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Wainscoting: A Classic Or A Trend?

A couple of days ago, I had someone ask me on the A2D Facebook page, “How much is too much board and batten in a home? I LOVE the look, and I want to do nearly all of the rooms in my house!”  So I started thinking about the question, and then I started realizing just how much wainscoting (whether it’s bead board, board and batten, tongue and groove, inexpensive wood slats, bead board wallpaper, or some other unique wainscoting) is going up in the homes of bloggers.  And I would venture a guess that it’s not just bloggers.  Have you noticed this yourselves?

I absolutely love wainscoting myself, and I think it adds so much interest to a room.  But I can’t help but wonder if all of this wainscoting is going to turn out to be like the dark paneled walls of the 60s or the avocado and harvest gold appliances of the 70s.  I know that wainscoting is nothing new (it’s been around at least since the 18th century), and it really is a classic, but have we all gone a bit wainscoting crazy?

I have board and batten in my breakfast room and living room…

Small condo breakfast room makeover

And right now, I also have plans to use some sort of wainscoting in the house once we get moved in and I start decorating.

I put board and batten in John & Alice’s bedroom makeover that I did a while back…

Master bedroom makeover with board and batten walls

And I also used wainscoting with a traditional picture frame molding it in my mom’s master bathroom remodel.  On this one, I added a glass tile border at the top just for a little added sparkle.

Master bathroom remodel with traditional wainscoting with glass tile accent

When pondering the question of whether or not a house can have too much wainscoting, I immediately thought of Thrifty Decor Chick’s house.  I don’t think Sarah has it in every room of her house, but she certainly has it in lots of her rooms!  She uses mainly picture frame molding throughout her house, but she also has this board and batten treatment in her office, which I think is just lovely…

Wainscoting ideas - board and batten in home office from Thrifty Decor Chick

Kate at Centsational Girl also has different wainscoting throughout her house, including picture frame molding, board and batten, and then this bead board wallpaper in her powder bath

Wainscoting ideas - bead board wallpaper in powder bath from Centsational Girl

I really like all of those traditional wainscot wall treatments, but I also love seeing some of the really unique and even modern applications as well.

Tracy at soulstyle has this amazing custom wainscoting in her living room

Custom cut PVC wainscoting from Soulstyle

And then just yesterday, I came across this very unique application of traditional bead board to create a chevron pattern from Maison Classique…

Wainscoting ideas - bead board applied to wall in chevron pattern from Maison Classique

What are your thoughts on all of this wainscoting?  Do you love it?  Do you have it in your home?  Are you drawn to the more traditional beadboard or board and batten treatments?  Or do you prefer the more unique or modern uses?

And do you think this is a trend that will eventually die down (and possibly become our avocado and harvest gold appliances)?  Or do you think it’s a classic that will never go away?

Wow, that’s a lot of questions!  Share your thoughts!

And if you have wainscoting in a room that you’d like to share (and you have pictures available online), please feel free to leave a link in the comments below.  I’d love to see it!

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  1. I love it – its convincing the hubby to do it that is difficult. Perhaps in the next house – but I think its classic not a trend.

  2. This look will definitely join the other fads that have been done to death! Just wait until you have to take it all down; it’s going to take weeks to repair your walls. Yes, I have wainscot, so I have joined in on the band wagon, but it’s not going to be a big deal to remove.

  3. I Love it, and think it is classic, especially if done in a traditional pattern. I am late to this though, I am just now adding board & batten to the first room in our home, the kid’s bathroom. I hope to take photos and put them online soon! Once DH sees how nice it is I may convince him to do the entry way!

  4. My philosophy is “everything in moderation”. The type of wainscoting you choose should also match the style and integrity of your house. Adding classic architectural detail never goes out of style and can also raise your home value.

  5. Thanks for including my wainscot Kristi! I’m loving the board & batten look, I’m sure it will show up in my house at some point! I don’t think traditional picture frame wainscot will ever date, it’s so timeless in it’s elegance….but Kim is right, “everything in moderation”!

    1. Tracy, I absolutely LOVE your living room, and have ever since I first saw it on your blog (I think from an A2D link party). I have the site saved, and check it out every now and then. 🙂 I know I want something similar, just haven’t figured out what and where! I also love the window treatment you did with the panels… genius!

  6. I think that EVERYTHING goes in and out of style. Yes, I do see a day (maybe 10 years from now) that we’ll all be talking about taking the wainscotting down and replacing with ?? who knows. But this also keeps it fun.

  7. I have to agree with Kim. If it matches the style of the your home and you have a conducive style throughout your home it is safe. however if you paint it a lime green or do a modern spin on it, it may fade. Who knows tho wallpaper is very classic but many of us have torn out many floral wall paper borders!

  8. I love it and I absolutely think it’s a classic. My hubby is getting ready to build our daughter a new bed, and I’m going to use bead board in the headboard. I prefer a more traditional look, but I do admire some of the trendy things I’ve seen done with it. I think traditional is what passes the test of time though. and what keeps it from turning into a harvest gold or avocado. 🙂

  9. I LOVE wainscotting! I’m about to put it in my boys’ room redo! It’s traditional and clean…also it works well in older houses. 🙂 Not too crazy about some of the modern takes…but that’s just me 😉


  10. I think about this same thing pretty often!

    The only area of my house that I used a board and batten treatment in is my basement staircase. The concrete block walls needed something and that was just the trick. I just couldn’t convince myself to nail a million holes in my living room sheetrock that will need to be patched and repaired when the trend dies down (and I think it definitely will). We are hopefully in our forever home now, so what I do now affects me down the road. I definitely considered it, but chose paint instead. Paint is cheap. Paint is low commitment. Wainscoting is not. Maybe that makes me a decorating wuss? IDK.

