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Add Character to Basic Architecture: Wall Paneling + A Roundup




There are a lot of homes, both old and new which lack innate architectural character and charm. These could be McMansions, tract homes or even “just too-quickly-built” new-builds. Our fixer upper is one of these. Sure the living room has big windows and wood on the ceiling but besides that it’s pretty basic, with nothing really ‘special’ about it. No built-ins, no interesting mouldings, and it’s filled with basic, cheap windows and doors. Every finish is generic and it needs some architectural help, beyond just decorative furniture and accessories.  Nothing is special about most of the rooms and I don’t want to fill it full of “stuff” just to mask the fact that it was cheaply built with generic hardware store finishes. And I know I’m not alone. All of us want houses full of charm and character, but often we buy based on other things – location, size, school district or budget. Tiny adorable vintage bungalows don’t fit a lot of our lives/families and often what does – the more spacious, cheaper, mass-produced houses are the ones that lack the character which gives a house some innate charm. It’s the Basic B of housing problems and we are here to help. Listen, just because your house was built “basic”, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

Today we are kicking off this series, ‘How to add character and charm to your “basic” home’, starting with Wall Paneling.

Wall paneling has proven to be so impactful, immediately. It’s insta-charm, but does more for a room than just baseboard (which we’ll get to). We’ll cover most of the many options, with links to the best DIYs out there, and links to purchase the supplies to ‘get the look’ if applicable. We are hoping this can be a resource to anyone, with any style of house, because applying paneling to the walls can instantly transform it from being basic to interesting. Investing in upgrading the architectural elements in your home is a good place to put your money. As someone who’s job it often is to focus on the “stuff” in a room, I will tell you that if you take some time to elevate the architecture of the room itself, then you don’t need as much “stuff” to make it beautiful.

So let’s get into the many different ways that we can bring character to a home through Wall Paneling.

Applied Box Moulding:

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Box Moulding Header

This is one of the most simple and easiest of the options that we have in this category. It consists of adding strips of wood to your already existing walls (either with glue or nails) and then painting the entire wall to match. You can customize not only the size of the boxes, to be squares rectangles or a combo of each, but also the thickness of the boards that you add to the wall to achieve just about any look.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Applied Box Moulding 01
source 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Jenna of Jenna Sue Design pulled together this very easy to follow DIY with a step by step guide to help you get through the process. You’ll notice that before adding the strips of moulding she did face her walls in plywood which is something you will need to do if you have textured orange peel walls like she did. Her wall width was around 156″ wide and approximately 9ft tall, which brought her total cost for the project materials to $95 – pretty darn affordable for a drastic transformation. If you aren’t looking to DIY then this is something that you could easily have a contractor or handyman do in a weekend.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Applied Box Molding Diy

Here are a few options of the materials that can get you started – unfinished pine, painted trim board which could save you some time if you already have white painted walls, and then an entire wall panel that is precut and finished so that you don’t have to do any of the measuring and cutting yourself.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Applied Box Moulding Diy Supplies 01

1.  4″ x 8′ Pine Board | 2. Painted 4″ x 8′ Trim Board | 3. Recessed Wall Panel 

Applied Moulding:

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Vertical Strip Moulding Header

Up next we have applied moulding, which leans a bit more formal and decorative than the previous option but can be just as easy to install on your own to achieve the look. Again, you have the option to customize the size of moulding as well as the size of the rectangle, square or shape that you install it in.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Applied Moulding Final
source 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Addicted to Decorating pulled together this very easy DIY for adding this type of moulding to your walls and the last picture is really selling it you guys – gone are the boring white walls in trade for something filled with character. Her wall was around 152″ wide and the project supplies totaled around $160.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Applied Moulding Diy

For the supplies below we found some that are completely finished so that you don’t have to do any cutting or nailing together like in the DIY. Just pick out how many you want for your wall, nail or glue them up, give them a coat of paint and you are good to go.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Applied Moulding Diy Supplies1

1. 6 Piece Applied Moulding Kit | 2. Moulded Wall Panel | 3. Moulded Scalloped Wall Panel

But if you have more of a budget or want to go custom then head to a moulding store (we love Imperial moulding in the valley) and choose the profile or profiles you love. Bring in a photo and they can help lead you in the right direction. There are so many options – both modern and more traditional. We recently did this in a bathroom (that we have yet to reveal) and we taped it out on the wall, measured obsessively, did a meticulous drawing and our contractor installed it.

