jen's interior Painting

Jen Halvorson and crew climb mountains to get job done right

It’s a snowy Sunday in late November (2022), and Jen Halvorson and crew have made it up a twisty, slippery, steep mountain road to a newly built house they are painting.

When you’re as busy as she is, the owner of Jen’s Interior Painting works Sundays and goes wherever the jobs take her. Painters are in high demand.

“We’ve got six employees, so we’re getting jobs done pretty quickly,” she says, admitting she’s busy all the time.

Not bad considering she started her own home-based business in Oliver just two years ago. (2020)

Matt Leyes and Ravina Johal, owners of Black Sage Butcher in Oliver, show some of their meat products. (Richard McGuire Photo)
Jen Halvorson is the owner of Jen's Interior Painting, a business she has run from her Oliver home for about two years. (Richard McGuire Photo)
Jen Halvorson paints with a roller while Jaspal Brar and Lovepreet Virk prepare to start another wall. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Originally from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Halvorson came to Oliver six years ago in search of better weather – a statement that seemed ironic as heavily falling snow blanketed her vehicle outside.

She serves an area extending from Summerland to Osoyoos and Keremeos to Rock Creek. The only thing holding her back from plans to serve a wider area is logistics, she said.

Halvorson started painting about 10 years ago when she worked for others on renovation jobs.

“I always got the painting part at the end of it because nobody else wanted to do it,” she said. “I like doing it.”

What’s the attraction of painting?

“Instant sense of gratification,” she replies with a big smile.

A worker puts paint onto a roller in a tray. Too much paint on the roller can cause splattering. (Richard McGuire Photo)

In her earlier renovation jobs, she learned other trades and even red-sealed as a steamfitter pipefitter. She learned painting from different journeymen painters.

Now that she has her own business, she is always on the job site herself to make sure the work is being done right.

“Everybody is trained by me, so everybody’s quality is to my standards,” she said.

Asked what she teaches new painters, she replies: “Everything. Rolling. How to roll properly, how to cut properly, how to not get paint on the floor.”

This not only involves a lot of covering with plastic and drop sheets, but also being aware of any splatters that come off the roller.

Jen Halvorson works atop a ladder to reach the area at the edge of a ceiling with a brush.. (Richard McGuire Photo)

The lower level of that house in the mountains has had its bare drywall transformed to a cool “mint” colour, a bluish green. It’s one of her favourite colours and she uses it in her own home.

On the upper level, her workers, Jaspal Brar and Lovepreet Virk are working with rollers and brushes to paint walls and ceilings that slope with the rooftop.

When Halvorson advises customers on choosing paint colours, she suggests that it depends on the space, and whether they like warm colours or cool colours. Lighter colours with higher light reflection values can make a room look bigger.

Grey tends to be popular now, which Halvorson suggests is because, “it’s a pretty safe colour.”

The walls on the lower level were painted with "mint," a bluish green. (Richard McGuire Photo)

She prefers lighter and brighter colours, such as the “mint” downstairs and a pink used in one of the bedrooms on the top floor.

She uses an “eggshell” on walls, which refers to the sheen. It’s shinier than a flat paint, but not as shiny as a semigloss.

“We prefer Cloverdale paint,” she adds. “It’s Canadian made in Vancouver. It’s also got the lowest VOCs,” (Volatile Organic Compounds).

Halvorson said she does a roughly even mix of residential and commercial jobs, and a mix of repainting and new painting on fresh drywall, like her work that day in the newly built house.

And, contrary to her business name, she also does exterior painting. The name Jen’s Interior Painting, she said, refers to the BC Interior.

She’s attracted new customers largely through word of mouth, but she has a strong online presence with both a website and Facebook page. She also advertises.

Lovepreet Virk paints the sloped ceiling of an upper-floor room with a roller, which is used for larger, flat areas. (Richard McGuire Photo)

While some people try to save money by painting their own house, Halvorson says a professional can get the job done right and much faster.

“We know what steps need to go first and how to protect everything from getting paint on it,” she said. “Preparation, making sure everything is filled and smooth before you start. Time is way faster I’m sure than trying to do it yourself.”

She lives with her partner, a 22-year-old daughter, and a kitty. Her other three children are all grown and moved away. Her daughter works with her on paint jobs.

Operating a home-based business has its own challenges, but Halvorson said it’s worked well for her. It’s mainly where she does her paperwork. She has no problem separating work from home life.

“I just don’t sit at my computer,” she said. “I eat, breathe and sleep paints.”