The following “before and after” photos show a beautiful example of an early architectural mural, painted on the walls and ceilings of the foyer of the Dr. Amos Holbrook house, a Federalist style residence built in Milton, Massachusetts in 1800, and listed in the National Register. The mural was created by Italian artists brought to America by Dr. Holbrook to paint the entry hall of his new house with trompe l’oeil architectural motifs.

The couple that own the house, an architect and a teacher, asked us to repair and restore the murals while maintaining the marvelous patina acquired over its 200 years of existence. Our approach was to repair only where absolutely necessary and try to retouch rather than repaint when possible. However, some parts were so damaged as to require significant repair of cracked plaster as well as the recreating and repainting of water-damaged areas.

Water stains on the ceiling “before and after”

Lena at work

The area over the entry door had severe water and or smoke damage and needed to be completely repainted.

You can see deep cracks in the faux molding, these cracks in the horsehair plaster needed to be repaired before we could restore the painting.

Project complete.


Another “notch” in the belt of Zoe Design, we are now archivists.

Here is a note from the homeowner, “Your wonderful repair and restoration of the murals in our house brings us joy every day, and we thank you so much for your talent and skill in bringing back these beautiful images.”

Our reply, “Thank you for trusting us with this delicate project.”