Today’s painting projects require much more than brushes, rollers and drop cloths. H.J. Holtz & Son has a range of highly specialized equipment to create the best finished product while ensuring the safety of staff and homeowners.

“We want to be careful and thorough,” company President Rick Holtz says. “By investing in the right products, we can provide a level of service that we know customers appreciate.”

The most commonly used piece of equipment in the Holtz repertoire is a combination vacuum cleaner-dust extractor made by Festool, an American company well-known for its extensive line of machinery and power tools. Holtz says the benefit of the extractor is that it removes dust as the team is working, which protects furniture and flooring while saving time.

When a paint job involves spraying, as opposed to rolling, Holtz team members will often use a negative air machine, which draws paint particles and fumes from the air and traps them in filters. “We can’t eliminate paint odor entirely,” Holtz says, “but we can minimize it.”

For large spraying jobs, the company recently added full-body protection in the form of two oxygen suits that come with compressors carried as backpacks. When in the suit, the painter is completely enclosed, with a clean air source. “It’s just safer for our employees,” Holtz says.

Moving this equipment from job to job also requires some special effort. The company’s large box truck, which is used to deliver cabinets and shutters that have been painted in-house, was recently enhanced with an attractive graphic wrap, promoting the company as it makes its deliveries. “People think we bought it new,” Holtz says, “but we didn’t. We just made it prettier.”

The company recently outfitted another truck with a large utility box that has many compartments, accessible from the exterior, for various tools and supplies used primarily by the carpentry team. “It’s so much easier to get to things when we can just open one or two lockers,” Holtz says. “We can keep everything organized and within reach; it’s really efficient.”

The most expensive element in the Holtz arsenal, however, is not something that is obvious. Within the last year, the company invested in a new HVAC system of filters and blowers for the in-house spray room. Here, craftspeople can spray furniture, doors, etc., in a virtually sterile space. Additionally, the HVAC system allows the paint to cure in optimal, temperature-controlled conditions – not too hot, not too humid – which had always been a challenge, given Virginia’s climate.

“We’re happy to invest in products that allow us to do the best work we can do, while keeping our employees safe and protecting the environment,” Holtz says. “It’s good all around.”



In the summer of 2014, Tim Leahy, of Kirby Perkins Construction in Newport, R.I., needed a Virginia painter. The project: a full-scale historic home restoration of Carter’s Grove, an 18th century mansion on the banks of the James River, near Williamsburg.

Leahy, the company’s architectural finish director, turned first to the website for Fine Paints of Europe, which makes the top-notch paints needed for some areas of the project. Scanning FPE’s list of certified painters, “There were very few highly qualified painters in that area of Virginia,” Leahy says. He reviewed websites, contacted a handful of firms, and found Rick Holtz, president of H.J. Holtz & Son.

“Rick was able to very competently talk with me,” Leahy says. “He was confident, capable and experienced. And he showed a willingness to do a little or everything.”

That’s a good thing, because, as with so many historic home renovations, the project evolved.

Initially hired for exterior and interior prep tasks, the Holtz & Son team eventually assisted with painting, finishings and wallpapering. “Rick’s team helped us from the beginning in stripping much of the modern paints,” Leahy says. “His workers weren’t afraid to do the dirty work, and they were also capable of doing fine finish work.”


The Georgian mansion, built in the 1750s, had been owned and operated as a museum by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation since 1969. Sold to a private citizen in 2014, the house is a National Historic Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places and on the Virginia Landmarks registry. Given these designations, Leahy says, most of the 14,000-square-foot house could not be “materially” altered but restored to its original historic appearance.

“We were careful to preserve the existing texture and character – the original fabric – of the house,” Leahy says, noting that workers had to be particularly attentive to original wood details and plaster work, while removing layers of paint that had been added over the years. The interior has now been repainted with its original colors, gleaned from paint chips obtained and analyzed by the Department of Conservation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Kirby Perkins Construction had staff relocate to Williamsburg for the nearly three-year historic restoration project. Leahy says it was helpful to have additional expertise available nearby. “We had a very good symbiotic relationship,” he says. “I would be happy to work with Holtz again – one thousand percent.”

