I love how the paneling doesn't interrupt the hazy scenic painting in this dining room. It's almost as if the art can't be contained by the frame — a concept I think applies to so much fine art, but most of it doesn't have the luxury of actually spilling out of the frame!
Of course, there's nothing wrong with drawing inside the lines. Wall panels provide a wonderful opportunity to create a frame within a frame that calls attention to a special piece — or can elevate a piece that may not seem significant until it's accompanied by a grand presentation. In this design, the painting and sconces are clearly defined as important elements in the composition.
If you're dying to use a certain wallpaper in your home but the cost is just too high to justify (or you've got a fabulous vintage specimen and not enough of it to cover a full wall), considering papering inside the paneling. If you don't have paneling, you can easily make your own with simple wood strips nailed to the wall. Or, if you're a renter and can't apply paper to walls, cheap frames enclosing your favorite wallpaper and simply hung on the wall like a painting will do the trick.
DIY: Wallpaper Goes Mobile
DIY: Wallpaper Goes Mobile
If you're not necessarly interested in framing art but want to introduce some dimension to plain walls, wood strips are your answer. Paint them the same color as the wall for a sophisticated, monochromatic look, or make them pop by painting them white or another contrasting color.
Wainscoting — paneling (often on the lower portion) that encompasses baseboards and chair rails — will give any home a dose of casual-cottage coziness, even when it's highly elegant and sophisticated, as in this board and batten example by Feldman Architecture, Inc. Wainscoting was originally applied to walls as a form of insulation to mitigate cold breezes and dampness. It comes in the form of raised panels, recessed or flat panels and beadboard.
This entry hall shows a taller wainscot treatment. Its height brings the eye up and makes the room feel a bit taller. Interestingly, applying wainscoting close to door heights in a space with ultra-high ceilings actually humanizes the scale, bringing a warmth to what could be cold, cavernous spaces without sacrificing any of the outstanding architecture we get with vaulted or double-height ceilings.
As with paneling, wainscoting can be an average woodworker's DIY project with affordable wood pieces and a little sweat.
We often see wainscoting and walls with contrasting paint colors, but painting it the same color as the wall has a wonderful effect. It's far less busy and can help spaces with low ceilings feel a little higher, where the white meets the color.
One of my favorite wall applications is shiplap, essentially wide-plank wood applied vertically or horizontally. It just screams breezy, beach-y casual.
If you're lucky enough to have natural pine walls and ceilings, don't do a thing. If you're feeling like adding a little texture and warmth to barren walls, bring it on!
Shiplap can be painted, too, although I would recommend hand-brushing. If you roll the paint on for speed, immediately follow that up with hand painting to smooth out the naps, which just look unnatural on the wood and hide the true character of the material.
This shiplap treatment is undeniably nautical (the sailboats in the foreground add to the feeling). The overlapped application gives the walls a great dose of dimension and architectural interest. And as you can see, it still allows for hanging artwork.