Vertical Paneling:

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Vertical Paneling Header

When you hear the words vertical paneling uttered together in the same sentence it conjurs up bad 70’s shiny fake wood basement memories. But vertical paneling, when done the modern way, can bring a lot of character to a room, through texture. For this post we are focusing on the painted version, but will address a wood grain version in a follow up post.

With this one you can customize the size of the plank which drastically gives you a different look. You can see in the first example that the boards are fairly narrow (probably around 4″) where as in the last example they are much wider which gives it a more modern look. Traditionally you will see vertical paneling around 6″ – 8″ like you see in the second and third pictures which is a great width to add some character into your space.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Modern Vertical Paneling Final
source 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

In My Own Style used this type of paneling to cover up and refresh her fireplace wall (bye bye brick) and the results are pretty amazing. For her DIY she used 3 sheets of 4’x8′ 1/4″ plywood which brought the project supplies total to $60 for the lumber.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Vertical Paneling Diy

For the supplies you have a few options. You can buy large sheets of plywood or bender board (#1 and #2) and have them cut down to any size you want which works well if you plan to do wide strips of paneling or an irregular pattern. Or you can buy 6″ or 8″ common board (which basically is the cheapest type of board) at that width that you can then butt end to end on your wall and paint.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Vertical Paneling Diy Supplies 02

1. Plywood Underlayment | 2. Bender Board | 3. Vertical Panel Sheet | 4. 6″ x 12′ Common Board

We linked up #3 for the easiest/cheapest DIY option, but you will definitely need to paint it. Although, I personally think that you don’t need to sweat it too much if you have that 70’s paneling in your house – if you don’t have the budget to remove it, I think that painting it will look great. Go for a modern color – either a bright white, gray or something saturated or dark. AKA stay away from anything too 70’s or 80’s in color (beiges, browns, powder blues …. ).

Board and Batten:

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Board And Batten Moulding Header

Board and Batten is one of the oldest and most traditional types of wall paneling which you often see on the exterior of homes. The construction typically consists of a wide “board” and then a smaller more narrow “batten” that is installed over each of the seams creating a stronger and more energy efficient structure. When used on interior walls like the example below you don’t need to have the larger “board” but instead can fake the look with small strips installed vertically.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Board And Batten Moulding
source 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Remodelaholic used the method for a room in her house by installing 1″x3″ boards vertically from floor to ceiling and then painting them. Her wall was around 136″ wide and to get the look she used a total of 8 boards bringing her approximate cost for the wall to $40 in supplies.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Modern Vertical Strip Moulding Diy

We did a wider version of this (in a wainscot version) at Sylvia’s house because it was desperate for some character and I can personally tell you that it worked wonders in the space.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Header

We used 4″ pine, but since she had a textured wall we applied sheets of plywood underneath. We documented it here.

Similar to the previous examples you have a few different options for width depending on the look that you are going for. #1 and #2 could be installed directly after being purchased for a slimmer “batten”, where as #3 could be installed for a wider look or could be cut down to any width based on what look you are going for.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Modern Vertical Strip Moulding Diy Supplies 01

1. 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ Primed Board | 2. 1/4″ x 1 5/16″ Pine Moulding | 3. 1/4″ x 3 3/4″ Bender Board

Wainscot Paneling:

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Half Wall Paneling Header

We referenced wainscoting in the previous example but we wanted to call it out as a stand alone option as well. The term wainscoting refers to any type of wall treatment that goes a portion of the length of the wall. So while some people think wainscoting only involves beadboard or v-groove, the “half way method” can be used for any wall treatment and boy does it look good with this pink tub.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Wainscot Paneling Infographic

To help you out we created this little cheat sheet to give you an idea of the traditional heights of wainscoting as well as a few of the different options for capping it off. We used both v-groove and beadboard wainscoting in our house and I love how much character it added to the spaces. When it comes to finishing off the top of the wainscoting you have SO many different options and what we represented above in the graphic is just to give you a jumping off point – a standard cap leans more modern and simple, a standard + decorative moulding which can help the look lean more traditional, a picture ledge which is a lip that comes out 2″-3″, or a cove shelf which could come out as far as 8″-10″ and would allow you to lean or stack items on it.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Wainscoting Paneling
source 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

We sourced a variety of samples for you to really illustrate how many options you have with this, although these 4 pictures only touch the surface of how custom you can get with it. I love #3 where they used a v-groove wainscoting and then finished the cap with pegs for storage and decor, but how cool is #4? You could do a version of that, with a thin block moulding, only on the bottom half to really give the room instant style – especially if you have a new build.

