Every now and then, we find a few folks in the industry that we find ourselves consistently going back to time and time again. One of those gems is Jamie Davis. Jamie runs Portola Paints, a handcrafted paint and glaze shop here in LA with his brother Casey Davis. He’s an all-around kinda guy who can be found nerding-out and mixing new formulas to kickin’ back a cold brew with his crew at the end of a day. Mix-master by trade, he’s also a husband and father whose constantly trying to evolve his vision, his company, all while enjoying the sweeter moments with the family.
In today’s interview, we get the chance to chat with him about what keeps his hustle going, tips on choosing the right paint shade, and all about Portola’s specialty finishes, limewash, and roman clay.
Without further ado, take a seat with the effortlessly cool Jamie Davis.
You created Portola Paints with your Brother, Casey! Can you tell us more about what inspired your paths and how you got started?
All our lives, we’ve been around building and high-end architecture. Portola in a lot of ways was born from that. Our dad, Jim has a lot to do with us coming up with the finishes that we offer. His experience building homes in Los Angeles and using different materials taught us a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Our goal was to come up with an authentic way of making old-world techniques more accessible, hybrids of age-old technology that didn’t really translate well into this modern world.
I was first introduced to Lime Wash in 1999 when my dad imported it for a home he was building in Los Angeles. Lime Wash hadn’t really been introduced to the US at this point and that led to our interest in this old-world finish.
What were some of the biggest roadblocks in getting Portola Paints off the ground?
There were huge challenges in educating the clientele. Taking these products (Lime Wash + Roman Clay) that are normally only usable by skilled tradesman and making them accessible to everyday people. The need for these products was there but it was too complicated.
We’re big fans of all your gorgeous finishes! Can you break down your offerings and their differences?
Lime Wash and Roman Clay are our two specialty finishes that create movement and depth. We also have a whole line of traditional paint finishes ranging from interior flat to enamels and glosses for walls, cabinets and trim etc.
Roman Clay is a putty knife applied finish ideal for smooth interior walls, while our Lime Wash is a brush applied finish that can be applied a number of different ways on interior and exterior surfaces.
As a mix master – what inspires all your new colors?
Inspiration can come from all over, from travel to films, working with customers and designers too. Casey and I have been mixing colors and finishes for over 20 years now, and still every single week we are mixing formulas that we’ve never done before. We’ve never used computers to make or match our colors and because of that, we have a very intimate relationship to the colors and formulas that we make. Over the years we’ve been very closely involved with all of our customers and that has helped us to create colors that truly work.
Any pro-tips on choosing the perfect shade?
Picking paint colors can be a very overwhelming experience, especially if you are starting from scratch on a new build. If you are repainting a room or two it is super helpful to look at what you have and kind of go from there. For example, consider your floor color or your existing trim or ceiling paint. Most any color is going to go with a bright white trim or ceiling, but if you have an off-white you need to make sure that whatever colors you are bringing in complement that. It is also important to consider the lighting and direction of the room, but I think more than anything picking a successful paint color has everything to do with what it is next to. Color is all relative. What may look good in one room, might not be the same in another.
What colors are trending?
Piano Room, Figueroa & Table Linen (thanks to you!) are all very popular right now! And for good reason. These colors pretty much embody what we’ve been seeing lately in design. All 3 colors complement each other perfectly. Table Linen on its own has a bit of a creamy, almost yellow undertone that when paired with bright white might feel to buttery. When you pair it with deeper more saturated colors like Figueroa and Piano Room it cuts all the yellow out and it just feels like a warm white. It’s amazing how the surrounding colors that you pair with it can totally transform the way a color feels.
What keeps your hustle going every day? What motivates you?
First of all, I love what I do and am so grateful to be able to create colors and textures that change people’s spaces and ultimately their lives. That is incredibly humbling and satisfying. I still don’t feel like we’ve even scratched the surface in terms of the colors and finishes that we can come out with though. My hope is to get the business running to the point that I can spend more of my time being creative and experimenting.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, either professionally or personally?
“The best thing you can possibly do is learn how to listen.” – Jim Davis (My dad)
What are five things you can’t live without right now?
What’s next for Jamie Davis?
Hopefully more time with the family and more adventures! It feels like Casey and I haven’t had a day off in 5 years. I think we both need a bit of a recharge to take on the next chapter in this incredible journey. I’m looking forward to traveling again and finding more inspiration in this beautiful world that we are so blessed to live in. We are so grateful that our business is finally taking off and for all our wonderful clients.
Color: Guru Lime Wash & Wellfleet Lime Wash. Design by Tiffany Howell of Night Palm and photo by Pablo Enriquez.
Color: Simmer Down in Lime Wash Design by Jake Arnold, photo by Michael Clifford.
Color: Walls // Figueroa, Trim // Piano Room in Eggshell. Design by Amber Interiors and photo by Jess Isaac.
Color: In The Navy in Roman Clay. Design by Athena Calderone and photo by Sarah Elliot
Design by West + Wild, photography by Julie Pointer Adams