Tuesday, May 19, 2020


"Simplify, then add lightness." -Colin Chapman

My bedroom basks in sunshine while the bathroom sits in shadows. You'd never know from this photo that the walls are the exact same color. 

It's been six or seven years since I changed. 

Long a proponent of bold color and lots of action in my decor, my aesthetic abruptly switched to a starkly minimal streak. Suddenly I craved neutrals all day, simple black and white accents, and lots of big empty space on my walls.

To be honest, this timeline matches up with the decline of my mother's health. Her battle with Lewy Body Dementia took a toll on my state of mind as well as hers, and when she became seriously ill, I found that a calm, visually quiet home brought peace to my troubled soul. 

So I began to live, quite contentedly, with pale, neutral, empty spaces. 

If you look closely, you can see the last remaining 1980s pink and blue morning glories in the tile around my bathtub. My brain refuses to acknowledge them, but there they are in all their glory.

This was especially true in my bedroom and bathroom. I needed Zen-level calm in the place where I wound down at night for restful sleep, and geared myself up in the morning to face another day. So I stripped both rooms down to bare essentials and light beige walls, and just let everything be for years on end. 

A year and a half ago, I dreamed of four paintings on the then-completely blank wall of my bedroom. Inspired by my vision, I went out on a limb and brought this mini gallery to life. Though this felt like a huge step forward, these pieces were just what I needed to begin stepping out from my empty-wall phase, and hang exactly in the same spot to this day.

Many times over the past year, those paintings have caught my eye, and I am grateful that I made what felt like the very bold step to add them.

I'll admit that the grey background against the beige wall is hardly a cutting edge decor statement. But the low contrast combination is exactly what feels pleasing to my brain, and that is good enough for me. 

Last week, they inspired me further. 

Okay, I tell myself, enough with the big empty wall above the bathtub. It's time to admit that that space looks neglected and sad. I begin to mentally sort through my art stash to see if anything on hand could suit my purposes.

My family room in 2012. Pretty much everything has changed since then. 
I'm glad the flower lives on. 

With a jolt of surprise and a rush of certainty, I remember the big flower painting that used to hang in my family room. Somewhere around three in the morning - which is probably like ten p.m. to normal people - I dash out to the garage, pull it from storage, and hustle it upstairs to see if the proportions would work. 

Yes. Perfection. 


The bold colors of the original art still feel overwhelming to me but not to worry. Since I created the painting in the first place, I can easily rework it in different colors.

And that's what I do. A Saturday afternoon on the patio surrounded by a half dozen tubes of acrylic paint turns the bright red flower to pale pink, and dials the background back from blue to gray. 

Now this is the scene that greets me when I walk into my bathroom, and it feels not chaotic or overwhelming but cheerful. 

I hang the reinvented painting in place before dinner, and that night - again around three in the morning - as I bring in a trio of plants for their monthly watering session, I take in the scene and realize they are the perfect finishing touch. 

I realize that my bathroom - and my bedroom too, for that matter - is still subdued and a far cry from the old days of orange polka dots and rainbow rugs

But times have changed me, for better or for worse, and this still-neutral room now set off by a big bold flower expresses exactly who I am today.

The flower adds the touch of lightness that I am finally ready to embrace. 

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