For his part, Rick Holtz says working on a historic home restoration is both similar and completely different from working in a modern house.

“We bring the same attention to detail no matter what the project is,” he says. “But in an older home, you find different challenges, since work has been done to the house over the years. There are also specific guidelines about materials and, in some cases, specific techniques that we can use.”

In the end, Holtz says, it’s still someone’s house.

“You always want the home to look its best and be what the homeowner wants,” he says. “It’s our job to carry out the homeowner’s vision using the best techniques and materials we can, so the owner is happy and the house is in the best condition possible.”

In this case, that meant teaming up with Kirby Perkins Construction to help restore one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the nation.



It’s a bedroom dream come true.

Janet Deskevich’s younger daughter became a “Star Wars” fan after a day-long viewing marathon, a reward for the displacement that occurred when the family’s residence was featured on 2016 Historic Garden Week house tours.

“After three days of ‘Don’t touch anything!’ chaos, we spent one day completely vegged out and did nothing but watch [the movies] from start to finish: a nonstop “Star Wars” marathon,” Deskevich says. “She thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

Her daughter’s interest continued to grow as she explored the story through LEGO sets and themed rides at Disney World, where she was also able to meet characters from the films. One day, paging through a Pottery Barn catalog, Deskevich’s daughter saw a bedroom styled with a movie quilt and a wall painted to show the view outside a spaceship’s front window.

And a project was born.

Deskevich reached out to Rick Holtz, president of H.J. Holtz & Son, with whom she’d worked many times before.

Holtz brought in Amy Shimko, a decorative artist with the company who holds a degree from VCU in theater with a concentration in scene design and technical production. Shimko also completed a two-year program at Cobalt Studios in White Lake, N.Y., a respected training center for scenic artists working in theater and film.

Shimko, Deskevich and daughter soon met to discuss the vision for the room, with Shimko noting that an early distinction had to be made between scene – dedicating the room to all things “Star Wars” – and atmosphere, which would be more geared to creating a feeling.

Throughout the process, Shimko shared computer mock-ups with Deskevich and her daughter to make sure everyone was clear on the plan, making adjustments along the way.

Shimko says the project took her back to her theater days. For the characters, she drew on her iPad and projected images on paper, which were then transferred to Masonite and painted both by hand and with a spray gun. The ceiling was given a base coat of different colors with brushes, then sprayed to achieve the galaxy effect, and then the stars were painted freehand.

“The ceiling itself was four and a half days,” Shimko notes.

The freedom of working on such a project is appealing, Shimko says. “I had done murals in White Lake,” she says, “but this was working directly with the client and getting to design it myself, as opposed to being given an image and told to copy it.”

Deskevich says it was a pleasure to work with Shimko. “It was such a great process, and I had so much fun,” she says, adding that it’s obvious that Holtz employees take what they do seriously.

“It’s not just walls and paint, it’s a story,” she says. “It’s one of the greatest attributes they have to offer.”



Rick Holtz wants to hear from people.

Certainly, as president of H.J. Holtz & Son, Holtz cares about what customers need. But what he really wants everyone to understand is that their contact with the company doesn’t end after the job is finished.

“We want to build relationships,” Holtz says. “In our industry, anybody can be a painter, but we are committed to this industry; we are committed to our clients.”

Holtz’s project bids for exterior house painting now include after-the-fact service, so customers can call if they have additional concerns or see something they didn’t expect, like areas of peeling or bubbling paint. Identifying these areas in a timely fashion is important, he notes, because they can indicate wood decay, gutter or even roof problems.

“It’s about protecting your investment,” he says. “This is a cost-effective way of staying ahead of problems.”

With a carpentry department, Holtz & Son can easily address many of the most common exterior home issues, such as wood rot. The company strives to maintain a stable base of committed, trained employees, which helps to ensure consistency of approach. Returning customers also receive certain scheduling privileges. If the situation requires attention the company can’t offer, Holtz notes, the company’s partnerships with a variety of paint suppliers, designers and support companies provide a network of other trustworthy professionals as well as access to the most up-to-date techniques and industry developments.

