please advise

Ask Chris Black: I Live Alone — What Can Make My Home Cozier While in Isolation?

Our columnist out on the town before he retired to his apartment to social distance. Photo: Eric Chakeen

If you’re looking for the most powerful hair dryer or the handiest chef’s knife, those things can be easy enough to find. Other objects of desire are a little more taste-based. What’s the next status water bottle or hand wash, for instance? If you have a burning question about the next fanny pack or Noah rugby shirt, Chris Black is here to answer it in a regular column.

I live alone, and am looking for things to make the apartment I now spend all of my time in a little cozier. What would you suggest?
Being trapped at home is brutal. Coziness can be achieved, and hopefully, help battle boredom.

First, it has to smell right. Crack a window for some fresh air and burn a stick of lotus incense. Set the tone for a calm day.

If you prefer a candle, the L.A.–based Halycon Hotel makes a woodsy, floral scent they call “Romantic Drama Based on Real Life Issues Candle.” Incredible.

You will, of course, need a warm drink. Marco Polo, a best-seller from Mariage Frères (the go-to tea brand of tasteful folk like Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo and The Webster’s Laure Hériard Dubreuil), is a black tea with flavors of red berries and fruit.

Get a dimmer for all your lights. Once the sun starts to set and natural light is no longer an option, it’s nice to have some calming dim light. You don’t want to blast a halogen bulb at dusk.

“Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid
From $10
From $10

A good book is not only something that will relieve boredom — curling up with one can make any space feel a little cozier, too. I have heard good things about Such a Fun Age, the debut novel from Kiley Reid. I am going to crack it this week.

Why not put on a GIANT sweater? Something oversized might make you feel like you are being hugged. This classic ragg wool crewneck in natural from L.L. Bean in an XXL could become your best friend during this time in lockdown.

If you have a tub, I know you are going to be in it. Add some Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath and go to bed feeling soft and relaxed. It includes a therapeutic blend of wintergreen, eucalyptus, rosemary, and thyme. From Goop, the price shown is for an 8-ounce jar; from Anthropologie, it’s for a 16-ounce jar.

I, like you, love to indulge in a good Barry’s session from time to time. Now that classes aren’t an option, have you found things (or can help me find things) to replicate a class at home?
Luckily for you (and me!), Barry’s is livestreaming workouts via Instagram every single day. You have no excuse! The motto is “Quarantine buff, not quarantine puff!”

To follow along at home and see the quarantine gains we are all craving, you will need a resistance band and a booty band. Barry’s, of course, is selling them on its website, but the above options will also work. I did Barry’s 20-minute arm-and-abs session this morning with my resistance band and cannot recommend it enough!

There is also some other at-home workout gear I suggest keeping on hand. Gliders are amazing for ab circuits, as well as for chest and lower body. They’re versatile and super cheap.

A pilates ring may not look like much, but it works. Suitable for rookies or veterans, it really helps with posture as well as thighs, upper arms, hips, butt, and neck. If nothing else, we can all come out of this dark time a little HOTTER.

Like you, my partner and I are social butterflies now trapped inside and looking for ways to replicate our favorite pastimes at home. (For example, last night we felt like going to a bar, so we made a charcuterie board and negronis; tonight, we feel like going out to the movies so we’ll be popping popcorn and putting a Netflix pick on our projector.) Wondering what sorts of products or things you might recommend to help make our home more like the places we love to go — from the bar, to the coffee shop, to the campsite, to the spa.
You guys are using your time wisely; I love to see it. Sorry, I have never been to a campsite, so I cannot help you there. The spa I frequent is a no-frills place where my masseuse Sing destroys me. And I don’t keep a bar in my house because I’m not a Mad Men enthusiast (also, I am sober). But coffee … I got you!

I spend a lot of time at Abraco, my favorite coffee shop in the East Village (named after the samba classic by legendary Brazilian singer-songwriter Gilberto Gil). The key elements would be easy to replicate at home, and mercifully do not include the annoying parts: Children and dogs!

First, you will need a proper pour-over kit. You don’t need some full-dork fourth-wave contraption: This simple ceramic number will do the trick. Just remember to get filters.

The right kettle is crucial. Gooseneck kettles like this one are explicitly made for a pour-over. It includes a thermometer, so you can get the temp just right. #baristalife

Photo: Retailer

Unfortunately, Abraco doesn’t sell beans online, but you could buy a fresh bag of light-medium roast from Maru, my favorite mud dealer in L.A.

The second-most important part of this at-home coffee shop set-up: The iconic Anthora “We Are Happy to Serve You” cup. In times like these, the little details can make all the difference.

BLAST John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme on the turntable (or from any speaker you own) and dim the lights just a bit. Perfection!

Finally, complement your bean with an ice cold refreshing glass of Vichy Catalan Sparkling Water. The hard-to-find sparkling mineral water from Spain has carbonic gas added to its natural state. So bubbly … it hurts!

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Ask Chris: What Can Make My Home Cozier While in Isolation?