Our friends over at Young House Love did a very simple board and batten wainscoting which only cost them $57 total for the lumber materials in their hallway which was around 256″ long. The before and after pictures are pretty amazing and I love the simple detail that it adds to a typically drab space.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Half Wall Paneling Board And Batten Diy

As mentioned, you can use just about any of the treatments in a wainscot height but we pulled together a few options to get the board and batten look that Young House Love did (#1), a tongue and groove panel which is what we did in Charlie’s room (#2), or you can purchase a completely finished panel that just needs painting and adhering to the wall (#3).

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Wainscot Paneling Diy Supplies

1. 1″ x 3″ Primed Trim Board | 2. 8′ Tongue and Groove Panel | 3. 1/4″ MDF Pre-Primed Wainscot Panel

Horizontal Paneling:

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Horizontal Paneling Header

Next up we take the vertical paneling concept and turn it horizontal. And before you all comment below and ask, “Why aren’t you calling it shiplap? “I watch fixer upper and I know that is shiplap”. Shiplap, while it is technically horizontal paneling, is only one type of horizontal paneling. Shiplap traditionally has a space in between the boards (and is designed to easily fit together) where as horizontal paneling (like vertical) can be installed butt to butt without a space based on the look that you are going for.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Horizontal Paneling
source 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Jenny from Little Green Notebook showed the world how easy and simple it can be to get the “shiplap” look by using bender board in her approximately 5’x7′ bathroom which in total cost her under $100.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Horizontal Paneling Diy

As far the supplies for this one, you can go for a plywood panel like #1, which you have cut down to whatever size board you want, use #2 like Jenny Komenda did above, or for the more rustic shiplap look #3 which is pre-finished and ready to install is a great option.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Horizontal Paneling Diy Supplies 01

1. Plywood Underlayment | 2. Bender Board | 3. 1″ Pre-Finished White Shiplap

V-Groove Paneling:

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses V Groove Header

V-Groove paneling which falls under the vertical paneling family is a type of paneling where the edges of the boards have been shaved so that when it butts up to another board it forms a “V” shape in the groove. We used it in our master bathroom above as well as around our kitchen island and I love the look of it. It’s traditional with a twist and gives you more of a defined line than just butting two boards up against each other.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses V Groove Paneling Final
source 1 | 2 | 3

Although all of the examples above show it installed vertically you can install it horizontally like Homestories A to Z did in her bedroom. In full disclosure we aren’t 100% sure that what she used is v-groove but it does have that look and the step by step guide is a great tutorial for the look. The entire wall was around 162″ wide and the project supplies came in at around $175.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses V Groove Paneling Diy

Just like with the other options, v-groove comes in a variety of widths. When it comes to installation you can either purchase it in individual planks which you interlock like #1 and #2, or you can buy an entire panel that is precut with “V” shapes in it to give you a similar look once it is painted.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses V Groove Paneling Diy Supplies

1. V-Groove Wall Plank | 2. Painted V-Groove Wall Plank | 3. V-Groove Wall Panel

Beadboard Paneling:

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Beadboard Header

Beadboard paneling which is what we used above in Charlie’s room is a very traditional wall treatment but one that will always be timeless. It consists of a strips of wood with small “beads” in between each board. Beadboard which comes in a variety of widths as well as styles is often popular in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways as it serves as a very durable option for your walls and you can accent above it with a different paint color if you decide to do it as wainscoting like we did above.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Beadboard Paneling Final
source 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

House Updated gave a major re-haul to her closet with some prefab beadboard panels and trim moulding and now the space looks brand new. The panels which are painted and sealed in white come as a solid monolithic sheet and cost her about $190 for materials.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Beadboard Paneling Diy

Like the other options you can buy either a pre-finished slab (#2), or in individual planks (#3), or if you want the look for a rental or small space (like a backsplash) they even make textured beadboard wallpaper that can be painted and looks just about as real as the wood versions. For those of you wondering, we used the plank version in Charlie’s bedroom, which ran us about $350 in materials (we purchased from Imperial in the valley and it is real wood, but the sheets may have given the same look).

