Music For Your Eyes: Fluted Walls

A few years ago we were installing a plaster wall finish for an interior design project by the venerable Jeffrey Bilhuber and fell in love with another wall- a fluted plaster stunner. It was the first time we had seen a fluted plaster wall, columns sure, but on a flat wall in a contemporary setting, never. We saw that flat, previously nondescript walls become architectural design statements when fluted. Tactilely inviting, optically captivating, and a bit mysterious, at a distance fluted walls could be mistaken for stripes, their trendy, two dimensional cousin, but fluted walls have a visual depth, a play of light and shadow, and a historical reference all their own.

We’ve always wondered when the idea of fluting walls would take off. And then, an eclectic, colorful New York apartment designed by Miles Redd featured recently in House Beautiful caught our eyes. Miles Redd’s designs often are eye catching, but the living room caused a double take; it has a beautifully applied plaster fluted wall treatment running right up the walls and over the ceiling. That got us to thinking- how many other designers are now using this ancient architectural element as a wall treatment? We couldn’t find many, but thought we’d share what we did find, along with a few casual shots we took of that Bilhuber project years ago…

Fluted Plaster Wall Treatment in an apartment designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber

The first fluted plaster wall finish we’d ever seen in a New York living room designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber. Photo by SuperStrata.

A fluted plaster wall finish designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber.

Up close and personal, the unfinished plaster brings a subtle texture. The texture and depth of the finish is further enhanced as the light plays off the ridges of the fluting. Photo by SuperStrata.

Bespoke fluted plaster wall and ceiling finish in a living room by designer Miles Redd.

The living room by Miles Redd that sent us on our quest for fluting! The walls and ceiling received a continuous surface finish created by applying plaster to the walls and fluting it while still wet with specially made tools. Photo by James Merrell via House Beautiful.

Miles Redd designed living room with fluted walls in New York.

The light, ruffled aqua drapes lend a delicate air to this sitting area designed by Miles Redd. Notice the fluted wall treatment does not continue over the ceiling, but rather meets it in a soft caress. Photo by James Merrell via House Beautiful.

A fluted reading corner by Miles Redd. Photo by James Merrell via House Beautiful.

Perfect fluting adds texture and movement to a hallway ceiling by Miles Redd.

The fluting on the ceiling, seen here reflected in the mirrored wall, adds texture and movement. Interior design by Miles Redd. Photo by James Merrell via House Beautiful.

Fluted walnut paneling in an interior designed by Fox-Nahem

We love this warm and sensual fluted walnut paneling in an interior designed by Fox-Nahem. Photo by Elizabeth Felicella via Fox-Nahem.

Fluted walnut paneling in an interior designed by Fox-Nahem

Photo by Elizabeth Felicella via Fox-Nahem.

Fluted walnut paneling in an interior designed by Fox-Nahem

Photo by Elizabeth Felicella via Fox-Nahem.

Bespoke fluted walls by the Luczak Brothers for Jean-Louis Deniot

A Chicago dining room by Parisian designer Jean-Louis Deniot with fantastic plaster fluted walls by the Luczak Brothers. Can’t you just see these walls perfectly juxtaposed with minimal and mid-century design as well? Photo by Miguel Flores-Vianna via Architectural Digest.

A fluted half wall in a home designed by McAlpine Tankersley

This elegant, rustic room by McAlpine Tankersly gets the traditional gone modern treatment in the form of a fluted half wall. Photo via Limestone and Boxwoods.

Art-deco era interior with Fluted walls.

Maybe not such a new idea? An illustration of an Art-Deco era grand “stair hall” designed by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann with a fluted wall on the ground level. Image via Bradbury & Bradbury.


  1. Can you just imagine the preciseness that creating the fluted plaster requires?
    We were on the beach last week and the gorgeous patterns that the surf left in the sand would make beautiful wall patterns.

    • Annie-
      Thanks for your comment! We really enjoy your blog! It is quite precise and definitely requires artisinal expertise! Would love to see those patterns in the surf that write you of. We also see inspiration in nature for wall treatments, all the time! One of our recent favorites was a tree in New York City of all places; the bark was beyond gorgeous. Color, pattern, texture that tree had it all!

  2. Super gorgeous … but … and I can hear my clients now … “how do you keep it clean?”

    • Hi Donna-

      Great question! As designers and purveyors of plaster wall finishes ourselves, the issue of maintenance and ease of cleaning is a concern for our clients. Plaster wall finishes, even fluted, can be sealed (and usually are) making them very easy to clean. A simple wipe as you would a cleanable paint is all you need!


  3. Such an interesting idea! i have never seen anything quite like it!

  4. These are beautiful images – You haven’t posted in awhile – I hope you post more soon!!

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