News & Politics

The Quarantine Questionnaire: Lauren Liess, the HGTV Host and Designer

The celeb designer talks about buying geese and striving to make aspects of quarantine permanent.

What’s the best thing you’ve streamed? Most useful thing in your freezer? Dream day when this is all over? In search of inspiration (and, let’s be honest, a bit of voyeurism), we’re asking Washingtonians how they’re passing the time and getting through quarantine. Here’s Northern Virginia designer Lauren Liess, the host of HGTV’s Best House on the Block and a mother of five who was slated to open a home furnishings and gift store in Great Falls this month before Covid hit. (She launched her online shop in mid-April; the bricks-and-mortar location will open at a later date.)   

Quarantining at home in Great Falls. Photograph courtesy of Lauren Liess.

Best virtual event I’ve attended: Mass. We’re Catholic and we have been watching Bishop [Robert] Barron’s masses through YouTube on Sundays—usually in the evening—as a family. I love the quiet time together focusing on God and praying together. It grounds us and we focus on those who are going through so much pain and suffering right now.  I’m not sure I ever thought I’d miss going to church so much until this all happened and can’t wait to go back when this is all over.

Surprisingly useful household item: Vases—bringing in flowers and putting them around the house has been a highlight lately.

Most useful thing in the freezer:  Daily Harvest frozen pre-chopped smoothie cups and soups

Song/album on repeat: Anything by Christian French

Best purchase: Chickens & geese [ordered here and here]. We’ve been wanting to get them for a while but worried that we wouldn’t be home enough to be able to take care of them when they were young. Obviously that’s no longer an issue. We’re also desperately missing having eggs at the grocery store so there’s that, too.

Person I’d most like to quarantine with: Haha so sorry to say, but no one. I love being alone with my family.

Person I’d least like to quarantine with: Anyone

Quarantine goal: I’d like to try to figure out how to be able to continue to spend more time with my family when this is all over.

Favorite comfort food to make at home: Soup. We make a couple pots of it a week with whatever’s in the fridge.

Go-to at-home cocktail: Not so much a cocktail, but I love my Bold Rock cider. When entertaining—which hasn’t happened in a while—I love a little prosecco and a teensy bit of fresh juice (peach!) and whatever edible flowers or herbs we have around and mint.

Weight gain or loss: Loss

Worst part of the day: I don’t feel like there is really a worst part of the day…maybe when my toddler wakes up in the middle of the night. Yes definitely, that’s the worst.

Best part of the day: Mealtime. We’ve been cooking so much more (we ate out a LOT) and I’m really enjoying having to take the time to prepare family meals. It was so easy before to just continue working and say “let’s go out,” whereas now, if I don’t stop working, we don’t eat. We’re able to eat healthier and more consciously, which I love.

Favorite quarantine activity: Foraging for some sort of food from my garden or yard with my kids and making a meal out of it.

Most memorable quarantine fail: I started seedlings inside and got way too impatient to continue babying them so I just stuck them in the ground outside in my garden without properly hardening them off or giving them enough light, wishing them luck.

Most surprising self-discovery: I don’t want to go back to the way life was before all of this. I have known for a while that I was taking on too much at work for a proper work-life balance, but this more solitary time has made it even more apparent. I know myself and I know I love working hard, but I’m making some major changes to my business; we’ve opened an online store and are opening a brick and mortar shop & kitchen design showroom in Great Falls as soon as it’s allowed. That will allow me to be slightly freed up in terms of being the lynchpin for everything.

Working out or not working out: Barely working out lol—I hope having to write that down makes me do better!

Best coping mechanism: I’m trying to focus on the good I’m seeing all around…the heroic people making true sacrifices every day who are continuing to work so others will live, eat, function, etc. It’s such a heartbreaking time and I find all the amazing acts of kindness and love I’m hearing about to be the small silver lining. I oddly feel more connected with others now even though I’m not actually seeing anyone.

Dream day once this all ends: It’s just normal…what we used to do. I want to take my girls to ballet lessons on a Saturday morning and then have lunch at the Old Brogue downstairs and eat and drink with our friends and their families.

Kristen Hinman
Articles Editor

Kristen Hinman has been editing Washingtonian’s features since 2014. She joined the magazine after editing politics & policy coverage for Bloomberg Businessweek and working as a staff writer for Voice Media Group/Riverfront Times.