    I look around at all the burlap and the flea market style and rustic/vintage/junky trend that is happening now, and all I can think about are the country blue chickens and ducks that my aunt and mom decorated with in the 80’s.

    I know that this style is trendy and trends will eventually go out of style. But, if I love it, I go with it. I can always change it later and look back and laugh at myself in 20-30 years. 🙂

  11. I think that because it keeps coming back frequently that it’s more of a classic staple & not really a trend that will eventually go away. If you are drawn to a a fresh clean look then it’s the way to really pull the room together in a beautiful way.

  12. I’ve always been a fan of wainscoting in a house where it fits – I even love the dark wood wainscot treatments in older homes, it works and truly is a timeless look. I love to see it painted something other than white too, a nice twist on the traditional white! Thanks for the shout out Kristy!

  13. I lived in an 1800s home with the original wainscoting and loved it. It is forever classic, though it may not always be “the” trend. Now that I am in my own home, I plan to use one or more forms of it. I love the brightness & clean feeling of white woodwork, but it also allows me to use a more intense color without overwhelming a room. I love the new concepts you showed, but don’t want to be dusting all those circles & curves!

  14. That’s a very interesting question which actually arose when we bought our house last year and thought of doing something to our then gruesome entrance hall (it was completely covered in mirrors on one wall, very 80ies, another fad that’s gone stale…) I live in Germany, and I feel (and might be wrong) that the wainscoting you’re talking about in your post is not that common (yet?) over here, so we really didn’t know how to go about it (and I then didn’t yet read blog like yours to get an idea 🙁 ). I had an idea which now I can pin a name to, the classic picture frame wainscoting, which I know mainly from castles and stately homes and moreover from visits to friends in GB. For the time being we ended up with a decorative batten diving the wall in half horizontally and lots of lampshades and pictures above, but having read your post, I’m thinking of coming back to the picture frames underneath. If I do that, I will have something very unique to people’s homes over here and I will bear in mind not overdoing it in terms of modern looks (I meant to put an ornamental wallpaper inside…), because I guess that it’s true that this look might be outdated in a couple of years just like the avocado bathroom suite! The sort of wainscoting you often find in homes over here is left over from the 80ies – pine or spruce tongue and groove to cover ugly walls entirely. I used to love it as a teenager (that Scandinavian look) and hate it today – so that might give a hint how the attitude towards wainscoting might be in about 30 years ;o)

    thanks for your ideas and research on the topic, it’s really very interesting and inspriring!

  15. I love wainscoting and people are so creative in the ways they use it. To me, it is a classic decorating treatment. It has gone in and out of style for a couple hundred years. Right now it’s a ‘hot trend’ but give it 10-15 years and there will be something else. Another decade or two and back it comes. Hooray for classics!

  16. We are wainscoting up in our home…but we have done a full remodel of our house and it will fit the style the house now has. We are also putting in vaulted coffered ceilings to replace the popcorn ceilings, don’t know how I’ll part with those! I think, to answer your question, it will go out of style for homes that people put it into that don’t really work well with it. Our kitchen was 1980’s ugly and is now gorgeous and the wall treatments in the other parts of the house need to come up to a new standard! Our homeschool room will have chalkboard paint in various spaces of the wainscoting. We have been copying this kitchen, exact colors as well and much of this home actually… http://augustfields.blogspot.com/search?q=sally+wheat

  17. It’s classic. When I lived in metropolitan areas and especially downtown Chicago my old apartment had old radiator steam heat, French doors, and wainscoting. These buildings were old and very desirable.

    I now basically live in a one room house, lol….with an open design, vaulted ceilings and catwalk…,so while standing in the middle of my house, you can see into every room. there are no distinct “starting and stopping” points for wall color changes so it’s nearly the same color throughout the house. thank goodness for the wainscoting which helped break up the monotony. Instantly upgraded the look of my house.

  18. I would to have wainscoting in my bedroom but not sure if it is in style, I am city living with country style at heart.

  19. I have wainscoting in my family room and love it. As far as being outdated… No, it certainly isn’t! Now as far as “trendy” and “modern” wainscoting, I do believe that is a trend that’s going to pass. Some of the unique ideas are really different and fun, but are definitely not timeless and sophisticated. I like the “standard” wainscoting and I can even see using the wallpaper if budget is an issue, the homeowner wants to be able to more easily remove it at some point or if it’s just easier and they can do it as a DIY project to save quite a bit of cash. My home has breadboard wainscoting but it isn’t like the new stuff that comes in sheets. It’s truly been assembled piece by piece. My friends laugh at me because I’m so young, but have “older” tastes.

  20. I really love this post. Just bought a new (old) home and I am considering wainscoting as well as picture frame wall trims. You have great photos here that absolutely re-confirm that I love this look and must have it…even if it will go out of style in 10 years. Who knows. Its been a year since your post and I’d say I see it as much, if not more!

  21. I see it this way: Wainscoting has been around for well over a century. I think it’s safe to say it’s not a fade when it’s done in more of a traditional/transitional style. I think it’s when people get fancy with it (bright colors, different patterns, etc.) is when it runs the risk of becoming “dated”. IDK, I just think some things will always be a classic and that’s how I feel about traditional bead board and board and batten. I like the appeal of both, so my issue is finding a balance of what to use, where to use it, and how much!

    Btw, I love your blog!

  22. I say go with the flow and be happy for now, unless you want to live in a bland sterile home.. Style and trends change and our likes change with time.
    we have a wall that had green leafy wallpaper that was pretty at the time and now it has our version of shiplap on it. In ten years it may change or it may just get a coat of paint.