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Welcome to the Home Issue of The Highlight

The new nesting; the shabby, messy chic of maximalism; traveling for the holidays; and what it’s like to move home with Mom and Dad.

An illustration of a house during the pandemic, stuffed with toilet paper and dumbells and office furniture. Patricia Doria for Vox

In recent years, perhaps starting with the Great Recession and housing market crash, young people have abandoned the idea of home as a safe place within reach. Homeownership is down, for reasons both financial and psychological. Before Covid-19 gutted air travel, we were jet-setters, spending our time and money not at home, touching down in countries far and wide. And when we traveled, we loved the cookie-cutter insta-comforts of Airbnbs; we booked spartan tiny houses in the woods as experiments in living off the grid. Home was everywhere because home was nowhere.

Until the pandemic, that is. The Home Issue of the Highlight explores the tectonic shifts in our relationship with the places we lay our heads, from our sudden impulse to nest to the longing to return to our familial haunts for the holidays.

The virus sent us indoors for the first time in recent memory, writes Foster Kamer in a cover story that poetically captures our new nesting. To cope with the innumerable losses, we’ve built makeshift gyms, schools, and offices, and bought up “everything from desks to dumbbells, Pelotons to pools, patio sectionals to sweatpants, and, of course, edibles,” he writes. “We’ve gone from occasional layabouts to running panopticons of our possessions.”

Stuff, lots of it, is also a growing design trend. Called maximalism, the new (and perhaps age-old) aesthetic values busy, visually textured spaces — colorful sofas, vintage rugs, bijoux from a lifetime of trekking, and treasured finds from the side of the road. “The trend of surrounding ourselves with more things didn’t come out of nowhere,” writes Rebecca Jennings; it is a rejection of minimalism, the stiff and perhaps overly clean design that has swept apartments and restaurants and stores since the aughts. Pristine is out, and personal is in.

The isolating nature of the coronavirus pandemic has also exacerbated most people’s desires for comfort and human connection — impulses that are strongly affiliated with home and family. And as the coronavirus has derailed events, treasured end-of-year traditions such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years have weary, isolated Americans weighing the risk of traveling home against the emotional ties we are rapidly losing.

Also in this issue, we look at what happened when a 28-year-old professional moved home during the pandemic (hint: her mom is looking into hiring a cleaner), and have a comic from artist Kaye Rishad on the six housekeeping styles you’ll encounter right now.

An illustration depicts three people stuffed into tight quarters, represented by drawers, with all their possessions, in a representation of how we’re living during the pandemic. Patricia Doria for Vox

Home, bittersweet home

Can a single place — one that’s failed us in the past — squeeze in everything it takes to live a life?

by Foster Kamer

An illustration of a  woman peering into a dollhouse decorated in Maximalist design style. Lindsay Mound for Vox

The new maximalism

The next big thing in home design is overstuffed, garish, and glorious

by Rebecca Jennings

An illustration of people passing each other, as if at an airport, with masks on and germs hovering overhead. Getty Images

What “home for the holidays” means during a pandemic

Without specific guidance around whether — and how — to travel, some find themselves playing a game of risk roulette.

by Terry Nguyen

A photograph of the millennial who moved home, and her mother smiling. Courtesy of Stephen Pao

A millennial moved back in with her parents. Her mom maybe wants her to stay forever.

52 percent of US adults under 30 are now living at home, many because of Covid-19. Here’s how it’s going for one family.

by Julie Vadnal

An illustration of a woman in a very messy room, with laundry and plants and wall hangings. Kaye Rishad for Vox

The 6 types of tidy people: A comic

We’re all homebodies now. And, no, it does not spark joy.

by Kaye Rishad

Future Perfect

Our love of orcas is making them miserable


Mud libraries hold the story of the Earth’s climate past — and foretell its future


How to talk to a loved one about their health

View all stories in The Highlight