The team at H.J. Holtz & Son knows the value of relationships. As a third-generation family-owned company, we enjoy working with designers, contractors, and vendors over and over again, because we know that strong collaboration benefits clients.
As a thank-you to our professional partners and to celebrate those connections, last year we held a Designers and Contractors Appreciation Lunch at Independence Golf Club. The location was fitting, as we’ve worked with Independence over the years to freshen their spaces. The event was so successful – with representatives of 8 paint, wallpaper, and millwork companies showcasing their lines – and more than 60 designers and other business partners in attendance, that we decided to do it again!
This year’s event will also be in February, a time of year when many of us think about what and who we love – thanks to Valentine’s Day and prompting from heart-themed store displays. Many of last year’s representatives will be on hand, as will additional friends eager for conversations with others in the same industry. We are excited to see what new products and ideas are surfacing in the industry and happy to bring together people who share our ethos of customer service and high-quality workmanship.
If you’re in the industry and would like to join us, please give the office a call!
Everyone knows that moving into a new place is a process. Decisions have to be made about how to best use the space, what renovation or construction is essential immediately, and where everything is going to go.
Now imagine that new location isn’t a house for a family, but a building for a fully functioning company, with ongoing projects in need of attention and employees in need of work areas. That’s what H.J. Holtz & Son has been experiencing over the last six months.
“We knew this was a big change, but it doesn’t really hit you until you’re in it,” says Rick Holtz, the Holtz Painting president and third generation owner. “We’ve been going full steam since we moved in, and there’s more to do.”
The company purchased the new location, a former auto repair shop, in May and began work immediately to make it their own. They’ve removed interior walls to create an open space where estimators and project managers can confer and hung new drywall throughout to create a fresh, clean environment. Virtually all of the interior changes are being handled by the Holtz team, except for significant electrical work, which is managed by Jon Calhoun of Cardinal Electrical Services, a regular partner.
The new shop at 2025 Tacony Drive, near the intersection of Hull Street Road and Chippenham Parkway, is nearly double the size of the company’s former location in Scott’s Addition. The added room allows for additional spray booths, greater dedicated space for the carpentry division, and more holding area for projects that are in process.
“We didn’t realize how cramped we were at the old location until we got in here,” Holtz says. “Even though we’ve got more arranging to do, to use this space to its full potential, we’re already able to better manage work flow. And we don’t feel like we’re constantly bumping into one another.”
The company’s shift from Scott’s Addition to Chesterfield County makes no difference when it comes to serving clients.
“We have clients throughout the Richmond metro area,” Holtz says. “With the Chippenham Parkway right here, we have access to expressways that take us wherever we need to go. It’s a great spot.”
As for when the new shop will be fully finished, don’t hold your breath. “It’s like the old saying about the cobbler’s children who go barefoot because everyone gets shoes before they do,” Holtz says. “We’re still putting our clients first. Our shop can be perfect later.”
The unfinished third floor in the house had been useful over the years. With easy access to the second floor below via a wide stairway, the attic was a great storage spot for boxes and bins. Plus, it had two dormer windows that offered light and created a feeling of openness.
But the family now needed more from that space. An attic renovation was in order.
“My clients are almost empty nesters, but the kids come home all the time, and friends come with them,” says Ashley Hanley, principal of her own design firm. “The couple also has younger nieces and nephews, and they were running out of space for everybody to sleep.”
The solution? Turn the attic into a welcoming bunk room with built-in sleeping and sitting areas, and architectural details to elevate the look and feel of the space.
Hanley was familiar with H.J. Holtz & Son’s carpentry division, having worked most recently with the team on a project in Williamsburg that included a custom mantel, shiplap, and built-in cupboards. “I have used and loved the company so many times,” she says. “These clients had Holtz’s carpentry team build custom radiator covers for them, so it was easy for them to get on board.”
For the attic renovation, the Holtz carpentry team created three built-in twin beds, window seats that open for hidden storage, and a chair rail and beadboard. The team also fashioned a new railing for the staircase leading into the room, setting the tone for the refreshed space above. Holtz painting and wallpaper teams finished the room, adding whimsical “Cornwall” wallpaper by Anna French, which Hanley selected.
