NOLA Paint GirlMay 23, 2023 03:17PM ● By Stacy Ashley Murphy
Photo by Bill Sitzmann.
There are a lot of stories from the past three years about people making moves to be closer to family. Aimee Struble, otherwise known as NOLA Paint Girl, was one such person, and the Omaha area is benefiting from it. Struble is a licensed contractor specializing in interior painting, repairs, and the restoration of older homes.
Having lived in New Orleans for more than 20 years, Struble found herself, like many others, without much work in 2020. She had dreams of buying her own old house but had been priced out of the New Orleans market. Struble had a sister in Omaha and knew she would have a support system here.
She moved in with her sister and family in the summer of 2020 and started painting projects for them while she built her own business. With the help of social media, Struble’s talents and expertise in older home renovation gained notice. Specifically, the Preservation Society of Lincoln started following her and shared many of her posts. “They helped to promote me and reposted [my work] and that was huge for me,” she said.
It was through a search for contractors specializing in old home restoration that Alex Arkfeld found Struble. His wife, Sara Gentzler, said they were looking for someone who knew how to keep the integrity of vintage homes to do some work on their 1929 Tudor in the Country Club neighborhood.
The couple hired Struble to replace some crown molding and paint their dining room. “We had a bold color choice we were into and weren’t sure if it was a good choice,” Gentzler said. (Savannah Green by Benjamin Moore Paints—a bold pea green.) “Aimee was very enthusiastic about it and said 'let’s do it.'”
Gentzler said their expectations were exceeded with Struble. “She made the project feel not just like home improvement but fun and personal,” she said. “The color fit so perfectly and so seamlessly into the character of the home but made it feel more ‘us.’”
The couple has since had Struble do other repair work and painting at their house. “She’s jumped in and nailed everything we’ve asked,” Gentzler said.
Over the years Struble has done everything related to rehabilitation and renovations of old homes, but has decided to focus on painting because it was something she could do on her own. “I’m super detailed,” she said. “I’m very picky about the products I use and the way it’s done.
“I like soft bristle brushes and mainly use Wooster Chinex thin-angle sass brushes. I’m a Benjamin Moore paint girl all the way. I also love the boutique companies’ curated colors like Farrow & Ball and Clare too. I do like to go through historical colors when applicable.”
Struble recently gave a talk at Joslyn Castle’s “This Old Castle” speaker series titled "Painting in Historic Homes." She discussed safe and effective paint practices and how to choose the right paints that are eco- and old house-friendly. She said she also loves paint because it’s something that can make a major change in a day.
Struble’s path to being a painter started more than two decades ago. She had been in New Orleans about a year working as a pharmacy tech when she talked to a friend about her interest in the trades. “He introduced me to a contractor, and I said, ‘How would you feel about hiring a girl who doesn’t know anything?’ And he said, ‘How about you start Monday?’” The two contractors she worked with for years were always supportive when others questioned her abilities as a woman in a male-dominated line of work. “They always stuck up for me and always told me I could do it,” she said. “She knows what she’s doing, they would tell them. That’s rare, so I got lucky.”
Struble said she hopes to complete her personal home restoration someday. She spends weekends driving around discovering Omaha’s historic neighborhoods, keeping an eye out for that special property to call her own. “That’s my goal,” she said. “To get into my own house. I have no desire to be a house flipper, but I do want my own home project. I want to rehab a house and do it well.”