Add Character With Wainscoting



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While options are virtually endless when it comes to adding trim to your home there are three styles that I see commonly- board and batten, chair rail and wall paneled wainscot. I also happen to have all of them in my own house!

All 3 of these options are actually types of wainscoting. The term wainscot is tied back to a German term that loosely translates to “wall boards,” but it became popular in England when it was used as extra insultation in homes. Today wainscoting is any type of molding detail on the bottom part of a wall.


A common feature in wainscot is a chair rail. It can be used as a cap for many types of wainscoting, but it can also be a stand-alone detail. It is molding that is installed horizontally around the room at roughly the height of a chair back. The original purpose of chair rail was to prevent chairs from damaging fragile plaster walls

We have chair rail in our foyer and front hallway.

Wall paneled wainscot is a very popular option commonly found in formal dining rooms. It includes chair rail that is hung a few inches above picture frame molding, which is slightly above the room’s base boards. These are all installed directly onto the wall’s surface which creates the look of a more traditional (and expensive) raised panel wainscot.

Wall paneled wainscot elevates our formal dining room.

Board and batten is what I am currently adding to my bathroom for the Fall 2021 One Room Challenge! It is created by alternating large boards with more narrow battens. It actually started as an exterior siding option but is now a popular style of interior wainscoting as well.

The big reveal! The board and batten is done!

No matter what style of wainscot you choose for your home it can be a little tricky to decide what height to hang it. The basic rule of thumb it to divide your wall height into 3 and cover the lower third with the wainscot.


Other considerations like the ceiling and furniture or fixture height might shift the top of the wainscot up or down a little bit. For example, in my bathroom I did not want my board and batten to run into my sink so it is actually 40 inches instead of the traditional 36 that would have been 1/3 of the wall height.


The room already feels so much better!

Something else to consider is covering 2/3 of the wall instead of 1/3. This is most commonly done with board and batten and can make a large space feel cozier.

Adorable nursery by Bre Purposed

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to wainscoting, but no matter what style you pick it is an easy way to elevate your room and add character to your home.


Come back next week to see what I doing on the top 2/3 68 inches of my powder room walls. Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow me of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.



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