The August 2018 issue of Richmond Family Magazine includes an article from H.J. Holtz & Son about the ways homeowners can use wall coverings to brighten and update their living spaces.  “Not Your Granny’s Wallpaper” discusses industry trends and offers suggestions for quick and easy improvements.

Owner Rick Holtz says he’s happy to contribute to RFM because of its broad appeal and readership.

“We’ve written for RFM before, and we always hear from people in the community how much they appreciate our ideas,” he says. “It’s another way for us to reach out and educate people about what’s possible in their homes.”

[Previous Holtz topics in the magazine have included bold front doors, strategies for ceilings and floors, refreshing outdoor furniture, and simple kitchen updates.]



James Draine’s simple wish for a job has led to a whole lot more: a career.

Starting with H.J. Holtz & Son in 2002 at the age of 19, Draine became a full-time employee in 2003 and just celebrated his 15th anniversary with the company. Along the way, he has worked in the carpentry, paint and wallpaper divisions, learning new skills at every opportunity.

“I always want to do the next step,” he says. “They find a way to get me there.” While Draine’s path began in carpentry, he moved on to prep work and then painting, eventually becoming a painting foreman. Even though he appreciated the progress, he knew he wanted to transition to paper hanging.“I like the transformation you make in a quick time,” he says. “When you’re painting a room, it’s gradual. When you hang paper, it’s like you snap your fingers” and see the difference.

Developing the skill set needed to be a good paper hanger doesn’t happen overnight, Draine notes. “I’ve only been with wallpaper for five years,” he says. “I’m just getting to the point where I’m hanging by myself. The more you do, the better you get.”

Draine credits Holtz & Son with providing training opportunities – both in-house and beyond – that benefit both employees and customers. “They teach us the proper way to do things,” he says, adding he especially appreciates how the company sends employees to national wallpaper conferences, where they can experience, first-hand, new techniques and materials.

“There aren’t that many people in Virginia who do high-end residential wallpaper,” he notes. “At the conference, you can talk about a problem you have, and five other people have dealt with that problem.”

Those challenges are what make the job fun, Draine says. For example, he recently worked on a project where he was hanging hand-painted, scenic Gracie wallpaper. The paper is so delicate, Draine says, that he has to be careful to keep his hands completely dry. He can’t wear gloves, because they would disturb the “feel” as he applies the paper to the wall. Yet, he enjoys working with that particular kind of wallpaper.

“There are a lot of people who work for a long time who never get to touch these [high-end papers],” he says.

Draine says he’s eager to continue to grow with Holtz & Son. “Everything’s different from job to job. Each paper dictates how you start it, how you stop it, how you do it,” he says. “I can only go up with productivity and quality.”



Our craftsmen Jeff Ragland and Shane Legano recently attended The Wallcovering Installers Association’s first international workshop. The event took place in May in the United Kingdom. They were able to experience the amazing historical sites and attractions of London and Oxford while witnessing firsthand how some great and innovative wallcovering products are made and applied. The tours and events let them have hands-on access to some of the best wallcovering products available today. They also had the ability to ask detailed and in-depth questions about how to use and install these wallcoverings from the creators of the products themselves. They were accompanied by 30 other members and guests from countries all over the world including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom.


Lewis & Wood

The first stop on their tour was the factory of Lewis & Wood, which specializes in hand-printed classic wallpapers and wide width printed designs and fabrics. Lewis & Wood teams with artists to create its wallcovering lines. There were goods that were 54” (which is much wider than standard residential paper so there are fewer seams) and the wallcoverings had a white perforated edge. This protects the wallcovering during shipping and easily pulls off prior to application. The perforated edge also allows for overlapping and double cutting so there is a near invisible seam. They also had the privilege of eating lunch with Stephen Lewis himself.

Lewis & Wood Factory Image


Lewis & Wood Patterns On Display

Vintage Lewis & Wood patterns on display at their facility.



Lewis & Wood Wallpaper

Cutting in the perforated edges of the wallpaper.


H.J. Holtz and Lewis & Wood

Jeff (left) and Shane (right) with Mr. Stephen Lewis and their Creative Director Magdalen Jebb.


Allyson McDermott Restorers

The next stop was a tour of Allyson McDermott restorers to see the studio, restoration studio and archives. According to the Ms. McDermott’s website, An artisan in the truest sense of the word, Allyson McDermott is arguably the world’s leading authority on conserving, recreating and hanging historic wallpapers. Part artist, part scientist, part sleuth, she peels away the layers of history for clients including The National Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and interior designers and architects worldwide.” 


Ms. McDermott is truly a historian, scientist and an artist. Jeff and Shane were shown how she uses a microscope to research the historical papers she restores. Sometimes the sample she receives is a tiny scrap.  There were  dry powder pigment jars which were mixed with rabbit hide glue to create the colors for certain papers. Sheep that were there were sheared for their wool and turned into flock; then dying it the necessary color.  She had huge wood block stamp that she was using to reproduce a wallpaper from historic Williamsburg. Seeing all of this was an impressive experience.

Allyson McDermott Restorers, Wallpaper

Historical wallpaper samples being analyzed for reproduction.


Allyson McDermott at her Oxford Studio

Allyson McDermott at her Oxford Studio


Wood block samples by Allyson McDermott

Wood Block samples made by Allyson McDermott


Allyson McDermott paints

Dry powder pigments used in her paints


Anstey Wallpaper Company

The Anstey Wallpaper Company is located in Loughborough, England. They have been in the business of printing wallpaper for over 100 years.  They have seven different types of printing options including, digital printers, roller printers and hand blocking.  The majority of European wallpapers are printed at Anstey.  There are walls of printing drums throughout the facility. They write instructions and test the wallcoverings in house. When they test the wallcovering, they use European paste. They also employ their own field installers in the UK market to assist the installers and bridge the communication between the installers and printers.