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Beadboard Paneling Diy Supplies

1. Paintable Beadboard Wallpaper | 2. Beadboard Wall Panel | 3. Beadboard Planks

Modern Abstract Paneling:

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Abstract Modern Moulding Header

Our last inspirational example which we get might be completely not to some peoples tastes is what we have dubbed “modern abstract paneling”. Yes, it might be a little bit crazy, but these out of the box patterns definitely bring some character into a room without a lot of work. Most of these are a version of the “board and batten” concept but have just been installed in more intricate patterns and designs.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Modern Abstract Paneling
source 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Essentially with all of these you are adding a simple tonal texture to your walls. Texture adds character and while some of these wouldn’t work in every style of home, there are versions that could work in yours. You play with the width, pattern, orientation and height. If you are a ‘save time, spend money’ person then you can easily hire a handyman for this (You don’t need an expensive contractor), but if you are a ‘save money, spend time’ person, then hopefully those DIY options and links have helped.

In case we lost you somewhere in between 1 and 8 here is a little cheat sheet of “8 Ways to Add Character to Your Walls”. Print it out, frame it, give it to your handyman, take it to the hardware store, and give your walls some character.

How To Add Character And Charm To Boring Architecture And Houses Wall Treatment 8ways

So, I am sure you have some questions for us – leave them below and we will try to get them all answered.

I have three questions for you:

  1. Can any of you give a rough labor price of these types of treatments? I realized as we were pulling this post together that every time we’ve done one of these treatments it was packaged in with a larger contractor job so I can’t even give a ballpark of how much just paneling one room would be. I think that all the readers would love to hear how long and how much the labor costs, in addition to the pricing of the materials.
  2. What is your favorite? Are you a more traditional bead board person or would you consider box moulding?
  3. Lastly, we aren’t moulding or paneling experts so if there is something that you can share – either advice, resources, other DIY posts, secrets, etc that you think could be helpful please leave them in the comments and we can try to update the post where applicable. Essentially we’d love to crowdsource as much helpful information as possible so that this post can be a reference for all of us.

Oh and let us know if you are into this series because if so, we have a lot ideas to share.

Fin Mark


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Wow! You’ve really outdone yourself this time (again). This is the most comprehensive review I’ve seen on paneling ideas. Saved and pinned and ready to use on my snoring room rehab.

Eric @


As a very general rule I have found labor for wood work costs the price of materials, so $350 worth of materials would cost $350 to install, but that does not include detail finish work, like prepping, priming, painting, and finishing.

Oh interesting! Thank you. xx

Inês Seabra

Sorry, but this makes no sence to me… every time someone suggests this I try to understand it (really!) but there’s no way I can wrap my head around it. The thing is, for the exact same finish, and the same type of materials, you can have all kinds of brands and prices… why should it matter if the wood plank costs $10 or $100 if the work to apply it will be the same? I believe labor costs should only be related to the amount of work, the type of work (specialized labor) and time involved. Neither you should… Read more »

Ricardo Lane

This is one of the best articles I have come across. Keep up the good work.


OMG! I love this post so much! Thank you Emily and team! I have bad 70’s paneling in the bathroom and laundry room of my new to me civil war era brick house. Don’t have the budget right now to rip it all out so for now I’ve painted it bright white. It’s much better, but I’ve still been unhappy with it. Because of this post I think I’ll install thin boards over all the paneling lines to make it look like the wall in the first image. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!


What a great idea!! Hope it goes well, Shelly!


Such a good idea it will probably transform the space!


Thanks, Emily, this post has so much good information. There are many of us who do (or want to try) DIY projects but sometimes just don’t know where to start and it can be a little overwhelming. And for those of us who don’t have the skills or tools to make everything from scratch, it’s good to know that there are some ready made options that make these projects doable and affordable. Small projects can be frustrating because if you need to get a handyman or contractor, it’s not always easy to find someone available. After reading through this I… Read more »


Thanks to all the articles that you serve. I must recommend your website to friends. Good Luck

Emma A

We added moulding to many rooms of our 1920s Tudor and found this article on moulding proportions to be incredibly helpful: It discusses the classical rules of architecture proportions and how this relates to choosing the most aesthetically pleasing mouldings (size and scale) for your individual home. By this I mean the size of the mouldings you should use as well as the height of wainscotting or applied moulding panels. We are so happy with the results!


Yep, Brent Hull is a true master!


Thanks for the that link, Emma A! So interesting!


