Wood paneling has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it's not hard to see why. As Sam Ball, an interior designer at The Wood Veneer Hub, explains, "Wood paneling enhances any room with texture, sophistication and warmth, whether fitted onto a single wall to create a feature focal point, in an alcove to add depth and interest, or on a number of walls as a fabulous alternative to paint or wallpaper."
However, it's not just about slapping wood panels on any wall; careful consideration is required to create the desired effect.
Ball advises, "The main consideration for anyone choosing to have wood paneling in their home is ultimately to decide which walls to install it on, as it almost always transforms a wall into becoming the focal point, even when the wall wasn’t naturally the feature wall."
In this article, we will delve into various wood paneling makeover ideas to help you find the perfect idea to transform your space.
1. Create a media center
A media center shows how wood paneling can seamlessly integrate modern technology into a living space. The paneled wall elegantly houses a flat-screen television, creating a blend of natural materials and contemporary design.
But if you want to create a wood paneled media center, start planning early. "A paneled wall that is to house a television should ideally be considered prior to being fitted, so that the necessary electrical points and TV fixing brackets can be concealed behind the paneling," advises Ball.
2. Living room feature wall
Wooden wall paneling offers so much more than just fabulous looks, though "that’s definitely the main reason why most people choose them for their homes," says Ball. "Not only do they add texture and warmth to the room, but whichever wall they’re sited is sure to become a feature wall."
Ball also notes that one of the lesser known benefits of wood paneling is its insulating properties, so as well as transforming your living room, it’s sure to feel cozy and warm in the winter months.
3. Frame a reading nook
Nothing quite screams "cozy reading nook" like a wood-paneled space.
Installing wood paneling can help you to zone off any area in a living room or even a home office to create a perfect little reading nook. Add in a daybed, some throw pillows and blanket, and you've got the perfect space to kick back with a good book.
You don't have to panel the entire wall, either. "Even just a few panels fitted in the corner of the room can be enough to achieve a dedicated area," Ball explains.
Pro tip: Not sure on whether you want a natural colored wall? You can paint wood paneling to match your furniture and decor.
4. Go for black
If you want to go for something darker, painting wood panels black is a great idea. This works especially well with light wood flooring or furniture in earthy colors.
"An interior design scheme primarily using lighter shades is sure to suit a dark panel," advises Ball.
5. Bring the outdoors in
Wood is a natural element, and so it goes well with other natural materials.
Sam Ball recommends using rustic or galvanized steel, glass accessories, and lots of leafy indoor plants to create "an interior space oozing with biophilic style."
“Made using wood, slat epanels always have the appearance of being eco-friendly, and whilst their environmentally friendly backing is not visible, they are made from recycled plastic which would otherwise pollute the world’s oceans,” adds Ball.
6. Frame your bathroom mirrors
Just because the bathroom is a functional room, doesn't mean it has to be dreary. Painted wood paneling works incredibly well in a bathroom, especially when it is installed behind the mirrors.
Just keep in mind that bathrooms are typically quite damp, so it's best not to install paneling where it will be directly exposed to water, such as in a shower enclosure.
Other options for wood paneling in a bathroom include on a wall behind a heated towel rail or radiator, or as a room divider wall in an open plan bedroom and en-suite.
7. Create a room divider
Slat panels are the perfect choice to clad a room divider or partition wall in any home. They work especially well to divide up an open living space — for example a combined kitchen/dining room or dining/living space.
"They can create dedicated zones within any open plan room," adds Ball. "And with the array of slate veneer finishes available, the overall interior scheme will seamlessly co-ordinate."
8. Create a dramatic bedroom
Incorporating wood paneling into the bedroom is a great way to make a statement.
Don't just stick to the walls. "For a truly striking design statement in a bedroom, it’s possible to use wall panels both on the walls and then onto the ceiling to create an illusion of a bed canopy, which seamlessly leads the eye up the wall behind the bedhead and then dramatically across the ceiling,” shares Ball.
So, like the example in the above image, you can take wood paneling from behind the bed all the way up to the ceiling, to create a cozy space with a slight treehouse feel.
9. Design a feature behind the bed
If you would rather not have wood paneling above your head, you can limit it to behind the bed in place of a headboard.
Or, even if you have a headboard, you can add panels to the top half of the wall. "The design possibilities are as endless as your creativity allows," says Ball.
10. Build a half-wall
It’s not always necessary to fit slat panels from the floor to the ceiling or wall to wall.
"Some of the most eye-catching installations are when the walls are only partially clad in wood paneling, and the start and stop points have been carefully considered to reflect the overall scheme, allowing for architectural features or artwork to be displayed,” says Ball.
11. Recreate wainscoting
Wainscoting has been around for centuries, but if you're looking for a more affordable and easy to install option, wood paneling could work wonderfully.
“Wall paneling doesn’t always have to be fitted from floor to ceiling, and can look equally impressive if fitted to dado height and finished with an architrave or even a single slat rotated to act as an edging strip,” explains Ball.
12. Bathroom feature wall
You use your bathroom every day, so you might as create a space you enjoy being in — a feature wall in the bathroom is the way to do this. You just need to make sure the wood slats are not in direct contact with water.
13. Full-wall feature behind the bed
“Whilst florals remain a popular choice for a bedroom interior, not everyone wants their sleeping space to be all flowery. Slat panels are sure to create a truly sophisticated feel, adding decoration and texture to a room without a bloom or flower in sight, and because they are really easy to cut, they are a brilliant way to clad the walls in an attic bedroom or any room that has a sloping ceiling,” says Ball.
14. Display art
If you've already installed wood panels and want to give your space a refresh, adding artwork is a great option. “It’s so much simpler to hang art on wood paneling than to try and retrospectively mount a TV or media unit,” adds Ball.
How can I modernize old wood paneling?
You can paint or whitewash old wood panels to give them new life. You can also create contrast with geometric patterns, or add paneling to the ceiling.
What is the best color to paint wood paneling?
Black and white paints are currently very popular. These colors go well with most design aesthetics and furniture styles.
Inspiring interiors and exclusive expert design advice.
Delivered every Friday.