What To Do With Wainscoting? Creative Ideas And Tips

Wainscoting is a classic architectural feature that has been around for centuries. Originally designed to protect walls from damage, it has evolved into a decorative element that can add character and style to any room.

Whether you’re looking to marry old with new in a period property or add architectural detail to a plain room, wainscoting is a versatile option. From solid colors to wildly patterned wallpaper ideas, wainscoting can be paired with a variety of design elements to create a unique and personalized look.

In this article, we’ll explore different ways to use wainscoting in your home and provide inspiration for your next DIY project.

What To Do With Wainscoting

There are many ways to use wainscoting in your home, depending on your personal style and the room you’re working with. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Protect Your Walls: As mentioned earlier, wainscoting was originally designed to protect walls from damage. If you have a high-traffic area in your home, such as a mudroom or hallway, wainscoting can be a practical solution to keep your walls looking their best.

2. Add Character: If you have a plain room that is lacking in architectural detail, wainscoting can be a clever way to add character and interest. Choose a style that complements the existing decor or go for something bold and eye-catching.

3. Frame Large Surfaces: In a contemporary environment, wainscoting can be an excellent way to frame large, flat surfaces. This is particularly true for post-war styles that relied more heavily on the grain in the wood as a decorative detail.

4. Create a Focal Point: Wainscoting can also be used to create a focal point in a room. For example, you could use it to create a chic headboard wall in a bedroom or cover an entire wall with panels for a statement look.

5. Pair with Wallpaper: Wainscoting and wallpaper are a match made in heaven. Painting or staining your wainscoting in a solid color can anchor even wildly patterned wallpaper ideas, while the millwork acts like a frame, highlighting or contrasting existing colors from the print itself.

The History Of Wainscoting: From Practicality To Style

Wainscoting has a rich history that dates back centuries. In its earliest form, wainscoting was primarily used as a practical solution to protect walls from damage caused by dampness and other environmental factors. In fact, the term “wainscot” originally referred to the lower part of a wall that was covered in wood paneling.

Over time, wainscoting evolved from a practical solution to a decorative technique. Early wainscoting was typically made of wood, but as new materials became available, such as marble and cloth, they were also used for wainscoting. The style of wainscoting varied depending on the era and location, with different styles emerging in England, France, and other countries.

During the English Renaissance, wood paneling became simpler in design and began to resemble what we now recognize as wainscoting. In grand houses, applied pilasters appeared to provide an architrave which elegantly concealed the join between panels. Applied pilasters then became a common feature of classical Georgian interior architecture, punctuating walls to emphasise window positions and bring structure to a large space.

In the 20th century, wainscoting continued to be popular in homes across America. Raised paneling became fashionable in the 1750s when builders of finer homes began incorporating details in the Georgian style lifted from English pattern books. Far more sophisticated than plank paneling, raised panels can be configured to create focal points around architectural elements: fireplace openings, doors, windows.

Today, wainscoting is still used as a decorative technique in many homes. It can add character and interest to a room while also providing practical benefits such as protecting walls from damage. With so many different styles and materials available, it’s easy to find the perfect wainscoting for your home’s unique style and needs.

Different Types Of Wainscoting: Which One Is Right For You?

There are several different types of wainscoting to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics and style. Here are the five main types of wainscoting panels:

1. Raised Panel Wainscoting: This traditional style of wainscoting is commonly found in homes with a Colonial architectural style. The panels are raised and protrude outward, giving the illusion that the wall has sunken inwards. Raised panel wainscoting is perfect for adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to your home.

2. Flat Panel Wainscoting: The flat panel style of wainscoting uses boards with no beveled edges or molding, causing them to look deeper than the stiles and rails. This style is perfect for modern or minimalist homes, as it provides a clean and sleek look.

3. Beadboard Wainscoting: With its origins in 19th-century Victorian and cottage styles, beadboard wainscoting is a classic wall covering for informal spaces like kitchens, bathrooms, and back hallways. It is made of thin, individual boards placed directly next to each other and interlocked with its neighbor via a tongue-and-groove system.

4. Overlay Wainscoting: Overlay wainscoting combines flat panel and raised panel wainscoting styles. Flat panels are installed first, followed by additional panels centered on them, which are sometimes lined by molding.

5. Board and Batten Wainscoting: Board and batten wainscoting is essentially flat panel wainscoting with vertical boards used to cover seams or stiles. The additional boards are known as battens.

