| | |

Planked Wood Ceilings (and Walls!) For Every Design Style

It goes by many names — planked wood, wood slats, tongue and groove, beadboard, nickel-gap boarding, shiplap, and on, and on.  And while the look and cut of those different types of boards might be different, the look once installed is pretty much the same.  It’s all strips of wood (or a product made to look like strips of wood, as is the case with beadboard) attached in rows, or in fancy designs to create a subtle texture on ceilings and/or walls that can be painted, stained, or left natural.

I planned to incorporate this look into my fireplace overmantel, and then introduce it into one or two other places in the main “public” areas of my house for a cohesive look, but when I shared the design idea, several people questioned it and said it looked out of place.  I began to doubt and second-guess myself (once again), so as is my m.o. when I need inspiration, I headed to Houzz to see what I could find out.

I think because this look is used so much on DIY/design/decorating blogs, it’s seen as trendy, and something that will probably fade away in a year or so (since it’s already been popular for a few years now).  But I really don’t think that’s the case.  Not only is this look classic, but it’s used in just about every style of design imaginable.  I most often associate it with farmhouse/beach style/cottage style design, but it’s so widely used that you simply can’t put a style label on planked wood ceilings and walls.

Wood Ceiling Examples

(FYI: In these examples, I’m using the style label that the designer gave the rooms.)

You see a lot of planked ceilings (and walls) in midcentury modern houses, like this one with the stained wood ceiling…

Stained wood ceiling

Midcentury Kitchen by Hammer Architects

Here’s another midcentury modern home with a painted planked wood ceiling…

Painted planked wood ceiling

Midcentury Living Room by Tara Bussema – Neat Organization and Design

Of course, it’s a very common look in traditional homes…

Painted planked wood ceiling

Traditional Kitchen by Kukk Architecture & Design P.A.

Planked ceilings are a natural fit with rustic style homes, and they look better stained or left natural for that style…

Natural wood ceiling in rustic home

Rustic Living Room by High Camp Home

Planked ceilings (and walls…and floors) painted bright white are a natural fit for Scandanavian design…

Bright white painted wood ceiling

Scandinavian Living Room by Jeanette Lunde

They can also work with contemporary design.  Here’s a natural wood ceiling in a contemporary kitchen…

Natural wood ceiling in a contemporary kitchen

Contemporary Kitchen by Kastler Construction

And painted wood ceilings and walls in a contemporary living room…

Painted wood ceilings and walls

Contemporary Living Room photographed by Teri Fotheringham Photography

And another wood ceiling (natural or stained) in a contemporary bedroom…

Wood ceiling (natural or stained)

Contemporary Bedroom photographed by David Giral Photography

And of course, it goes perfectly with a farmhouse style. I think Joanna Gaines is singlehandedly responsible for making “shiplap” a household word.

Shiplap wood ceiling

Shabby-chic Style Living Room by Magnolia Homes

Planked ceilings are a natural fit in Asian style design…

Planked wood ceiling

Asian Living Room by 株式会社 中藏

And also in Mediterranean style homes…

Stained wood ceiling

Mediterranean Dining Room by Charmean Neithart Interiors, LLC.

And since they go with just about everything, they would naturally fit right in with an eclectic style…

White painted wood ceiling

Eclectic Living Room by Luci.D Interiors

It’s also perfectly fine to mix and match.  This beach style kitchen has planked ceiling and walls, painted two different colors…

Planked wood ceiling and walls in two different colors

Beach Style Kitchen by Gary Brewer Robert A.M. Stern Architects

Here’s a rustic natural (or stained) wood ceiling and painted planked walls in a contemporary house…

Rustic natural or stained wood ceiling

Contemporary Kitchen

And a natural wood ceiling with painted planked walls (fireplace) in a traditional style home…

Natural wood ceiling with painted planked walls

Traditional Living Room by Celia Welch Interiors

This farmhouse style entryway has natural wood ceiling and painted planked walls…

Another natural wood ceiling and painted planked walls

Farmhouse Hall by Joan Heaton Architects

A here’s a painted wood ceiling and with natural (or stained) planked walls in a beach style kitchen…

Painted wood ceiling in a beach style kitchen

Beach Style Kitchen by Whitten Architects

And white painted wood ceiling with light blue-green painted paneled walls in a beach style bedroom…

White painted wood ceiling

Beach Style Bedroom by Whitten Architects

It can also be used with lots of other trims, mouldings, and millwork for a cohesive, and very custom, look.  (Notice the two different ceiling patterns in this entryway.)

Wood ceiling pattern used with other trims, moldings, and mill work

Beach Style Hall

(That’s a perfect example of style — even names of different styles — being subjective.  Never in a million years would I refer to that entryway as “beach style.”  😀  That’s traditional if I’ve ever seen it.)

I was really amazed at how versatile wood planked walls and ceilings are.  And of course, you can get a thousand different looks from it all depending on the type of wood you use (reclaimed vs. new), the width of the boards, whether you paint, stain, or leave the wood natural, and what types of trims and mouldings (and decor, of course) you use with it.  And while those of us who read lots of DIY and design blogs have been inundated with this look for the last four years or so, I really don’t think it’s quite so common, and definitely no where close to being “played out” out there in the real world.  It’s a look that’s been around for many, many years, and it’s not going anywhere.

