59 Wainscoting Ideas
The art of wainscoting dates back centuries, but that doesn’t mean your home can’t benefit from a bit of updated wainscoting sophistication. Perfect for sprucing up walls on the plainer side, as well as protecting them from undesired scuffing and overall wear and tear, the modern wainscoting ideas of today are designed to add some utilitarian elegance to your space.
Comprised of trim, chair rail, and molding detail, and running the horizontal length of your wall unit, wainscoting is ideal for entryways, stairs, and hallways, as well as dining rooms, bathrooms, and social areas like the living room.
With an endless assortment of millwork designs and wall covering finishes to choose from, there is truly no limit to the ways you can individualize and add value to your home’s interior design. From simple panel molding (evident in its recessed frame piecework) to more elaborate shadow boxes (featuring painted or stained trim pieces topped with a chair rail and reinforced with a baseboard bottom), today’s wainscoting motifs are designed to act as your wall’s second skin, complementing rather than deterring from your home’s overall aesthetic.
These wainscoting ideas and designs lend a warm but high-end appeal to your household’s rooms and corridors, adding visual interest and an extra layer of protection to your home for years to come. With surprisingly easy installation options and twice as many styles to choose from, your house can be transformed into an estate in no time and garner much-deserved use and admiration for years to come.
If you’re not a DIY expert or don’t have time to implement your DIY wainscoting ideas yourself, I’d recommend finding a professional on Thumbtack. They have loads of home remodeling contractors across the US, and you can compare their prices and reviews before contacting them. Check it out!
See more about - 70 Modern Farmhouse Living Room Ideas
Table of Contents
1. Innovative Bathroom Wainscoting Ideas
While it might seem strange to put this much work into the smallest room in most homes, a bathroom wainscoting project is a great traditional touch and looks amazing. Instead of common, run-of-the-mill tiling, wainscoting gives a far more luxurious touch to your washroom. Check out the following images to see how much of an impact well-planned wainscot paneling makes in these small rooms.
is constructed using several pieces of and trim, but there are basics that nearly all projects use. The top and bottom boards that stretch from corner to corner are referred to as rails. The vertical pieces that run between the rails are known as styles. Inside the rails and styles are panels. If those names sound familiar to you, it’s probably because they’re the same terms used to describe cabinet door components.
For an interesting look at how wainscoting is built by a true craftsman, check out the following video. There are different methods and moldings described, as well as some really impressive tools on display. You should get a good idea of what goes into the process and we’ll further explain some of the finer points of wainscot design as the article progresses.
2. Elegant Dining Room Concepts
Installing wainscoting in your dining room can be one of the most impactful upgrades you can complete. Wainscoting will add a luxurious and premium feel to the most formal room in your home. You may not have a room dedicated solely for dinner party purposes, but you can take a few cues from the following images to improve the feel of the dining space that you do have.
When you’re considering what direction you’d like your ‘s to head in, you can’t go wrong with something traditional. This is the one room or area of your home that will see the most formal entertaining activities, and it’s best to keep the and trim work as classical as possible.
One rule of thumb to remember in is that it should take up one-third of your ‘s height. In other words, if you have a 9-foot ceiling, the top rail of your should come to three feet. This is the simplest and most visually appealing rule to keep in mind, but if you were to go ahead and break this rule, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
3. Enhancing Stairways
Formal stairway wainscoting has been a staple in Colonial and early-American style homes since, well, early America. They make an amazing impression and will draw your guests’ eyes upward, creating a design feature out of a utilitarian set of stairs. The following images are some great examples of how to pull this off, whether it be a grand staircase from your main entryway or a basic set of steps that could use a little extra touch.
There are several ways to make moldings to an installation that covers only from the railing down. Regardless of which style you choose to go with, this takes careful planning and quite a bit of know-how to get right. You want your rails and styles to be straight and consistent, which rarely means level and plumb. work for your staircase, from covering an with beautiful frame-and-
While we encourage you to get creative here, the added angles can make it a challenge when it comes to the actual work. You’ll need a pretty comprehensive set of hand tools to take measurements and scribe accurately while also needing a decent complement of power tools to cut the components. It’s a little more advanced than a standard wainscoting installation, so don’t be afraid to sub this one out if it’s above your skillset.
4. Vertical Allure
If you have an empty wall that you’d like to accent or you have an entire room that you’d like to make as formal as possible, floor-to-ceiling wainscot can be a great idea that makes a huge difference. In the images that follow, you’ll see different rooms with a number of different functions that have benefited from floor-to-ceiling coverage. While it may seem like an overwhelming undertaking, the end result is completely worth it.
The and entryways are the most commonly thought of rooms when comes to mind, but as you can see, there are a number of different uses for the classic trim style. By creating an of covering , you can buck the trend slightly and create a beautiful backdrop for any room.
