This summer I was lucky enough to housesit for Charlotte Organ. Frankly it was a dream. Apart from being a lovely person whom I hit it off with immediately, Charlotte is also a professional chateau and castle decorator, specialising in lime works and trompe-l’oeil. Charlotte has been in the lime game a fair while. “I became interested in the beauty of surfaces as a teenager when I worked on a S.P.A.B. project [The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings] repairing a Devonshire medieval longhouse,” explains Charlotte.
Charlotte has decorated some illustrious buildings, including Kilcoe Castle for Jeremy Irons. She studied Fine Art at Bristol and then began working as a decorator in and around the city. There she learned various decorative techniques such as colour washing, stencilling, distressing, rag rolling, sponging, marbling, and trompe-l’oeil. The ingenious part is that she’s transferred many of these techniques to lime in a way that is truly original. So buckle up your overalls folks! This is a master class in lime finish.
Why do you need to use lime?
Anyone who’s been around The Mud Home a while is no doubt bored of me banging on about lime, until they use it of course, after which they soon become a fellow lime evangelist. Lime creates a beautiful, dry, and healthy atmosphere, and if you haven’t had a go, you just don’t know what you’re missing. Lime is a natural fungicide and inhibits mould in damp climates. It creates a beautiful, clean finish, it’s inexpensive, contains no toxic chemicals, and boasts a very low carbon footprint to boot.
You can use lime in many ways: mortars, plasters, limecretes, and paints. I have a full article on that here. But Charlotte has used lime paint in ways I had never seen before, to create truly jaw-dropping effects.
Both in her own home and in a great many of her projects, Charlotte uses natural pigments to colour her lime paints, along with some interesting methods to bring out the colour. One technique I adored was how she created stylish and elegant walls by using stencilling. I had never considered stencilling on lime paint before! She sponged the walls with a pigmented lime paint, and then used pure pigment in the stencilling. It looks simply amazing.
Above you can see another interesting technique. Here we have a base coat of pigmented lime paint with squares of pigmented lime painted over the top. The colours were brightened by going over the lime paintwork with liquid beeswax, thinned with turpentine. Proper turpentine is needed here, not white spirit.
Another method Charlotte used was to paint the walls in a base coat of lime paint, and then paint over them using milk (casein) paints.
Here we are again (above photo) in Kilcoe Castle, and Charlotte has created a distressed lime paint technique by rubbing the lime paint and then waxing it.
Charlotte has used lime extensively in her own home, a beautifully renovated farmhouse in southwest France. I found it incredibly inspiring on all levels. In this bathroom you can see a vibrant turquoise lime paint on the walls.
Lime renders and paints adorn Charlotte’s farmhouse. She agrees with me (as does everyone living within lime walls) that it creates a warmer, drier atmosphere. Even on the eye the effect is cosy, as you can see by the lime render and warm tones of lime paint on the staircase walls.
You can see more of Charlotte’s amazing work (and there’s lots to see and be wowed by, I can assure you) on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/eneffetdecor
Her website is here: https://eneffet.co.uk
Things to take from Charlotte’s work
I often feel there’s too much worry about the rules of building works. Nowhere is this truer than with natural paints and plasters. I mean what’s the ultimate risk here? Your house isn’t going to collapse because the paint went awry. Charlotte has really proved that it pays to experiment and you can use all manner of exciting decorating techniques with lime.
More about lime paint (and relevant links):
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