If even the mere thought of wood paneling has you humming…”It’s the story, of a man named Brady…” and screaming “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” you’re in for a sweet surprise. Paneling is back but it’s singing a new tune, and we’re loving the second verse.
Wood paneling today is not the stuff that covered the walls of your grandparents (or the Brady’s) “groovy” home in the 60s and 70s. It’s not automatically paired with deep shag rugs (what even grows in there??), granny floral or tweed and plaid sofas, macrame potted plant holders and avocado..well everything.
Nope. Wood paneling today has gotten an extreme makeover, and it’s back in chic and modern ways that’ll knock your tube socks off.
Take a look!
It can be totally contemporary.
Many people think wood paneling, or millwork of any kind, is elaborate, ornate, even kind of stuffy, and that it’s only found in really traditional or historic homes. Not so! Today we’re seeing a reemergence of paneling but in geometric and repetitive designs and shapes that make it stunning in even the most contemporary or modern space.
What’s a chair rail?
A chair rail is the actual molding on the wall that the back of a chair would hit if you backed into it. And although chair rails look beautiful in larger rooms with paneling above and below, honestly, I think they are the bane of every small dining room I’ve ever seen. They totally break up the room.
It can also be stately and elegant.
Of course, if you love elaborate and ornate, wood paneling is certainly right at home in a traditional space. And paired with contemporary furnishings, it becomes a little less buttoned up.
What’s the difference between wainscoting and panel moulding?
Panel moulding reaches above the typical chair rail and can even cover the entire wall. It can be used on the ceiling and consists of either solid panels or separate trim pieces combined to create different patterns and designs.
Wainscoting refers to a type of decorative panel moulding that is directly beneath a chair rail and sometimes stretches two-thirds of the way up the wall with a narrow shelf above, as seen in many Craftsman style homes.
Wood paneling adds instant architecture to a plain wall.
Paint or wallpaper aren’t your only options. Wood paneling of any type adds instant architecture and interest to a plain Jane wall.
And it can make artwork unnecessary.
Beautifully designed paneled walls can make additional artwork completely unnecessary because the walls are art themselves.
What’s the difference between board and batten and beadboard?
Board and batten and beadboard are both types of wainscoting. Board and batten consists of panels (boards) with narrow strips of wood (battens) that conceal the seams between them. There’s often a “shelf” above that can hold art, photos, etc. Board and batten is a simple design that can run the entire height of a wall or stop three quarters or halfway up.
Beadboard is a type of tongue and groove wainscoting that consists of a row of narrow wood planks lined up vertically on the wall. In between each wood plank is a little ridge, also known as a “bead. The vertical boards are capped with strips of horizontal moulding. You’ll often find beadboard in traditional country homes.
Want to paint your paneling?
Most people who are stuck with paneling they don’t like, paint it white. But white isn’t the only color that will modernize a Brady-esque paneled wall. Dark colors, especially blue or black, can take you from “omg, no!” to “oh wow, yes!” If you really want to amp up the “wow” factor, gloss it up, even on paneling you love! A paneled hallway swathed in white lacquer, such as the one below, is heavenly.
Paneling makes a beautiful cover for storage, and is a natural in a library.
Have things you need to stash? Do it with class!
It can really set off a staircase.
There are so many different ways to make the wall next to a staircase a focal point when you panel them. Whether you choose to go vertical, horizontal or in a pattern, white, dark, formal or rustic, paneled staircase walls say “look at me!”
So unless you’ve been living under that proverbial rock, you’ve heard of shiplap. And thanks to Chip and Joanna Gaines, who use it on practically everything, I’m totally OVER this kind of paneling.
Shiplap is called shiplap because its panels overlap. Traditional shiplap has a rabbet (or groove) cut into the top and bottom, which allow the boards to fit tightly together, forming a weatherproof seal with subtle horizontal reveals between each piece.
Before plywood and drywall, builders would line rooms in shiplap to keep them warm and dry, then cover it with a layer of muslin or cheesecloth and wallpaper to hide the shiplap’s seams. But now, thanks to the Gaines, shiplap is really used for its looks, not its practicality. You’ll often find shiplap in Modern Farmhouses. (CLICK HERE for a guide to Modern Farmhouse style).
And it makes a ceiling pop!
Don’t forget about the fifth wall! Paneled ceilings can be as simple or as intricate as you want but they always pack a visual punch.
Even old paneling can look still look good!
Sometimes you get lucky, and the paneling in your home is constructed of high quality wood, with great attention to detail. No need to trash this treasure. Formal or laid-back, rustic or elegant, the right wood paneling, even if it’s years old, can still look amazing.
Want to go out of the box and onto the wall?
Check out this cityscape constructed from wood paneling. How cool is that?