The Journal

Small Pleasures with
Melanie Burstin

Right now our favourite creatives are just like us, taking comfort in life’s simple pleasures and small luxuries. We spoke to interior designer Melanie Burstin from her Los Angeles pad – a space that is as warm, thoughtful and honest as she is – to find out what hobbies she is rediscovering and the one thing she’s learnt that she actually can’t live without.

How are you feeling right now?

I feel really grateful to be safe and sound and that my life hasn’t changed all too much. I’m getting eager to return back to ‘real life’ but I’m glad and so lucky I can be comfortable in such a strange time.

What does “home” mean to you at the moment?

Home means safety and comfort. Home has always been a place you can take respite from the world but I think these feelings have quadrupled as of late.

Are there any daily rituals bringing you joy?

My favorite parts of the day are drinking my homemade cold brew in bed, moving my body around lunch time (breaking a sweat is imperative to my mental health) and winding down by binging ‘Terrace House’ (the greatest tv show ever created) and reading in the evening.

Have you established any new positive habits?

I’ve been cooking so much more than I ever have. For the last three years I’ve been trying to improve my skills and the frequency with which I’m cooking. But this pandemic has definitely kicked that into overgear.

Are there any spaces you are using that you never really used before?

My dining table has become a multifaceted space these days. I eat at it, I work at it, and I do arts and crafts at it. All while it’s covered in the jigsaw puzzle of the week.

What objects in your home have now proven their longevity?

Right before this all happened I switched out my pans for new nonstick ones and I’ve realized half of my cooking struggles were from worn out equipment! It’s been so exciting to see that my flubs weren’t completely my fault.

Is there anything that you’ve rediscovered?

I love creating things with my hands; whether that’s painting, drawing or creating miniature food out of clay (I know it’s weird, but my 9 year old self loved it). I feel like I let that side of myself be dormant for a while because I was getting enough of my creative energy out in my work. But it’s been really nice to play with these mediums again.

What have you learnt is the one thing you actually can’t live without?

My dog Moose! I mean I already knew this, but it’s been funny to see that before this isolation I already thought we spent every second together, and now we really really spend every second together. PSA time…spending so much time at home is a great opportunity to virtually visit a shelter and adopt a loving dog into your home. Just to be cheesy for a second, who saved whom? I don’t know…

What small pleasures are you indulging in right now?

I’ve become obsessed with styling my shower. Every inch of my apartment is already styled so I don’t really have much to play with so I’ve moved onto my shower. Relaxation is paramount right now, so I’ve wanted to make my shower even more spa like. It’s becoming my favorite place to be. I wonder if that’s because it was over 90 degrees in LA this week?

What are you “allowing” yourself to do right now?

I’m trying to allow for everything and forgive myself as much as possible right now. In times of stress like this it can be easy to resent ourselves in small ways throughout the day. For not being productive enough, for not eating perfectly clean, for watching one too many episodes of tv, for not dusting the baseboards… But I’m trying to remember that this is not a normal time and it’s more important to be nice to ourselves than to hold ourselves to unrealistic and hurtful expectations. We don’t have to take advantage of a pandemic.

What have you resolved not to do during this downtime?

I’m trying to not let myself future trip. We’ve never really experienced such a vast uncertainty in our collective future. If I focus too much on that it can be really anxiety inducing. I’ve always been told to try and be more present but for the first time that actually makes sense to me. We have no idea how long this will last so I might as well live day to day. I’m far from perfect with this but I’m doing better with the concept than I have before. I also believe strongly in taking long breaks from the news.

Any advice for staying creatively stimulated at a time like this?

Go with the flow! If you feel like doing something get up and do it but try not to pressure yourself to produce, or be mad at yourself for not feeling inspired. If you’re taking care of yourself the inspiration will come. This is also potentially tacky but I like to craft and watch tv. So maybe take the pressure off of having to be good at being creative and instead just partially distract yourself and let it all come out. Once you start I’m sure the floodgates will open.

Portrait by Ellyn Jameson.

Follow Melanie Burstin on Instagram.


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