We thought this wall decor trend was over – but Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson just changed our minds

Hollywood's power couple has created a cabin-style space with this century-old wall covering – but will it continue to stand the test of time?

Tom Hanks
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Few decor styles have the ability to remain popular for centuries – not least wooden wall paneling – a choice that has fallen under question in recent seasons. 

With roots dating back to the late 15th century, this wall paneling exhibits a traditional aesthetic that is anything but modern and minimalist. But does this distinct look still have its place? Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson certainly suggest so. 

Rita Wilson, best known for Sleepless in Seattle, just shared a glimpse inside the Southern Californian home she shares with her husband (and iconic Hollywood counterpart) Tom Hanks. The space in question makes a case for wooden wall paneling – with a slightly more contemporary twist.

When thinking about living room paneling, we can't help but picture dark or wooden-toned options that have their places in ornate stately homes and history books. However, Tom and Rita have opted for a more contemporary colorway –a rustic gray – that brings the cabin-style room into the modern day. 

Though we admit both wooden panels, and decorating with gray, are provocative among designers – something about this pairing looks uniquely striking – so much so that it is stylish enough to stand the test of time. And we're not alone in our observations. 

'Wooden panels have remained a popular look for home and commercial spaces for centuries. This design trend is due to the natural beauty of the wood combined with its texture, warmth, and versatility,' says design expert Raf Michalowski. 'These panels can be used to create a traditional or modern look, depending on the other materials chosen to accompany them'  – in this case, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have opted for the latter.

Raf Michalowski

Raf Michalowski is the president of Meble Furniture, a leading e-commerce retailer of contemporary furniture that has operated in New York for over 15 years. His role allows him to observe changing trends and track which furnishings are in demand nationwide. 

'For me, gray wood panels are becoming increasingly popular this year because of the subtle yet eye-catching look they bring to a space,' Raf explains.

'The gray can add softness and bring a muted, calming feel to the overall look. Plus, because of the versatility of wood and paneling, it can easily be updated to ensure it doesn't fall out of fashion in the future.'

Installing wooden wall panels is no quick job, however, it's one that comes with various benefits, even beyond its provocative aesthetic. 'Wooden panels are a great choice for eco-friendly and sustainable design since wood can be reused, repurposed, or recycled,' the expert adds. To emphasize this further, he recommends considering sustainably sourced wood to ensure you are doing your part for the environment. 

Plus, wood panels aside, you can still buy your way into Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson's living room with these key picks, inspired by their backdrop. 

'Wood panels are not likely to ever fall out of fashion, as wood is a timeless material – and will always provide an elegant look for your home,' Raf adds. And, since Tom and Rita have made such a strong case, we're certainly inclined to agree. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.