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30 Wainscoting Ideas That Don't Feel Dated

wainscoting ideas

ashley montgomery design

Whether you call it wainscoting, beadboard, or chair railing, adding it to your home is a no-brainer. Wainscoting provides style and substance to any space, and its historic look adds plenty of character too. Plus, wainscoting isn't all-form-no-function—it can be used to add extra shelving and storage too. Keep reading to check see 30 great wainscoting ideas.

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Consider Height

wainscoting ideas height and furniture

anne sage

Wainscoting is a great way to add a little something extra to your walls, and it works well when it's placed at a height where your primary piece of furniture sits right below it.

02 of 30

Pair It With Wallpaper

wallpaper wainscoting ideas

katie leclerq

There's no doubt about it—wainscoting and wallpaper is a winning combo every time. The pairing feels classic and timeless, and the seemingly-endless supply of wallpaper patterns means that you can easily make the space feel like your own.

03 of 30

Use It in the Bathroom

wainscoting ideas bathroom

katie leclerq

Some simple wainscoting in the bathroom adds a touch of character to a sometimes-forgotten space. Use the same trim around your mirror or window for a cohesive look.

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Get Painting

wainscoting ideas painted

becca interiors

Wainscoting doesn't need to be white—instead, it can be painted the same deep shade as the rest of the walls for a stunning and subtle look.

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Try a Statement Wall

wainscoting ideas

blue copper design

If you're considering adding wainscoting to the bedroom but you're wary of going all-in, try sticking with a statement wall of wainscoting first, like Blue Copper Design did in the space above.

06 of 30

Aim High

wainscoting ideas upper ceiling

devon grace interiors

Who says wainscoting needs to stick to being ground-level? Aim higher by adding wainscoting to the upper reaches of your walls, especially if they stretch up onto your second story.

07 of 30

Add a Picture Ledge

wainscoting ideas pciture ledge

emily henderson design

Make your wainscoting a little more functional by using it to provide some extra display space to your bedroom. Adding a picture ledge to the top of your wainscoting is an easy no-brainer.

08 of 30

Double Up

wainscoting ideas in two rooms

emily henderson design

Use the double the wainscoting for double the effect in your space. If you have connecting spaces, like bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms, try using it in both for a cohesive and put-together look.

09 of 30


wainscoting ideas diy

house of harvee

For a wainscoting look in your home for a fraction of the price, install narrow pieces of trim in rectangles, then prime and paint to make it look perfectly-finished.

10 of 30

Keep It Short

wainscoting ideas short

emily henderson design

To make your space feel taller than it is, use wainscoting that comes one-quarter to one-third the way up the wall, making the rest of the wall look taller. Add some vertical molding to continue the illusion of height.

11 of 30

Try It in the Home Office

wainscoting ideas home office

bespoke only

Too often, home offices are thrown together with whatever is left from the rest of the home along with a spare piece of wall art or two. Give your home office a more intentional and put-together look with wainscoting, whether you add just a little, or cover the whole wall.

12 of 30

Think Simple

wainscoting ideas simple pattern

emily henderson design

If you're considering using heavily-patterned wallpaper alongside wainscoting, make sure you choose paneling with a simple, unfussy pattern. This will ensure it doesn't clash or detract from your bold wallpaper choice.

13 of 30

Get Geometric

wainscoting ideas

emily henderson design

Wainscoting can be used to create many different patterns and shapes. If you're aiming to give your wainscoting a more modern look, try installing wainscoting with a square pattern, like Emily Henderson Design did in the space above.

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Match Existing Trim

wainscoting ideas match existing trim

devon grace interiors

Wainscoting looks even better when it matches existing trim in a space. So, if you're adding to a room with tray ceilings or crown molding, pick trim that complements or matches what's already there.

15 of 30

Add Some Wood

wainscoting ideas wood

house of chais

For an earthy and modern take on wainscoting, make your top piece of trim a strip of unfinished (or barely-finished) wood. This adds a 21st century touch to a centuries-old style.

16 of 30

Embrace the Awkward

wainscoting ideas short walls

emily henderson design

If you're struggling to add some style to a space with awkward walls and ceilings, like a converted attic or room over the garage, try adding wainscoting. It's a simple addition that can work with nearly any type of wall to give it a little something extra.

17 of 30

Add Extra Storage

wainscoting ideas storage

katie hodges design

Need extra storage? Try wainscoting. The top of wainscoting provides an easy opportunity to add some shelving and plenty of hooks and knobs.

18 of 30

Add Drama

black wainscoting ideas

katie hodges design

Wainscoting can be used to provide drama to an already-bold color choice, like black in the bathroom. For a similar effect for less effort, paint bold color onto oversized trim.

19 of 30

Try It at Half-Height

half wall wainscoting ideas

lucky plot 13

Wainscoting can come in many heights, but one of its most well-known is the four-foot, half-wall height. This height allows for equal parts wainscoting and paint or wallpaper on your wall.

20 of 30

Ground Your Space

black and yellow wainscoting ideas

michelle berwick design

Wainscoting can provide a sense of grounding and depth in a space that's filled with lots of bright color and pattern. Try adding a wall of it in a deep black or simple white to a maximally-styled room.

21 of 30

Make It Neutral

neutral wainscoting ideas

ashley montgomery design

For a wainscoting look that's full of whimsical neutrals, try pairing off-white wainscoting with beige-patterned wallpaper and a simple exposed wood mirror.

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Try a Unique Pattern

wainscoting ideas unique

ashley montgomery design

Though wainscoting's most recognizable patterns are the ones that are easiest to find, an especially unique look can be found by taking the time to source paneling with an unusual patterns, like ones with extra narrow or textured boards.

23 of 30

Add It to an Island

wainscoting ideas kithcen island

Ashley Montgomery Design

The wall underneath a kitchen island or bar can feel like wasted space. Add a little bit of wainscoting (bonus points if it's painted) to make it not so. The kitchen above, from Ashley Montgomery Design, is a great example of this.

24 of 30

Spruce Up a Corner

wainscoting ideas corner

katie leclerq

Use wainscoting in a forgotten corner of your home to add some style and character (and a little bit of display shelving too!).

25 of 30

Add It to the Dining Room

wainscoting ideas dining room

emily henderson design

One of the most well-known places to install wainscoting is the dining room, thanks to the elegant, character-filled look it adds—perfect for classy dinners with friends and holiday parties.

26 of 30

Try the Mantel

wainscoting ideas mantel

thomas guy interiors

Wainscoting can be added to other structural elements in your home, not just your walls. Try adding wainscoting to fireplace mantels, arches, or columns to better highlight them within your space.

27 of 30

Go Green-Gray

wainscoting ideas green and gray

bespoke only

For a calming and neutral look, try painting both your walls and wainscoting a warm green-gray. This relaxing hue adds a touch of tranquility to wherever it's added.

28 of 30

Complement Your Space

wainscoting ideas

bespoke only

When adding wainscoting to a space with other patterns and colors, consider painting your wainscoting in a shade that complements it. The slate blue against the patterned yellow wallpaper in the entryway above from Bespoke Only is a great example of this.

29 of 30

Let It Overlap

wainscoting ideas overlap

stephanie hoey interiors

When adding wainscoting, your furniture and fixtures don't all need to be precisely over or below the paneling. In fact, items that overlap or sit atop of wainscoting can create a sense of depth and visual interest.

30 of 30

Add Built-ins

wainscoting ideas built ins

bespoke only

Another winning wainscoting combo? Wainscoting and built-ins. The pairing looks custom, classic, and adds a ton of storage.