Venetian Plaster: Those In The Know Don’t Faux

High Sheen Polished Authentic White Venetian Plaster Wall Finish

Custom Authentic Polished Venetian Plaster by SuperStrata for Nicole Fuller Interiors.

In the last few decades the polished Italian limestone plaster as luminous as a pearl has come to be known as Venetian Plaster. Driving its immense popularity is its undeniable beauty, but behind the accent walls there is a storm brewing.

The tempest on the horizon of the design world could very well end the rein of Venetian Plaster as a “timeless” and “classic” wall treatment; the proliferation of badly done fakes by untrained “professionals” and “certified” painting contractors could render this once legendary finish a mere trend. In fact, many so-called “Venetian Plasters” that are installed today are the equivalent of buying Louis Vuitton bags on Canal St: they aren’t real; they aren’t natural; they aren’t quality; and they look like plastic!

True Venetian Plaster and its resplendent aesthetic qualities can only be accomplished with real limestone plaster and great artisanal technique. Authentic Venetian Plaster is made of slaked lime, marble dust, and water. As the plaster cures, it reabsorbs carbon dioxide from the air and returns to a stone state, strong and radiant with the depth of color and translucence of the natural stone that it is comprised of, limestone and marble.

modernCustom authentic, polished yellow Venetian Plaster walls in a mezzanine.

Custom authentic, polished Venetian Plaster walls with little color mottling in a modern mezzanine rivals lacquer for the title of queen of sheen. With the added bonus of being eco-friendly, the all natural plaster finish wins the crown every time. Interior design by Nicole Fuller Interiors. Walls by SuperStrata.

Now you can buy a can of something labeled “Venetian Plaster” at Home Depot, but what is in the can is not Venetian Plaster. The proliferation of these canned imposters full of ethylene glycol, vinyl acetates, acrylics, and resins have turned these so-called Venetian Plasters into a cheap and shoddy commodity, chemically incapable of the depth of color, the play with light, and the longevity that the real thing naturally boasts.

Venetian Plaster in Master Bath lends tranquility and a spa-like quality.

A true Venetian Plaster in a soothing natural tone lends tranquility and a spa-like quality to this master bath. Interior Design by Nicole Fuller Interiors. Wall Finish by SuperStrata.

Authentic Limestone Plaster by SuperStrata in a Master Bath

As pretty as a pearl, a classic wall treatment when paired with non-traditional fixtures and contemporary art make this bath stylish, luxurious, and grounded. Interior Design by Nicole Fuller Interiors. Walls by SuperStrata.

Venetian Plaster in an Upatate New York Home

The high shine qualities of the Venetian Plaster wall finish are topped by a ceiling aglow with Marmorino plaster  with Mica flakes. Interior Design by Nicole Fuller Interiors. Walls and Ceiling Treatments by SuperStrata.

When installed as it was meant to be, with real materials, expertise, and craftsmanship, authentic Venetian Plaster is absolutely gorgeous, but when applied by untrained labor and contractors, the result is often inferior. This is doubly so when inauthentic and second-rate materials are employed to save on labor and cost. The old motto “you get what you pay for” is alive and well in the wall finishing business. Add the environmental benefits of using authentic limestone plasters to the equation, and the real thing always comes out on top.

Benefits of real Limestone Plaster:

  • Authentic limestone plasters are natural & GREEN
  • Mold resistant– less allergens
  • Natural temperature regulator
  • Low VOCs– no harmful vapors or chemicals
  • Made of plentiful natural resources
  • Truly time tested- Used for thousands of years
  • Highly customizable
  • Capable of innovative visual effects and patterns
  • Aesthetically superior to synthetics

Walls Surround Us

Walls are shelter. Walls are privacy. Walls keep things in and keep things out. We are surrounded by them, and when we are lucky, kept safe and warm by them. Walls are ubiquitous yet sometimes they are cursorily styled, not as an afterthought, but almost as a non-thought, something to merely hang a picture on. Other times they are works of art themselves, outstanding jewels that are perfectly suited to their environments.  This blog is dedicated to those outstanding walls that surround us.

Chronicling our obsession, Walls Surround You profiles all things wall: plaster finishes, paint, design, tile, wallpaper, and of course, the fabulous producers, designers, architects, and decorators that create them. We will feature guest blog posts mixed in with our original content, projects, commentary, book reviews, and trend spotting. We are so excited to have you join us on our journey and to share our passion for the walls that surround us!

Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Wharton Esherick's stair encased in worn plaster walls in his home in PA from Handcrafted Modern by Leslie Williamson

Wharton Esherton’s uniquely artistic home.  Photo by Leslie Williamson from the book Handcrafted Modern

A rough hewn plaster wall, resplendent with history supports a split spiral staircase from the 1939 World’s fair in artist Wharton Esherton’s home and studio in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. There has been a surge of worn walls lately in the blogasphere, but this one in combination with the warmth of the idiosyncratic staircase and large wooden beam with a chair on top, is one of the most earnest we’ve seen. From a wonderful book that we recommend for design (and wall) inspiration, Handcrafted Modern: At Home With Mid-Century Designers by Leslie Williamson.

