Architectural Features & Interiors
Plowden & Smith is one of the most sought-after companies for specialist architectural and interior restoration projects, and the first choice of leading interior designers and architectural practices.
From creating and finishing replacement sections of 17th-century oak panelling to cleaning the façade of a stone building, we are experts in treating both surface appearance and structural deterioration of a wide range of materials, including wood, stone and metal.
We consolidate, repair and restore historic monuments and interiors that range from a treating the fitted furniture of a 1960s yacht to restoring broken stained glass windows and chipped marble fonts in churches. Our skill at recasting or recreating missing sections, or objects that are needed to complete a pair, is second to none.
We also create features typically found in interior schemes, such as foxed mirror glass and custom-made wall mounts to fix architectural elements to walls and ceilings in a way that minimises the risk of damage.
The Garden Museum
Dozens of components of the Damascus Room arrived at our London workshop from the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. In total there were 94 separate parts, including the ceiling, but no information as to how the panels fitted together.
Following cleaning tests and cross-section analysis of paint samples, the surface was cleaned and consolidated to prevent further deterioration. This process also helped to determine the correct order of the panels. The old discoloured varnish was removed from the original paint surface. Following structural stabilisation and the careful toning in of missing painted decoration, a final conservation-grade varnish was applied.
Custom mounts were created for each section as well as a complex aluminium frame to fix the large panels to the ceiling. The whole room was then packed up and shipped back to the museum in Toronto, where our team carefully installed each section onto the wall and ceilings.
V&A Museum, Ceramic Staircase
The Ceramic Staircase in the V&A Museum is an excellent example of a variety of media within one interior.
Profusely covered with Della Robbia glazed pottery ware and mosaic, its ceilings are decorated with vitrified ceramic, and are bordered with a plaster frieze painted with metallic lettering.
Plowden & Smith was first called in to help prevent the fragile staircase, ceiling and dome being damaged whilst major, long term building work was going on at the museum.
In addition to covering the fragile ceramic ceiling decoration, we also closely monitored vibration levels in the staircase, so we could quickly respond to any dramatic fluctuations in movement, adapting our approach where necessary.
Once the building work no longer posed a risk, and the protective layers could be removed, Plowden & Smith had only a narrow window of time to clean the ceiling before the extensive network of scaffolding was dismantled.
Between three and four conservators spent five days using both hand swabs and sponges to apply a carefully selected cleaning solution that was chosen after thorough testing to ensure that it would not oxidise or lift the delicate layers of metallic paint.
Painstakingly removing layers of surface dirt, dust and accretions has resulted in a much crisper and brighter interior, allowing visitors to fully appreciate the intricate detailing, and wonderful vibrant colours of this important piece of museum architecture.
images courtesy of the V&A Museum
Distressing Mirror Glass
The Restoration Man (Sky Discovery Worldwide)