Great link! Sometimes classic details added after-the-fact look . . . off. It’s so helpful to understand some principles behind what looks correct and what doesn’t.


I love posts like this! We have vertical panelling in our living room. It was the bad 70s tahoe cabin wood style which we painted and it looks so good now.


Thanks for the roundup of tutorials and materials! I’ve been toying with the idea of board and batten in our living room. We currently have a chairrail with the two tone look going on – darker color below the chairrail, lighter color above, and I don’t love the blah tan colors that were there when we moved in 3 years ago. At first, I considered just repainting with a bolder color on the bottom and a fresh pale grey or white on top, but it still seemed like it was a dated design to have the two tone. I’ve seen… Read more »


VERY into this series!


I love the Modern Abstract Paneling! It looks so interesting, and yet subtle. I’m already plotting an easy and removable way to make some MAP happening in my flat!

Also: I welcome and support your international spelling! 😀


THANK YOU for this series. This is the current issue in my house. My boyfriend and I recently bought our first house; it’s in the right neighbourhood (Canadians also spell with ous!), it’s the right size, and the backyard is private (check, check, check!), BUT it’s lacking serious character. And all we need are great ideas like these to make it happen! We were thinking of installing large v-groove planks to hide our popcorn ceilings and tall (yet simple) baseboards, among other things… trying to go modern, not country. 😉 All in all, keep up the good work, and I’d… Read more »


Sylvia’s bedroom is my favorite in the world, and I constantly reference that photo for inspiration!

ah, thank you 🙂


Box moulding is my absolute favorite, but you know what stops me? The thought of dusting it and keeping it clean.


I feel the same EXACT way!!
I would love to hear from someone who actually has it, as to how bad it actually is!


i have it in a powder room! and haven’t really noticed that it is attracting dust. it’s been about 2 years since installed so I would think I would notice something by now. but i never noticed that room being particularly dusty before the box molding. also it’s a small enough room that if I needed to dust all the molding it would be pretty quick.

i have had the same thought when I see pictures of rooms in fancy houses that are completely covered in lattice!


This series is everything I always wanted but didn’t know I needed. We just bought a condo in Chicago that is straight up “meh”, and have been stuck trying to figure out how to make it more interesting. Thank you for all the work that you do to make your readers’ lives easier (and less #buildergradebasicblah)

YAY!!! That makes us very happy. You are not alone. xx


LOVED this post! I’ve been thinking of adding some sort of wainscoting or molding to my 1939 built house in the areas that have been renovated over years and lost their character. This posted has saved me a LOT of time researching. So helpful! Yes, more of these!! I especially love the idea that these can be stand-alone small projects. As lovely as it would be to gut and reno an entire house… a weekend project here or there is more realistic. Thanks so much for all the ideas, the DIY links to people who have successfully completely projects, the… Read more »


Definitely a fan of this series! My husband and I are in this great old bungalow that was flipped before we purchased, and we’re trying to figure out how to get some character back into our home (no more builders-grade-grey, please). My imagination is running rampant with beadboard wainscotting EVERYWHERE, but I may just limit myself to the bathrooms with their penny tile floors and subway showers that beg for old-school character.


I have strong opinions about “molding” vs “moulding” and “gray” vs “grey”.
Gray is a color. I swear the frequency of people using “Grey” as a color dramatically increased after “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Fifty Shades of Grey” were hits. Both of those are NAMES.
Molding doesn’t have anything to do with mold, but every time I read it written that way, that’s what I think of. So I prefer the British moulding to differentiate.

Love this post! I think one of these might be my answer to what’s missing in my bedroom. Probably applied box moulding.


Grey is the more common spelling for the color in the UK. It’s use as the color term in the US is equally appropriate, like how it is correct to write theatre or theater.


I get that. I was stating a preferrence.


*preference. 😉


Why is it that when I actually write what I want, my phone auto-“corrects” it, but if I actually misspell something, it doesn’t help me out:)

Vicki S Williams

Fantastic! Thank you for such a comprehensive post! Working with a client and doing a lot of this to move her house into Farmhouse mode but want to keep it from being a generic “farmhouse”. This is great! Thanks so much for your great blog! Can’t use exclamation points enough with you!!!!!!!!!!!


Love this post ,very informative thank you so much for all this work


I’ve been looking for a tutorial on paneling! Didn’t realize they came in sheets. Thanks for sharing, looking forward to the series.


