evolved slowly; piece by piece, project by project. “If you truly love your home and want to surround yourself with things you love, it takes time,” she says. Over the past four years, she’s decorated the space top to bottom, tackling painting and wallpapering projects, plumbing and tiling, and simply rearranging furniture and objects. “I update things regularly, maybe not every day, but enough to confuse my family,” she says. “I’ll be looking at the kitchen one day and the next day my husband’s like, where’d you put the bowls?”
Wheeler’s taste is broad, not confined to a particular style of furniture or decorating scheme. “It’s about having a blend,” she says. “My style leans toward Mid-century modern, but living in this house, which is very traditional, I’ve been mixing more of that in.”
Wheeler always has her eye out for unique pieces, whether she’s browsing a local consignment shop, IKEA, or the showrooms at High Point. And having Sunny Circle Studio as a platform is an ongoing inspiration to go ahead and just do the project she has in mind, to follow her instincts. One example: her in-home gym. It’s located just inside the front door, where one would expect to find a study or a formal living room. “I just kind of went for it,” she says. “I just decided that, screw the trends, this is great and this is how I want to use the space.”
As her blog approaches five years old, Wheeler is more confident and energized than ever to keep reimagining her home. The pandemic offered her time to evolve and work on fresh projects, and to follow her heart, too — whether that finds her wallpapering her dining room or roller skating over to the kitchen. “These days — and especially in the last year — I’m more comfortable with my design,” she says. “I’ve learned not to take myself too seriously and just go with it.”
This story originally appeared in our July 2021 issue.