Jeff and Shane are hoping they will also do this with the US market since we hang so many European papers. Pictures were not allowed in this facility because some of the patterns and papers that were in production had not been released to the public.  


Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour

Imagine a shopping mall with 120 stores dedicated to decor. That is a simplified description of Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour which was one of their last stops on their trip.  The Design Centre is actually a showroom of 120 luxury brands featuring rugs, tiles, fixtures and wallcoverings. The Design Centre is only accessible to professionals that have the appropriate credentials.  Shane and Jeff saw some amazing wallpaper trends in the Centre.


In the Fromental Showroom there were beautiful handpainted scenics and custom designs. Iksel – Decorative Arts designs scenic and architectural wallpapers. They are hand painted or printed digitally. The Arte showroom featured new and trending paper created with a variety of materials, including metals, mica chips, glass beads and fabrics.

Design Centre in Chelsea Harbor


Multi Level Design Center in Chelsea Harbor

Multi-level Design Center


Fromental Showroom, Chelsea Design Centre


Did you know that your wallpaper can light up? Meystyle specializes in LED wallpaper.  The lights are integrated into the paper so there is no increase in the thickness of the paper and it is hung traditionally. The lights can be connected to a light socket by an electrician or they can be used with a traditional plug, though depending on the country the attachment may vary.  The wallpaper incorporates lights into many different styles.

Iksel Decorative Arts, Chelsea Design Centre

Samples of digital scenics on display at the Iksel showroom at the Chelsea Design Centre.


Lewis & Wood Design Center Showroom

Shane at the Lewis & Wood showroom at the Chelsea Design Centre


Shane and Jeff came back to the United States with a greater appreciation of how the these wallpapers are designed and printed. There is a huge demand for craftsmen to be able to hang these specialized wallpapers and only a small percentage are skilled enough to do it. Jeff and Shane are qualified to hang this high caliber of wallcoverings  and we are so lucky that they are part of the H.J. Holtz family!


According to the Garden Club of Virginia’s website, “Each spring visitors are welcomed to over 250 of Virginia’s most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks during ‘America’s Largest Open House.’ This 8-day statewide event provides visitors a unique opportunity to see unforgettable gardens at the peak of Virginia’s springtime color, as well as beautiful houses sparkling with over 2,000 flower arrangements created by Garden Club of Virginia members.” Garden Week Tours in Richmond are scheduled for Thursday April 28th and Friday April 29th.

One of our client’s homes, Janet Deskevich, is a beautiful stop on this tour. Aside from the gorgeous garden, her home features her Grandmother’s wallpaper, which we installed, repaired and enriched.

Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 1


In the 1950’s, Mr. & Mrs. Moses Nunally commissioned the Gracie Wallpaper Company to design a hand painted wallpaper for their dining room in their home in Richmond, Virginia. The scenic wallpaper consisted of approximately 20 panels that were specifically designed for the Nunally’s dining room, taking into consideration the wall dimensions and placement of doors and windows.

In the summer of 2005 after Mrs. Nunally passed away, her granddaughter, Janet Deskevich, had John Nalewaya of New York remove the twenty panels of wallpaper in hopes of having them re-hung in her home. Because the paper was originally hung on canvas, the paper and canvas were removed together, numbered and packed between foam board and acid free rice paper.

Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 2

The Challenge

In January of 2009 Mrs. Deskevich contacted Jeff Ragland of H. J. Holtz and Son to see if he could look at the feasibility of hanging the scenic wallpaper in her dining room. Jeff picked up the packaged scenic wallpaper and brought it back to the shop so it could be laid out and inspected.

This project involved three challenges. One: could the scenic wallpaper be hung in a different space than it was designed for and look acceptable? Two: could the fifty year old panels be repaired from damage that they suffered from wear and tear and through the process of being removed from Mrs. Nunally’s dining room? Third: we had never re-hung antique wallpaper that had been removed!

Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 3 Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 4

Measurements were taken of the Deskevich’s dining room, paying very close attention to wall dimensions and the locations of doors and windows.

Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 5


Once Jeff realized the scenic wallpaper would work in its new home, we began the preparation of the room. The walls were primed with an alkyd oil primer/sealer. Muslin was hung vertically followed by blank stock hung in a horizontal pattern. While taking an inventory of the panels, it was found that many of them had tears, paint drips and areas where the paper had started to come off of the canvas. Other panels had holes that were cut out for sconces and electrical switches.

Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 6 Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 7

On February 16, 2009 the first pieces were hung.  Although this was a wallpapering job, we used the artistic talent and eye for color of our craftsmen, Jeff Ragland, Dannon Featherston and Shane Legano to paint in the pattern on areas where color had been worn off over the fifty years or where an electrical light switch was located. They used watercolors and watercolor pens to match and touch-up the existing 50 year old graphics.

Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 8 Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 9

Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 10 Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 11 restored_wallpaper_12 Restored Wallpaper Richmond Home 13

This project was very unique because it took many different skills; design skills, artistic skills, knowledge of color and last but not least wallpapering skills. Thankfully, because of the talent of our craftsmen all of the challenges were met, while exceeding the customer’s expectations. Stop by the Deckevich’s home at 5400 Matoaka Road during Garden Week in Richmond to see for yourself.