I really like how you’ve pulled together all the resources here- so helpful! And THANK YOU for clarifying about “shiplap”! It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when all horizontal paneling is referred to that way (gosh, I sound like a ton of fun)

Also, I am SUPER CRAZY about the modern abstract paneling examples, and now I’m getting several wild hairs about adding some funk up in my house. Thank you for the inspiration!


YES! So into this series, and can’t wait for the baseboard post!!!
Can you do a post on different architectural styles? Sometimes it’s hard to know whether something fits with the style of a house or not. We have an 80’s suburban house but our style is more modern and it can be hard to tell if projects will start to look too out of place or not.


You’ve missed one. Adding baseboards and/or moulding. Some homes have very small boards that doesn’t do anything for the room. Replacing them or adding can elevate the space immediately.


i meant just the basic moulding at the joint between wall and ceiling


Emily addresses baseboards in the intro saying they will get to those. Guessing that means it’s own post. Yay!

Yep! We’ll do a whole post about base and crown. stay tuned …


Excellent post! Would love more of this series. I’m partial to board and batten but I live in a 1964 side split. Would that look weird?


Wow, this is such a helpful series! I’ve been trying to think of a way to energize my small and boring bedroom walls and I think a fun abstract moulding could do it! Love the 3rd example.


I’m very intrigued by these ideas and thinking about adding character to our ‘lego-land’ home has gotten my imagination going, but I’d like to see how these details would apply to smaller spaces.

1) Would these treatments be best suited in larger rooms and make smaller ones only seem smaller?
2) How can we use these techniques to change the perception of the size of the room?
3) Can any of these make a room seem taller or wider or larger?

As always…great post! Looking forward to tomorrow’s!


We applied box molding to our 5×8 mudroom and it makes it feel bigger. The molding is all white, runs to about 5’-0”, with a painted wall above it. I think if you run your paneling above the halfway point it raises your oerception of the height of the room.

Such good specific questions, Stacey. I think that adding texture to your wall (via paneling) always gives your room more depth which makes it appear bigger. I think they are equally good in large or small rooms – but perhaps think about the width of the boards in, say, the vertical paneling, to make sure that its not CRAZY wide, for instance. If you keep the colors light and tonal (not high contrast) I think it will make the room appear bigger. good luck!


What a fantastic post!

Suzanne Baumann

I love this series! But shiplap! Noooooooooo! 😉 While I like this look, I worry that this look is trendy and, except for the most classic, will be dated soon.

I’d love to make our house more special and custom looking by adding trim, but we’ve got great built-ins that I’ll never paint. I’d consider a stained and varnished version of these I’m not sure I’ve seen many that are modern and cool. Any non-painted trim ideas would be great!

I know this is tricky, which is why we kinda did this post. We wanted to give options to shiplap that aren’t exactly shiplap. We all want simple texture … but I think unless you have a mountain cabin or a modern farmhouse, or something you coastal …. you might be heading into a dangerous territory (but could also totally be fine).

patricia blaettler

I used beadboard tile in a bathroom. Obviously costs more, but it looks great and is easier to clean. Just another option.


i think this will be a good series! i love the box moulding and the board and batten looks. inspired to possibly try some of these in areas of my home.


I am so grateful for this series. I’m currently in escrow on a square box of a house!
But in would fund this very interesting rven if I wasn’t.

Regine from The 256 Project

This post is perfect timing as I’m toying with adding bead board or other wood paneling to my foyer, stairwell and upper landing in my 1903 house. If anyone wants to weigh in with what I should do, check out the space I’m talking about here:

Anyway, thank you for always posting such beautiful and helpful content. I love love love your blog. It is my design bible.


That window is so pretty! I could see the “applied moulding” options being really gorgeous in that space (and maybe easier to DIY than beadboard/panelling considering the angles of the stairs? Maybe that’s just me being a lazy DIY’er, haha).

Régine from The 256 Project

Thank you! And that angle on those stairs is what has me hesitating!! The reason I was thinking beadboard in the first place is because there is some really old beadboard in two spots in the foyer and the upper landing so I thought I’d continue that but it *does* seem like a rather difficult DIY.


Love this series. We just built a new house and could only do “character” walls in certain areas to keep in budget, but now I want to keep going and going and going!!!


