One bright side of the pandemic lockdowns is that all that climbing-up-the-walls boredom inspired us to take a closer look at, well, our walls. Home repairs, gardening and redecorating are as intrinsic to early pandemic culture as Tiger King binging. And, speaking of Walmart enthusiasts, if you've ever tried to buy paint at the megastore you know why Texas Paint & Wallpaper is absolutely essential to our mental health: Expert customer service, a rich variety in product and home delivery are just some of those reasons.

Dr. Carlos Barceló is an eminent craniofacial surgeon. He was one of the team of doctors who separated the skulls of Egyptian twins Mohammed and Ahmed Ibrahim, conjoined at the head in a case so difficult it was featured on Oprah. But Barceló is also a master sculptor of plastic surgery. His cosmetic work (including Brazilian butt lift, Botox and filler injections) is tasteful, life changing but subtle, and his bedside manner is sympathetic and comforting. As a member of the International Esperanza Project, the good doc has also flown overseas to provide free surgeries to children in need. We wouldn't trust anyone else with our bodies.

Sneakers almost took an irreparable dive into a fashion "don't" when Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David and your dad decided to wear no other kind of shoe, but, luckily, figures like Billie Eilish and Kanye West keep the momentum strong. Especially in pandemic times, we don't feel like dressing up in binding or uncomfortable clothing. While Human Dior appears to be temporarily closed, the Dallas store is accepting consignments on its website, so we won't have to wait long to shop their rare and high-end resale items. Their specialty is rare, designer and Japanese brands, but the sneaker shop has a wide variety of cool finds, from silver platforms for men to blue suede stilettos, and endless tasteful streetwear.

BEST PAPER SHOP

It may seem like the world has gone completely digital, but paper still literally holds currency. The possession of the right paper is what stops you from being unwelcome in a country, and it's what you get when you're born and die. Not to mention, it was the first thing to run out — along with common sense — when the world shut down. Dallas staple shop Paper Arts carries seemingly every type of paper from all over the world, and they have a fine print studio where they focus on nontoxic printing with workshops and classes. Yes, save the forests, but if you're gonna use paper, make it art.

Inspiration can strike at any time, so Dallas Makerspace is open 24/7 to cater to your random bouts of creativity. The nonprofit is a collaborative and educational community for DIY artists, craftsmen, designers and everyone else. The Carrollton space offers tools like 3D printers, glass and ceramic kilns, sewing machines and vinyl cutters along with classes and support. Dallas Makerspace is sticking to strict COVID-19 guidelines, but if you don't have enough face masks, you can always make them here.

If you were in the Design District about three years ago, you may have seen a bunch of cyclists riding down the street in nearly nothing but their underwear. They were riding for an event organized by Red Star Bicycle Shop to promote body positivity. But don't worry, you don't have to strip down to get your bike tuned up at Red Star. Just bring your wheels and a smile on your face. If you're still looking for a crowd to cruise with, you can do so modestly with Red Star's crew during one of their Road Mile rides.

A Limoges China set may say "class," but Vulgar Tea Cups tell your enemies what you really mean to say. The teacups and saucers are decorated with delicate flowers and, in the fanciest cursive, spell out tea time pleasantries such as "Eat a dick," and "I hope you choke." Some messages are useful; if your recreational snacks make your memory fuzzy you can keep them in a cookie jar labeled "uppers" or on a tray labeled "edibles." There's also nothing more satisfying than seeing your MAGA-diehard relatives find a message like "Fuck Trump" underneath their scones. The china is customizable, and a portion of sales goes to charities supporting women and children.

BEST ARTISTIC PROTEST

Dallas designer Charles Smith II released his "Freedom" collection in November 2019. Inspired by the resiliency of Black leaders, culture and experiences, Smith artfully constructed pieces honoring Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent figures of the civil rights movement. Little did the "Do Not Touch" designer know at the time, but his collection would be resurrected in June 2020 at the JFK Memorial downtown to serve as the centerpiece of hope and inspiration for a Freedom II (Black Lives Matter-inspired) protest where he and leading voices in the Dallas arts industry made a call for equality through images of fashion, art, music and sound. As images of Emmett Till, Malcolm X and George Floyd appeared in projections on the side of the memorial, the peaceful, illustrative protest made a social statement on its own.

BEST HOTEL

Historic in its own right, The Joule effortlessly appeals to Dallas' multiple personalities. For the ultra-casual, downtown views at either Americano or CBD Provisions fare well, followed by a low-key nightcap at The Midnight Rambler. Don't forget the mood lighting. The creative falls in love as vibrant art installations, unique retail boutiques and contemporary vibes surround him/her with every step. Coffee and convos take a seat in the spacious foyer, while others travel exclusively to indulge in the world-class spa. Whether it's a pool-side soiree, rooftop toast or relaxing staycation for two, it's clear why The Joule is touted as "the cultural epicenter of downtown."

"Upscale hippie," "earthy elegance," "the kind of thing Alexis Rose would wear" — we'll try any way to avoid the expression "boho-chic," but that fashion-favorite duality is exactly what Dallas designer Julie Cohn's work entails. Cohen's jewelry encompasses all sorts of beauty: that of culture, nature, luxurious craftsmanship and innovation in design. Her standout pieces include black widow and cocoon bronze earrings. It's original and evocative, not "ew" at all, David.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of