This article contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made.

Raw plaster walls: how to achieve the rustic bare wall look

After a shabby-chic style at home? Raw plaster walls are just the ticket for a pared-back, rustic interior. Here's how to achieve the exposed plaster wall look, as well as the best colour combos

8a44a042f36e14516c0eaf77b968d93b

Raw materials in interior design are on the rise; marble tiles, terrazzo floors, concrete surfaces and terracotta homewares are everywhere – and one trend we can’t get enough of is bare plaster walls.

Advertisement

Raw plaster walls, as they’re also called, have a beautiful texture and inject a subtle, earthy wash of colour to your home – perfect for fans of industrial and shabby chic interiors and for those making over a period house. They provide a wonderful canvas for brighter colours to shine too, from pastels to bold pops of neon. Practically speaking, exposed plaster walls saves the cost of painting and they’re free of chemicals too – win win!

There are several types of plaster, some of the most common being concrete plaster, lime plaster and gypsum plaster. Make sure to check which plaster is best for your wall surface, as each house (and room) will have different needs.

Plastering walls is a labour-intensive activity that should be carried out by a professional, but once done, they will typically last much longer than your average painted drywall.

This period home in Havana boasts beautiful exposed plaster walls which adds to the rustic charm of the property. Via Pinterest/ Coco Kelly
This period home in Havana boasts beautiful exposed plaster walls which add to the rustic charm of the property. Via Pinterest/ Coco Kelly

Raw plaster walls can suit a range of house styles; from minimal modern builds to ornate period houses. They add depth to a small room and adapt to changing light levels, giving your room a beautiful subtle wash of colour and texture throughout the day.

We’ve chosen some of our favourite examples of bare plaster walls in a range of rooms to help you decide which raw plaster style is best for you and your home.

Living room raw plaster walls

Raw plaster walls are a great canvas for a peaceful, minimalistic interior scheme. Via Pinterest
Raw plaster walls are a great canvas for a peaceful, minimalistic interior scheme. Via Pinterest

Living rooms are traditionally a space in which to relax and unwind from the day, so having a peaceful colour scheme that promotes calm is essential. Thanks to their weathered finish, raw plaster walls make a lovely choice for living rooms as they provide a subtly coloured canvas that can either be left bare or used as a backdrop for bolder colours and homewares.

The living room above is a prime example of how plaster walls can shine on their own. But, if you don’t fancy the minimal look, you can cosy up bare plaster walls with colourful artwork, textured window dressings and warm mood lighting.

Dining room raw plaster walls

Estate table, £899, and bench, £399; cushion in plaster, £30; cushion in slate, £30; jute rug, £100; stoneware coffee press, £57; ceramic carafe vase, £25.50; Christie ceiling light, £439, all John Lewis & Partners
Brighter colours like yellow, orange, blue and purple will pop against a raw plaster background. Via John Lewis & Partners

Exposed plaster walls can really come alive in a dining room. Whether you have a sleek modern dining table and chairs, an open-plan kitchen-diner or a traditional, formal-style dining room set-up, plaster walls will add charm to your evening meals and emulate the cool and sophistication of a bar or restaurant.

To make your dining room walls zing, especially in the evenings over dinner, be sure to install plenty of candles and accent lighting around the room to make the most of the gentle wash of colour. A statement pendant light or chandelier above your dinner table will also add impact.

An oversized mirror on the raw plaster wall reflects light back into Shrez's dining room. The dining table and chairs are by West Elm and above them hangs a chandelier by Pooky.
An oversized mirror on the raw plaster wall reflects light back into Shrez’s dining room. The dining table and chairs are by West Elm and above them hangs a chandelier by Pooky. See the whole house makeover here.

Another way of jazzing up raw plaster walls is with a large statement mirror, as Shrez has done in her dining room above. This will help to bounce light around more and keep your walls from feeling flat as the sun goes down.

The pink hue of raw plaster is reminiscent of one of the biggest colour trends of the decade, Millennial pink. As pink and green interiors are everywhere at the moment, why not tap into the trend by displaying a few houseplants in your dining room. A bowl of limes definitely counts, too!

Dulux Tranquil Dawn matt emulsion paint

Raw plaster bathroom walls

This traditional bathroom features an earthy, Venetian plaster wall. Via Homes & Antiques/ James Balston
This traditional bathroom features an earthy, Venetian plaster wall. Via Homes & Antiques/ James Balston

Not a fan of the pinky hue of bare plaster? Why not choose a more neutral earthy shade, like the example above which features a darker Venetian raw plaster wall. This would suit a traditional decor scheme, and would look especially striking in a classic bathroom paired with gold fixtures and wooden accents. It also taps into the popular dark decor trend which oozes sophistication. Just imagine a candlelit bath in this setting!

Sarajane has painted her bathroom walls with Pure & Original paint in Skin Powder from the Classico range.
Sarajane has painted her bathroom walls with Pure & Original paint in Skin Powder from the Classico range. See the whole house makeover here.

If you love a pink bathroom but aren’t keen on splashing out on a solid, bold paint shade or on pink tiles, a plaster shade paint is for you! Plaster shade paints give the same effect of raw plaster without the need for a professional plastering job which, although lasts longer, is time and labour intensive.

Kitchens with raw plaster walls

A grey exposed plaster wall provides a beautiful, rustic canvas for this kitchen's wooden open shelving.Via Lobster & Swan
A grey exposed plaster wall provides a beautiful, rustic canvas for this kitchen’s wooden open shelving. Via Lobster & Swan

One of our favourite trends of 2021 has been the cottagecore aesthetic. This cosy, charming interior style is all about shrugging off the stresses of modern-day life and taking pleasure in the simpler things like baking, crafting and being in nature. Exposed plaster walls perfectly tap into the pastoral nature of cottagecore and there’s no better place to experiment with this look than in the kitchen!

Shrez has used plywood cabinets, open shelving and a neon accent shade to contrast against her kitchen's raw plaster walls
Shrez has used plywood cabinets, open shelving and a neon accent shade to contrast against her kitchen’s raw plaster walls. See the full house makeover here.

You don’t have to have a cottage or period house to achieve the raw plaster wall look at home though. Take Shrez’s contemporary kitchen style above for example. She used IKEA and Plykea for the modern kitchen cabinets and added a bold neon accent shade that shines against the plaster walls. Open shelving is filled with colourful crockery and accessories to add interest to the high walls.

Raw plaster paint colours

Don’t fancy stripping off your existing paint or wallpaper to achieve the bare plaster look? Many paint brands sell paints that emulate the effect of bare plaster. Check out Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster, Little Greene’s Roman Plaster Paint and Craig & Rose’s Fresh Plaster Chalky Emulsion.

Advertisement

You can also try the colourwashing technique. Colourwashing, sometimes called faux glaze painting, is a technique in which a thin layer of diluted paint is applied over a base colour, giving a weathered finish reminiscent of a rustic farmhouse or cottage.

Edwardian style house