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Lazenby’s Decorative Arts Studio


Recreating the Age of a Beloved French Farmhouse

Like many good stories, this one begins with a love story. A couple had fallen in love with a 200-year old French farmhouse and ultimately decided to replicate the house and build it in Auburn, Ala. The couple turned to a father/daughter decorative art team they had worked with in the past, Lazenby’s Decorative Arts Studio, to replicate the plaster they had seen on the walls and ceilings throughout the house in France. After assuring the client that the team could match the aged original, they were put in contact with the project’s general contractor.

Applying plaster to this curved stairway required a series of small trowels, and attention to detail.

It wasn’t until meeting with the contractor and picking up plans that the painters realized the magnitude of the project. The 10,000-square-foot home was actually a series of several buildings, designed to look like an old farm compound, sprawled over 20 acres. The ceilings in many of the rooms of the Manor House, Long House and Granary where the painters primarily would work, contained approximately 150 wood beams that had been salvaged from old barns across North America. The plaster was to be applied to the walls and ceilings in many of the rooms and neatly troweled around the beams.

This dining room ceiling features a blend of Faux Effects Palette Deco and Faux Creme colors.

The decorative artists decided to use a custom-mixed plaster that they had used in the past to closely resemble European Marmorino plaster. They created a series of plaster samples and colors to present to the owners and their architect.

To mimic the look of an aged French farmhouse, the painters applied a plaster custom-mixed plaster to resemble European Marmorino plaster, to salvaged wood beams.

One of the early challenges was getting the right look on the rounded corners. The owner did not want to use bullnose on the corners, so the team had to create their own aged corner vision. By working with the drywall installers, they were able to create an aged look before actually applying the plaster. After applying two layers of plaster, they hand-sanded the corners to mimic the appearance of years of natural aging.

Applying the plaster finish to the curved stairway area presented similar challenges, due to the details and curved areas. The result had to be done methodically and with a series of small trowels.

Another challenge was consistently hand-tinting each batch of plaster to the agreed-upon oyster color. With a dedicated compounder on the job, partner Jennifer Lazenby, there was not an error in color in ten months of mixing.

Over the course of ten months, living in a rented house during the week and traveling the 120 miles home to Birmingham on weekends, the team completed the walls and ceilings in the Long House (master bedroom, master bath, dressing area, master closet and the exercise room), the Manor House (parlor, main stairway tower, upper sitting room, bedroom, closet, bath area, main entry hall, kitchen, laundry room, vestibule, powder room, bedroom and bathroom) and the Granary (bathroom). In the end, all wall areas and some ceiling areas had at least three layers of plaster, although some areas received five to six layers to meet the team’s quality assurance test.

Upon leaving the project in late January 2017, calculations showed that the team had mixed and applied more than 10,000 pounds of dry plaster.



Winner Date: Apr 26, 2017