Plaster Walls—a Signature of Warm Modernist Interiors—Are Having a Moment

Soon, plaster was wall treatment du jour among a certain in-the-know set. “I love plaster walls because it’s almost like they’re alive,” says interior designer Vanessa Alexandra, who worked with Kamp on walls and ceilings in her Malibu home. “They have dapple, they have light, they have shadow. No two moments are exactly the same.”

For her Malibu home, interior designer Vanessa Alexander commissioned Kamp Studios to cover nearly all of the walls in a plaster finish.

“Plaster walls are kind of the antithesis of developer style,” says New York interior designer Gregory Rockwell. “They’ve almost become the poster child for ‘warm modernism.’” For a recent Upper East Side job, he worked with Kamp on several spaces. In the home’s galley kitchen, they applied a soft, matte lime finish. “Our suggestion for this type of application is always to cover all the walls and ceilings in the same color and finish,” Rockwell says. 

In the entryway, they used bright white Venetian plaster to create a fluted texture on the walls. “It kind of looks like corduroy made from snow,” he says. (That treatment, Kamp confirms, is now one of the supplier’s most popular client requests.) In general, Rockwell says, passageways and walls that get lots of natural light are great places for plaster. His words of advice? “Make samples!”

For the plaster walls in the galley kitchen of this Upper East Side pied-à-terre, designer Gregory Rockwell worked with Kamp Studios to apply a soft, matte lime finish.

Hiring plaster artisans like Kamp is, of course, the gold standard. For designers or clients who want something more DIY, Portola Paints offers a few popular new alternatives: Their Lime Wash and Roman Clay paints give that raw, plaster finish for less. Giancarlo Valle recently used the lime wash in supermodel Martha Hunt’s New York apartment (though for the cream-colored den, he worked—you guessed it!—with Kamp). Or, for simply a touch of the texture, try one of the host of plaster or plaster-inspired accessory items that have emerged in the market.

In Martha Hunt’s New York apartment, designed by Giancarlo Valle, the bedroom is coated in Lime Wash by Portola Paints, which gives the look and feel of a plaster finish.

“I love that with plaster, your impulse is to touch the wall,” Valle says. He uses it across his projects, and often leaves the super-textured base coat as the final finish. “Right now, I think people are ready to touch things again—they want things that are handmade. It’s almost a reaction to all things digital.”

Shop the Look

Lime Wash Paint in Hope Ranch

Construct Paper Mache Planters by Marie Michielssen for Serax

Terracotta Vase with Handle Chalk White

White Brutalist Vase by Leanne Ford

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