The Wonders of Wainscoting in Home Décor

Discover seven ways wainscoting can enhance your home design.

By Ande Waggener


Wainscoting has been a prominent feature in interior design for centuries. Common in homes before the 1900s especially, wainscoting disappeared from modern home design when tract houses began marching across the country.


Thankfully, however, wainscoting is finding its way back into contemporary interior design. The reason for this reappearance of wainscoting is obvious. It’s an easy and generally inexpensive way to elevate the architecture of a room.


Here are seven ways wainscoting can enhance your interior design:  


Create Texture and Interest

Because wainscoting adds three-dimensional depth to what are otherwise flat surfaces, it contributes texture to any space it enters.




Natural wood, heavily textural wainscoting can contrast with a room’s sharp angles to soften and romanticize the space. This can make for a perfect bedroom retreat.


Enhance Structure

Bare, plain walls have a way of disappearing into the background, which can leave a room feeling anchorless and sometimes even formless. Wainscoting creates that missing form.


This addition of form is especially helpful in spaces where furniture is not a natural fit, such as in hallways and small entryways.




It’s hard to imagine some halls without wainscoting. Even with the wood floor, it would feel like a cool, uninviting tunnel. But the wainscoting acts as a sort of butler inviting you into the room ahead.


Upgrade Design

Wainscoting takes a simple room’s design to the next level. It turns bare into beautiful.




Stark modern design runs the risk of falling flat without the wainscoting. In this case, flat is a literal description. Because the furniture has low lines and the ceilings are high, the décor would look like it was pancaked to the floor if the walls were bare. Wainscoting comes to the rescue by lifting the gaze upward. This shift in perspective upgrades the room’s design.


Make it Grander

It seems counterintuitive because we’re taught that too much eye clutter can make a room seem smaller, but wainscoting can help a small room grow up.


By splitting the walls into two sections, wainscoting gives the eye a line to follow, and this distracts the gaze from a lower ceiling and small room size, which results in a smaller room appearing grander than it really is.




Create Coziness

Wainscoting has a full array of tricks it its bag. It not only does grand, it does grand’s opposite. Instead of lifting a ceiling up, it can bring the ceiling down.




This technique is mastered with taller wainscoting. High bead board wainscoting can have the effect of lowering the slightly vaulted ceiling, which acts almost like a blanket, tucking the ceiling into the room to create cozy warmth.


Make it Modern

Although it has traditional roots, wainscoting can also add modern styling to a room. It pulls off this trick by getting painted.




Gray wainscoting can add a contemporary look to the space. More common, though, is white wainscoting paired with a painted wall.




Disguise the Ugly

Sometimes, homes have utility or access panels that are as unattractive as they are necessary. Wainscoting can be like a fairy godmother to these unfortunate room blemishes.


One wave of the wainscoting wand, and something like a radiator or vent is given a ball gown and glass slippers (in a manner of speaking, of course).




Obviously, wainscoting is a wonderfully versatile character you can invite into your home to contribute flair to your interior design.


Whether your taste runs modern or traditional, wainscoting can be a powerful player in your home décor and should not be overlooked when redecorating.


Images used with permission, courtesy of

Next: Useful Tips to Pick the Right Rug for Every Room