The Insider: Erin Boyle
The next time you’re feeling claustrophobic, breathe deeply and channel Erin Boyle, who made sharing a 240-square-foot apartment with her husband look freaking aspirational on her blog Reading My Tea Leaves. She now has a slightly bigger place, with space for a baby and a book project, and she even squeezed in some room for us.
Q: Your work and home life tend to overlap in awesome ways, but how do you keep them separate when you need to?
A: Partially, I think having a baby makes you separate those worlds in a real way. I think people think that because you work from home, you also work with your baby on your lap, but you can’t do that—or at least I can’t. So I definitely have to separate the hours in my day.
Part of that is just very boring scheduling. But then there are just some things I’ve decided are kind of sacred— family dinners, dates that my husband and I go on, anything like that—that I don’t usually write about or share. There’s so much pressure to share a lot, but sometimes it feels so delicious not to photograph anything. That’s how I maintain a little bit of privacy—having moments that are not for public consumption.
Q: You’re writing a book! Tell us more.
A: It’s called Simple Matters. It’s about the simple things in life—the idea is to pare down your life so you have time for stuff that matters like those family dinners and the stuff that maybe you’re not instagramming. There’s going to be a section on de-cluttering. There’s going to be a section on decorating simply and sustainably. There’s going to be a section on organizing. In writing my blog, it’s been so interesting to me to realize how much people are just feeling like they need advice or encouragement or even just a “good on you!” I certainly don’t have all the answers or everything figured out myself, but these are some things I’ve learned along the way—especially living in small apartments. What are the things that you don’t really need? And what are the things that you do need? A lot of the things that you do need turn out to be things that are less stuff-based and more time-based. You need time with your husband. You need quiet Sunday mornings with no plans. It’s not about needing a shelf to perfectly organize your spices, you know?
Q: What has been the coolest thing about working on a book vs. the blog?
A: I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I’ve been wolfing-down other people’s writing. Sometimes I feel like, “What kind of idiot are you? You have a baby, you quit your full-time job, and now you’re writing a book? Like, do you never want to sleep? What is your problem?”
But it’s encouraging to feel like there are so many other people who have done this. I am not alone. I will stop everything and read, like, Amy Poehler’s new book in essentially one sitting, and that will count as research. Being able to read a lot of things and get a lot of advice and chalk it all up to research is kind of nice.
Q: If you could live inside the world of one home company, which would it be?
A: I'm not sure I've ever seen a print catalog of theirs, but I love the styling of the Canvas Home website. It's always satisfyingly spare—but cozy.
Q: Who designs baby clothes that make you drool?
A: Willaby makes this pair of velvet pants—I want to call them balloon pants. They are so comfortable-looking and cute, and they’re made by this woman down in Georgia. She has the sweetest little shop, and she’s doing such an awesome job.
Q: What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
A: My sister made me this CD to listen to when Faye when born—she solicited favorite songs from all of our friends and family. I actually forget who it was who put the Bruce Springsteen song “Tougher Than the Rest” on the album, but it really became my anthem in those early weeks when I was home by myself with Faye. I would just put that song on and rock out.
Q: You knew we would ask: What is your best advice for someone living in cozy quarters?
A: You know, it is the most obvious advice—and I think it can sometimes feel like a non-answer—but the advice is: Just have less. You just simply don’t need as much stuff. So much small space advice is about how to cram more into your space when it should really be about how to get rid of things in the first place—so that you’re not looking for a spot to put, like, your fiftieth pair of running shoes.