For basic exterior maintenance, Holtz recommends an annual checklist:

  • A free visual inspection for existing customers, scheduled by Holtz, to identify potential issues.
  • Maintenance washing to remove dirt and mildew, which is paid for by customers. A Holtz employee may conduct a post-wash inspection if the cleaning reveals an issue.
  • Address any peeling paint, deteriorated window glazing, and cracked or missing caulking (at no charge, if within 3 years of painting by H.J. Holtz & Son and if not related to roof leaks, overflowing gutters, or other lack of maintenance).
  • Checking for wood rot/loose boards, with an estimate provided for necessary repairs.

In the end, the point is to keep the conversation alive. Holtz believes relationships start the first time a homeowner contacts the company and continue throughout the active phases of the project with a dedicated project manager…and beyond.

“We’ve not been in business for 85 years by being attentive to our interests,” he says. “We are dedicated to ensuring your satisfaction with our performance.

“We have built this company upon developing clients who trust how we care for their most valued investment. When you hire us, this is what you are getting.”



Visitors to this year’s Charlottesville Design House, benefitting the Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE), will see H.J. Holtz & Son craftsmanship in several areas: the entrance foyer, the living/dining room, and a guest bathroom. Holtz & Son is a regular contributor to charitable home shows, believing in the importance of philanthropy within the business model. “We’ve benefited from the support of our community for over 80 years and do at least one significant charity project annually as a way of showing our gratitude,” explained Rick Holtz. “This project just fit right in with our philosophy, so we were eager to be involved.”

Charlottesville’s SHE provides a safe environment, support and resources for survivors of domestic violence. This is the 10th year that a Design House has been decorated by local professionals and opened for tours, with proceeds benefitting SHE. This year’s house, Wind River, was built in 2001 and features more than 6,000 s.f. of living space. Information about visiting can be found at

Entrance Foyer

Franny Hurt, of Franny Hurt Design, found H.J. Holtz & Son in her quest to find the right lime wash contractor for her home. “They are only one of two [companies] in the state who apply this lime wash,” she says. After conversations with company staff, Hurt realized how much more the firm does. “When I [was given] the foyer and knew I wanted to do grasscloth, I thought this was a great opportunity to work with them on the wallpaper.”

Because the foyer is relatively small and dominated by the staircase to the second floor, Hurt says, she knew it would be important to update the space through paint and wall covering. With dark paint on the stair woodwork and trim, she needed something that would blend well. “Nothing is warmer than grasscloth wallpaper,” she notes. “It’s a great neutral that provides wonderful texture.”

Hurt said the Holtz & Son team’s thoughtfulness was evident during the scheduling process. “I wanted to move as quickly as possible, to get the paper up,” Hurt says. “But they recommended waiting because of all the traffic in the house: the furniture that was being moved up and down the stairs.

“Given the condition of the walls after it was all done, I was very glad [for the wait] because the paper would have gotten scuffed.”

Hurt also credits the craftsmen for their attention to detail in hanging the cloth. “With grasscloth, you don’t have to line up a pattern image, but you can get a stripe effect because the rolls have different lines,” she says. “With little direction from me, they did a fantastic job of laying out all those stripes.”

Living/Dining Room

While Wind River might be the first Charlottesville Design House for Chloe Ball and Kathleen Conroy of Kenny Ball Design, the pair has been working with H.J. Holtz & Son since their go-to wallpaper installer retired a few years ago. “They are very professional, and they come often to Charlottesville on business,” Ball says. “We have a lot of projects with them.”

For this project, Ball and Conroy had been conferring with Stephanie Snyder, owner of Palette Paint and Home, on a particular Farrow & Ball paint color (carried exclusively by Palette), when a visiting Farrow & Ball representative suggested wallpaper instead. The result: Original neutral beige walls now have Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue (a dark blue-gray); shimmering gold wallpaper on the ceiling lightens the space. “It’s to die for,” Ball says.

