Wainscoting Ideas: How to Get a Distinctive Look

Wainscoting ideas are an excellent way that you can visualize wainscoting for your interior spaces. Wainscoting is decorative wall paneling that gives rooms added distinction and appeal. In this exploration of wainscoting ideas, we will dive into the ways that you can use this architectural feature to define a room. Because wainscoting has the remarkable ability to transform any space, you can use it to give any room elegance, charm, and character. Wainscoting is also practical. It can preserve the walls from the wear and tear of everyday life so it is ideal in high-traffic areas and children’s rooms.

Wainscoting Ideas

15 Wainscoting Ideas

Be inspired by all the ways that you can utilize this attractive wall feature by considering the unique ways others have incorporated it into their homes.

1. Double Picture Frame Wainscoting

Double Picture Frame Wainscoting
Pillar & Peacock

Double picture frame wainscoting features picture framing of two sizes according to your taste. This style of wainscoting introduces a visually appealing and balanced look to the space. In this bathroom, it is the ideal way to frame the stylish soaking tub.

Wainscoting in a bathroom introduces elegance and functionality into their overlooked space.

Use solid wood pieces or plywood on the bottom portion of the wall and then coat it with high-gloss paint to preserve the walls from the moisture and water splashes that are prevalent in bathrooms.

2. Dark Walls and White Wainscoting

Dark Walls and White Wainscoting
Timber Trails Development Company

Timber Trails Development Company chose charcoal gray walls to contrast with the high white wainscoting. Contrasting a dark color with light wainscoting is a visually striking choice that can transform a room.

To get the most dramatic look, choose a contrasting paint color like deep blue, anthracite, or moody aubergine. The white wainscoting balances the dark color so that it is not overwhelming.

3. Wainscoting with Wallpaper

Wainscoting with Wallpaper
Carlton Edwards

Combining wainscoting with wallpaper creates a juxtaposition of differing textures and depths. Wallpaper and wainscoting offer many options of patterns and colors. This combination opens a world of aesthetic possibilities from traditional to contemporary and anywhere in between.

Choose bold geometric wallpaper or romantic floral and pair it with simple wainscoting styles like the board and batten style in this bathroom from Carlton Edwards. Wainscoting is a practical choice paired with wallpaper because it preserves delicate paper from scuffs and scrapes.

4. Wainscoting on Tall Walls

Wainscoting on Tall Walls
L. Lumpkins Architect, Inc.

Wainscoting is an excellent way to break up the expanse of a tall wall. L. Lumpkin used flat panel wainscoting to break up the tall walls in this Westway entry hall. This wainscoting does not deter from the high ceilings, but it does give the eye some context for understanding the space.

The height of the wainscoting depends on your design vision for the space. Full wall wainscoting streamlines the look of this room while giving it textural interest.

5. Natural Wood Wainscoting

Natural Wood Wainscoting
Shelley Kirsch Interior Design and Decoration

Natural wood beadboard wainscoting is a versatile design element that brings a rustic and warm aesthetic to interior spaces. Beadboard wainscoting with its narrow planks and grooves is a popular choice for many rooms including bathrooms, kitchens, and mudrooms.

The wood wainscoting is particularly lovely in this arts and crafts entry by Shelly Kirsch. She uses natural wood to complement the mixed material floor and plank ceiling. If you like wainscoting with a stain or varnish finish, the wood that you use must be of high quality. Natural wood beadboard is typically crafted from hardwoods like oak or maple or softwoods like pine.

6. Wainscoting for Children’s Rooms

Wainscoting for Children’s Rooms
Godrich Interiors

Wainscoting in a child’s room can be a practical and pleasing aesthetic choice. It offers several benefits including increased durability for the drywall surfaces. When you choose a wainscoting material, identify ones that can stand up to wear and tear. Typically wood and plywood surfaces hold up to scuffs and scrapes better than picture frame wainscoting pieces that leave the flat surface of the drywall exposed.

Wainscoting in children’s areas is also a good opportunity for incorporating built-ins like shelves, bookcases, and cabinets.

