I would have any of his people over at my house for dinner!
- Lois Gries, ASID, Chicago
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Archive for November 2013

What can you Do with that Two-Story Wall in my Living Room?

Decorative Finish and Mural on Two-Story Wall

The field of decorative finishing has suffered badly during the recession; however things are looking up again. Decorative painting is reemerging as a powerful design tool to beatify one’s environment and provide creative solutions to modern-day building challenges. One of those challenges consists of these two-story walls in foyers and family rooms of contemporary houses.

Watercolor Rendering of Mural Elements

A client recently posed the following question to our Chicago area painting and decorating company: “I have this 20’ x 20’ wall in my family room – what can I do to make it an appealing feature of my house?” After asking a few additional questions, I was able to ascertain that she was looking for something that would have warmth, be inviting, give a feeling of depth to the room and be nurturing to her. I went to my van and brought back a sample board for a one of our signature finishes: a sanded-texture finish, combined with hand-painted mural elements. I explained that the texture and mottled color of the finish would add warmth and a comfortable feel to the wall, while creating a wonderful background for a mural on the lower portion of the wall. She loved the idea!

Two-Story Wall Before Decorative Painting

After probing further, it turns out that our client had a pretty good idea of what she would like as mural elements: wetlands, cattails, tiger lilies, a blue heron and silhouette of trees in the foreground. Following our meeting, we both went online and searched for images to give more definition to her vision for the mural – we did find many images. The more challenging elements were the silhouettes the client had envisioned. One of the images made the concept clear: In nature, when a larger object is in the foreground, it is sometimes deprived of light and appears as a darker, single color, like a silhouette. Having grasped that concept, we proceeded to develop a watercolor rendering for the mural. Our client loved it and kept it on her computer until we were able to schedule her project!

Decorative finishing and murals in particular are powerful tools to help transform the mood of a space. Our client happened to come home as we were pulling up the tarps. When she got choked up while talking about her mural, we knew we had “hit the spot” for her.

How Often do you Want to Repaint a Victorian Multicolor House?

We just repainted a Victorian house, Circa 1885, for a new client in Chicago. When you see a house of this size and this level of detail, a question comes to mind: How often do you want to have to repaint a house like this? The answer is simple: The least often possible! The related question is: What can you do to extend the life of a paint job?

Chicago Victorian House Circa 1885

Depending on its size, its level of detail and the condition of its coatings and substrates, a Painted Lady’s paint job can cost between $20,000 and $50,000, sometimes even more. Because of its clapboard and extensive trim and millwork, a Victorian house is especially vulnerable to deterioration. Before having us start the painting project, the owners spent about $8,000 on carpentry repair work to the house. To minimize the future cost of carpentry repairs and prolong the longevity of the paint job, we recommend what we call “Maintenance Painting” to our clients. What does maintenance painting entail?

Maintenance painting consists of doing a close inspection of the coatings of a house, every couple of years. What do we look for: signs of failure in the caulking and coatings. When the coating or caulking starts to crack, it is an entry point to moisture, which gets trapped, rots the wood and causes paint failure. Once caulk starts to fail, the deterioration of the substrate and coatings accelerates rapidly. This is why early detection is critical to maintain the integrity of the paint job. We then do caulk and coating maintenance on those spots we detected. When we notice the beginning signs of wood rot, we also do epoxy restoration in those areas.

A homeowner needs the assistance of a dedicated painting and decorating contractor in order execute this periodic maintenance. The challenge is two-fold. One, owners are typically unaware of the importance of coating maintenance. Two, painting contractors do not seem to recognize the opportunity of offering this service to their clients. So, these expensive paint jobs are allowed to deteriorate, which adds to the future cost of the repaints.

The kind of coating maintenance we are talking about can cost between $500 and $1,500 every two years. The money saved in avoiding expensive carpentry repairs alone more than justifies coating maintenance. Our clients who own historic Victorian home or other “Period” homes in the Chicago area really appreciate this additional service we offer them.