Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Mary Poppins of The Paint World

Maintaining an historic home is an onerous task at the best of times. When faced with the devastating effects of dry rot as well, there is sometimes less money in the pot than you would like. Restoring mouldings to their original gilded splendour is an expensive extra item over and above having the plaster mould recreated and fitted. Here we see the original gilded molding and you can see that the majority of the molding was just left in the bole (ground paint for gilding) and only the highlights gilded. This is a technique that used the gold to best effect as from the floor who could tell that only the highlights were gilded and this would have saved a considerable amount of gold.

Original gilded mouldings

Original Gilded Molding

About a 5th of the moulding on this ceiling were replace after dry rot and when I saw it first the client explained that the cost of gilding and returning it to it's original finish could not be covered, and I was asked to come up with a suitable alternative that would blend beautifully with the original. 

Completed Restoration
I was really pleased with the result of some careful research into the best products and I do love to be able to mimic things. This work wasn't carried out by me but by a very talented painter and decorator Les Green who's work is really of the highest nature. I was able to hand him the right product and know that he and his assistant would get a great finish.

Old Joins the New...can you tell where?
One of things I love to do is match ...hadn't you realised LOL...and there was a fair amount of timber to be matched in this room, old pitch pine had been the original and this is impossible to get these days without considerable expense. I had spent months a couple of years back blending new timber into old in a lovely Arts and Crafts home and I brought recipe to this project leaving Les the necessary ingredients to blend successfully. We were also able to compare notes on traditional paperhanging - this wallpaper is a Brunschwig and Fils which is a hand blocked paper from the USA and has a selvedge so every drop had to be hand trimmed. I had the theory and Les had the ability.

I was delighted in the recommendation that this client gave me:
'We were really panicking when part of the Dining Room ceiling collapsed, and with it a section of the decorative plaster work, which was finished in gold leaf.  These Victorian plaster rosettes had had to be replaced and needed to match the gold of the original on the rest of the ceiling. However Cait from Carte Blanche sprang into action and managed to provide us with some gold paint that matched so well with the old gold leaf, that we only had to paint the newly restored part and not the entire ceiling.  She was also really encouraging and helpful to our painter decorator as he struggled to hang our chosen wallpaper which needing trimming, which was complicated by the unusually high ceilings he had to contend with. The Mary Poppins of the Paint Finish World.'

I like that.....

Just before I leave this beautiful room, I must show you my favourite piece....and there are so many beautiful things here that it is hard to choose but I think that many a decorative finisher would love this too. An embossed gilded leather screen in the most exquisite colours.

Decorative Screen

It is always a privilege to be invited into peoples' homes whatever the project but this type of challenge is very satisfying and to even have been a small cog in the process of such a lovely  refurbishment brings a smile indeed.


  1. What a job , Cait -- well done on the matching front !!!
    What a wonderful screen , just love it too.
    Hope to see you soon on your visit to this neck of the woods
    Anne xxx

  2. I am so looking forward to the visit to Rustiques Anne, dying to see it now it is fitted out and filled with stock because last time I was there it was still virtually a shell.
    Hope you are happily painting

  3. Stunning Cait!!! Curious as to what you went for in the end with the wallpaper? Bench trimmed or double cut? Or did you try both?

  4. Hi Rob, I believe he did both at the end of the day.
    I didn't hang this as I said in the forum, just did the research.
    I didn't see Les before he finished, I just saw the first 2 drops on and at that point he was trying both and I brought him a Ridgely to try too. is stunning, every seam is perfect. I would never have been able to hang it as well as he did, I just had the contact like yourself to research the method so thanks for your input.

  5. Lovely post! That screen is incredible, too.

  6. Thanks for stopping by Regina :)

  7. You are right,screen is so lovely, a very interesting post to read, thank you!

  8. Your blog has given me that thing which I never expect to get from all over the websites. Nice post guys!