Thursday, October 21, 2010

Living Design: A Journey through the Decorative History of Polished Plasters

In a world where muscular gladiators fought to the death for fame and freedom, where thespians performed in elaborate masks and where all roads led to one place, an emperor by the name of Caesar Augustus entreated one of his senior military engineers, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, to write a series of books that would forever hold the knowledge of the science of building. Vitruvius wrote ten books on the subject. In book number two of this extraordinary collection of wisdom Vitruvius elaborated on the technique of finishing a wall. This technique had originally been developed 7000 years before Christ, honed by the Greeks during the bronze age, and perfected in Vitruvius’s time; the first Roman Empire. Vitruvius’ words over 2000 years ago:
“Owing to the solid foundation given by thorough working with polishing instruments, and the smoothness of it, due to the hard and dazzling white marble, will bring out the brilliant splendor of the colors which are laid on at the same time with polishing.”
The Romans referred to this finish as Marmoratum Opus.
In 1414 Marmoratum Opus would termed “Pietra d’Istria” by Renaissance architect “Palladio” who reintroduced polished plaster into architecture. The name Pietra d’Istria refers to the resemblance of polished plasters to natural stone formations. Much of Palladio’s work that appears to be stone upon first inspection is actually skillful application of lime based plaster with marble dust.
In the 1950’s a Venetian architect named Carlo Scarpa revived the art of polished plaster and innovated to achieve new looks that enhanced his modern designs. It is this excitement and innovation that inspire today’s artisans to create bold new plaster finishes that complement the composition of contemporary spaces.
For today’s designer there is a wealth of choice in wall finishes: paints, fabric, carpet, wallpaper, and plasters all with extensive varieties of color, texture and pattern. While this variety offers a wonderful array of decorative possibility it can become a little overwhelming. Perhaps most confusing is the American made term “Venetian Plaster” which can refer to a variety of decorative finishes including paint, resin, and other faux techniques.
Perhaps you or a client have tried “Venetian Plaster” in the past and have been disappointed with the results. Sometimes the DIY client or amateur applicators may not even be aware that they might be using a product which claims to be plaster when it is really just paint. Other misconceptions may lead people to think that there is a lot of messy sanding or unpleasant fumes involved which should not happen with true Italian polished plasters. It is also worthy to note that while “old-world” or traditional looks can certainly be achieved beautifully with decorative plaster some of the most stunning uses are in contemporary design.
The most important thing to remember is that true decorative plaster or “Piatra d’Istria” is based in natural and abundantly occurring minerals of lime and marble, and is naturally “Green.” Lime based decorative plasters are naturally mold resistant because of their higher alkalinity level. Lime based plasters also attract and lock in carbon dioxide in a process called “carbonation.” These features can be especially attractive for the ecologically minded, those with allergies, or anyone wanting a “healthy home” environment.
It is generally agreed upon that the finest plasters come from Italy; however, there are some American based companies that produce nearly comparable products. The exact formulas of modern decorative plasters are closely guarded by generations of craftsman.
It is no exaggeration to speak in terms of thousands of years when talking about lime-based plasters. Lime-based plasters have witnessed and survived the rise and fall of empires including the Ancient Greek, Egyptian and Roman empires.
It is safe to say that these plasters have stood the test of time. It is also safe to say that decorative plasters are a hot decorating trend right now. Frequently featured on decorating shows like “Extreme Home Makeover” and displayed prominently in luxury hotels, casinos, resorts, and fine homes. Despite the incredible beauty and high-end profile of decorative plaster it can be surprisingly affordable making it a great choice for clients at all income levels.
Choosing an applicator is probably the most important component in making sure that you get the best possible look for your client. Certainly you want to work with someone who is professional, courteous, prompt, and that you trust. Also you want the person that you talked to initially doing the actual work, not sourcing it out to someone that you have never met or heard of. As always, price is important when finding an applicator and a good reputation is a must.
Without question the biggest factor when choosing your applicator for decorative lime-based plaster is artistry. Just like two sculptors will achieve different results with the same block of marble, true decorative plaster applicators will have a distinctive style or “hand.” You can contact ASID to find an Industry Partner applicator that specializes in fine decorative plasters. The best time to find your plaster artisan is before your new client asks for “Venetian Plaster.” Most applicators have a portfolio and several samples that give you an overview of their capabilities within minutes. Also keep your files current by asking for a one page description of the companies you like so that you have the information at your fingertips.
Once you have experienced the incredible beauty of Lime-based plaster you may find yourself wanting to use it in every home, project, and room you design. A wonderful aspect of this fantastic medium is that you can. Like life, decorative plaster isn’t always smooth. With the use of stencils, carving, sculpting, overlays, glazes and lime washes it can reflect the rich tapestry of life.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Congratulations to Colleen Heldt member ASID and winner of this year’s GROE contest.


