I’m not sure there’s anyone in the Garden & Gun office who loves a painted floor or a rambling botanical mural quite like I do. Just like the building arts of plasterwork and carpentry and ironwork, to me, decorative painting adds a final layer of beauty and personality and artistry to a Southern home (or any structure, anywhere, for that matter).
In the South, one of the best-known examples of a painted floor exists at Monticello, where Thomas Jefferson used a vibrant grass-green hue that still looks fresh two centuries later. And to bring the European look of the decorative mural into Southern homes, many designers over the last half-century have turned to the master decorative painting of Bob Christian, in Savannah.
It’s refreshing to see young artists championing the art, too, and these days I am particularly fond of following the work of Hayden Gregg, in Atlanta, Georgia.
“I think people in the South like their homes to be inviting and lived in and not stuffy,” Gregg says. “Decorative painting adds a playfulness that makes a home feel less like a museum.” Gregg earned his master’s degree in museum studies from the University of Washington, in Seattle, where he focused on decorative collections, and is now a member of the Decorative Arts Trust, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit. When he couldn’t find the right museum job right out of school, Gregg pivoted to the world of interior decorating. His installations for designers since have spanned from Buckhead to Fifth Avenue, including projects for Jared Hughes, Melanie Turner, and Amanda Lindroth.
In his current portfolio, you’ll see ginghams, geometric motifs, faux finishes, chinoiserie-inspired looks, and more. “The process really depends on the project,” he says. Square footage, the elements he has to paint around (like windows), and the pattern and scale all factor in. “The longest project I’ve done took twenty-three days in Sea Island, Georgia.”
But by far his favorite creations are for historic homes. For one in particular, in the Forest Park area of Birmingham, Alabama, the homeowners couldn’t hang wallpaper because the walls were made of textured plaster. “It’s a grisaille landscape,” he says of his solution, a grayscale technique that peaked in the sixteenth century, “and it just really suits the house.”
To learn more about Gregg, follow him on Instagram @haydenpaints.