Beauty in the Time of Coronavirus
A few days ago, I bought a carton of sour cream, a box of Lipton’s Onion Soup & Dip Mix and a burly bag of Kettle Potato Chips. I was convinced I needed this fattening, guilt-ridden Texas childhood indulgence to brace myself for the evening news.
But as I voraciously gobbled the sinful but savory chips and dip while Rachel Maddow cited the latest grisly pandemic statistics, my spirit ached for a more viable path to surmount my sensitivities in this insufferable moment – life in the time of coronavirus.
The Family Room
After my lavish salt and fat depravity, I tossed and turned all night, and the next morning the remedy dawned on me. Coffee in hand, I walked from room to room in my cozy gray fleece-lined moccasins, ending up where I started the night before – curled up on the straw-colored sofa under the green painting with my feet on the scruffy Irish trunk.
I love this room. But it decidedly needed a beauty makeover. So, I went on a shopping spree in our home and created not one, but four renditions of the family room to coincide with the seasons of the year. I figured, why not? This shelter in place thing could last for… who knows how long?
Okay, so I got a little carried away. But through this undertaking I realized that invoking beauty is a supreme antidote to my unfortunate proclivity to binge on junk food. In a world where everything is uncertain and I have control over nothing, I found engaging with beauty to be a magic potion. My newfound motto is: when life is a mess, create something beautiful – especially if there is a pandemic!
I decided to develop the seasonal beauty makeovers around a favorite oil painting by Spanish artist Josep Navarro Vives that we purchased several years ago in Venice. Marsh and I considered the still life our most revered artwork among the diminutive collection we hung on the family room wall.
Leaving the room’s major elements in place, I started my shopping spree upstairs, where I spotted several large white linen pillows with ruffles, that brought a freshness to the family room sofa and echoed the white bowl in the painting. I combined these with three smaller pillows from my bedroom that exemplified the lighthearted feeling of spring with colors of raspberry, apricot and French blue.
To complete the seasonal feeling, I retrieved an ornate French urn filled with peach colored kalanchoe from the dining room table and placed it on the pine chest alongside bowls of fresh Meyer lemons and limes from our two young trees on the terrace. Magically, the flowers and fruit harmonized with the painting and pillows and brought them together like playmates.
The striped and polka dotted royal blue and lime green pillows rescued from a storage closet and placed below the painting visually sang of summer to me. They projected the greens in the painting so vividly, I wanted to cut open the avocados in the still life and devour them.
I repeated the subtle deep blue center of the avocados in the white bowl in the painting’s center with a two-inch-thick book on the work of Pablo Picasso 1881-1973. Then I pilfered a treasured plant with chartreuse blossoms from the piano and placed it on the Irish chest next to the provocative blue and orange book with a piercing closeup of the artist on the cover.
The fall beauty makeover felt a bit lush and more dramatic than the previous two, with a midnight blue antique Sari pillow conjuring autumn’s soft evening shadows on earth. I nabbed the red polka dotted and checkerboard pillows from the living room sofa to complete the brilliantly toned trio below the painting.
The blue, black, gold and rose-colored hues on the cover of a striking and voluminous book about Picasso repeat the colors in the painting, pillows, confit pots, and flowers.
Then it was time for winter, the black and white time of year when porch lights illuminate our evenings and starlight dots the resplendent inky black sky. To reflect this twilight time of year, whimsical black and white pillows repeat the dark tones in the painting, but instead of evincing a somber or edgy tone, the bodacious reds lift the spirit of the painting and light up the darkness of the season like holiday cheer.
The colorful Mark Rothko book adds a final expression of winter with its vivid red, black and purple cover image. Pink seashells tenderly complement the cover of the book with Rothko’s electrifying and profound artwork waiting to be discovered inside.
The Elixir of Beauty
These four beauty makeovers cost nothing but my time. My creativity was delightfully aroused by the pursuit of discovering paintings, pillows, plants, containers and books in the house and garden to use in my project. I highly recommend it! Get started by using your hands, eyes and intuition to infuse the alluring feeling of spring in your favorite room. And don’t forget to keep your phone handy to take photos of your creations for when you want to replicate them in the future.
Transforming the feeling in rooms of your home is a great way to enlist the principle of good design repeats itself to guide you every step of the way. All you need to actualize beauty and harmony is to repeat colors, shapes, textures and patterns, just like nature does!
Have fun, play like a child, and do not take yourself or your rooms too seriously. Beauty can appear at any moment for those who are worthy. I believe if we revere and respect beauty as an elixir of life that exists in nature, art, animals and people, it will sustain us – through life in the time of coronavirus – and far beyond.
Stay safe, strong, brave and healthy! And thanks for all your wonderful comments and birthday wishes on my last blog!
For the love of beauty in all of you,