Friday, April 16, 2010



Wow! It finally is Spring! Always our time of fresh outlooks and new beginnings. In the design world color is often our best friend. And good colors are never fair-weather friends. And the good NEWS is paint is most often the simplest and LEAST COSTLY solution to dreary uninspired spaces.

This episode we'll be hearing from Master Paint Meister - - Peter Trezza, owner of Shosha painting. (for photos contact )

1. Peter, do you see any emerging techniques that are revolutionizing the painter's world?

I have to say that technology has helped so much as of late, I don't know how we ever worked without it. Running my business smoothly is all about communication between myself, my customers and my workers. All of a sudden, everyone has a mobile device with email and a camera! We recently did a job in Manhattan for a customer in Singapore. Everything from my proposal and insurance certificates to paint samples, progress pictures, and the final invoice went over the ether. I haven't (and may never) meet the client in person, but she loves the job and has already recommended my work to a friend.

2. Some time ago Venetian Plaster was very hot. Do you see the demand for that fading away or is it still very big with your clients?

Venetian plaster is a major commitment not only because of the time and expense to do it, but it can't be removed and takes cept for clients with a big budget who intend to stay in their homes for a long time. Every time you do Venetian plaster, your room gets 1/2 inch smaller!

3. Since the economic downturn starting 15-18 months ago are your clients more conservative with their color choices?

I wouldn't say conservative about color choices, but they are all of a sudden concerned about durability, whether it be paint or wallcoverings. The rule of 'form over function' has been stood on its head, and I welcome it! We used to have customers insist on flat paint in a bathroom, disregarding my warnings, and then a year later call me annoyed that it needed to be redone.

4. How do the newer Eco Friendly paint products perform? Are there any drawbacks?

I could spend days on this question, but in short there are lots of exciting new products out there. It is important to fully understand what has changed and how to deal with it in order to get the performance you're looking for. The Eco products are usually more expensive and require more coats to cover which is not very important unless cost is of utmost concern. Only time will tell if the durability is there. Then there is the issue of continuity from can to can. For a quick example, Benjamin Moore has reformulated its famous oil "Satin Impervo" line three times in the past two years. What you have to watch out for is that when stores mix you a custom color, each version requires a different formula, and often they don't get it right. Usually I mix most of my own colors, so it just takes a little more time to get it right. They don't last well in storage either, so don't buy too much extra and plan on having to re-mix for touchups later.

5. What do you do when your client approves a paint sample and then shrieks when the whole room is done?

This is the stuff nightmares are made of! Haha- Fortunately this doesn't happen very often. First off, I don't give color advice unless I've worked with the client before and trust the relationship we have. Also, a lot of our jobs are billed per-diem so another color means another day's pay. The worst situation is when more than one person has an opinion like a husband & wife team or building committee. Then you have to sit on the sidelines while they duke it out and hope for the best. It's nice to have a decorator to buffer difficult clients too- let he or she absorb all the uncertainty and angst!

6. Do you work with the foot-traffic crowd as well as designers? How do those experiences compare?

Sure, the business is all about building clientele. As long as the budget is such that we can do a nice job, I'm glad to do it. We don't advertise whatsoever; our happy customers are enough to keep us busy. At times we tackle some light commercial, insurance and building work, which puts our work in front of so many new faces. Water damage repair is one of our specialties, and as you can imagine, those clients have already been through the wringer with damaged property, a big mess, and a constant stream of men in and out disrupting their lives. It's not easy to work for someone who wasn't looking to have any work done. Regardless, after a little hand-holding and therapy, we're able to go in and restore the place to like-new condition, and usually earn customers for life.

7. What colors do you rarely paint walls? Besides white, off white & beige what colors do you sense are in demand now, Spring 2010?

We have such a variety of clients, I would have to say that no colors are off limits. This year though, I am seeing a lot of sage greens mixed with warm yellows, and also a return to strong accent colors, whether one wall of a room, or the inside of built-in cabinetry for example. It has been a long winter, and people are getting cabin fever!

8. What kind of training do you recommend for budding painters, whether they intend it as an occasional endeavor, a hobby or a profession?

With the internet, anyone willing to spend a few hours can find a wealth of information. Benjamin Moore has a great site where you can test color ideas and immediately see what they will look like in a variety of rooms and lighting situations. While you're there you can also learn about what kind of paint to use for the job, and what other supplies you will need. If you're ready to tackle a job, it always pays to buy the best tools and paint. A good paintbrush if taken care of can do hundreds of rooms! Prepwork is the most important, and especially plastering can take a long time to master.

9. How far outside your home base (Pelham Gardens) will you travel & still have it be worthwhile for you?

We regularly travel within about 60 miles of NYC for good clients. Once in a while, we do a job in the Hamptons or Upstate New York for our regular clients who have a vacation property. As long as they're willing to house the workers, we're happy to tackle it. I love pulling my truck into a long driveway, hearing the birds chirping, and not having to worry about meter maids and street sweepers. We also get to see new things and meet some really great subcontractors.

10. You're old enough to remember when premier paint jobs meant only oil. Do the new laws regarding fumes, toxicity and young children make your job a nightmare?

I have my first baby coming in May, so this question is particularly timely! I welcome all of the new regulation. Anything built before 1974 probably contains lead paint which is the most dangerous in my opinion. Extra care should be taken so ensure that kids are not exposed to old paint dust or chips. I am also concerned about my safety and my worker's safety. Our high insurance rates reflect the sad fact that historically painting was just about the most dangerous profession. While customers might be bothered by a few days of fumes when getting a job done, we're exposed to it on a daily basis. Fortunately, every year paints are getting safer, while keeping most of the performance. The new latex paints require more care and time, but produce a nice strong finish. The new oil paints are very good as well, and have just about eliminated all of the bad solvents. Unfortunately they haven't come up with a good water based floor finish yet- I would recommend an old fashioned shellac or wax, both of which are non toxic and pretty easy to work with.

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