If months of staring at the same walls didn’t weaken minimalism’s appeal, one look at designer Ellen Van Dusen’s gloriously over-the-top Brooklyn brownstone did. “Not everyone has the same relationship with color, but little objects can really shift the mood of a room,” Van Dusen says. “It’s an easy way to change things up.” Seeing how she combines patterns, colors, and tchotchkes will fuel your own decoration dreams. –Aliza Abarbanel, assistant editor
When you’re cooking nearly every meal, it’s easy to let chaos creep into the kitchen. Expired food lurks in the back of the fridge; grains hide behind cans in cabinets. But it’s a new year, and professional organizer (and former personal chef) Faith Roberson is here to restore order in our overworked, undercleaned kitchens. Get her tips for kitchen organization. –Emma Wartzman, writer
When scratchy throats and other mid-winter side effects set in, get relief without a trip to the drugstore by making this savory-sweet cough syrup from Felicia Cotozin Ruiz. The Phoenix-based curandera, or folk healer, is an indigenous foods activist and chef who educates on using food as medicine through her brand Kitchen Curandera. Here, she pairs alliums with ginger and honey for a soothing, savory-sweet syrup.
Onions have been used as medicine around the world for countless generations—they’re warming, rich in phytonutrients, and help get phlegm moving. “This has the same soothing feeling as chicken soup,” she says, though she adds that “people dealing with a bad cough should go see a healthcare provider.” Cocotzin Ruiz makes this cough syrup with small, sweet I’itoi onions, which grow in the Sonoran Desert where she lives, but shallots can be substituted without compromise. Make Felicia’s Scratchy Throat Soother.
6. Stop and Smell the Rose Candles
Incense isn’t just essential for clearing the air of last night’s salmon. “Especially if we’re not leaving home much, you can create different emotional and psychological environments by using scent,” says neuroscientist Rachel Herz, Ph.D, author of Scent of Desire and researcher on the psychological science of smell. Smell and emotional memory have a fundamental neurological link, making it possible (but not guaranteed) to change your mood with a whiff of freshly baked cookies. But there’s a catch: Our brains quickly acclimate to scents—15 minutes, max—so a single candle will only go so far. Check out all the feel-good fragrances in our staff’s rotation.
“During the pandemic, my family’s world is our house,” writes Angela Garbes. “My husband works in our garage. My daughter attends kindergarten on an iPad next to her bed while I work in the guest room. But the door is always open, my neck craned as I half-listen for panicky cries: “My screen is frozen!” Read about how Garbes sets boundaries in the era of life-at-home.