How to add wall panelling to your home

25 May 2022 - 5 min read

Scroll through Instagram photos of gorgeous properties and you’ll soon discover that wood panelling is very much in vogue.

Too often though, the greyscale approach can leave your home feeling drab and unwelcoming.

This is why even the most restrained, streamlined and elegant designs use bursts of colour to bring a home to life.

The history

The history

Dating back to the 15th-century, wood panelling has featured in grand home interiors for hundreds of years.

“It has appeared in various forms and styles in a number of countries around the world,” Antonia says.

“Originally, wall panelling was used as a way of insulation and to cover damp that had seeped through the walls, but it eventually took on a decorative application.

“From the Tudor to Georgian, Renaissance and French Rococo, wall panelling, in all its forms, has been at the basis of interiors for centuries.”

What effect does it have?

What effect does it have?

Wood panelling can add a sense of class and change the impact of a space.

“Wall panelling can add a multitude of effects to your home, from elongating the height of your walls and adding subtle detail through shiplap or battened panelling, through to more decorative and detailed Wainscoting and Georgian chair railing, which creates a sense of occasion and adds formality to a room,” Antonia says.

“In addition to the style, consider the height of your panelling. Full height panelling in a simple design will create a subtle look, while ornate panelling will be more dominant in the room.

“A modern profile in a half-height wall looks great as an in-situ bedhead, while more decorative profiling installed at half-height allows for a break of colour between the plastered wall and the panelling.”

Is wood panelling suitable for any home?

Is wood panelling suitable for any home?

The first thing you may ask yourself is whether this old-school technique can look good in a modern house? The short answer is yes.

“Adding wall panelling is a great way to add detail and texture to your home, elevating an otherwise plain wall to something with interest and character, and it is a very popular addition to a lot of modern homes,” Antonia advises.

“But it’s important to consider the surrounding environment of your chosen panelling and the amount you plan to use.

“Too much can become overpowering and busy. So, echo the style of the panelling throughout the home to avoid clashing patterns.”

Things to consider


“When looking at more detailed designs such as Georgian style panelling, it is important to look at scale and portion,” explains Anderson.

“It is important to measure the room and calculate the number of squares or panels that will sit evenly, symmetrically and to scale compared to the room.

“If you’re looking at doing a vertical line style panelling, consider the width of each panel. The thinner the panel, the taller the ceiling will look. The wider the panels, the wider or longer the room will appear.”


Any wood or material can technically be used to craft your panelling, but some materials will make the job easier.

“Most modern forms of panelling are a primed MDF board, which is very easy for installation and painting,” Anderson says.

“You can, of course, also look at a timber for your panelling, which can be stained in a number of colours to complement the other timbers in your home.”


The final coat of paint is a big decision, as it will either make your panelling blend in or stand out.

“For a classic feel, look at painting the panelling a crisp white to match your skirting boards and architraves, or for a blended and subtle effect, paint all panelling the same as the wall colour,” Anderson says.

“This will allow the panelling to slip into the wall and not be as noticeable. Timber stain or black is a really striking finish for a modern panelling application. However, be careful to consider the other timber tones in your home first to ensure a complementary match.”


Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to interior design, and it’s crucial to look at what existing features of your home may change the size and thickness of your panelling.

“If you’re planning on installing panelling directly on an existing wall with skirting boards, the thickness of the wall panel may be thicker than the top of your skirting boards,” warns Anderson.

“In this scenario, it’s always best to remove the skirting boards, install the panelling, then reinstall the skirting boards on top. This will give a much neater and finished look.”

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