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Should I Panel the Walls in My Home?

Updated: Aug 18

In this blog you will see a guide to deciding on the right panelling for you, along with the process of how to do it! Stay tuned until the end, I have a special surprise for you!!


A bit of history


Did you know panelling dates back to the 13th century?! It was originally used to help insulate those cold stone walls, but quickly became a decorative feature when people started to realise the decorative impact it had on their homes.


From the 15th–17th century it became increasingly popular in French Interior Design, covering walls, doors, wardrobes and every other flat surface you could imagine!




Today panelling is still so popular, so I am going to talk you through what to consider when you embark on your project.


What do I need to know before planning my project?


Knowing what period or era your house was built can make a big different to the style of panelling you might choose. For example, in Victorian times panelling was most commonly rectangular bordered boxes, similar to the below picture. It is best to try and choose a style that would have been after the era of your home, so if you had an Edwardian home it wouldn’t make sense to choose Victorian style panelling as this was before the Edwardian era!



Here is a little guide to panelling from each era:


Wainscoting – traditionally 18th century covering a 3rd or up to half way up the wall to protect from scuffing. Visit Royal Wood shop for more details and images of this style of panelling! The example below shows a more Georgian style panel, but Wainscoting can be done in simple batons like the example from @thisgirldiys in the how to section below!



Linen-fold panelling – traditionally 13th-15th century wood carved panels


This technique is certainly not for the faint hearted! And much less common in these DIY times, however if you are interested in learning more about Linen-fold there is a fantastic guide here


Are you still with me?! It’s a tricky game but if you get it right, it can look fantastic!


Boiserie panelling – I added this just for fun as I think the styling is so luxurious and beautiful!


Boiserie is the French term to define intricately carved wood panelling. This style really isn’t used much anymore, although is sometimes found in restored historical buildings. This site has lots of interesting information if you want to see more!

I mean, how flippin’ beautiful is that?!?


By starting with the era and researching the type of panelling that was used in those days, you can recreate your modern statement whilst still being sympathetic to the history of the building.


Can you panel if you have a new build?


If you have a new build home, it is still possible to panel a wall, but you may use this as more of a decorative backdrop rather than a main feature, since it is not a common aesthetic in new build housing.


Considering an option like this below can add character to your new build home without becoming a main feature and detracting from the rest of your newly decorated space!



On to the good bit… Now that you have chosen your panelling style, let’s look at what you need to complete the job yourself!


For a full list of all the tools and materials you will need, head to This Girl DIYs where you will find lots of DIY hints and tips.


Here are a few snippets from my own project:


I started by creating a backboard for the wall, since the house is rented it meant I could attach this to the wall at 5 points, and then build the panelling on top which means that it should be easily removable if we come to moving!



Once I had measured everything up, I cut the hole to fit over the plug socket on the wall. I measure the board to fit the entire length of the wall, and then measured the distance of the plug socket from each end and from the skirting board. I then used these measurements to draw up onto the board before cutting the hole.



Luckily (following my measure twice cut once rule) it fit like a glove! Once I had measured equal gaps along the wall and cut the sections to size, I glued these to the backboard and lined in place. I followed this by caulking around each edge and covering the gaps at each corner.



Once this dried it was time to lightly sand any rough edges, and then prime! I used a specific MDF primer, as MDF is so absorbent it needs an especially protective layer before painting in your chosen colour. Using standard primer will not work for this type of material, it will absorb and you won't get full coverage.


All caulked and primed and ready to go!



Painting after the rest of the work, was a breeze, and so good to see it coming together. I didn’t have any frogtape, so just used simple old masking tape which worked a treat!


And here she is the finished product!


I hope you have enjoyed reading and found some useful information here! As part of my services, I can provide detailed designs of joinery and bespoke pieces just like this panelling. If you want to add a bit of character but don’t have the time, or don't really know where to begin organising it, don’t hesitate to reach out so that I can help you!


You can contact me through georgina@richesinteriors.com or visit my contact page.


See you next time with even MORE exciting news!

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