The Other Wall Finish – Panelling!

Posted by Phoebe Oldrey in Interior Design Advice

There is a lot you can do to a wall to completely change a room, but the options normally begin with two starting points – painting or wallpapering. These choices then lead to a massive amount of options from crazy mural wallpaper or dark paints to bring the drama and character out, or you might like a fresh light Scandi feeling for calm space.

However, recently I have been playing with a third option: panelling and moulding.

It’s early days in this new relationship I’ve found, I’m about 6 months in to something I’m taking pretty seriously, but I am all full of wonder for it.  However, I know that it can be amazing and scary for my clients as it just isn’t something they have thought of. They often think panelling and moulding is just something your house has or doesn’t. When I put it forward in projects it is really fascinating to see my clients’ reaction. Mainly it is “I love it, I never would have thought of doing that, but I’m scared to take the plunge.” I find this really prevalent in people with more contemporary taste as they think of it only as a period house feature. As their designer it is my job to show people on paper that something can work before they commit to it.

When at KBIS in January I was blown away by the different options on the stand of Metrie a family run US company started in 1926 which creates architectural elements for homes made of solid wood and composite moulding. Which made me think of the different ways I can use this look back home in my own work.

The Full Wall

I often go with the full room panelling idea when a room is feeling very empty, but I don’t want to clutter it.  This is especially great if I am trying to bring focus to one area over another.

Shiplap has been a big idea in the US for a number of years with Studio McGee  making it very much part of their house style. It echoes a lot of the traditional house building out there but with colour on it can bring interest to a space. This is starting to be design news over here with Sophie Robinson using it on the exterior and the bathrooms in her mother’s annex. Metrie has a white pre-painted shiplap which means you can transform a room in a weekend.

Metrie’s farmhouse shiplap (left) and Metrie’s design has used moulding adhered to the wall in vertical design (right).

The other full wall options are either panelling or use of all over mouldings. I find this works really well to give a room a feeling of height as you can stretch it visually by creating tall, thin panels which draw the eye up.

The Half Wall

Metrie’s design for lower panelling is built up with different types of moulding to create the intricate design.

Below the dado rail is a classic and was used lots in Georgian and Victorian architecture. The lower half of the wall is panelled which is great for protecting it against bumps and scratches, perfect for hallways. It also gives you the ability to play with the proportion of your room by using different colours on the top and bottom. I normally go darker on the bottom as it grounds the room, but you don’t lose the feeling of height of a space if you keep the top half light. Though the waiting room at the Barristers’ Chambers we designed last year already had period panelling, the reception didn’t. I repeated the panelling in this room as all the focus was on the centre of the room with little to fill the walls and create a feature.

Smartstyle Interiors panelling design for a Barristers’ Chambers allowed the rooms to remain simple but with impact.

Just a Little Bit!

This is a clever little way to contain the thing you wish to draw people’s attention to, especially with wallpaper as you can create a frame directly onto the wall. Metrie did this so well on their stand at KBIS with this bird mural framed in their moulding. It is also clever that they took the moulding all the way onto the ceiling, otherwise known these days as the “5th Wall”.

In our Tenterton Project I was struggling with wallpaper in the downstairs bathroom. The clients only wanted to use the paper on two walls and I didn’t want the space to feel sliced up too much as it was a small area and could easily have become fussy. It was a late night when the idea of framing the wallpaper popped into my head. This gave me the ability to have the wall colour everywhere and make more of a feature of the paper. I also ran that wall colour onto the ceiling to give the smallest room in the house maximum impact!! This shows that moulding is a tool to make the most out of another feature of the room.

By framing this wallpaper in our Tenterton design project we draw attention to the feature wall.

So, I hope that when you are wrestling between paint and wallpaper you might start to think of an alternative in your interior design arsenal for making your home an amazing space to be in.

Blogger Small Print

This Post isn’t a sponsored post however my flights and accommodation were paid for by Modenus and a number of sponsors as part of their Design Hounds, Blog Tour KBIS. Over the next few months I will share with you some of the inspirational finds I think will shape design to come.

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for latest news, videos and interior design ideas

Signup to our newsletter