Thursday, November 10, 2005
Lisa Haas-Cappuccio’s got a fancy name, a fancy van and a fancy job, but comes off like a gal you could sit down and have a beer or two with.
Haas-Cappuccio, a decorative painter based in Monterey, works on some of the toniest homes in the county, but ask her to describe her work, and she practically snorts.
“Okay, you see this design?” she asks, holding up a photograph of an intricate twisting detail painted on a garden wall. “We call this scrolly stuff. If we ever did a book, we say it would be scrolly stuff volume one, and scrolly stuff volume two.”
“We” is Haas-Cappuccio and her “right hand girl,” Natalie Taggart. The two, backed up by a small crew, hand-paint anything that a client wants. “We never get bored,” Haas-Cappuccio says. Besides the scrolly stuff, they can do designs like frogs, turtles and dolphins, fake but very realistic brick and stone walls, and intricate still lifes. For one client, they created a memory-wall of sorts, with scenes from the client’s life. A black lab that balanced a doggie biscuit on his nose was recreated, as was a neighborhood raccoon making off with the contents of the client’s garbage can.
“We are totally diverse,” Haas-Cappuccio says.
And although totally capable of fancy, tradiional faux finishes, with names like “tortiseshelling” and “malachite,” Haas-Cappuccio says she doesn’t get much call for those techniques.
“Unless you’re living in some palace somewhere…” she says.
What she does do is impressive enough. Her white van is painted with a list of her painterly arsenal, such as fresco, grisalle, trompe l’oiel, grottesca, scagliola, glazing, gliding, stencils, patinas, venetian plaster, marbelizing, wood graining, metallic finishes, lime wash, crackle and craquelure, waxing, frottage, distressed finishes, murals and artwork.
It’s a list that almost didn’t get made. In college, Haas-Cappuccio disappointed her father by getting a degree in biology and chemistry.
“My dad was heartbroken,” she says. “He said, ’Why didn’t you go into art? You were always so artistic.’”
Haas-Cappuccio ran a seafood business in Southern California before finally starting her painting business.
Despite not advertising, Haas-Cappuccio’s got a huge client list and a waiting list with 30 people on it. “We can’t keep up [with all the demand],” she says. “People get mad.”
When she’s not coming up with creative ideas like plastering a map into someone’s wall, she’s running around from job to job, assisting in details that go way beyond the realm of painting.
For a recent client, besides faux finishing the walls and covering up cheap cabinetry with paint to make it look like rich wood, Haas-Cappuccio ordered custom cabinetry to flank the fireplace, and painted all of it to blend perfectly. The house that was mostly one-dimensional, with safe but bland shades of cream, now has depth and richness to it. For another client, she designed and painted light covers to hide ugly fixtures. Haas-Cappuccio has become so integral to the design of many clients’ homes that she will also suggest tile, fabric, and lighting.
“We’re kind of like painters-slash-decorators,” she says. “We do all the molding, woodwork, cabinetry, baseboards, lots of fireplaces—Natalie and I have even carved fireplaces.”
But with all the responsibilities, Haas-Cappuccio and Taggart keep it light.
On a recent hot day, the ladies stopped traffic on Scenic Drive in Carmel. The two sported bikini tops while balancing on ladders, painting a fancy house. Music was provided by a boom box, painted pink and decked out with flames.
“It’s fun, it’s certainly fun,” Haas-Cappuccio says.
Lisa Haas-Cappuccio can be reached at 375-3776.