Last year was a banner year for local painter Ron Feley of Ronbo’s Fine Painting.
As he does every year, Feley entered some of his local house-painting projects in the Chicago’s Finest Painted Ladies & Her Court paint competition. Now in its 38th year, the contest, which is sponsored by the Chicago Paint & Coatings Association, recognizes properties for their beautiful paint jobs, focusing on the craftsmanship of the paint work, as well as how well the paint complements the structure of the building.
While he’s had projects win in the past, this year Feley racked up six awards for his work painting Oak Park homes, the most he’s ever been awarded.
“This past year I entered more homes into the contest than I have in the past. I believe it was 10 homes in all,” he said.
“They added and changed up some of the categories in regards to the architectural style and/or the type of repair work required to complete the restoration of the homes exterior, so I was able to enter more categories.”
This year’s winners include three in the category “Best Use of Color for the Style of the Home.” These houses are 164 N. Elmwood, a stucco, two-story home with brown paint details; 847 N. Euclid, a stucco, four-square home with blue trim; and 911 Fair Oaks, a colonial style home with green, painted shingles.
A house at 613 N. Harvey Avenue won for “Best Use of Craftsmanship of Paint Application.” The grey stucco bungalow has craftsman-style yellow and green painted accents.
Paul Young’s house at 248 Home Avenue won for “Best Use of Color for a Non-Victorian.” His 1890 Queen Anne Style home was not the easiest paint job, according to Young.
“It was one heck of a job. It’s a big house,” he said.
He added that he opted to keep the home’s paint colors during the refresh, saying, “It’s a neighborhood classic, and we want to keep it that way.”
While the old clapboards have had to be repainted and repaired in the past, Young said of Ronbo’s team: “They did an absolutely excellent job. This was the best we’ve had.”
Abigail Hodges’ house at 725 Hayes won for “Best Use of Paint Detail.” Hodges said that her family’s 109-year-old bungalow was in need of a refresh when they hired Ronbo’s based on word-of-mouth reviews from friends.
“We had a lot of fun choosing the final red shade,” she said. “We narrowed it down to eight or nine colors and painted swatches and had the neighbors come and vote. It was very fun.”
When Feley’s team arrived for the job, they discovered that a lot of the underlying wood needed some work, and that was part of the job. Feley also advised about complementary colors for the front door and stairs. Hodges said his expertise shows.
“He was right, and it looks great.”
Feley noted that one thing where his teams excel is the prep work and carpentry repairs they can make on historic wood homes like Hodges’.
“The extensive preparation and the attention to detail that we perform on all our exterior projects including scraping all of the wood and not just the peeling paint, caulking and often wood repair, as well as applying one coat Mad Dog Primer and two coats of paint allow us to get clear crisp cut lines,” he said.
As a lifelong Oak Parker of more than 60 years, Feley said he has a great appreciation for historical homes, which allows him to assist homeowners with color choices.
“I have done extensive research in addition to just paying particular attention to what colors look good together and where to place them on homes of many different styles. that make them look appealing,” he said. “I guess you could say I have developed an intuition for where to place what colors on a home to produce the desired effect.”
Feley said he takes that same level of care with all of his Oak Park and River Forest projects – 71 in 2023. He estimated that during his 33 years in the business, he has painted thousands of houses in the area.
“For me it’s not just a job but a passion,” he said.