“The room really has that Mary Poppins attic feel,” Hanley says.
Hanley has worked with H.J. Holtz & Son since early in her career and quickly noticed that Holtz was different from other home services firms.
“I always knew Holtz & Son was really good, and I also knew they were expensive,” she says. “But after deciding to give them a try, I was just blown away by their professionalism. If something is wrong, they’re going to fix it; they’re not going to fight me on it.”
And she is delighted the company continues to expand its carpentry division, making projects like this attic renovation possible.
“Finding a good carpenter is really, really hard,” Hanley says. “Builders use the good ones and don’t like to take on smaller projects. This is such a smart part of the business for Holtz & Son to lean into.
“Everybody is nice, friendly, and talented,” she adds. “They are really proud of the work they do. It’s always a pleasure to work with incredible craftsmen.”
De Gournay – the London-based wallpaper firm known for its exquisite hand-painted creations – trusts fewer than three dozen companies in the United States to hang its wallpapers.
And H.J. Holtz & Son is among that select group.
Late in 2022, Emily Wicks, who works in de Gournay’s Logistics and Installation division, came across online images of Holtz installations of de Gournay wallpaper. She contacted company president Rick Holtz and invited him to prepare an application packet.
“That was no small packet,” Holtz says, noting that the company provided a list of projects involving de Gournay wallpaper, photo documentation, and client letters. After the Holtz & Son application packet was reviewed by Wicks and de Gournay Co-founder and Director Dominic Evans-Freke, the Holtz team responded to questions about specific techniques and strategies used from Evans-Freke himself.
The recommendation is worth the effort, Holtz says.
“We wanted to pursue the designation because de Gournay wallpaper is so highly regarded internationally,” Holtz says. “Our clients who have used it in their homes could not be happier with the quality of the designs and workmanship.”
Wicks says applicants are evaluated individually because every setting is unique and presents its own challenges.
“Each installer will have their own ways of creating the perfect finish,” she says. “[Those] who have worked with our papers over the years have discovered that there is not a standard way to hang them, as each ground is so uniquely different from the other.”
Founded in 1986 by Claud Cecil Gurney and his nephew, Evans-Freke, de Gournay began as a firm dedicated to re-introducing the ancient Chinese tradition of hand-painted wallcoverings for a modern era. Now the firm has six collections ranging from classic Asian to panoramas and geometrics. Additional offerings include textured wallcoverings and special collaborations with other design partners.
Customers wishing to have de Gournay creations gracing their homes may select from in-stock offerings that include wallpapers, lampshades, decorative porcelain pieces, mirrors, screens, and framed wallpaper mounted on canvas. Another option is to personalize an existing wallpaper design by specifying flowers or animals depicted to suit taste or geographic location. De Gournay artists will also work with clients wishing to create a one-of-a-kind design.
The Holtz & Son wallpaper team recognizes the significance of being named a de Gournay recommended installer – the only company in Virginia to hold the designation.
“Our team is dedicated to providing professional and thorough service to every customer, no matter what the project involves,” Holtz says. “But they love it when they can hang fine wallpaper such as de Gournay – it really is a work of art. There are few people in the world who can say they’ve had that experience.”
H.J. Holtz & Son Production Manager Kelly Kutchey recalls a recent project in which the Holtz team was hired to correct painting problems in a brand-new house.
“The builder hired a painter for cost-efficiency, and we were called later to fix all sorts of issues,” he said. “The painter hadn’t properly prepared the trim for painting by filling in nail holes and caulking; some areas also clearly weren’t primed. Trim work should always be [painted] using a nice brush; this house trim was painted with a thick roller … it looked like it had 40 coats of paint. The homeowner wasn’t happy.”
The Holtz decorative arts team had worked on a project in the house, so the designer suggested the homeowner contact H.J. Holtz & Son to resolve the problems. One benefit of hiring a larger company, Kutchey says, is readily available expertise.
