Apr 30, 2023

The subtle art of wall surfaces and materials

Postmedia may earn an affiliate commission from purchases made through our links on this page.

When it comes to wall coverings, there are safe bets like paint and wallpaper and then there are more unexpected choices.

Subscribe now to read the latest news in your city and across Canada.

Subscribe now to read the latest news in your city and across Canada.

Create an account or sign in to continue with your reading experience.

Don't have an account? Create Account

Surface materials such as lime plaster, wood, brick, concrete and even plants can set the style and tone of a home and transform it into something special. The texture of three-dimensional materials adds a lot of warmth and character, helps architectural details stand out and even acts as art.

Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Montreal Gazette, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.

A welcome email is on its way. If you don't see it, please check your junk folder.

The next issue of Montreal Gazette Headline News will soon be in your inbox.

We encountered an issue signing you up. Please try again

"I was reading about how fresco paintings were done, during the renaissance, and there's something called a giornata," says Joey Di Venosa, a plaster artisan and the founder of Venosa Interiors.

"The painting team would decide what they’re going to paint that day; what portion of the painting they were going to work on. They would lime plaster the area, and then they would paint it. If you look closely at frescos, you can see the outline of the giornatas. It's cool that people have been trowelling lime plaster for thousands of years and here we are, catering to a completely different audience that's highly influenced by online inspiration."

Lime plaster and limewash are both as old as time, and for good reason.

They can help keep a building cool during the summer and warm during the winter and are bacteria and mold resistant. Historically, the materials were used to prevent the spread of infection during cholera outbreaks.

Both architectural finishes recently experienced a resurgence thanks to a variety of trending architectural homes in the Southwestern United States, the acclaimed interiors of Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt and, according to Di Venosa, the pandemic-induced lockdowns.

"2020 was a turning point," says the artisan who specializes in limewash, lime plaster, marmorino, tadelakt and microcement, has worked with architects and designers to create some of the most memorable interior spaces in Montreal and is currently working on a line of furnishings that will be available in summer 2023.

"In my opinion, there's an undeniable relationship between lockdowns and the need for comfort; the desire to add warmth and bring more natural materials in."

All the techniques that Venosa Interiors specializes in use similar ingredients with slightly different recipes; limewash is watered down and leaves a soft, velvety look while marmorino can be smooth and soft, but it can also be more roughly textured.

As for tadelakt, it's a Moroccan technique that incorporates olive or coconut oil soap as well as wax and is often used for bathrooms because of how hydrophobic it is.

Texturally interesting, natural and incredibly flexible, the techniques can be as subtle or dramatic as desired and create the perfect backdrop for simple, minimalist decor as well as more eclectic designs.

Wood, brick, concrete and greenery are the four main categories of wall coverings available via Vertika Design, with a total of over 60 wall coverings to choose from.

A local company that was featured on Dans l’oeil du dragon, Vertika Design is a turnkey wall design service that not only provides a variety of coverings but also design consultation and installation.

Durable, easy to maintain and made from a variety of essences including oak, walnut and cherry, the wood coverings come in vertical slat, plank and patterned panel styles, including both rustic barnwood and modern geometric looks.

Made of plaster and installed with mortar, the faux brick coverings look just like natural brick and are light and heat resistant. They’re light and heat resistant, making them the ideal covering for a fireplace mantel.

"It can be used to make an average condo look like a loft in Old Montreal as well as to cover fireplace mantles," says Sascha Romer, the director of operations for the business, which has a Mile End studio which serves as a showroom for the brand.

"It's paintable also, so after a few years, you can give it a second look."

The Vertika concrete panels are made of a micro-layer of concrete fused to a mineral fiber mixture. They’re available in different shades and, with their raw texture, offer the ideal foundation for an industrial condo.

Easy to maintain and a great way to add greenery if you don't have a lot of floor space, Vertika Designs has two types of living walls, either made of plant or moss, both of which are an easy way to bring the outdoors and require little care.

"You don't need to be connected to plumbing and it's a completely waterproof module with rows that are easy to water, for the plants. The moss walls just need to be vaporized occasionally," Romer says.

"It's an art piece in itself."

All of the materials are very light, which allows for installation on existing surfaces without needing to be reinforced, and can be mounted on acoustic foam to help with soundproofing. Most projects take a day to be completed.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia's commercial content division.