While basic paneling in can be created by building frames and panels, building an worth of one shot is a recipe for disaster. You can make this project more manageable by building separate, open-ended frames that will butt up to each other, creating the effect you’re looking for. Another option may be cutting and fitting individual boards one at a time and foregoing the panels. The end result will be similar as long as you maintain consistent spacing and alignment of all your rails and styles.
See more about - 70 Staircase Decor Ideas
5. Artful Detailing
If the whole frame-and-panel construction idea is starting to concern you, there are other easier options that are closer to being in your wheelhouse. By using chair rail molding and shadow boxes, you can mimic the look and idea of wainscoting with not even a quarter of the investment of money or time. The images below are easily replicated with shadow boxes and molding.
To set yourself up for a successful faux and use the one-third rule. Also, choose moldings with enough size to stand out from the appropriately but not so heavy-looking that they appear out of place or chunky. You should be thinking of delicate elegance, not framing lumber obtrusiveness. application, you should follow the same design ideas as you would for the real thing. For example, you should use an odd number of boxes as these generate the biggest
If you’re unsure whether the layout you have in mind will work, pick up a few rolls of painter’s tape in one and 2-inch widths. Use the tape to create the layout on the before you start punching nails through it. You’ll have an of how your design will turn out while also being able to play with the number of boxes you’ll use as well as their width and height.
6. Breaking Norms
Since you’ve probably had your fill of formal, classic, and perfectly designed wainscot walls and all the rules that go along with them, we’d like to introduce you to something completely different: no rules at all.
There are endless choices for and the design behind it. This is your home, of course; no one should hold their rules for style over your head if you don’t want them to. An interesting use of trim, , boards, and other materials can make for a truly impressive alternative to overly formal trim and moldings.
Since you’re now deciding what the rules will be, we’ll let go of the reins and simply suggest a few things. For one, you should still try to work in odd numbers. Odd numbers divide spaces awkwardly and can draw your attention to the center instead of allowing you to enjoy the project as a whole. Also, if you’re mixing textures or widths, the heavier materials should be lower on the , while thinner and lighter-appearing moldings or boards are placed on the . This design will help the feel anchored and not like it is going to topple in on you.
7. Transforming Living Spaces
Wainscoting projects can also be undertaken in more casual places with lesser traffic than stairways and dining rooms. It can make an incredible addition to a bedroom, a hallway, or any other space that requires a little extra flair.
Don’t just assume that you can’t make use of a formal style in a casual room. Giving a master bedroom a wainscoting treatment can make the space feel more luxurious and relaxing, helping you to wind down and relax before bed.
If you decide to use wainscoting and add crown molding in your bedroom, consider using some other touches that normally blend well with it. Built-in bookshelves and cabinets look amazing when combined with wainscot walls and crown molding, so don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and treat yourself to a fancy, five-star hotel-inspired room.
8. Focal Point Finesse
Fireplaces are often the most formal, visually stunning pieces in any home. They may be stone or brick-faced with simple mantels, or they can be clad with intricate, multi-layered moldings and trim work to incorporate them perfectly into the room they occupy. Not only can you appreciate these fireplaces for their impressive overall presence but also for their attention to the smallest details.
We saved this category for last because these fireplaces are the pinnacle of possibility when a skilled craftsman tackles a . They’re also difficult to categorize as they are so carefully constructed that they land somewhere between finish carpentry and fine furniture.
If you don’t have the tools and attention to detail that these fireplaces require, it’s worth calling in a pro if this is the look you want. The value-added will far outweigh the cost expended and those are the types of projects homeowners should focus on.
See more about - 67 Wall Paneling Ideas
What is wainscoting and how does it enhance interior design?
Wainscoting refers to the decorative paneling or molding installed on the lower part of interior walls, typically around the lower third of the wall’s height. It serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. Functionally, wainscoting can protect walls from damage and wear, especially in high-traffic areas. Aesthetically, it adds depth, texture, and visual interest to a room. By using various materials, designs, and colors, wainscoting can complement the overall interior design style and create a more polished and inviting space.
How do I choose the right wainscoting style for a specific room?
Selecting the ideal wainscoting style involves considering the room’s purpose, existing decor, and personal preferences. For formal spaces like dining rooms, formal dining room wainscoting ideas can include raised panel designs or classic beadboard for an elegant touch. More casual spaces, such as bathrooms, might benefit from beadboard or shiplap wainscoting for a relaxed atmosphere. Always aim to align the chosen style with the room’s overall aesthetic.
Are there any non-traditional wainscoting ideas to explore?
Certainly! Non-traditional wainscoting ideas open up a world of creativity. Consider incorporating geometric patterns, textured materials like faux brick or stone panels, or even using wainscoting in unexpected areas like ceilings or kitchen backsplashes. Mixing different materials or playing with asymmetrical designs can also lend a modern twist to this classic element, adding a unique touch to your interiors.