Every trend has a history, and so it is true for the current Venetian Plaster Trend. The point in time that is of particular interest to us here is not hundreds of years ago but just three decades ago, in the 80’s and 90’s when the latest variation of the trend took hold not only in residential America, but corporate America as well. Plastered walls were the preferred material, and with them came a series of materials and applications that focused on a finished room that displayed a unique visual texture.
Fast forward to today, when there is the current resurgence of interest in the architectural style. Venetian plaster is simply another name for lime plaster, but when segregated from other natural materials (the current trend) it serves two purposes. Not only is the artistic potential realized by the designer, but it also hardens into limestone which has great durability in homes and has been used for that purpose dating back to Ancient Greece.
The end result lends a softer, more earthy environment to a room. Rather than the focus being on the wall or wall design, using Venetian plaster shifts the focus to the entire room, and if done properly, will be “sensed” rather than visually acknowledged. The key to achieving this effect is through the choice of lighting and wall color. One architect calls it “visual silence.” That means that choosing the right designer is equally important to using Venetian plaster in your home or office.
Advances in technology of the material and creation of lime plaster have also played a major role in its comeback. One drawback of the style in the 90’s was that a single scuff or damage to a wall would require re-plastering the whole wall – or you would have to live with it. The 21st century versions are very low maintenance and should a damaged area ruin the visual, smaller sections can be repaired virtually invisible to the naked eye. However, the creation of these low maintenance materials has not sacrificed durability to achieve its end.
There is the technical side to Venetian plaster. Visual appearances are great, and having a material that is low maintenance is ideal for homes that have children and when a lifestyle is so hectic every minute counts. But we also live in an environmentally conscious world, and nowhere is our environment more important than within the four walls of our home or place of work where we spend much of our time. The technological improvements have increased the quality and safety of Venetian plaster, making it a preferred material for many people.
First, the issue of volatile organic compounds or VOCs is critical when choosing a material for your home. VOCs are gases that are invisibly emitted from certain solids or liquids and pose both a short term and long term hazard to your health. They include a variety of chemicals that are present in the manufacturing process, and while not all VOCs have been linked to health hazards, no VOCs is the safest way to go. Lime plaster has zero VOCs.
No one likes mold or mildew present anywhere in their home, largely due to it being a potential health hazard. Venetian plaster is resistant to both of these common problems. This is because the material is breathable, allowing moisture to escape from the walls.
The not-so-good news is the price. Some people can afford it, and there are also people who feel the extra cost is offset by the aesthetic and durability advantages of the material. You can expect to pay in the range of $8 to $15 per square foot of a quality lime plaster.
There are many reasons why Venetian Plaster is trending both in and out of the home. The focus moves away from the material, even with all of its advantages, and with the right design and lighting creates a calming, natural environment to retreat to after a long day at the office. In the office, it can be strategically used to create spaces that act as stress reducers, such as lunch rooms and cafeterias. Remember that the material is low maintenance, so many of the former problems disappear with the newer lime plasters.
If you decide to pay a premium for Venetian plaster, you can look at it as an investment rather than an expense. Consider how much time and maintenance people with standard plaster walls will have to spend washing, patching, repainting, and even replacing over a decade. Lime plaster requires less than a quarter of the time investment and is environmentally friendly, so you can add health benefits to the list of things you will not have to pay for when making the final decision.
It is difficult to find a downside to the trend, which is why so many people are creating their own visual safe space in their home that is available 24 hours a day. The right combination of color and lighting may also result in less energy being used, saving you even more money, though money is not the bottom line for choosing Venetian plaster. You can be part of an architectural trend that makes sense and is practical.
Here are a few addition Venetian plaster photos for inspiration: