About 15 years ago our client, Sope Phang, decided it was time to step away from the “night owl lifestyle of bartending in the burgeoning small town neighborhood of Park Slope” and figure out what she wanted to do with her daylight hours and her life. We thought you would enjoy hearing in her own words about her fine interior painting and paper hanging business called 3 FINGERS PAINTING, INC. and her life in Maplewood.
How did you become involved in your field of work?
I answered an ad on Craigslist for a house painting gig that promised to be easy and reliable. I figured, well, I did go to Parsons School of design to study painting, how hard could it be! It turns out that I was a natural at meeting deadlines and cared enough about the work that I convinced my boss at the time that he should set me free, with tools in hand, to start my own company. That I did, along with two friends, some basic tools, and a good real estate broker connection. Off we went! Our first job was overlooking Central Park west and I thought to myself, “Well, if this is the view from my office then how hard can it be?” It’s been 15 years and I hardly get tired of the view. From the Dakota apartments, townhomes in the West Village and penthouses in Tribeca I must say that the views always make my heart flutter. The only thing I long for now is a view of my children playing in our backyard.
Tell us about your most exciting project. And your biggest success.
We’d collaborated and worked for a very well known designer for years. She needed a company she could trust to send out to Los Angeles to execute her design for a homeowner who happened to be an architect. She knew we could make her plan flawlessly come to life. The deadline was impossible to meet and we had to get it done in 7 days. The paint had been shipped and it arrived in the bottom of a crate in a rainbow puddle of a mess. We salvaged what we could and trucked along, spent 18 hours a day taping and mixing and rolling until it was done and coasted on the fumes back east. Our hard work paid off as the designer and clients were thrilled, and we were featured in Interior Design Magazine.
What is your biggest challenge professionally?
The hardest part about owning a painting company is the fact that many people think that painting happens in a weekend, with friends and a six pack. I always tell my clients that I can paint their home in a weekend if they’d like, but the devil is in the details and the detail is in the prep. The real work happens well before the paint tin even gets opened as that is the easiest part of the job. Did you know that a painter can go around one room at least 6 times before any paint is even applied to the walls? Patching, sanding, priming, cutting in and painting every surface at least twice is an exercise in monotony and patience and is not for the faint of heart!
Tell us why you chose to live where you do.
We chose Maplewood because after 20 years of living in NYC you start to wonder what it’s like to not have to fight over space. I’ve resorted to leaving notes on not so innocent space-and-a-half taker’s vehicles on alternate side parking days, to calling out litterers at stop lights, and to purposely shoulder checking sidewalk blockers looking at their phone or taking up too much space with their strollers! For now I will have to phase out the “city white noise” setting on my sound machine to fully acclimate to the peace and quiet of our new home.
Tell us what you love most about living where you do.
I’m going to take my liberties here as we are not technically moved in yet, but we’ve spent many weekends at our house whilst under construction. I love seeing our boy Lux in our backyard, playing in the driveway with our next door neighbor’s boy. Not knowing where he is because he ducked out into our other neighbor’s backyard and hearing his laugh faintly. Our girl Wilhelmina toddling around the construction debris of our new home knowing she will leave dirty hand prints on our freshly painted walls. Seeing kids passing a ball to each other from opposite sides of the road. Hearing the commuter train tooting it’s horn down the road. Going to the playground and not having to wait for an empty swing. Quiet.
Please tell us about a typical day in your life.
6:30ish wake up to a very lively 1 year old. Get Lux’s lunch sorted. Work on breakfast. Wake Lux up at 7:30. Have 10 minutes of somewhat catch up time with my wife Jena, who not only keeps our family machine well oiled but gently reminds me of all the things I’ve forgotten to do. Load up the work van and enjoy my alone time in traffic listening to NPR. Get to the job site and deal with clients and employees. Get home and somehow manage to sit down and have dinner with everyone before bed and books!
Please tell us anything else about your profession that you think our readers would find interesting.
Folks, if you think your cleaning person is thorough, think again. Check the top of your kitchen cabinets, behind your toilets, on top of your baseboards and on your bathroom vents…. so much “history” there to unpack.
And also, go with your gut. You should have a good feeling about the person who will be spending a lot of time in every square inch of your home. Trim and ceilings do not always need to be painted in white. A dark color in a small room is not necessarily a bad thing. Give anaglypta wallpaper a chance.
To see more of Sope Phang’s work or contact her, go to her website at 3fingerspainting.com. She is also on Instagram @3fingerspainting.