First - Faux Painted or Venetian Plaster Wall by Verona Walls
Second - Banner Profile on the ASID Colorado web site for 12 months, donated by DSA Publishing
Third - Sony DVD Player, donated by Electronic Integration

Some of the ways that an ASID member may win the GROE contest include:
Being a member in good standing (i.e. dues up-to-date & paid in full)
Attendance at an ASID event (point accumulation for each event attended)*
Attendance at an ASID Design Community event (point accumulation for each event attended)*
Bringing a non-member guest (who has the potential to become a member)**
Submiting an idea to ASID National that gets implemented
Attending a CEU event*
Writing an article for local or national organization (that gets printed)***
Transition from Student to Allied Member
Attending STEP classes
Passing the NCIDQ
Serving as a committee leader (local chapter)
Serving as a committee leader (design community)
Volunteering to work on a committee or work an event (local chapter)
Volunteering to work on a committee or work an event (design community)
Signing up a new member †
Donating to ASID Foundation
Serving as a "Real World Design Week" mentor
Student participation in "Real World Design Week"
Submitting a project for an award competition
The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is the largest professional organization for interior designers representing all facets of both residential and commercial design. With more than 30,000 members nationally, ASID establishes a common identity for professionals and businesses in the field of interior design. The ASID Colorado Chapter is proud to represent more than 500 local ASID members.

We know Colleen and look forward to giving her the ceiling she has yearned for in her home.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Do Your Walls Protect Your Children from what’s Inside Your Home?

Venetian plaster is a stylish way to help protect your family from dust mites and dangerous indoor molds.

Englewood, CO, April 2010- Keeping your family healthy and safe is a full time job, and much of that time is spent in your home. Many building materials such as paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery commonly support mold growth warns the American Academy of Pediatrics in their article “Toxic Effects of Indoor Molds.”

A hot decorating trend called Venetian Plaster makes a great alternative to paint or wallpaper. “True Italian lime plasters, due to their high PH value are naturally mold resistant, making it the perfect choice for a healthy home.” says Robin Davies local artisan and owner of Verona Walls, a decorative company specializing in decorative plasters.

Children who are bothered by allergies from molds are also susceptible to dust mites and are most prone to dust mites in their bedrooms where pillows and stuffed animals can become breeding grounds.

“Venetian Plaster is a wonderful choice for a child’s bedroom because once it is dry it carbonates (becomes stone again) which prevents dust mites from burrowing into walls and ceilings creating an allergy free environment.” Adds Mr. Davies.

Limiting or preferably eliminating dust mites in the bedroom can greatly ease your allergic child’s suffering. Washing bedding in water (130 degrees F.), permanently removing decorative pillows, and window treatments, and choosing materials that naturally prevent dust mites from accumulating can ease your child’s symptoms without medical side effects.

Once all the decorative elements you chose so carefully for your nursery are gone, the room might suddenly feel sad and stark. This is the added bonus of Venetian Plaster. Custom colors in soft baby pinks and blues for your brand new bundle or bright vibrant colors for toddlers and older children gives you peace of mind without sacrificing style.

Verona Walls is a specialist decorative company, apprenticed in England with further certification in faux finishing and polished plasters, bringing a true European style and master craftsmanship to wall decor.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Denver Design Market

We had a great time at the Denver Design district Market. We met some old friends that we have worked with in the past and were so pleased to meet many others who were excited about our work. We had a chance to show off some new and contemporary finishes that we have been working on - these were very well received.
We are having a showing next at the ASID colorado chapter 'Festival of Trades' at the end of June.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Denver Design District Market

We are excited to announce that we will be exhibiting at the Denver Design District Market on May 12th and 13th 2010 from 9am - 5pm. This will take place in the west building at 595 South Broadway Denver, CO 80209-4077.
This event brings some of the industry’s leading designers and business leaders together to inspire and educate at the Design District’s largest event of the year.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Shaka Franklin Foundation For Youth

Verona Walls is very pleased to be helping The Shaka Franklin Foundation For Youth.

We will be donating up to 150 square feet of a decorative wall treatment of either venetian plaster or Faux Finishing ( a value of up to $3000) to the winner of a silent auction to be held at the

Friday, April 30, 2010, 11:00 AM
Infinity Park Event Center
4400 E. Kentucky Ave.
Silent Auction from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

In addition to this we will donate 10% of any work done to the Shaka Franklin Foundation For Youth that was the result of any body at the auction wishing a consultation which resulted in a signed contract.

Please visit their website for more details and a chance to win a home valued at $880,000.00

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Verona Walls

Verona Walls is a specialist decorative Company serving the Denver, Front range and mountain communities such as Vail and Aspen of Colorado.

With it's background in antique restoration and further certification of Faux Finishing and Venetian plasters it brings a true European style and craftsmanship to decor.

From woodgraining to color washes, marbleizing to cabinet refinishing, rustic to contemporary Verona Walls is dedicated to providing the client with a level of service and expertise that is unmatched. Our attention to detail and eye for design ensures an enjoyable design experience.