These 15 Rooms Prove a Wood Accent Wall is Actually Cool

Updated 09/17/19
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Up until the '70s, wood paneling was a popular choice (mostly out of convenience and affordability), but like avocado appliances and orange shag carpet, the design was ultimately exiled. But as all trends do, the home décor staple has since been reinvented into something modern and not the least bit dowdy. 

Today's wood paneling is a far cry from the dingy den and shabby basement installations from the past. These days, it's a statement that adds character to any space, from rustic to contemporary. While it retained its texture-inducing, warm feel, wood paneling has cast off the tacky stigma and made a complete comeback. Scroll through for 15 rooms that prove a wood accent wall is actually cool. These are not your grandma's wood-paneled walls. 

The Hardwood Wall

Updating your hardwood floors? Invest in some extra yardage of wood and extend the installation to one wall, all the way up to the ceiling. Running the same material from the floor to an accent wall adds tons of visual interest, not to mention tons of warmth in a simple, modern, and surprisingly minimal way.

Modern Shiplap

Think of shiplap as the modern-day wood paneling. One day, our kids will talk about shiplap, the way we talk about our grandma's basement. But we're not just tooting our own horn when we say shiplap is a much cooler, not so in-your-face version of '70s paneling. It's subtle but adds tons of character.

The Statement Ceiling

Who said your ceiling can't count as your accent wall? As long as you keep the rest of your walls clean and minimal, the ceiling will take center stage every time. A good tip is to pair it with your wooden floors for a cohesive layout.

Vertical Shiplap

Shiplap is usually installed horizontally, giving you clean lines that run across a wall from left to right. However, designing a space with vertically installed shiplap visually stretches the room upwards giving the illusion that it's taller. It's a simple swap but it makes a major difference.

The Accent Nook

A wooden accent wall is a great way to draw attention to a space, no matter the size. However, using it modestly almost makes an even bigger impact. Carve out a special space, like a reading nook or a play area, with wooden slats for a warm and inviting feel.

The Contrasting Accent Wall

Mixing different types of wood finishings is the coolest way to make a statement in any space. We love how this moody gray shiplap wall contrasts the warm gray hardwood floor, and how they both offset the natural credenza. The final look is modern and totally unique.

The Faux-Wood Wallpaper

If you love the look of a wood accent wall, but you have restrictions (either via your bank account or renter's agreement), a wallpaper with a wooden print is your best bet. A peel-and-stick wallpaper is easily removed, much more affordable, easier to install, and gives you the illusion of textured walls. It's a win-win.

A Wall Of Artfully Placed Wood

How you install wood and the colors you choose to include changes everything. Create a geometric pattern using shapes, angles, and colors for a wall that really makes a statement. It takes a creative eye but the outcome will always be a stunner.

Diagonal Paneling

If the last wall didn't teach you that placement is everything, allow this diagonal shiplap to serve as your final lesson. You've seen vertical and horizontal installations before but you'll want to keep this new take on hand for renovation inspiration. Paired with horizontal-running wood on the ceiling and perpendicular beams painted black, this living-room-dining-room hybrid is a formula for design success.

Texture Takeover

Wood accent walls can do much more than add warmth and natural color. Placing wooden slats vertically, then horizontally, in a grid pattern creates a basketweave texture, unlike any other wall treatment. Painting it in a single shade of ecru brings balance, leaving your room looking sophisticated and never boring.

Wainscotting

Wood paneling doesn't need to extend up to your ceiling to make a statement. Wainscotting—a type of panel molding that covers the bottom half of a wall—is the most classic of wood accent walls. Dressing it in a pop of color and pairing it with a complementary wallpaper isn't a bad idea either.

Floor-To-Ceiling Wainscotting

If you're a fan of wainscotting, you don't have to stop at half of the wall. It can be extended up to the ceiling if you so desire. Plus, with so many variations of the design, you really could create any look imaginable. This simple floor-to-ceiling wainscotting simply includes single panels running up the wall to create depth and texture. A clean white coat of paint keeps everything uniform and classic.

The Distressed-Wood Accent Wall

Sourcing distressed wood before installing an accent wall will make all the difference in your final design. Dark, aged wood like the one in this bathroom brings so much character and charm to a modern bathroom, you'll be transported to another place and timezone every time you step in. Think a simpler time in the French countryside.

The Painted-Wood Accent Wall

If you're working to update an outdated wood-paneled wall, go ahead and paint over it. Your space will still boast the tons of texture from before but in a more modern way. Even if you decide to install a new shiplap, then paint over it, the name of the game is texture, and that will still shine through.

The Natural-Wood Accent Wall

On the other hand, wood in its natural state is a wonderful canvas to work with. Pair it with a playful color palette for an eclectic vibe, or dress it up with tons of white for a minimal feel. No matter which design direction you take, you can't go wrong with a warm-colored natural wood to start.

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