Declutter Your Space with Erin Boyle

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When it comes to embarking on a home refresh in the new year, the first item on our to-do list is usually decluttering. We turned to organization and space maximization expert Erin Boyle, the Brooklyn-based blogger behind Reading My Tea Leaves, for some tips on downsizing and hitting the reset button for 2015. You can find even more tips from Erin in her upcoming book, Simple Matters, which hits the shelves in January 2016.

terrain: What are some of your tricks of the trade when it comes to decluttering?

Erin: I love the January practice of finding new places for gifts I've received over the holidays. Almost as rewarding, however, is making decisions about what I might give away. To keep clutter at bay, it’s important for me not to bring in much more than I give away. If I’m given a lovely new dish towel, for instance, I take that as an opportunity to go through my stack of towels and weed out any that need replacing. It’s a habit that keeps away clutter, but it also makes me feel grateful for the things that I’ve been able to put to good use.

terrain: What are some easy pick-ups for getting organized? Are there items you add to your home that will actually make it feel like you’re taking away?

Erin: My January rituals include removing the bits of dried up greenery that I added in November and December. Once I’ve cleared out the holiday clutter, there’s room for a few simple additions that help the apartment feel fresh and clean. January isn’t a warm month in New York City, but it’s often sunny during the day and I like to take the opportunity to allow as much of that light in as possible, coax a few green things to life, and fill my home with fresh scents. A new houseplant, a brightly scented candle, and a crisp, clean tablecloth are all things that I can add in to my space without making it feel cluttered.

terrain: What is one thing people don’t often think of that can help refresh a space?

Erin: I’m a real scent person. In the fall, when the days shorten and the leaves begin to change color, I like to bring warm, spicy scents into my home. Then there’s the rich scent of pine in December. Come January, I’m ready for something fresh. Bright, clean scents with citrus notes like grapefruit or floral notes like jasmine go a long way toward making a space feel renewed. I love January because I often have a new scented candle or bar of soap from the holidays that I can put to use. Lighting the same scented candle night after night helps me feel calm and centered and keeps my space cozy; it also creates a special scent memory for this time of year. Filling cold winter nights with the fresh scent of a new candle is a lovely tradition to recreate year after year.

terrain: What colors do you recommend bringing into the January home?

Erin: I’ve been accused of not loving color, but really I just like my color to sneak in naturally. Against a neutral palette, a pop of green from paperwhite stems or a blush of pink from a blooming amaryllis bulb is all the more lovely. In January, I think it’s nice to swap rich dark colors for brighter ones. If light colors feel too spring-like, keep texture in mind. A soft, woolen blanket in a lighter color palette is bright and clean, but still feels cozy.

terrain: What are your biggest do’s and don’ts for decluttering? 

Erin: I always warn people against the lure of too many storage containers. While it’s tempting to sweep clutter under the proverbial rug (or into the laundry hamper), it’s even more rewarding when the spaces where we “hide” our stuff are neat and organized, too. I like to use open baskets because they stop me from accumulating too much in a closed space. Hooks and racks are similarly terrific for keeping clutter at bay without allowing me to forget what I’ve stored.

Photos courtesy of Erin Boyle (left) and Alice Gao (right).

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  • thefolia said...

    Viva la clear space in the nest! Happy Nesting!

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