36 Wainscoting Ideas for Traditional and Modern Spaces

By KRISTIN HOHENADEL
Kristin Hohenadel
36 Wainscoting Ideas for Traditional and Modern Spaces
01 of 36

Swedish Country Style

traditional wainscoting

Fantastic Frank

Traditional wood wainscoting with a wrap-around chair rail anchors this Swedish country dining room from Fantastic Frank. The wood detailing is painted in a medium-toned, warm gray and paired with a lighter shade of gray paint on the wall above that grounds the room and creates a cozy atmosphere. The chair rail is built out into a picture ledge that is casually styled with a random assortment of art and objects for a casual feel that isn’t old-fashioned but classic.

 
02 of 36

Modern Geometric Wainscoting

geometric wainscoting

The House That Lars Built

Reinvent conventional wainscoting with a geometric 3D makeover. This entryway from The House That Lars Built features DIY wainscoting that trades the linear design of classic wainscoting for diamonds and circles. Painted light blue and paired with colorful floral wallpaper with an orange background transforms what could have been a traditional feature into something personal and modern.

 
03 of 36

Paired With Grasscloth

dining room wainscoting ideas

Mary Patton Design

Pair crisp white wainscoting with darker-toned wallpaper for a high-contrast look. Mary Patton Design chose forest green grasscloth for this updated midcentury modern dining room that creates a sharp background that allows art, midcentury lighting and furniture, and a sideboard decorated with cake stands to stand out.

 
04 of 36

Painted Raspberry Pink

pink wainscoting

Christina Kim Interior Design / Photo by Lisa Petrole

Paint your wainscoting in an eye-catching color for a signature look. Christina Kim Interior Design paired raspberry pink sherbet-colored wainscoting with leafy tropical wallpaper, then painted the crown moldings and ceilings in the same color to create a finished feel in the elegant modern space.

 
05 of 36

Neutral Shiplap Wainscoting

bathroom wainscoting

Becca Interiors

Use shiplap wainscoting to help structure a modern farmhouse-style bathroomBecca Interiors installed vertical shiplap around the periphery of this compact powder room that doubles as a backsplash over the sink. The wainscoting is painted in a soft beige that is a few shades darker than the off-white walls to add subtle definition and make the space feel cozier.

 
06 of 36

Paired With Bold Finishes

tall wainscoting dining room

Forbes + Masters

Use simple white wainscoting panels to help ground and tone down bold wall and window treatments. Forbes + Masters paired matching hand-painted wallpaper and drapes with crisp white and extra-tall wainscoting for a balanced feel that keeps the pattern from overwhelming.

 
07 of 36

Period Bathroom Wainscoting

bathroom wainscoting

Tyler Karu Design + Interiors / Photo by Erin Little

Wainscoting adds authentic charm to a historic home. Tyler Karu Design + Interiors painted the wood wainscoting in this Maine bathroom in a bold blue that adds contrast with white walls and complements patterned floor tiles. You can also mimic the look of wood wainscoting in a modern bathroom by using tile or stone.

 
08 of 36

White-on-White Wainscoting

kids' bedroom wainscoting

Marie Flanigan Interiors

Paint the wainscoting the same color as the walls for a modern feel with added texture, like this cozy bedroom from Marie Flanigan Interiors.

 
09 of 36

Neo-Traditional Wainscoting

extra tall wainscoting

Marie Flanigan Interiors

Super-tall wainscoting will give a modern space a neo-traditional feel. Marie Flanigan Interiors ran the crisp white wainscoting in this neutral dining room two-thirds of the way up the wall, and contrasted it with dark taupe wall paint and drapes.

 
10 of 36

Modern Farmhouse

modern farmhouse wainscoting dining room

Michelle Berwick Design

Shiplap wainscoting is an easy and affordable way to make a modern farmhouse dining room feel cozier and more inviting. Michelle Berwick Design chose a minimal approach in this formal modern farmhouse dining room. White walls and simple beige wainscoting complements the airy space, while a pair of oversized pendant lights anchors the wooden farmhouse table and painted black spindle back chairs.

 
11 of 36

With a Wallpaper Mural

wainscoting wall mural

Marie Flanigan Interiors

Use wainscoting to frame the borders of a wallpaper mural. Marie Flanigan Interiors covered the walls of this formal living room with eye-catching landscape mural wallpaper, using wainscoting that is the same height as the sofa to help ground the space.