When deciding which type of wainscoting to use in your home, consider the architectural style of your home, the room you’re working with, and your personal style preferences. Each type of wainscoting can add character and interest to your space while protecting your walls from damage.

Wainscoting And Color: How To Choose The Perfect Palette

When it comes to choosing the perfect color palette for your wainscoting, there are a few things to consider. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:

1. Monochromatic Scheme: One of the easiest ways to choose a color for your wainscoting is to stick with a monochromatic color scheme. This means using different shades of the same color or colors that are near each other on the color wheel. This creates a subtle and cohesive look, highlighting the contour of each fixture. A unicolor palette is also effective in creating a clean and modern appearance.

2. Complementary Scheme: If you want your wainscoting to stand out dramatically, choose a complementary color scheme. This works better with picture-frame-molding wainscot than with flat panels, because complementary schemes can be overwhelming when there is too much of the accent color.

3. Moody Neutrals: If you have original wainscoting in your home, chances are it could use a refresh. Luckily, painting your panels in a modern color will bring it up speed. When in doubt, a moody neutral color scheme will ease classic wainscoting into the present day.

4. Nature-Inspired Colors: Take inspiration from nature and choose paint palettes that are there for the taking. You can find beautiful color combinations in flowers, trees, and even rocks.

5. Whole House Color Palette: If you’re choosing a whole house paint color, consider how your wainscoting will fit into the overall scheme. A complementary or monochromatic scheme can work well with a variety of finishes and decorating styles.

Remember, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a color palette for your wainscoting. It all depends on your personal style and the look you’re trying to achieve. Experiment with different colors and see what works best for you and your space.

Mixing And Matching: Pairing Wainscoting With Other Design Elements

Wainscoting is a versatile design element that can be paired with other design elements to create a cohesive and stylish look. Here are some ideas for mixing and matching wainscoting with other design elements:

1. Wallpaper or Paint: One of the easiest ways to pair wainscoting with other design elements is by combining it with wallpaper or paint. You can paint the area above the wainscoting in a contrasting color to create a bold statement, or use wallpaper to add pattern and texture.

2. Trim or Molding: Adding trim or molding to the top and bottom of wainscoting can create a finished and polished look. This is particularly effective if you choose a style of trim or molding that complements the wainscoting.

3. Lighting: Adding accent lighting above the wainscoting can highlight the texture and create a warm and inviting atmosphere. You can use recessed lighting, wall sconces, or even string lights to create a cozy ambiance.

4. Mirrors: Mirrors can be used to reflect light and create the illusion of more space in a room. You can hang a large mirror above the wainscoting, or incorporate mirrors into the paneling itself for a unique and unexpected look.

5. Artwork: Wainscoting can be used as a backdrop for artwork, creating a gallery-like display that adds visual interest to a room. You can hang artwork directly on the wainscoting, or use picture rails to create a more flexible display.

By mixing and matching wainscoting with other design elements, you can create a personalized look that reflects your style and personality. Whether you prefer a classic and traditional look or a more modern and eclectic style, there are endless design possibilities when it comes to using wainscoting in your home.

DIY Wainscoting: Tips And Tricks For A Successful Installation

If you’re interested in adding wainscoting to your home, DIY installation can be a cost-effective and rewarding option. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure a successful installation:

1. Measure Twice, Cut Once: Before you start cutting any materials, take precise measurements of your walls and plan out your design. It’s important to measure twice to avoid any mistakes or wasted materials.

2. Choose the Right Materials: There are many different types of wainscoting materials available, from wood to PVC. Choose a material that fits your budget and style preferences, but also consider factors such as durability and ease of installation.

3. Use a Level: A level is essential for ensuring that your wainscoting panels are installed straight and even. Take the time to check your work frequently throughout the installation process.

4. Consider Your Electrical Outlets: If you have electrical outlets on your walls, plan ahead for how you will incorporate them into your wainscoting design. You may need to cut holes in your panels or use special outlet covers.

5. Don’t Forget About Baseboards: If you’re installing wainscoting over existing baseboards, make sure to leave enough space for the panels to fit snugly underneath. You may need to remove or trim your baseboards before installation.

6. Nail and Glue: To ensure a secure installation, use both nails and glue to attach your wainscoting panels to the wall. This will help prevent any movement or warping over time.

By following these tips and tricks, you can achieve a beautiful and functional wainscoting installation in your home.