Tag Archives: Italy

Beautiful lime plasters

Once you’ve seen an authentic lime washed wall, you’ll remember it. Touch a smooth lime plaster wall and you’ll remember it. There is something about its sleek, creamy feel…  If you’ve traveled in Italy or France or Mexico, chances are that you’ve seen these mottled, weathered, lime plaster walls.

They seem as hard as stone and that is because they are.

Orenzo Design

Lime based plasters and paints are mixed with natural pigments only. The pigments must be suitable to mix with the lime or they will not remain stable and fade over time.

Lime plaster has been used for thousands of years. The entire process is long and involved. Limestone is “cooked” until the chunks disintegrate and become a powder known as calcium oxide. This lime powder is then mixed with water and left to slowly age or “slake”. It is this slaked lime, in a putty form, that is mixed with varying amounts of marble dust and sand. The pigments are added at this time. In this day and age, other ingredients are often added to the lime plaster mix.

Generally, several layers are applied to the walls. As the lime dries, the water is absorbed into the wall and the carbon dioxide “slakes” the lime, rendering the material back to limestone. And it is as hard as stone.

Applying lime plasters directly to a latex or alkyd (otherwise known as oil based) painted wall will not work; lime plasters and paints need to have a special base that allows the lime to adhere to it.

Lime washes are created by mixing the lime putty with water to a milky consistency and applying the wash with a brush.  It has a faded, almost pastel look, that appears authentically weathered.  Lime based paints are generally used to let the walls “breathe” rather than locking in humidity. They are excellent for bathrooms and kitchens as they are a deterrent to mold.

Doors with blue lime wash Photo by Yann Monel

Photo by Ricardo Labougle

Lime wash on exterior Photo by Carlos Domenech

Photo by Carlos Domenech

Photo by Eric Piasecki

Photo by Carlos Domenech

Lime wash walls Photo by Simon McBride

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Filed under Faux finishes, paint, Plasters

An Italian groin vault ceiling… in America

How can one pass up a week in a Tuscan villa? Located just inside of Umbria, an hour from Florence, this to-die-for villa was all you’d expect it to be. (Villa pics coming later.) With the villa serving as our base, we roamed the surrounding areas and just soaked it all in.

While traveling through Arezzo (east of Florence), we fell in love with these groin vaulted ceilings in a non-descript deli. We walked in for lunch, looked up and that was it! So typical of Italy- there is such beauty at every turn.

Arezzo, Italy groin vault ceiling

A few years ago, my SO opened a boutique/cafe that was based on our passion of Italian design. We blew up our video frames of the dome ceiling that we loved in Arezzo to see the pattern and attempted to re-create those designs.

I started out with m-a-n-y sample boards to figure out the finishes; here is one of the final boards- I think I finally figured it out!

Sample board

The groin vault domes (formed by the intersection of two or more barrel vaults) began with a custom engineered metal frame.

Drywall was affixed to the metal frame and the entire ceiling, especially the many seams, was smoothed, filled, sanded, followed by filling and sanding and filling and sanding. The plasterer (Thanks, Dan!) did an AWESOME job.

Almost ready for us...

This is how the ceiling was when we received it. Gulp!

I first primed twice and basecoated twice before even thinking of the finish layers. Then I began applying the three plaster layers, using a custom mix for each layer. The first layer was ochre and lapis blue; the second and third layers were more of what you see- the whites and lapis blues.

Then we painted the designs, some freehand and some with a few specific designs cut in mylar to be consistent on site, trying to stay as close to the original ceiling design as possible.

Once the painting was complete, we added a layer of glaze to “knock back” and age the finish.

We only had 2 weeks to take the ceiling from the raw drywall and seams state to completion.

Still adding! These are the electrical guys for the chandelier installation.

Here we are at work...

The ceiling is 25 feet up there!

Adding details

Here is the beautiful Isola Bella groin vault ceiling, ready for the chandelier to be installed!

We're done! Just waiting for the chandelier

Closeup view of groin vault seam

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Filed under Ceilings, Design, Faux finishes, Inspirations, Plasters