 
12 of 36

Laundry Room Wainscoting

laundry room wainscoting

Jessica Nelson Design / Carina Skrobecki Photography

While wainscoting is often used to help ground a larger room, it can add an extra layer of coziness to a smaller space. Jessica Nelson Design worked the angles of this small laundry room with wainscoting that is integrated around a built-in bench niche and painted in a light shade of gray that matches the built-in cabinetry.

 
13 of 36

Integrate the Fireplace

traditional wainscoting with fireplace

Melinda Kelson O’Connor Architecture & Interiors / Photo by Wendy Concannon

Use the same finish on the wainscoting and fireplace mantel to create a polished feel in a living room or dining room. Melinda Kelson O’Connor Architecture & Interiors ran wainscoting around the periphery of this formal dining room that blends in seamlessly with the fireplace mantel. The wall above is covered in a patterned gray-and-white wallpaper that complements modern furnishings.

 
14 of 36

High-Contrast Wainscoting

white wainscoting gray walls

Victoria Bell Design

Use classic white wainscoting to balance dark walls and flooring. Victoria Bell Design paired simple white wainscoting with dark gray walls and dark stained flooring in this dining room decorated with floral curtains and antiques.

 
15 of 36

Painted Fresh Blue

blue-green wainscoting

Brexton Cole Interiors

Paint wainscoting in a fresh blue that makes a change from white while retaining a traditional feel. Brexton Cole Interiors paired robin’s egg blue wainscoting with a black-and-white illustrated landscape mural and gilded furniture and mirrors to elegant effect.

 
16 of 36

Minimalist Wainscoting

minimalist wainscoting ideas

Design by Leanne Ford Interiors / Photo by Reid Rolls

Adding streamlined wainscoting results in a more minimalist feel that works well in modern spaces. Leanne Ford Interiors skipped the wood detailing and added a simple wood plank border that matches the width of the floor boards below, painting the pared-down wainscoting in a warm cream to subtly define it from the white walls of this farmhouse dining room. With vintage furniture and decor, the room has a nostalgic feel with one foot in both past and present.

 
17 of 36

Hallway Wainscoting

beige wainscoting

Ashley Montgomery Design

In a hallway, paint wainscoting and walls in the same color, and accent with a contrasting shade on door frames. Ashley Montgomery Design paired warm cocoa-colored wainscoting and walls with soft vintage blue on doors and archways in this traditional home hallway.

 
18 of 36

Raised Panel Wainscoting

hallway wainscoting

Becca Interiors

Add dimension and a slight 3D effect by using raised panel wainscoting painted in a darker shade than the walls, like this entryway from Becca Interiors.

 
19 of 36

Match the Ceiling

formal dining room wainscoting

Design by Cohesively Curated Interiors / Carina Skrobecki Photography

Match wainscoting details with ceiling molding to create a polished feel in a modern space, like this dining room from Cohesively Curated Interiors that is finished with neutral patterned wallpaper.

 
20 of 36

Wainscoting Without Borders

dining room wainscoting

Brexton Cole Interiors

If your layout includes rooms that open to one another, consider using the same wainscoting throughout both spaces to create a sense of continuity. Brexton Cole Interiors used the same soft white wainscoting in both the foyer and dining room of this traditional home. The wainscoting is paired with cream wall paint in the foyer and botanical wallpaper in the dining room to define the individual spaces.

 
21 of 36

Coastal Combination

white wainscoting

Kate Marker Interiors

Pair white shiplap wainscoting with blue grasscloth wallpaper for a coastal feel. Kate Marker Interiors added blue-and-white curtains in a wavy pattern and natural wood and woven accents to create a formal dining room with a breezy feel.

 
22 of 36

Mudroom Wainscoting

mudroom wainscoting

Jessica Nelson Design / Carina Skrobecki Photography

Pair wainscoting with a pegboard painted in the same color to create a mini mudroom like this one from Jessica Nelson Design.

 
23 of 36

Traditional Wainscoting

formal dining room painted wainscoting

Design by Reed & Acanthus / Photo by Ann Ruthmann Photography

Traditional wainscoting can be a stand-out element or take a back seat in a more formal setting decorated with antique furniture, ornate decor objects, and silver and gold accents, like this formal dining room from Reed & Acanthus.

