One of the benefits of being an interior designer is knowing who to call.
Avery Sefcik, principal of Avery Frank Designs, first became familiar with H.J. Holtz & Son at the start of his career, when he was working in another Richmond design firm. Sefcik opened his own business in 2014, and at the same time, bought a house in the Fan. With a list of envisioned changes and improvements for his personal living space, Sefcik has turned to Holtz & Son again and again.
“They’ve done lots of typical painting [for me], but also lacquered ceilings in the dining room and foyer, and are currently lacquering a bar a deep oxblood red,” he says. “They know all sorts of high-end finishes and details a typical painting company wouldn’t know.”
Most recently, Holtz & Son paper hangers handled the installation of Gracie Studio wallpaper in a first-floor room of Sefcik’s house. The heavy, hand-painted wallpaper is considered among the world’s finest. The company was founded in 1898; a fourth-generation family member is currently at the helm. Artists in New York and China train extensively before contributing to an order, and many finished papers have the work of multiple artists, each of whom has a specialty. All papers are custom-made to clients’ specifications, ensuring a perfect fit and aesthetic appearance.
Sefcik’s row house, which dates to the early 1900s, lacks a large wall that would typically display a Gracie pattern. Still, he was determined to find a way to use the paper, ultimately settling on what he calls parlor No. 2, the middle room on the first floor.
“A lot of people put it in massive rooms, but the impact is still strong” in a smaller space, he says. “Even with three openings and two windows, the room becomes its own cocoon.”
Sefcik began considering Gracie wallpaper for his house in mid-2018. Once he settled on the design – Winter Garden – the order took nearly five months to be completed. “Most Gracie is very colorful; this one is more monochromatic,” he notes.
To install, Holtz paper hangers first hung muslin cloth on the walls, as a foundation for the paper and as an easy mechanism for removal.
“You’re putting art on your walls, and you want to be able to take your fancy paper with you,” Sefcik notes, adding that a recent Instagram post from company president Jenn Gracie shows her easily removing a section of paper from a wall in the company’s headquarters.
Sefcik says stereotypes surrounding wallpaper don’t take into account its benefits. “We went through a period where people thought of wallpaper as the hideous burgundy and greens from the 1980s,” he says. “Wallpaper adds dimension and texture to a room that is very difficult to do with paint. You can make a room feel like a jewel box.”
Working with the craftsmen at H.J. Holtz & Son is always a pleasure, he says.
“I love design and am a bit more adventurous than many homeowners. When it comes to lacquering a ceiling, painting floors, getting outside the box, they know how to do that,” he says. “They are very professional.”