How to commission decorative plasterwork

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Stucco work can be used in endless ways to enhance your home, whether you are looking to repair the decorative details of a traditional building or add some interest to a modern building.

Wall and ceiling paneling is an important element in the interior design of your home and it is important to consider what suits the style or era of the home as well as the overall aesthetic you are trying to achieve.

Cornices, ceiling medallions and fluted moldings are decorative. Here’s everything you need to know about commissioning your home plaster, from the experts.

Traditional dining room with ornate plaster ceiling and black and white marble floor

(Image credit: Locker & Riley)

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Choosing stucco work for a room

When replacing (or introducing) decorative plasterwork in a traditional setting, consider the hierarchy of the spaces, says Form Specialists’ Simon Willcox Locker & Riley (opens in new tab).

“The main rooms tend to have the most detail, including ornate ceiling medallions, cornices and panelling. Depending on how elaborate you want it, you can choose between very decorative or something simpler. We have a library of designs and we also custom create new designs.”

Painted hallway with spherical cornice and arched door

(Image credit: Studio Indigo | Andreas von Einsiedel)

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Are there any rules to follow?

Cornicing hides the junction between the wall and ceiling, but most importantly it helps add character and definition to a space, says Mike Fisher, founder of Studio Indigo (opens in new tab). (opens in new tab)

As a rule, the cornices should be in proportion to the size of the room. “In rooms with low ceiling heights, we use cornices that are short on the wall and widen on the ceiling. Then we paint the wall and cornice one color, which gives the illusion of higher ceilings,” he says.

Molding profiles tend to get slimmer and less detailed as you drive up the house. “When you get upstairs in the house, the ledges are rather small and plain,” says Simon.

How to choose the perfect style

Bomb damage or flooding throughout the 20th century has resulted in many ceilings in older homes being replaced without molding details included. If you’re starting from scratch, orient yourself by the era of the building, the size of a room or its importance. “A Georgian cornice never looks right in a Victorian house or vice versa,” says Mike.

The decision to add or restore cornices really comes down to two variables: the look you want and the history of the building. When a British building is listed it means that its interior and exterior are protected and a permit is required for any alterations, including the cornices and any architectural detail. “We have in-house architects and conservation specialists and often work with decorative and decorative plasterwork (DOP) or Stevensons of Norwich (opens in new tab) who are world-renowned experts.”

A dining room with a modern glass and brass chandelier with traditional bright blue cornice

(Image credit: Kitesgrove)

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What modern options are there?

The alternative to the cornice is a shadow gap, which is very contemporary but does not always match the building. For those looking for something between tradition and modernity, choose a modern last design with clean lines and fewer details, recommends Clara Ewart von dragon grove (opens in new tab).

“We could juxtapose a traditional crown molding with a striking contemporary chandelier. Modern color treatments are also very effective, for example painting a cornice a statement color instead of the traditional white.’

White grooved plaster in the bathroom by Athena Calderone

(Image credit: Kamp Studios | Sarah Elliot)

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Mix it up and break the rules

Another currently popular approach is to have a corrugated molding wall. interior architect Athena Calderone (opens in new tab) has hand-spackled corrugated plaster walls Kamp Studios (opens in new tab) leads to the bathroom in her Brooklyn home and says it adds a sense of distinction to an otherwise unremarkable passageway. “Whistles are probably here to stay as designers find new innovative ways to make them interesting and relevant,” says Kamps founder Kim Collins.

Bedroom with wall paneling that extends to the ceiling and a retro fireplace

(Image credit: Rachel Chudley | Sean Myers)

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Don’t forget the fifth wall (the ceiling)

Ceilings offer another surface for decorative expression. Plaster ceiling medallions were traditionally used as centerpieces for intricate ceiling designs, but nowadays they are often used to complement light fixtures or to disguise cables on bare ceilings. Very complex structures are first assembled on panels, and then installed. “I would say the biggest trend recently is to include blankets in the scope of my work,” says Kim.

“Maybe we pushed that trend a little bit because we know how incredible our patch looks when it’s all-encompassing. There really is nothing better. Plastered walls and a painted ceiling are a little lacking for us, so we’re glad it’s catching on.”

“I like to use architectural forms in unusual ways,” adds interior designer Rachel Chudley. “For the master bedroom of a new project in North London, I’ve added exaggerated diagonal crown moldings that run up the wall behind the bed and continue across the ceiling. We watched the movement of light from sunrise to sunset and reflected it in the crown moldings that wrap around the room and across the ceiling.”

Blue living room with wall paneling above fireplace to frame artwork

(Image credit: Huntsmore)

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Add detail with paneling

Wall coverings – whether in wood or plaster – are another way to decoratively define a room. This is a good solution when rooms don’t have a center point, such as B. a fireplace. “It creates a sense of atmosphere and depth in a space,” says Eamonn Agha of Interior Design Studio huntsmore (opens in new tab)

“We like to paint the area above the picture the same color as the ceiling to add more emphasis and enhance the illusion of height and give the room a sense of grandeur. Moldings on the panels are used to create shadows and capture light, which helps define a space – this is especially important if you opt for painted panels,” recommends Bruce Hodgson of Bespoke Joiners and Furniture Makers Artichoke Ltd (opens in new tab).

“You can also use it to trick the eye in rooms with lower ceilings by using tall panels that don’t divide the space horizontally.” It can also look great in a contemporary setting for framing large flat areas.

“Think of the art first. When large pieces are likely to straddle frames, or if it’s worth creating a panel to form a frame around an artwork, it’s important to know what will hang where and work backwards.

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