Mar. 18—Spring is a good time to take a fresh look at your domestic world — your decor, the exterior of your home, closets, pantry and even liquor cabinet — and Wednesday’s virtual Dish and Design event presented by The Detroit News’ Homestyle section was full of tips and inspiration for doing just that.

The event’s host, Detroit News Design Writer Maureen Feighan, kicked off the seasonal conversation by introducing Homestyle columnist and interior decorator Jeanine Matlow, who was presenting from Farmer John’s Greenhouse in Farmington Hills.

Matlow heralded the plus sides of using artificial flowers and greenery.

“I think you can decorate with confidence inside and outside with faux and real,” she told about 200 attendees at the event.

Matlow said wicker, rattan and woven and natural materials are a great way to add a little nature to your decor, inside and out. Plants and other nature scenes featured in artwork is a nice way to add color and texture to your home or even your Zoom background while we wait for spring to fully kick in.

Matlow, who pens the Smart Solutions column for Homestyle, also suggested using statement jewelry and other pieces that maybe you haven’t been able to wear out for the past year, and decorate planters with it or hang it on decorative hooks to dress up a blank wall.

“Have fun with it, we’ve been forced to sacrifice a lot of fun, we can have fun with this,” she said, adding that it’s important to change up book displays and accessories as the year goes on. “Somebody said to me, if you don’t change out your stuff, you stop seeing it. If you leave everything stagnant you don’t even pay attention to it anymore.”

Kiesling bar manager James Downs ushered taste buds into the spring season with a naturally green-colored drink for St. Patrick’s Day, an herbal, citrus-forward beverage called the South Detroit. It’s the Milwaukee Junction bar’s version of a southside cocktail.

“A southside is a gin mojito,” he said. “It’s a predecessor to the mojito … basically, it’s a smash: citrus, herbs, spirit and sugar.”

Downs’ quick tip for attendees was to use less expensive ingredients first when building a cocktail. That way if you make a mistake and have to start over, the most costly components don’t get wasted.

Kiesling is currently only selling cocktails to-go via its website,, and hopes to reopen soon for indoor service.

Inside Outside Guys Chuck Breidenstein and Ken Calverley, who write a weekly column for Homestyle and have weekend radio shows on News/Talk 760 WJR-AM, had advice for jumping into spring and taking care of your roof, gutters and the rest of the exterior. Breidenstein recommends taking a fresh look at your dwelling the way a home inspector might.

“Pay special attention to anything you haven’t seen (before) … look for little holes where squirrels may have gotten in,” he said.

Both men stressed the importance of not getting up on your own roof to check for damage; instead ask a professional. Some will do complimentary roof inspections to check for weather damage or other needed repairs.

After the Inside Outside Guys gave enough ideas to double your weekend to-do list around the house, professional organizer Kate Sood gave tips on how to reassess your stuff inside the house and declutter. Sood uses internationally known organizer Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method.

“Her method was unique because you organize by category, and this was the first time that this way of organizing had really been introduced,” said Sood, a former teacher. “It’s a super-effective way to be able to tackle your things, and she provides this curriculum, this type of material for you to be able to follow, and that’s what really drew me to the method.”

Sood said Kondo’s method breaks down the cutter in your house by category: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous and sentimental items. Larger groups like clothing and miscellany can further be broken down into subcategories to make it even more surmountable.

After giving away a few books to Dish and Design viewers, Feighan introduced the final presenter, restaurateur Rohani Foulkes, who owns farm-fresh cafe Folk Detroit in Corktown. Located at Trumbull and Bagley, Folk has transformed in to a neighborhood grocery hub and pantry during the pandemic, and will reopen soon for patio service.

Foulkes walked viewers through the making of an easy-to-make springtime treat with tahini, chickpea and preserved lemon crostini. A colorful and flexible snack, Rohani suggested topping the crostini with whatever you have on hand, such as green sunflower shoots, feta cheese or pink pickled onion.

“All crostini is any kind of toasted bread with any kind of topping that you like,” she said. “I think one of the most popular is the Italian-style with basil and tomato, fresh herbs. You can set this out and have it as an appetizer, or maybe you’re hanging out in the garden during spring.”

One of the ingredients for the crostini, preserved lemon, can be made at home — she demonstrated how — or store bought and also used in salad dressings, cocktails and other recipes.

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Twitter: @melodybaetens

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