Fabric covered wall with matching settee. Interior Design by Vessper Wilde.

Fabric covered wall with matching settee. Interior Design by Nicole Fuller Interiors. Photo via Nicole Fuller Interiors.

We had to include this entryway turned interior landscape by the former design duo Vessper Wilde. The settee is upholstered to blend into the fabric-covered wall almost seamlessly, creating the most glamorous camouflage we’ve ever seen. The oh so glam vignette is symmetrically flanked by hanging beaded glass light fixtures and walls of iridescent abalone shell tile. As a counterpoint, the soft, shag rug warms things up; plus, it’s the perfect contrast for the outcropping of black glass occasional tables that reflect the pattern of the fabric.

Custom, handmade plaster panels depicting a tree motif by SuperStrata flank cherry paneled walls.

Forest motif custom handmade plaster panels line the top of wood paneled walls.  Photo ©SuperStrata

It is not everyday we get to stretch our legs and work on a project like this one. Sketched, hand-carved,  and then cast by SuperStrata artisans, the detailed, custom plaster panels that abut the solid cherry wood walls were designed to bring the surrounding outdoors inside.  Exposed beams, wood mantel, inviting furniture, antique church pew: together all of the elements create a comfortably elegant gathering spot.

Detail of custom plaster panel atop wood paneled walls in upstate New York.

Detail of custom plaster panel with trees in upstate New York. Photo ©SuperStrata

Photo ©Jonas Everets

This photo was taken on vacation years ago in Mexico. We’ve long forgotten what town it was in, but we’ve never forgotten this work of traditional Mexican artistry. Unfortunately, we can’t give you too much detail, but we can share its visual splendor with you. We’re imagining the geometric rosette design as a painted contemporary wall treatment.

Lime paint wall finish and Marmorino plaster walls by Christian Liaigre in Alta Gracia Spain

Lime wash and Marmorino. Interior Design  by Christian Liaigre in Alta Gracia, Spain. Photo from Liaigre by Christian Liaigre, Thomas Luntz, Jean-Philippe Piter and Eric Morin

We love Liaigre! What’s not to love? He is so gifted, and we definitely appreciate his talent with walls. Not only two-toned, these walls are two-textured. Buffeting a warm toned limestone and marble dust plaster finish, Marmorino, or “little marble” in Italian, with a cool white lime paint in all of its gritty, brushy beauty is a textural feast for the eyes. Featuring this project and many more with walls that will make you swoon, Liaigre by Christian Liaigre is another must read for interior design devotees.

Detail of the brushy texture in the lime paint finish of a project by Christian Liaigre in Alta Gracia Spain. Photo by Jean-Philippe Piter

Detail of the brush strokes in an eco-friendly lime paint finish by famed Interior Designer Christian Liaigre in Alta Gracia Spain. Photo by Jean-Philippe Piter

Bausman window display by Interior Designer Oliver Furth honoring The Fountainhead

Bausman window display by Interior Designer Oliver Furth. Photo via Oliver Furth

Los Angeles Interior Designer Oliver Furth created this interior, actually a window display, for Bausman’s LA showroom, in honor of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. We’ve included it in our inaugural post for its brilliant use of old blueprints as wall coverings. Given the subject and the context, the blueprints make for a smart show, but in combination with the oversized sexy, organic shaped desk, colorfully contrasting chair, stark black and white art work, and a light fixture mobile composed of architectural photographs, we think it’s downright outstanding. Now, where to find enough blueprints do our own offices…

Venetian Plaster in a high shine yellow warms a mezzanine hallway

One of our Venetian Plasters in a high shine yellow warms a mezzanine hallway. Interior Design by Vessper Wilde. Photo © SuperStrata

Not your average Venetian Plaster, this fresh, custom yellow finish was executed without the mottling that many Venetian Plasters have; perfectly smooth, it has all the sheen and double the glory. It reminds us of that other high shine treatment, lacquer. However, unlike lacquer,  an authentic limestone plaster wall treatment is eco-friendly, which makes us love it even more.

Dune Cast concrete tile by Stephen Lindsay

Dune, seen here in cast concrete, is a shaped tile by Stephen Lindsay. Photo via UrbanProduct

Dune, by Stephen Lindsay, is a contemporary shaped tile available in wood, concrete, and plaster. Abutting a bright white traditional wainscoting, the contrast of the organic inspired tiles is striking.  We are currently obsessed with tile designs that have a modulated surface, but we won’t get on our soap box yet, we have plenty of time for that!

Speaking of time, choosing the images for our inaugural post was daunting- there is so much we wanted to share with you! In the end, all are outstanding examples of their individual styles. We’d love to know what you think!