With graceful ease and confidence, Jean Jost of Hillsboro moves across scaffolding Friday as she removes wallpaper from a 19-foot wall in the home of Mike and Kathy Ghahremanzadeh in Carriage Hills, Hillsboro.
Most women Jost’s age spend their time knitting, baking, or at least not atop boards and pipes.
Jost isn’t ready for a rocking chair. She’s been wallpapering, painting, and helping homeowners make improvements to their homes for the past 30 years and there’s no sign that she’s going to stop anytime soon.
“I’m afraid if I slow down, I’ll stop and that’ll be it,” Jost said with a laugh.
It began when Jost did work in her own home. A neighbor was a professional contractor, working in the area, doing mostly interior work. Jost started part-time and eventually took over the hobby which became a business.
Jost’s daughter, Bev Knust, has been helping since 1996, and continues to help when she’s not needed on her family farm.
With a scraper in one hand and an electric steamer in the other, Jost methodically makes her way across the wall — carefully removing wallpaper.
Jost does the high work, Knust does what she can reach from a ladder.
Family friend Don Arnold helps the women with scaffolding, designing and building it as needed for each job.
Jost and Knust juggle not only equipment while atop ladders, but they also juggle jobs as well.
“We spent the morning working one job and them came here this afternoon to work on this one,” Jost said.
The Ghahremanzadehs recently moved to Hillsboro and wanted to make their newly-purchased home their own.
“We heard about Jean,” Kathy Ghahremanzadeh said.
She appreciates the women being able to do the job and they have become fast friends.
“I make coffee for them and we have a chance to visit when they take breaks,” Ghahremanzadeh said.
There isn’t much time to waste, however. The women are on a time crunch because Ghahremanzadeh wants the work finished in a couple of weeks. When the wallpaper is removed from the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and the children’s bedroom walls, paint will be applied.
Jost and Knust also strip and refinish woodworking.
“Wallpaper has changed a lot in the past 30 years,” Jost said. “For that matter, painting has changed, too.”
It used to be every room was wallpapered.
“Now we’re seeing more wallpaper being removed and replaced with paint,” Knust said.
More variety of paint colors and textures make paint a more popular choice.
The pair have worked in Newton, McPherson, Wichita, and throughout the county.
“When we start a project, we want to get it finished,” Jost said, but there can be some surprises along the way.
“You don’t know what you’re getting into until you do it,” she said.
What may start out as a simple job could become more complicated. For example, as wallpaper is peeled, Sheetrock issues may be revealed, requiring additional work.
Maintaining senses of humor and upbeat attitudes makes their workdays quickly pass.
Many of Jost and Knust’s clients are repeat customers because of the quality of their work.
“We enjoy what we do,” Knust said. “We work really well together.”
So, mother and daughter continue to work — enjoying company, steadily making their way to the end of the project.
“I enjoy this,” Jost said. “It keeps me flexible and healthy.”