Smart panelling ideas for walls that bring warmth and interest

From traditional cladding and decorative mouldings to innovative designs using fabric, the following ideas show how to use it in your home

When it comes to traditional panelling, there are many styles available to suit the age of the house and personal taste. Some incorporate a richer effect, such as hand-carved friezes and pilasters, others have a traditional aged and polished finish, and some, such as the Tudor linenfold, are highly decorative.

It is entirely personal, but a typical approach would be to match the style of the panelling to the period of a house. Georgian houses, with their high ceilings, typically suit full-height panelling featuring simple rectangular shapes. Houses dating from the 16th and 17th century will tend to favour panelling made up of smaller squares. A cottage, meanwhile, might suit plank and muntin walls, a technique that uses large oak beams as a frame with oak panelling in between. The Victorian typically opted for panelling at dado rail height in their houses.

Frieze frame

For a rustic, homespun feel, clad walls in irregular-width planks and paint on decorative details. Using the same mustard yellow for the faux dado rail border and the stencilled frieze helps to bring the space together.

Panelling ideas

(Image credit: Adrian Briscoe)

Screen time

Without a focal point, such as a fireplace, modern rooms can lack character. One way to address this is by creating a feature wall of decorative panelling. Setting it in a wooden frame elevated the panels into artwork and the wood theme continues here in the choice of furniture.

Panelling ideas

(Image credit: Edina Van Der Wyck)

Hot property

Panelling does not need to look period or rustic, as this modern bedroom scheme shows. Painting the stacks of square Jacobean-inspired panelling in a dark hue creates the perfect backdrop to offset strong pieces of furniture and accents of colour.

Panelling ideas

(Image credit: Adrian Briscoe)

Optical illusion

Dado rail panelling was traditionally used to protect the walls from chairs knocking against them, but there is an aesthetic at play element, too. The painted border here helps to create the illusion of further panelling detail without the expense of the real thing.

Panelling ideas

(Image credit: Jan Baldwin)

Sleep sanctuary

Add an extra dimension of softness and luxury to a bedroom by having a three-quarter height wall of fabric-backed panels behind the headboard, as shown in this scheme by Helen Green Design. An additional bonus is the sound insulation it offers from the world outside.

Panelling ideas

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

False pretences

Instead of the real thing, opt for a wallpaper such as this design by Andrew Martin. The intricate grain details and clever use of shading create an authentic wood panelling look ideal for a more contemporary setting.

Panelling ideas

(Image credit: Dominic Blackmore)