“Smaller companies sometimes want to take on bigger jobs and will cut corners or hire people who don’t really know what they’re doing,” he says. “They don’t always have the proper skills to do a job. We get calls all the time from folks who have something that needs to be fixed. They come to us because we have a reputation for being able to solve painting problems and wallpaper problems.”
Every job has its own specific set of considerations and challenges, Kutchey says, because every wall is different. There might be cracks caused by a settling foundation, nail pops from when the house was built, excessive moisture in the home, and dings and dents caused by everyday life. If surfaces aren’t prepared properly, there’s an increased likelihood that difficulties will develop later.
Common dilemmas with painted walls and ceilings include cracking, bubbling or blistering, and flaking or peeling. Wallpaper can be curling at the edges, separating at the seams, and showing dips or bumps under the surface.
“Customers will call, and we’ll send someone to assess,” he says. “Some situations can be repaired – like if paper is falling off a wall – but sticky paint just has to be redone.”
Most wallpaper issues require removing a wallpaper panel so the underlying issue can be remedied, whether that involves the surface of the wall or reapplying adhesive. Because wallpapers vary in weight and texture, the right adhesive is essential, as is a careful application.
Kutchey says the Holtz team was called recently to investigate why paint wasn’t adhering well to a wall. He discovered three layers of wallpaper underneath the painted surface. “Usually, the reason why [people] paint over wallpaper is because it was too hard to take off in the first place,” he says. “We take whatever we need to take off the walls; sometimes that means going down to drywall or plaster.”
Problems usually can be fixed, but that remedy comes with a cost. “It’s always better to take the time at the beginning to do it right,” he says. “It’s going to double your cost to call us in to fix something that could have been managed at the start of a project.”
When Sarah* and her husband first visited the Goochland property they now call home, they were drawn to the expansive views of the James River. The view of the nearly 100-year-old Tudor house – vacant for five years – wasn’t as striking.
“The house felt dingy and dated – every wall was a pinky peach – and the rooms were intimidating, with high, curved ceilings and dark wood trim,” Sarah says. “Plus, we went into this project with historical easements in place. We couldn’t do structural changes without a deep dive into a historical process.”
The solution: Accept the structure and update the interior through paint and wallpaper.
Working with Lizzie Cox Interiors and H.J. Holtz & Son, the homeowners found ways to modernize the home while maintaining its integrity. Holtz & Son craftspeople sanded layer after layer of black paint from the original arched front door, revealing the hardwood below. After a window opening was cut, the Holtz team stained and sealed the three-inches-thick door.
“I have a wonderful 100-year-old door, but it was cramping the style of the house,” Sarah says. “It would cost a fortune to replace, but [the Holtz team] worked meticulously to get it perfect. It’s a very small thing in the scope of all the work [that was done], but it means so much to me.”
Inside the house, every wall was refreshed with paint or wallpaper. The dining room’s lacquered ceiling reflects the light that pours in from two sets of glass doors. To conceal vents that couldn’t be relocated, a Holtz & Son decorative artist hand-painted the grillwork to match the surrounding paper.
“Rick told me we couldn’t put paper on the vents because it wouldn’t line up properly,” Sarah says. “For someone to come in and freehand paint … is just amazing. That box on the wall literally disappears.”
The second-floor landing, which opens to a balcony overlooking the front drive, is also dramatically changed. Company president Rick Holtz and designer Lizzie Cox suggested removing the curve at the base of the ceiling, which added nearly two feet in height. Floor-to-ceiling curtains and wallpaper with vertical stripes make the nook feel even larger.
“It was this awful dark space, and now it’s the most beautiful, happy, light-filled spot,” Sarah says. “They did such a great job.”
Having worked with Holtz & Son previously, Sarah knew she could trust them with this project. “Lizzie [Cox] has always said they’re the ones to use, and we knew this house needed everything,” Sarah says. “You know [Holtz] is going to do it right; it’s not going to chip, it’s not going to peel. They’re such good guys.”