The Fluted Portal

Tracing inspiration.


Falling victim to a trend. A costly mistake. A favorite design.

The portal that leads to my master bathroom, with hand troweled fluted plaster walls, is without doubt my favorite and most proud design feature in my Brooklyn home.  It did not begin that way. It was rooted in a series of mistakes. The actual space has no distinct use, it is rather a passageway to get from the closet to the bathroom.  Without purpose I wanted to engage a design statement.


I always knew I wanted the application to go up the walls and wrap onto the ceiling — I wanted you to be encapsulated.  Well, I got bitten by the bug of a trend I was seeing in ALL the shelter magazines — terracotta.  I was hellbent on forcing a circle into a square because this tone and patina was not connected to anything other than my will.  It didn’t make sense in my Greek revival home but I didn’t care, I had plaster samples made. I settled on a texture that felt a bit like the Tuscan walls of a 17th century villa. Victor and Jivan were not convinced but I set out to prove them wrong.

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I was crazy excited to see the finished walls but knew the moment I took them in it was all wrong. I seriously beat myself up as we were severely over budget and simply could not afford such a costly mistake. UGH, I failed!

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An early idea however was lingering in the back of my mind —  fluted detailing, the classic kind you saw in ancient Grecian columns.


I was seeing so much of this ribbed detailing in various materials in design, furniture, and throughout history.  But it wasn’t until I saw an image of a wood paneled room in a university by Gio Ponti that the idea solidified.  Repetitive fluting with obvious rhymetic breaks made complete sense — especially with the continuous channels running up and over head — those breaks acted like a visual relief from the repetition.

It was definitely another risk but one I knew I could trust because it made sense within the context of the home.  Anyway, thought I’d share my process, my mistake, my resolution.


Thank goodness for your patience with me Kamp Studios!

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