By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Theresa Otto of Lester Prairie always had an eye for art, but it wasn’t until she started mixing paint at the hardware store in Winsted that she discovered her passion for decorative wall painting.
“I was able to pick the perfect colors for people’s walls,” Theresa said. “It just came naturally.”
Now, nearly 10 years later, Theresa is immersed in the art of home décor on a daily basis, through her own business, Creative Impressions.
Her services include everything from wallpaper removal and stenciling to professional interior painting and color consultations.
This year, she also added another specialty: concrete resurfacing and overlays for countertops, back splashes, and fireplace surrounds.
Concrete resurfacing is a cost-saving and environmentally responsible trend that’s gaining popularity in upscale homes throughout Minnesota.
An endless array of colors, patterns, and designs are available, resulting in a unique, sophisticated look that perfectly complements any home decor.
Theresa works side-by-side with her husband, Paul.
“He does all the heavy lifting and all the base-coat painting,” Theresa said. “We have so much fun.”
Paul, who also drives semi-truck part time, does the prep work for painting so that Theresa can focus on the artistic aspect.
“It works really well,” Theresa said. “He is just a real blessing to me.”
The couple has been living in Winsted since 1970.
Theresa had been a stay-at-home mother when her children were young, later on taking a part-time job at the hardware store in Winsted.
Immediately, she was drawn to the paint department.
“I started falling in love with colors,” she said. After a year-and-a-half at the hardware store, Theresa decided to transfer to True Value Hardware and Paint in Mound, so that she could work exclusively in the paint department.
“The owner was very perceptive of my talents,” Theresa said. The store opened a decorative painting line, and paid for Theresa to take a basic course.
“It was so fun,” she said. “I realized that I was really, really enjoying this.”
After gaining a little exposure to decorative painting, Theresa was hooked. Paul set up Sheetrock walls in the basement so Theresa could develop her painting skills.
“I just kept practicing and practicing until it was second nature,” Theresa said. The Sheetrock walls were painted on 50 to 100 times, “until they got too heavy to carry,” she said.
At that point, Paul would bring in new walls, and Theresa would start over.
Eventually, Theresa quit her job at the hardware store and enrolled in advanced home décor classes in Minnesota, Missouri, and Chicago.
One of her courses involved hands-on training in Italian plasters.
“They send out the experts from Italy,” she said.
Theresa also has an associate’s degree in business management, which she said has proved invaluable to her success.
In between jobs for customers, Theresa continues to take short art courses to further her skills and knowledge.
She also practices at home, creating samples and designs for her clients.
“Every client is a new experience,” Theresa said. “You have to start from scratch at every job.”
During the initial meeting, Theresa helps her clients identify their goals and budget.
She also identifies the type of artwork, furniture, and other items that will be in the home. This helps Theresa create a personalized color scheme to perfectly match the surroundings. She also makes sure that the colors complement the client’s skin tone.
“So that when I’m done, it is custom made for that house,” Theresa explained.
When Theresa completes a project, she cleans the entire space polishing mirrors, scrubbing floors, and wiping up any messes.
“I literally scrub and dust my way out of the house,” she said. “Every client deserves your best from start to finish.”
Cleaning the home is an added touch for Theresa, who strives for perfection in every aspect of her work.
“My favorite thing is when I’m done and I look at the client’s home, and I know they are happy,” she said. “It’s almost like a runner’s high. It’s exhilarating.”
To learn more about Creative Impressions, go to www.creativeimpressionsltd.com, or call (320) 485-3894.