So how do I plan to use it?  It’s going on the overmantel in my dining room, the ceiling in my music room, and the ceiling and walls in my hallway.  And of course, I’ve already used it (stained dark) on the ceiling in my hallway bathroom.  As far as color, the overmantel will be white, as will the ceiling in the music room.  The hallway?  I haven’t really decided yet.  I’m actually considering doing a dark stain on both the walls and the ceiling, but we’ll see how the dining room, entry, and music room come together first.

The whole “planked walls” and “planked ceiling” look isn’t really something I want in my house because I’m trying to be trendy.  I do think it’s a trend right now, but I also think it’s a classic.  It just seems to fit perfectly with my house.  After all, every one of my walls in every single room in the original part of my house is covered in shiplap underneath the drywall.

music room walls with drywall removed and shiplap exposed

I would never dream of just painting that and being done with it.  I know some people can and would do that, and would be perfectly happy with it, but that’s way too rustic for my taste.  That wood is so rough that it feels like 50-grit sandpaper, and it’s filled with knot holes and huge gaps and cracks through which you can see insulation, studs, and wiring.  That’s not exactly the look I’m going for.  🙂  But I do love the idea of a more refined, traditional look inspired by my original shiplap walls.  So that’s what I’ll be going for.  And hopefully, since I’ll be carrying it through to several areas of the “public” spaces in my home, it’ll create a cohesive look and my fireplace overmantel will look perfectly in place once all is said and done.

That’s the goal, at least.  🙂

And by the way, if you want more planked wood celing and wall ceiling inspiraiton, you can go to Houzz.com and search for terms like wood ceiling, painted wood ceiling, planked wood ceiling, nickel gap ceiling, shiplap, etc.  I think the biggest surprise to me was to see how much wood planked walls and ceilings are used in modern and contemporary design, but they’re used in just about every style you could imagine.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I love, love love the ship lap look on your fireplace. Pretty sure the ceiling treatments will be just as good! Thanks for all the great inspiration photos.

  2. Definitely got the giggles when I realized you are coving the shiplap in your house with drywall and you’re going to cover the drywall ceilings in your music room with, well, shiplap! ha!

    I agree, it is trendy now, but yet a design element that has been used many times throughout the years in many ways, making it timeless. My grandparents old home built in the 60s had a vaulted planked ceiling (painted emerald green, no less!)…I always thought it cool :~)

  3. Kristi,

    It’s your house and you should do whatever you like. The rest of us are just along for the ride. 🙂

    I personally love the look of planked ceilings and walls and, since you already have it in your house to begin with, it’s a fitting design element.

  4. May NEVER finish the renovation of my little cottage bungalow, but so far I have combined two bedrooms and added the REAL deal beadboard to ceilings — and I LOVE it. Plan to have either plank or beadboard in kitchen and bathrooms. The LR is California knockdown — and I LOVE that look also. Am probably going to end up with a beachy cottage in the Tennessee Valley — LOL However, noting is for certain until it is nailed in and PAINTED; otherwise, everything is subject to change! Shiplap must be a southern coastal phenome — while I am left with lathing and PLASTER!@#$%! LOL Gotta be on the + side of a challenge to remodel!

  5. You need to keep other people out of your head! This is your house and your design for it. I love what you are doing, I would never thought of some the things that you have done. I’ve found that I have loved every decision that you have made!

  6. Thanks so much for this post. I have been considering a plank treatment for my soaring “cathedral” LR and BDs. My concern is the direction of the grain. Most of the examples (not all) have the floor and ceiling grain parallel. My floor is laid on the diagonal. Any suggestions?

  7. I think they are grogeous, but Hubs said No way! Cobweb and spider catchers, but maybe it was just tooooo work intensive when we were doing our house! Haha
    But I do love the look and it will be great in your home! Go Kristi!

  8. Wow! all of these are beautiful. I love the beadboard look, and want that in my kitchen, but need to find the best/cheapest way to get it. I to live in an old Texas farm house, that has ship lap walls, and may have it in the ceiling too. I do know the boards are spaced out as they re-roofed I could see daylight, So no insulation either!
    I would of course love to be able to afford the plank ceiling, tho. I love your bathroom ceiling and wondered how many coats of stain and poly it took to get the depth of color you did? Is it economical to do it the way you did, or is it really labor intensive? Easy for a small room, but for a larger area, say, 13’X13′ and !3’X17′[ kitchen and LR]
    I have only insurance money for replacing with sheet rock and tape and bed and paint. I would much prefer this look, especially for this old farm house, and I love the rustic look, for me. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    You are such an inspiration, and always look forward to your blog! Can’t wait to see your!

  9. When I put a real beadboard on my cathedral ceiling in my home in San Antonio, stained it, it made so much difference. The high point was 18 feet. It was amazing, and I would do it again! It’s actually very timely, so much better that that plain ceiling with no character! It will look awesome, and your bathroom is so different than any other with the beautiful woodwork.

