These Walls Can Talk
When Al and Nancy Brandwein moved into their fourth home in Del Webb Sun City in Huntley, the walls were builder white. The stark walls did not match the couple’s style.
They had collected many treasured art and antique pieces over the years and needed their wall treatment to match their eclectic taste.
“We wanted something that wasn’t too fancy, but had character and was artistic,” said Nancy.
This is where Joe Kempfer, owner of Midwest Wall Design, came in. Kempfer is a faux finish artist who has studied with the top artists of the world and is continuously studying new techniques in painting. He was born in Woodstock, raised in the McHenry area and has been working in Chicagoland for more than 30 years.
Kempfer also works with interior designers, including Jan Hoeft at Interior Motives in Algonquin—samples of his work can be seen there. Kempfer travels to any location to give homeowners a customized wall treatment that fits their needs and style.
“Joe came to the home with his portfolio of more than 40 finishes,” said Nancy. “Each was different with a fancy name.”
“The great thing about faux finishing is that it can be customized to fit any style of décor,” said Kempfer. “And, it won’t cost a fortune. I offer competitive, affordable pricing. Just call for an at-home consultation and you’ll see.”
For the Brandweins, Kempfer created a luster stone finish in the dining room to complement Al’s sketch of Ernest Hemingway. He also painted an old world marmarine finish in the kitchen and sun room, a Bellagio finish in the powder room and a beautiful marble with pearl overlay in the master bathroom. Kempfer also painted the other rooms of the home in the traditional style. It took Kempfer and a helper just 15 days to complete the Brandweins’ home.
“Joe was reliable, neat and polite,” said Nancy. “He wouldn’t even take a drink when I offered. His helper was fantastic too.”
The Brandweins love their home’s new look. The dining room is their favorite—they’ve already hosted a dinner party for their friends to show off the Kempfer’s unique work.
Painting Superman’s Castle
Donnie and Barbara Roberts called Kempfer when they wanted to make over their country home in Huntley. The setting was enough country for this contemporary couple. They called on Kempfer to create a cohesive look for their home based on unique antique finds: an art deco mirror Barbara found in San Francisco, two blue art deco chairs and Japanese plant holders.
“Before Joe painted, there were just pieces,” said Barbara. “He tied our personality together.”
Kempfer painted the Roberts’ first-floor living space as well as their open stairwell and the second floor hallway with luster stone and Bellagio finishes. He gave accent walls a stainless steel look and even refinished the kitchen cabinets with a black lacquer.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know what faux painting was,” admitted Donnie. “But, once Joe started, I knew we had to keep going. It was so cool.”
“Joe gave us choices and ideas for where to go with our visions,” added Barbara. “He didn’t just deliver what we wanted; he expanded upon what we asked for. He even painted the light switch covers and vents.”
Pleasing the couple wasn’t the only challenge of this project. The Roberts’ son, Keanu, played a big role in the redesign of the first-floor living space. By creating a cohesive color palette throughout the living room, dining room, family room and kitchen, Kempfer created an adult-friendly space where a kid can still be a kid.
Kempfer, who is also a skilled woodworker, built benches with storage in the living room and bar area to store away Keanu’s toys when company visits. Keanu was thrilled about the new design, to say the least.
“When Keanu walked into the house the first time he said, ‘Dad, it’s Superman’s castle,’” remembered Donnie.
Above and Beyond
Kempfer’s clients cannot say enough about him and his work. Both the Brandweins and Roberts gushed about his cleanliness and promptness. Keanu lovingly refers to him as “Uncle Joe” and hugs him as a greeting.
“I really trusted this man to come into my home and be around my family while I was away,” said Donnie, who travels for his job.
Trust is key for Kempfer. He prides himself on creating meaningful and lasting relationships with his clients.
“I love making friends with my clients,” said Kempfer. “A lot of my clients and I are lifelong friends.”
Kempfer is also meticulous when it comes to being neat.
“Joe showed up in designer sweaters to paint,” exclaimed Barbara.
Kempfer says this is something that sets him apart. He’s not rushing, slopping around paint. With his tools in hand, Kempfer is more than a painter—he is an artist. Each job is customized for the client and no two walls are alike. His dedication to perfection and ability to produce a client’s vision are what make his customers satisfied and wanting more.
Carol and Marty Liebert of South Beloit called on Kempfer to update their traditional home.
“Our house was in a time warp,” Carol joked. “We needed to update it. When Joe came in, he was initially going to do two rooms—then it turned into six.”
Poorly applied wallpaper proved to be a challenge for Kempfer, but he was persistent and made sure the job was done correctly. The Lieberts were impressed with his determination and eye for detail.
“He was so willing to do anything outside of the painting,” said Carol. “He really helped me through the whole renovation of my home. When I was in deep in a bathroom remodel, Joe offered to paint the lighting and plumbing fixtures to match.”
Kempfer’s experience in design, his eye for color and ability to listen to what his customers need and want leave a lasting impression on anyone he meets. “He’s such a talent,” said Carol. “Other people would just come in, do their jobs and that’s it. He really went above and beyond. You don’t see many people like that.”