Area artist and mother becomes ‘mural lady’

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

MIGUEL JUAREZ staff Lori DeCoite shows the mural she painted in her baby daughter’s room. DeCoite was inspired to start a business painting murals after she did these for her children.MIGUEL JUAREZ staff Lori DeCoite shows the mural she painted in her baby daughter’s room. DeCoite was inspired to start a business painting murals after she did these for her children.

On a Thursday afternoon, Lori DeCoite’s Metuchen home is quieter than usual.

Her 9-month-old daughter, Sophie, is fast asleep, and so, for that matter, is her 2 1/2-year-old boy, Michael.

For an artist, peace and quiet can be vital. For a mother of two, it can be all too rare.

But it was becoming a mother that ultimately led DeCoite to pursue her passion for painting on a professional level.

DeCoite, 31, grew up in Cherry Hill and was an art education major at Kean University in Union. She eventually earned her master’s degree in fine arts supervision and taught art at the Wilson School in Westfield before leaving "to have babies" with her husband, Michael.

It was the expression of her creativity as a homemaker that ushered DeCoite into the realm of the entrepreneur.

A little over two years ago, she found herself painting a mural in her newborn son’s room, and it struck her that she could perform a similar service for others.

And thus, her "Mural Lady" business was born.

DeCoite specializes in home decor, painting kitchens, bedrooms, and even furniture in thematic style, often matching her work with the furnishings already in place — an example being the mural in her son’s room, a take-off on the bedding designs.

She’s also done work for some local schools, including the Ken Shirk Child Care Center of the Metuchen-Edison YMCA, and for the Jewish Community Center in Edison.

One of the biggest adjustments of going into business for herself has been the medium itself, she said.

As a student, she worked in oil paints.

"It’s an easier medium — it’s a little less scary. It stays wet for a long time," making it easier to blend colors and textures, she says.

Her work as the Mural Lady has meant moving from the canvas to the surfaces of walls, which calls for faster drying and less forgiving acrylics.

Add to that the pressure of working in someone’s home, and she says, "It took a long time to be brave," adding, "You have to trust yourself."

DeCoite was aided in finding that trust by some of her first clients, who were friends and acquaintances. "They helped me build my portfolio and my self-esteem."

One such client and friend, Lisajoy Marinello of Colonia, is a former classmate and a fellow young mother who made use of DeCoite’s talents to give her kitchen an Italian bistro theme complete with grapevines, Ital­ian expressions, and "faux painting" — a technique that creates the illusion of texture on a flat wall.

DeCoite works closely with prospec­tive clients, first providing a detailed questionnaire to determine everything from the size and layout of the room to the colors and design of the desired work.

Things slowed down a little bit with the birth of Sophie, she says, but "lately, I’ve become more business-ori­ented. I went to downtown Metuchen and left cards and brochures," at sev­eral establishments. "Everybody was so receptive."

In fact, the Brewed Awakening cof­fee shop on Main Street has asked her to retouch its pre-existing mural.

And husband Michael is right be­hind her, DeCoite says. "He has been ultra-supportive," she says, staying home with the kids while she ventures out on evening jobs. "He knows art is very important to me."