 
24 of 36

Kids’ Room Wainscoting

shiplap wainscoting

Brexton Cole Interiors

Wainscoting can add a cozy feel to a kids’ bedroom. Brexton Cole Interiors kept it light with white painted beadboard wainscoting paired with cream wallpaper with a hand-drawn polka dot pattern.

 
25 of 36

Graphic Wainscoting

modern wainscoting ideas

Michael Keck for Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Modernize a traditional room with streamlined wainscoting and wallpaper in shades of black and white. Michael Keck for Emily Henderson Design ran a thin strip of chair rail wood trim at wainscoting height, painting it the same dark color as the window trim. The wainscoting portion of the wall swap the trim for white paint that contrasts with the abstract black-and-white floral paper on the top half of the wall.

 
26 of 36

Bedroom Wainscoting

bedroom wainscoting

Design by Ajai Guyot for Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Ellie Lillstrom

Paint your wainscoting in an earthy green to add color to a bedroom dominated by neutrals. Ajai Guyot for Emily Henderson Design chose sage green paint for the wainscoting in this bedroom that adds contrast with the black-and-white illustrated wallpaper.

 
27 of 36

Vary Wall Panel Sizes

traditional dining room wainscoting

Design by Reed & Acanthus / Photo by Ann Ruthmann Photography

Wainscoting often features identical panels and trim, but you can mix it up by utilizing different sizes to accommodate the layout of your room. This formal dining room from Reed & Acanthus features wrap-around wainscoting that runs beneath windows and around the fireplace, with varying sized rectangular panels that are painted in the same creamy hue, and damask wallpaper on the wall above in a slightly darker hue.

 
28 of 36

Stretch Wainscoting

modern wainscoting

Design by K+Co. Living / Photo by Hulya Kolabas

Installing taller wainscoting panels can make them feel modernized in a formal dining room like this one from K+Co. Living.

 
29 of 36

Mix Wainscoting Styles

wainscoting color ideas

Becca Interiors

While many interior designers choose to run the same wainscoting throughout adjoining spaces, you can mix it up to define one space from the other. This foyer and adjacent mudroom from Becca Interiors each have wainscoting in different styles and colors that along with the flooring creates a separate identity from one another that happily coexists due to the muted palette and rectangular shape of the foyer wainscoting and built-in Shaker mudroom cabinetry.

 
30 of 36

Powder Room Wainscoting

powder room wainscoting

Kate Marker Interiors

Mix shiplap wainscoting and wallpaper to energize a modern farmhouse powder room. Kate Marker Interiors paired warm and cool tones in the space with soft gray wainscoting, black-and-white illustrated wallpaper in a woodland pattern, a marble-and-wood sink, and a gold mirror.

 
31 of 36

Entryway Wainscoting

hallway wainscoting

Brexton Cole Interiors

Pair wainscoting with wallpaper that includes a trompe l’oeil architectural detail motif to enhance the entryway of an older home, like this entryway from Brexton Cole Interiors.

 
32 of 36

Bathroom Tile Wainscoting

bathroom tile wainscoting

Ashley Montgomery Design

Pair tile with wallpaper to create a wainscoting effect in a bathroom, like this space from Ashley Montgomery Design.

 
33 of 36

High-Contrast Wainscoting

modern dining room wainscotting

Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Tessa Neustadt

Pair classic white wainscoting with dark patterned wallpaper for a high-contrast look, like this modern dining room from Emily Henderson Design.

 
34 of 36

Integrate the Windows

white bedroom wainscoting

Marie Flanigan Interiors

Build wainscoting around existing windows to create an integrated feel. Marie Flanigan Interiors painted the wainscoting, window trim, and walls in this bedroom in the same shade of white for a built-in feel, adding contrast with rich wood and leather accents and shades of dark gray.

 
35 of 36

Modern Wainscoting

wainscoting ideas for dining room

 Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Pair white wainscoting with a modern window trim and white-and-black patterned wallpaper for a modern effect. Emily Henderson Design finished the space with rich wood furniture and gold accents.

 
36 of 36

Pair With Graphic Wallpaper

beadboard wainscoting

Brexton Cole Interiors

Pair wainscoting painted in a darker color with light patterned wallpaper on the wall above to create a cozy feel in a kids’ bedroom. Brexton Cole Interiors bathed the wainscoting, window seat, and built-in bookshelves in olive green, then added patterned wallpaper on the wall that adds movement and keeps the space feeling airy.

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