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The paper trail

Pat Patera

Amy Pranger the paper hanger. For 25 years, working under that moniker, she hung wall paper the old fashioned way; bought a roll and pasted it up.

But seven years ago, she started to play with wallpaper, creating her own designs.

Now clients fly her to New York to paper their homes. To Oregon, Michigan, and trendy Carmel, Calif. But most days, she commutes from Dayton to Reno to hang high-end homes.

“The challenge used to be waiting for the phone to ring,” says Pranger. “Now it’s just keeping up.”

She hangs six days a week and on Sundays, makes paper. Pranger employs one assistant, Connie Small. And, she hires the agile to hang high-ceilinged homes those hillside mansions sporting 14- to 20-foot-high ceilings.

A custom finish is what propelled Pranger paper to such heights.

She starts with butcher paper, in brown. Then applies the secret faux finish. It turns out looking like leather, or tobacco paper, rock, or even slate tiles. She does metallics and can match the marble of an antique table. In her own home, she matched the family cat.

Not that she always hits home on the first try.

“It can be challenging to do the exact match,” she says. “Usually it doesn’t take too many tries, but sometimes I must go back with a new sample batch. My major challenge is to get people to accept that it’s so simple.”

And while the technique is currently kept under wraps, it will be unveiled in a 22-minute commercial video, complete with recipe book.

Pranger is working with Jan Mink, president of Key Marketing in Michigan, to develop a how-to video. Mink plans to sell it on sales channels QVC, HSN, and advertise it on HGTV.

She’s targeted sales outlets Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menards, a large Midwestern chain. Next: International sales, for which she’s partnering with overseas companies.

“Anybody who sells paint will want this,” says Mink.

In the video, “Children four to 18 demo how easy this is to do,” she says. When the wallpaper video gets rolling, Mink says she and Pranger will form an LLC.

The paper hangs in the Makin Coffee shop at 655 Highway 50 East in Dayton. Owners Larry and Barbara Larson commissioned a hang when the shop opened last April.

Larson picked the colors to complement a 12-foot mural on the wall: gold, green, brown.

“Customers are taken back by it,” he says. “People have to touch it. Interior decorators come in to show other people. Contractors come in just to see it.”

While her brother, a construction superintendent, told Larson about Pranger, the hanger credits Cydne Sapperstein Interiors for her workload. “She gets me most of my jobs,” says Pranger.

“I keep her very busy,” says Sapperstein. “I love using her paper for a drama effect in a dining room. And, she gives columns a Tuscan quality for a fraction of the cost. She does a fantastic metallic for bathrooms. It does not lift because she seals it. She even papers wine cellar floors; you can walk on it. This paper can minimize the cost; where they would otherwise spend a fortune.”

The cost, says Pranger, is comparable to high-end wallpaper.

Regular paper is $25 a roll, sold in two-roll bolts for $50.

This is $100 per roll, 25 square feet, and includes installation.

Pricing depends on difficulty of installation, height of the hang, and variations.

What’s hot in homes right now?

Translucent parchment paper, says Sapperstein. With a clear glaze. Trends for oriental is very hot. And Travertine.

“Anything you can find, she can mimic it,” says Sapperstein.

Another client who encourages Pranger to pull out all the stops is Judy Reynen of Reynen & Bardis Communities.

“I used her in nearly all the model homes,” says Reynen. “With me we’ll always experiment and I’ll sometimes say to try again.”

At The Estates at Mount Rose, she says, Pranger interpreted the floor on the walls. “The whole wall looks like stone. It looks fantastic. And for the entry, she made wallpaper that looks like layers of slate.”

In Sparks Pranger paper accents model homes at Horizon, Galaxy, and Legends. There, she used a leather look on a fireplace wall and up the stairway.

“It really is phenomenal,” says Reynen. “She’s very, very talented.”