Kathy Hilton's bathroom is championing this outdated surface trend for 2024, and we welcome its revival

Tactile finishes please the senses and introduce visual style to a room

Kathy Hilton
(Image credit: Getty Images / Rodin Eckenroth / Stringer)

Poised for the ultimate comeback, fluted and ribbed surfaces are once again working their fluctuating charms. For many years, bathrooms have been all about ultra-practical smooth surfaces in ceramics, brassware and tiles. But increasingly the design has focused less on pure functionality and more on functionality mixed with comfort and style – and the tactile quality of bathroom fittings has moved to the fore.

Now found on glass, basins, backsplashes, and cabinetry, ribbed surfaces are making waves in the bathroom. Fluted and ribbed finishes feel good to touch, add interest, and soften the straight lines of a vanity unit.

 The beauty of a textured finish is not just aesthetic, but also sensual: how does a tap or vanity feel to touch? In many ways, the bathroom is where we are at our most vulnerable, so surfaces that feel pleasing can enhance the cocooning effect. 

If you want to create a luxury bathroom or powder room as sophisticated as American socialite, fashion designer, and television personality Kathy Hilton's then introducing a textured finish is one way to add a quiet sense of individuality and creativity.

A modern twist on traditional fluting, ribbed designs, similar to Kathy Hilton's, take a more angular, geometric direction. Designed by Nicole Gordon Studio, this dark wood design may seem like an unusual choice for a bathroom vanity but its natural depth will lend richness and warmth. 

On cabinetry, fluted patterns can be used to provide 3D interest – just enough to bounce the light and add character while staying within the simplicity of modern design.

However, you don't have to stick to cabinetry when it comes to using this interior design trend in your home. Fluting can take on many forms.

Ribbed or fluted glass will provide privacy in a shower enclosure while allowing light to shine through, and disguises limescale, too. On ceramic and solid surface baths and basins, gloss finishes help to bounce light around the room, while matt can offer a softer look. 

Textured floor tiles are less slippery – an important practical consideration. You may prefer to create a consistent look with matching textures across the room, mix and match for a layered look and relaxed feel, or select a stand-out piece, such as a freestanding bath in an unusual finish, as a stylish focal point.

Favored at various points throughout history – this ancient stone-cutter technique was used in Greek and Roman columns and pilasters to reeded glass in Art Deco and then mid-century furniture – the latest fluted revival is firmly bathroom-bound.

Shop the flutted furnishings edit

If your budget doesn't stretch to a large piece of furniture or you are simply not planning a full bathroom remodel, why not introduce fluting in soft furnishings and accessories, instead? Here, our experts curate their favorite buys.

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.