life in a (less) tiny apartment.

October 21, 2020
kids room | reading my tea leaves

Tip #199: Embrace transparency.

When we started our apartment hunt this summer, we were looking for a place with doors to close on rooms large enough to stretch out in. In the (daily) event that James or I needed to sequester ourselves to work, or have a semi-private meltdown, we hoped that could happen without needing to squeeze into a child’s bunk bed or sit, knees nearly to ears, in a child’s chair. Especially when the alternative was even worse: A tiny room for kids was great for sleeping, but more problematic when all three of the kids plus their beleaguered parent needed to be herded in there during a spousal conference call.

In the case of our new apartment, the doors we ended up with are made mostly of glass. Two sets of traditional French doors separate the three main rooms of our apartment from one another. Six weeks into living here, I’ve come to appreciate these transparent barriers more than I even realized I would.

It’s helpful, and sometimes even lovely, how the glass doors give us a literal window into moments we might otherwise miss. We can peek into Zoomed first-grade classes, or keep a trained eye on sibling squabbles, without needing to be fully enmeshed. Last night, James and the kids built a train track in the kids’ room while I made dinner. Two sets of closed doors provided me with a moment to myself and a sense of space. When dinner was ready I lit a candle and stood just for a minute watching my family in the semi-darkness; heart given the distance to grow fonder.

The old doors require a bit of fiddling to close properly and the hardware could benefit from some de-gunking and some oiling. I’m sure only the kids growing up will remedy the daily smudges of indeterminate origin on the lower panes. (Ditto my fear that someone’s elbow will blow through the glass.) But the doors let in light and offer privacy, which are two things we’ve long been a little bit low on.

(Come bedtime, there are curtains. More on those soon.)

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Auberie October 21, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    Such a beautiful read and so beautiful pictures! It is dark in Belgium now when I read this article and I am happy that you have lots of light and lots of space in this new space of yours 🙂

  • Reply Margaret October 21, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    We have a similar arrangement! My favorite thing about it is our weekly “date night” which involves us shutting the doors and eating dinner while peeking in on the kiddos snuggled up in the other room watching a movie. Solid doors make my kids feel excluded and inordinately curious about what’s going on, but those glass doors let them see that we’re just being boring and they don’t need to interrupt (as often).

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE October 21, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      I love this idea!

  • Reply anna maria October 21, 2020 at 3:00 pm

    heart given the distance to grow fonder <3

    always love your words & perspective, erin.

  • Reply Rita October 21, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    I always felt your blog was a gratitude journal that we are lucky you share with us…❤️

  • Reply Alison October 21, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    “heart given the distance to grow fonder” . Love this. And could use a bit of that too. Schools being open again here helps ❤️.

  • Reply Carol October 21, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    about those smudges…I learned just two years ago, from my mother’s elderly cousin, that she had once apologized to my grandmother, who had come to call, for the smudges on the door. And that it was my beloved grandmother who had told her, “Don’t touch them! Your little ones are little for such a short time.”

  • Reply Erica October 21, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    In the years I’ve been reading your writing, I’ve been alternately impressed and inspired by your thoughtful approach to occupying and using your space. It’s such a pleasure to look at these pictures and see a whole new canvas for your work and, of course, your family.

    I look forward to more glimpses of your new home!

  • Reply Gemma October 21, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    Love love love this: “ heart given the distance to grow fonder.” Hope you write another book!

  • Reply Laurie October 21, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    I like the photo of your daughter.

    Can you please let us know what some of her favourite books are right now?

    • Reply Jay October 22, 2020 at 10:37 am

      I would love another post about book recommendations (for little ones and for the adults)!

  • Reply Alexis Buryk October 22, 2020 at 7:33 am

    I love how the new apartment is providing unexpected magic! So awesome to follow your journey into the new space. I have to ask- how on earth did you find this place?! It’s the perfect hermit crab shell for this new chapter. Congrats + can’t wait to follow how the new home continues to evolve.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE October 22, 2020 at 9:44 am

      Thanks so much! We found this apartment through the landlord’s listing on Craigslist!

  • Reply Dotty October 22, 2020 at 9:57 am

    I needed this refresh, I am so ready to stop reading news and just do a project or just be caught up in something beautiful. Thank you!

  • Reply Maddy October 22, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Love the softwood floors!

  • Reply LN February 10, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Hi there! I recall you scraping paint from the glass parts of these doors but can’t seem to find any posts about it. Could you point me to that information, or if I made this up, do you have any tips for scraping paint? I just found a pair of discarded french doors I plan on using in my home… and am eagerly following your guidance around doorknob updates, etc. Thanks for embracing and sharing the beauty of “small improvements” – it is giving me joy and making my list of “wants” shorter!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE February 10, 2021 at 12:28 pm

      ah, yes! i think i only documented the process on my stories on Instagram, but i have another set of doors to tackle, so i’ll make sure i write about it in more detail. the best way is with a straight razor and a bit of soapy water on a sponge! details to come!


    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Comments are moderated.