For the past few months at the SECU Hospice House in Smithfield, an artist has been at work.
To the walls and ceilings of the building, William Strickland of Selma has added pattern and texture that delight and make you look twice.
Are those real wood planks above the fireplace? Could those stripes in the dining room be wallpaper? Is that wall behind the nurses’ station made of natural stone?
Strickland, who has been painting for nearly 30 years, said he pulled tricks from his interior-decorating bag to soften and brighten the environment and to draw attention to architectural features such as the trey ceilings in the lobby, dining room and hallways. The spaces now have bold, modern light fixtures that command attention.
“Medical settings have a lot of hard surfaces such as plastic, Formica, stainless steel,” Strickland said. “To give the space a residential feel, we used a few decorating tricks to counter things we couldn’t change.”
A committee of staff, volunteers and members of the Johnston Health Foundation board of directors chose Strickland for the makeover and helped define the scope of work. It’s the first interior refreshing since the hospice house opened in June 2010.
Funds from the hospice house capital campaign paid for the project.
Wanda Johnson, coordinator of hospice volunteers, said the staff, patients and visitors love and appreciate the new look, which includes colorful furnishings in the front lobby and family room and two large dining-room tables that accommodate families.
Local artwork has been added to the common areas and ceiling fans in patient rooms.
Johnson said Strickland’s painting was a pleasant diversion for families and patients. “They enjoyed watching his progress and liked asking him about his craft,” she said. “He has a way, too, of connecting with people. I’m trying to recruit him as a volunteer.”
For his part, Strickland said he learned how hospice works and enjoyed talking with the staff. “I could feel the compassion that nurses, volunteers and housekeepers have for patients and families,” he said. “It’s a different place because of that. It was an honor to do the project.”
Strickland said his goal was to make the hospice house pretty.
“The hospice house is a place for the living,” he added. “Patients still need joy in their lives, whether it’s gazing out on a sunny day, having family come by or appreciating the colors in a beautiful work of art.”