I love this series!! So much information and thoughtful details. Oh and your hair came out awesome! My home’s only character is that it is a small cottage/bungalow from the 1940’s (the best thing being it’s in a beach town!), but with no character inside or out; think asbestos siding, which does look cute, but that’s it. I try to decorate to add character but really it just adds some charm and modernizes it a little. I’ve always wondered how to add more character. Question is how much character for such a small house? Thanks!


I’m also wondering how much “character” to add to a 1940’s beach bungalow. I love these small classic beach bungalows but they are pretty simple in nature. Does it take away from the original character of the house to add in too much detail?


What an amazing round-up!! Thank you so much for putting this together. It’s so great to see everything in one place.


This is insanely inspiring and helpful! Love the variety of DIY/prefinished options. Please keep these types of posts coming!


It would be great to see a post like this about how to add architecture to ceilings slash… cover up popcorn ceilings? Asking for a friend 😉


+1 to this. I love wood ceilings like the one in Emily’s fixer cabin and her old house. Is there a way to add one of those with the large beams and all??


LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post! One question…

It seems to me like the most natural application of any of these options is throughout an entire room. However, I have seen them done on only a single accent wall – any guidelines on when a single accent wall of moulding looks good? or how to apply these ideas to rooms in a more open-concept floor layout?


Amazing! Thank you! I knew some of this from DIYs around the internet/Pinterest, but this is so comprehensive and helpful!

Janet Bludau

Love this post! Do you have any AFTER photos of the fireplace project? There is a before photo
and a during but it would be helpful to see the completed look. Thank You!


Here is Diane’s full post on her fireplace makeover. It’s pretty incredible!


Terrific post.


I’m already in love with this series! I would love to see ideas for built-in bookshelves!




Another +1!




I love this posting and would be thrilled to see more like it. One of my favorite things about your blog is that you really break it down and enable someone like me (virtually no design skills) to create a designer look. Your posts are not only inspirtational and aspirational, they are tutorials which is awesome. Plus, I love that you write in detail and included lots of photos, links and examples. Big thumbs up. Keep them coming,


This is so helpful! We’re buying a house that is pretty dated/generic (built mid 90s) so I’m looking forward to this series.

Lynn 2

Wow! So much packed into this post! I love it; thank you!


LOVE this post! More, more, more! Great resources — man, I just got lost in several new-to-me blogs. And I really like the long form discussion with lots of pictures of all the different ways you can go with moulding. Yes, MORE of these!


Thank you thank you thank you for this post! I live in a new build that is lacking character – and have been itching to add paneling. This is a great round up of (doable) options! I have a couple of questions, though… how much paneling is too much? I love it and want to add it everywhere – the hallway, half bath, bedroom (and more)! Is it possible to go overboard? Also – how do you feel about mixing styles? So – what if I did board and batten in the hallway, beadboard in the bathroom, and box moulding… Read more »


I am SO into this series. I own a modular ranch that my husband and I got for an amazing deal and a great school district in a great neighborhood but it certainly isn’t much to look at. I have long admiredThe wall treatment you did and Sylvia’s bedroom and actually completed it in our bedroom as well. Excited to see what else you have!


Ugh sorry for all the typos – text-to-speak doesn’t like my voice !



Julie S

Great post! Very comprehensive and I love the DIY links. We are moving into a DIY reno in a couple weeks and the main living spaces will be done by then but not the bedrooms and bathrooms. Everything is basic and everything is wallpapered… I am so sick of wallpaper removal hell that in the (papered) hall bathroom I am totally planning to do some 56″ applied box wainscotting just to halve the amount of wallpaper I have to remove. I still want a clean, simple look that’s not too traditional and not too dust catching adn I’m not a… Read more »


Oh, my thoughts are with you, wallpaper removal is the worst. If I could outsource one area of the DIY home updates, it would be the wallpaper removal. Good luck!


Tell me about it! We just bought our first home (yay) and eagerly ripped out terrible, cheap 70’s wood paneling in one room to find that it had previously been wallpapered with the wallpaper applied directly to unpainted sheet rock. 30 hours of intensive labor (by me!) later, the walls were scraped, sanded, re-plastered and ready for paint! The best advice I received is mixing water with fabric softener to spray or rub on the walls before scraping. It is still a tedious task but it is pretty effective. Now moving on to the bathroom with silver butterfly wallpaper. Sigh.

Régine from The 256 Project

Seriously. I already conquered one room and I have two more to go. Uuuugghhhh.

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