Additionally, Holtz & Son took a table donated by Palette Paint & Home and painted it to resemble a tray that Ball and Conroy fancied. “It’s this papier-mâché tray that we were wild about,” Ball says. “We mailed the tray to Holtz & Son and said ‘This is what we want.’

“It’s so good!” she adds. “We can dream it, and they do it.” Ball says she and Conroy enjoy the partnership with Holtz & Son. “It’s always nice to recommend them because we know they’re going to do a great job.”

Guest Bathroom

Moyanne Harding, of Interiors by Moyanne in Lynchburg, first worked with Holtz & Son in a Richmond Symphony Design House, because she needed someone local to paint and wallpaper her assigned room. “I was really pleased; they did a beautiful job,” she says.

After discovering that Holtz & Son has expanded its service area to include Charlottesville, Harding was again happy to use their expertise. “My paper hanger from Lynchburg was too busy [for the Charlottesville Design House],” she says. “I do stuff all over Virginia, and they are willing to travel.”

Harding’s upstairs guest suite includes a “huge” bathroom in which she couldn’t change layout or tile. She decided to update the space with some new fixtures and Farrow & Ball wallpaper, “which turned out beautifully,” she says.

Holtz & Son’s professionalism is top-notch, Harding says. “As a designer, I’m really really busy, and I need someone to get in there and to the job fabulously,” she says. “I don’t have to call and check up on them.”

With this project, the team ran into a surprise at the end when there wasn’t quite enough wallpaper left to cover the walls in the water closet. “So we collaborated, and just did one wall,” Harding says. In the end, she adds, it’s about getting the job done right. “Holtz & Son knows the business,” she says, “What we do and why we do it that way, and the order we do it in.”

The Wind River house is open now through May 20thVisit the website for details.



Kristin Walinski knew she needed help when her boyfriend made an observation about her dining room.

“He commented that the furniture in that room didn’t match [everything else], and he isn’t really décor-savvy,” she says. “I thought, ‘If he can see this, then I have to do something.’”

Walinski’s recent walk-through was related to a very special event: Historic Garden Week in Virginia. Her home is on the Seminary route in Richmond’s North Side. Up to 1,200 visitors are expected to walk through her 1920s Mediterranean Revival Italian villa during the course of the day.

“I needed the work done in short order, because of the tour,” she says. She turned to H.J. Holtz & Son because of projects she had seen online and the company’s status as a Palette Paint preferred partner.

“They were extremely accommodating when I called and told them my dilemma,” she adds.

Soon, Holtz & Son was painting the dining room table, six matching chairs, and a Bombay chest. They were transformed using Fine Paints of Europe’s Hollandlac Brilliant and a spray-painting technique that leaves no brush strokes.

“It looks like they were lacquered at the factory,” Walinski says.

Based on the company’s approach to the furniture, Walinski raised another issue: her wood kitchen countertop, which was dull and flat.

“No painter before had been able to find a paint that met the need,” she said. “Rick [Holtz, company president] showed up and said, ‘We’ll get this done for you.’”

As it turned out, finding the right product was only the beginning.

Walinski’s floors were also being sanded, in anticipation of the tour, and no one realized how much dust was in the air until the countertop was painted – and “every speck of dust showed in the paint,” Walinski said.

She credits the Holtz team for finding a solution: tenting the countertop prior to painting and bringing in an air purifier to remove the dust so it wasn’t caught in the paint.

“They kept at it,” she says. “They must have painted that counter four times.”

Additional projects include repainting kitchen cabinets and woodwork, and a new front door for the house, which the company is also painting. Rick Holtz says the project is typical for any homeowner who has a special event on the horizon – whether it be a Garden Week tour, retirement or graduation party, or a neighborhood gathering.

“People want their homes to look good,” he says. “We can come in and make rooms fresh and bright, or bring a whole new look. The job itself may not be big, but the impact is significant.”

Walinski couldn’t be happier.

“I turned over the reins to them and said, ‘Let’s get this done,’” she says. “I had confidence in Holtz & Son because of their experience.”