Coving: adding a period feel to your ceilings
The space where wall meets ceiling garnered a fair bit of attention back in the day, with elaborately moulded coving donning the upper reaches of many a Victorian Room. If you are lucky, your period home will already contain well-preserved original examples. If not, do not despair! Installing coving is relatively cheap and straight-forward – but first let’s consider the why?
Coving helps to add form and shape to a room – something considered important in Victorian design; it takes away that hard square look you get. Also, by having coving a different colour to the walls and ceiling you can create contrast which helps to add interest and height.
Our front room contained original plaster coving, albeit with the features somewhat softened through multiple layers of paint over the last century. However that is where our luck ran out. If we wanted anymore, it was up to us.
Picking the right size coving is important, the higher your ceiling and the larger your l room, the more elaborate you can get. But picking coving too large for the space will make your room feel small. For our relatively modest Victorian Terrace, we opted for about the simplest coving we could place our hands on, quarter circle lightweight polyurethane in 2m lengths (a 24m pack should set you back about £40).
Below are a couple of images of the process underway. It took us about one day per room. I’ve included a link to a good YouTube instructional video at the bottom of this post. One problem we encountered, common to many period properties, is that our walls are not perfectly square – this can make achieving neat corners a complete pain in the arse. You may find you just have to accept a small gap, and this is very easy to cover up with a bit of filler or caulking.
Cutting the coving to size using a plastic cutting coving tool.
Glued in place with coving adhesive and pinned with tacks to prevent from slipping. Note the gaps and uneven joints thanks to un-square walls!
Once dry, the tacks are removed and gaps are filled and smoothed using left-over adhesive or caulking.
The finished coving ready for painting.
The coving once painted, providing a feature and contrast between the walls and ceiling.
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