Incorporating antique or reclaimed wood and stone has become increasingly popular.  Showcasing materials that have battered by time can give a space an enduring quality.  Their time-worn textures and patinas can make a room look and feel as though it has always existed.  

But what about the walls?

Have you noticed certain walls that have a soft, matte, mottled texture—frequently in hazy hues with brushstrokes abounding?  Is this happy accident of age?  It is probably lime-plaster.

How can you get that timeless look in your new home?  Plaster.

The mention of ‘plaster’ may conjure painful memories of the unfortunate ‘Tuscan’ decorating movement that we’re still trying to forget.  

Today, Venetian plaster is popularly used to create minimalist interiors with a romantic sense of memory in homes of style and substance.

Recently, there have been technological advances in the composition of lime plaster that have made it much easier to use.  It’s becoming more prevalent and more people are getting exposed to it.  There is also an enduring and increasing appreciation for natural materials in design. There’s a growing focus on blurring the architectural line between indoors and out. And lime plaster is quite literally the earth on your walls.

Lime-plaster has been used to finish walls since ancient times.  Lime wash, mineral paint, and decorative plaster has been around for millennia.  Ancient Romans, Egyptians, and pre-Columbian peoples all used varying forms of lime plaster and paint derived from mineral pigments.

With growing frequency, one of the finishing steps on the walls of our projects is to apply a skim coat—several thin layers of plaster—to achieve a smooth texture with a subtle depth.  The cool feel and unique mottled texture of plaster walls has forever been appreciated by homeowners with a discerning eye.  In its latest sleek reincarnation, plaster is becoming an increasingly popular feature in new homes for powder rooms, kitchens and accent walls.


Mineral and gypsum-based plaster and water-based tints can add a touch of enduring charm to a new home and is one of the more cost-effective types of plaster walls.  The installation is also generally more forgiving.  Gypsum-based plaster is certainly more expensive than paint, but not exponentially more expensive than paint.  Mineral-based plasters and pigments can all be applied over existing walls and sheetrock.  It is typically a two-to-three step process with a natural patina that only improves with time.


Tadelakt is a traditional Moroccan plaster finish that is waterproof, so well-suited to bathrooms and kitchens.  The word “tadelakt” itself is derived from Arabic and means’to rub’ or ‘knead’—which makes sense given how it is installed.

While its fresh minimalist look may seem modern, it is actually been used for centuries in Morocco.  Similar in appearance to traditional Venetian plaster or limewash, Tadelakt is different in that it’s extremely waterproof, water-repellent and mold/mildew-resistant—making it ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, kids and high-traffic areas.

The process of applying tadelakt plaster can be time-consuming and laborious. Tadelakt requires a cement scratch coat, tile backer board and six to seven coats..  It’s a considerable process, which is why it can be costly—but it is extremely durable and will last a long time.

Where mineral plasters like Venetian require two-to three coats, Tadelakt can require six to seven coats as well as additional burnishing and an application of oil-based soap. 

The soap that is rubbed onto the surface reacts with the lime in the plaster to form calcium stearate which is insoluble.  Being seamless and watertight, however, also means that it can difficult to patch or repair.  Tadelakt, more expensive than gypsum plaster, is more comparable to the cost of tile or masonry walls.


If you have a different view of what painted walls can be—consider plaster.  If you want something interesting and original yet timeless and understated in its sophistication—decorative plaster might be the key to the look you’ve been seeking.  Plaster has a finish, a feel, a look, a depth in color, even a fresh smell — so different than what we’re accustomed.  It is perfect for homes where you want your walls to have earthy tones and textures that look and feel like they’ve stood the test of time.  And they will.

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