life in a tiny apartment.

November 18, 2015

berry branches in a tiny apartment | reading my tea leaves

Tip #135: Berries make the room.

That’s how the expression goes, doesn’t it?

The snowflake lights are strung up and turned on over Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Too early for Christmas some people might say, but I say holidays aside, we could all use a little extra light these days. Gigantic snowflakes strung up for public consumption feel like a little nod to the fact that we’re all in these dark days together. I wish they’d stay up all winter long.berry branches in a tiny apartment | reading my tea leavesSuffice to say, and no surprise, the days have been feeling s-h-o-r-t lately. I snapped these shots in the last-gasp of afternoon sunlight that comes into our apartment at 3:00 pm and is gone again by 3:30. While I admit that after hearing about Camille’s experience with literal darkness, that I probably shouldn’t complain, I will say that New York City apartments suffer from their own brand of darkness, especially when there are only windows on one exposure and especially when the sun sets behind tall buildings hours before it sets in the sky. The point is, sometimes you need to take a little deliberate action to counteract all that darkness. For my part, I’m choosing to cozy things up where I can.

But here’s the thing about getting cozy in a tiny space: Cozy becomes cluttered pretty quickly. 

In an effort to embrace the change of seasons and light, I’m a proponent of the winter branch approach. A wintry branch—berried or bare—lends a bit of warmth and welcoming but it doesn’t also make the place feel cluttered up. Spindly and spare (and eventually compostable) branches, I can handle. Add a few twinkly candles and suddenly things are looking up.berry branches in a tiny apartment | reading my tea leavesThe arrangements, if you want to call them that, aren’t particularly artful. Putting them together involved filling a few bottles with water, smashing up the ends of a few berry branches that I found at my very favorite neighborhood shop, GRDN, and letting the branches work their magic.

If you have access to the great outdoors and can choose a branch or two to trim yourself, all the better. If you’re worried about berries from invasive species being problematic, choose native (to the US) winterberries, American bittersweet, purple beautyberry, or tiny red rosehips. (Just leave enough for the birds.)

Should you be into similar kinds of light-finding, here are few candles I’ve had my eye on lately:

Portable fireplace.
Cedar and juniper.
Palo Santo.
+ Juniper twig, tonka bean, cardamom.

For the curious:

My hats were both gifts from Brookes Boswell.
(Hats are hung up with these.)
My white lamp is here.
My picture-ledge-turned shelf is here.
My bottles, crystal lamp, dresser, and bookshelf are all vintage.

Tiny apartment survival tips #1 – 134, RIGHT HERE.

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  • Reply Traci November 18, 2015 at 11:32 am

    You are so right! I live in a tiny apartment as well, and I also have some berries sitting out. They are in a mustard yellow painted mason jar, and they make me so happy.

  • Reply Swissrose November 18, 2015 at 11:45 am

    I’m surprised you don’t point out that in the dry atmosphere of a home, the berries will eventually fall off and a young child or pet might find them interesting… they could be poisonous!
    But yes, they are very pretty.

    • Reply Erin Boyle November 18, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      True! While these are berries that would require a significant amount of eating to cause damage, exercising caution is always a good idea!

  • Reply Kari November 18, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Perfect idea. I love the look of berries. I wish I could tolerate scented candles. I could use some of those scents in my home right now.

  • Reply Rachael November 18, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I’m ready for lots of these winter arrangements. Keep the foliage tips coming!

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic November 18, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    I like the way those berries look; they definitely fit the season. And thanks for the candle recommendations; I’ve been thinking about buying candles for my own place, since it’s bigger than my old apartment and I don’t have to worry about the smoke detector automatically going off. (BTW, I put an old, unused e-mail address in the “Leave A Reply section; every time I put my real e-mail address down, it ends up linking to my actual e-mail account, which would give everyone access to it.)

    • Reply Erin Boyle November 18, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      Hi there! Glad you can light a candle in your new place! Sorry about the trouble with commenting. If you enter your email address into the comment field, it will never be public (but any address left in the website field, will indeed create a link!) Hope that helps!

  • Reply joan November 18, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    lovelovelove that lamp!!

  • Reply Lauren November 18, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Your arrangements are so beautiful and festive! This may he a naive question (I have a terribly brown thumb), but can you explain the smashing up the ends of the branches part? Do you actually smash them after they are cut? Does that help them stay perky longer? Thanks!

    • Reply Erin Boyle November 18, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Ah, yes! Any woody stem could use a good smash (or cut with a knife) to help draw the water up!

      • Reply Lauren November 19, 2015 at 9:19 am

        Ah, I never knew! Thanks!! (Now off to find some branches!)

  • Reply Viv November 18, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    I love your Tiny Apartment Survival Tips!

  • Reply Anna November 19, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Cozy becomes cluttered pretty quickly. This is so so true.
    And seems we are on the same wavelength or there’s a trend going around- have filled the house with white berries and eucalyptus.

  • Reply T November 29, 2015 at 6:04 am

    is the door magnetic? how do the hooks attach?

    • Reply Erin Boyle November 30, 2015 at 10:48 am

      New York City steel apartment door! Magnetic!

  • Reply stacy December 31, 2015 at 7:16 am

    i’m sure it is the obvious. but is the crystal lamp just a simple lamp base without the shade?

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 31, 2015 at 8:54 am

      it is! though the lamp base is actually a crystal candlestick DIY-ed into a lamp many many moon ago!

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