  10. My husband and I are remodeling our whole house ourselves. All of the ceilings in our house have the tongue and groove pine boards, I will be painting them white. I love it, it has more personality than just drywall. I am going to stain the downstairs bathroom ceiling like your bathroom, I am sure the pictures do not do it justice, but it is gorgeous.

    You need to stop letting people sway your ideas, until someone has done a renovation or been in your home they really can’t have a true picture if what you are dealing with and how it will look.

    Keep up your awesome work, you are an inspiration to those of us actually living through a renovation.

  11. Kristi– our comments should never cause you second guess yourself! You have a God-given talent for bringing your design ideas to fruition- just as you have that same God-given ability to have a clear vision of what you want to do to a room. Go with what you want, if you want to change it later, that is your prerogative! If people didn’t like your style, they would not keep coming back to see what you do! We are made in the image of the Master designer, stay true to who you were made to be!!

  12. Did you notice the columns in the “beach style hall” (the one that is really traditional) have your two different types of moulding? (and they look GREAT together!) 🙂

  13. Thanks so much for this post! I’ve been wanting to add some character to my newish home and planking has been going around and around in my mind but I was concerned about it being dated in a year or two. Now I’m sure I want to do it! I absolutely love your plank ceiling in the bathroom, gorgeous!

  14. lol, you don’t need to justify to anyone how you want your home! You and your husband live in it. It has to make the two of you happy. Even if that means you wanted something trendy. The pictures are lovely examples, but I look forward to seeing what YOU do with it! 🙂

  15. I think I will consider this for my condo, I hate my popcorn ceilings. Then I can also have one plank on the wall hiding that dreaded painted “line” between the ceiling and the walls!

  16. You’re right, it is a classic. Even when I was a kid and was in a house with a planked ceiling I knew it was classy and someone put a lot of effort into it’s construction. My father constructed our home from an 1840’s barn in 1950.Now I live two houses down with a new neighbor in “the barn”. She loves it. It would look really great if she planked her kitchen ceiling! I’ll show her your website. Thank you.

  17. Hi Kristi- just went back & checked . You planked the kitchen ceiling in the condo. Have you decided on plank with & will they be longer. I really like that you’re not doing the entry/dining room but doing the music room. I was also wondering since you have the new HVAC unit, new Windows soon in front with wall insulation have you thought about replacing the attic insulation in the rooms that have new ceiling? Can’t wail to see color on the walls.

  18. Kristi,
    As a decorator myself, I know how difficult it can be to do our own house. With access to everything out there, it becomes problematic in choosing, because emotion is involved. It’s soooo much easier to choose for someone else! That being said, I’m seeing a style mixture of craftsman door frames with traditional panels on the walls, then the added shiplap over the fireplace giving a more rustic/coastal feel. I, too, love all of these styles, and had thought to update my fireplace with the same look, but rejected because it just didn’t fit with my very traditional trim throughout my house. I did, however put a stained wood ceiling with painted coffered beams in my new sunroom addition and I LOVE IT!!
    Your faux wainscoat in your foyer and dining room is fabulous and has convinced me that’s what I want to do in my stairway.
    Please understand, I offer constructive observation by a trained eye, but know that we (as decorators) make our own rules – and that’s ok! It usually turns out great. I know whatever you decide it will be fabulous!

  19. I love the look of wood planked ceilings. I just don’t see that as being the same as what you were showing over the mantle. That looked more like shiplap, and big shiplap at that. I think putting something like beadboard might look nice up there, but I really thing you have to watch your scale with the fireplace. Blessings

  20. Hi Kristy;
    You keep me inspired. I too have been thinking of shiplap or bead board for the renovations in our 1.5 story 1934 craftsman cottage. Upstairs we have slanted ceilings that come together at odd angles. I would love to install the bead board and paint it white but am thinking it might be a nightmare for the installer and then too many discrepancies and it might look like a jigsaw puzzle. I thought that perhaps it might be better in gyprock. The problem with that is we do not heat the cottage in winter and there is lots of possibility for dampness. Mold loves paper. The cottage is on Caribou Island on the Northumberland Strait in Nova scotia. Yes it gets cold at that cottage and we are spraying foam insulation on the ceiling or underside of the roof between the roof joists then we will install either the shiplap or the gyprock. I would like to leave it open but with the insulation on the underside of the roof between the roof joists I cannot see how we could do that. Anyone have any ideas? there would be no need for the shiplap if we left it open.

  21. Dear Kristy,

    You have inspired me. I always wanted to DIY my own house but I can’t came out of any cool idea. I think I would consider this to DIY my house. The picture is really good as examples. Again, thanks for sharing

  22. I’ve returned again and again to this posting. I had never considered a ceiling treatment (other than beams) until you showed me what a difference it could make.

  23. We are planning to use 8″ wide shiplap on a basement ceiling. It’s raw pine now. Do you know if we can install it first and then prime and paint it while on the ceiling, or will this cause the boards to cup? Thanks