7. Dark Wainscoting

Dark Wainscoting
Quality By Design Home Renovations

Dark wainscoting is a bold and unexpected choice that gives any room instant drama. The primary benefit is the striking contrast that it creates. Use dark blues, greens, blacks, and grays to get the greatest effect. This color choice is a way to use wainscoting to create an updated and modern look while still anchoring the style in the past. Pair dark wainscoting with complementing dark trim to amplify the look.

Dark wainscoting does require more maintenance as it will more readily show scuff and scrapes than light wainscoting. Choose a high-quality, high-sheen paint to give your walls the most protection.

8. Wainscoting in a Mudroom

Wainscoting in a Mudroom
Manor Works

Modern mudrooms are catch-all spaces for bookbags, boots, coats, and pet accessories. Wainscoting in a mudroom is a stylish way to give this area more durability and functionality.

In this mudroom by Manor Works, they used the wainscoting as a canvas to incorporate hooks, shelves, and shoe storage. Some of the most simple wainscoting is painted beadboard. Plywood sheets are inexpensive but attractive and durable. Painted plywood beadboard looks very much like the real plank style at a fraction of the cost.

9. Wainscoting as a Focal Point

Wainscoting as a Focal Point
Francisco Javier Ferrera Sánchez

Wainscoting used on one wall to create a focal point is an effective design strategy. It works beautifully in this Scandinavian-style bedroom by Francisco Sanchez. In it, he uses the wall to direct the eye to the bed. The painted wainscoting frames the bed and gives the simple style more presence. A focal point wall works best on a wall that naturally draws the eye or one that supports a large piece of furniture like a bed or sofa.

10. Wainscoting on Stairways

Wainscoting on Stairways
Charleston Building and Development

Stairways are high-traffic areas and are often one of the first places guests see. Wainscoting lining a stairway is a way to create visual impact and increase the protection of the walls on stairways. The height and placement of wainscoting on the stairways is up to you.

Choose a wainscoting height in relation to the ceilings. Low wainscoting with high ceilings will visually shorten the room. High wainscoting will give the room a look of greater height.

11. Tone-on-Tone Wainscoting

Tone-on-Tone Wainscoting
Heidi Caillier Design

Using the same color on walls and wainscoting is a way to give the room a modern look while still grounding with historic style. While it doesn’t give it the normal contrast associated with wainscoting, it is particularly effective when you combine it with other contrasting elements. Heidi Caillier does this in her bathroom design with the striking gold sconces that pop against the dark gray background. This wainscoting type works well with transitional, modern, and contemporary design styles.

12. Wainscoting for Textural Appeal

Wainscoting for Textural Appeal
Rebecca James Studio

Wainscoting does not always have to take center stage in the room. In this Alice in Wonderland-themed dining room the Rebecca James Studio uses a pale, neutral wainscoting to provide background interest. This light, warm gray wainscoting provides the ideal canvas for the brilliantly colored upholstered pieces.

13. Shiplap Wainscoting

Shiplap Wainscoting
Todd Christian Construction, LLC

Shiplap wainscoting is a design style that has gained popularity in the last several years. This style features horizontal planks with a slight gap in between each board. This style of wainscoting typically covers the bottom third to one-half of the wall, though you can adjust this to suit your preferences and needs. Shiplap wainscoting is ideal for adding a rustic, coastal, or farmhouse look to interior rooms.

14. Full-Wall Wainscoting

Full-Wall Wainscoting
Carpet One Floor & Home- La Grande & Enterprise

Full-wall wainscoting is a gorgeous style that covers all the walls in the room with decorative wood paneling from floor to ceiling. This is a look that was common in historical houses, so this wainscoting style is always fitting in traditional or historic-style homes. Yet this style can also look modern as in this Boise, Idaho living room. These designers chose to use a flat panel wainscoting painted in a brilliant blue. This choice of color and wainscoting style gives the room a cozy yet contemporary look.

15. Increase Visual Height With Wainscoting

Increase Visual Height With Wainscoting
Ally Whalen Design

The height of the wainscoting is variable, depending on the style and size of the room. You can use wainscoting to increase the visual height of the room by creating an optical illusion. When you install high wainscoting on the wall, it creates the illusion of taller walls and a more spacious room. This works especially well if you use light colors on the wainscoting and walls and hang your curtains higher to contribute to the heightened appearance.