Special Effects

Oglevie applies a deep-hued glaze over the base coat on a fireplace surround. He’s a firm believer that good prep is key.
Oglevie applies a deep-hued glaze over the base coat on a fireplace surround. He’s a firm believer that good prep is key.

Painter Matt Oglevie’s decorative finishes are subtly showy

Ask Matt Oglevie to describe what he does, and he’ll most likely tell you he’s “just a painter.” Despite his modesty, Oglevie is a skilled decorative finishing expert whose work is more than a trade—it’s an art.

Kansas City Spaces: How did you get started with your craft?

Matt Oglevie: It was kind of an accident. I moved here in 1995 and didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but a good friend of my uncle had a faux finishing business and needed some help. I started out doing grunt work—lots of the prep work, mainly—and it progressed from there. I learned by experience and watching him. He was really picky and had a lot of high-end clients so the final product always had to be perfect. He taught me the importance of doing a good job. When he decided to focus on another business in 2001, I had people who still wanted some work done so I just went out on my own.

KCS: You’ve been doing this for 20 years now; what changes have you seen in trends since the days of DIY sponge-painted walls?

MO: Sponges are a tool I try to avoid at all costs! A lot of times the effect is just so contrived and uniform. I’ve seen a lot of really bad mottling work where you can tell where the painter stopped and started or where the effect just fades out toward the corners. Color is the biggest change I’ve noticed. In the 90s, everyone had these deep, dark red dining rooms. Then people edged away from red, and gold became huge. Now I’m seeing a lot of cool, contemporary tones—blacks, whites, grays and shades of blue. Textures and patterns have changed too, from bigger, busier looks to more subtle finishes. In the 90s, the wall finish was the focus of your dining room, but now it’s more that the finish is done to complement the art and furniture in the room rather than being the focus.

KCS: How do you continue to evolve your style and skills to deliver what today’s homeowner wants?

MO: I’m constantly experimenting with technique. Clients often will pull out a photo from a magazine to show me what they want. I can easily spend a few hours working to create a match, getting the base tone right, then applying glazes. When I’m working with clients, a sample board is really important. That way someone can really see what they’re going to get.

I make sure to keep up with materials too. It seems like new professional products are being developed all the time. Especially in the last 10 years, there have been a lot of water-borne products to come out on the market. It’s great for the environment and for clean-up, and many times it’s easier to work with.