11 Painting Ideas For Wainscoting Your Kitchen

white beadboard wainscoting
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Wainscoting is the covering of room walls with vertical tongue and groove slats. In the kitchen, the idea is to protect walls from rising dampness and damage caused by chairs and other kitchen furniture. It is a decorative feature that is underused in modern homes but is making a comeback.

In kitchens, wainscoting can add a particularly homely and cozy feel, especially with the right painting and colors. There are a number of ways to get creative with paint and your wainscoting. Here are a few:

Using Color

grey wall with wainscoting

1. You can have a lot of fun combining paint with kitchen wainscoting. The kitchen is the one room in the home where you can get away with all sorts of color schemes. You can paint in outrageous colors for a fun look or plain white for a more traditional feel. However, white can be quite maintenance-heavy as it stains easily when knocked and any dents in the wood will show up clearly.

2. Try choosing three different colors, one of them the same as your kitchen furniture or window frames, and paint each board a different color, in a repeating pattern. Be as conservative or as daring as you feel comfortable.

3. Another way of using color is to paint the wainscoting a lighter color than your walls. This makes your kitchen seem roomier. This is particularly good if your kitchen is dark and will make it seem bigger and airier.

4. For an old-world look, try ‘distressing’ the paint. There are a variety of distressing techniques that can be used to add an antique feel to a kitchen.

Using Panel Wainscoting

cream wainscoting on bottom of decorated beige wall

5. If you have panel wainscoting, sometimes called picture frame wainscoting, your decorating choices become even wider. If you are looking to add a lively touch to your kitchen, use a color that contrasts with the rest of the walls.

6. For something different, instead of painting, use wallpaper in the panels. This adds a bit of a textural feel as well as interest. I like floral or deeply patterned wallpaper.

7. If you are the artistic type, use stencils to create a theme in each panel. Try vegetables and fruit for a good kitchen theme.

Using Staining

8. A dark stain can add a touch of old-world charm to any kitchen. It contrasts well with any color wall and can tone down that over-rich paint job that you thought was so trendy a couple of years ago. Dark stains work well with large, decorative paintings and other big wall decorations as it will make them a focal point that draws the eye.

9. Light staining can be the opposite, taking focus from the walls so people will notice everything else in the kitchen instead.

Using Texture

10. A nice touch is to add a fake texture to the boards with stencils. Use a template with small squares to stencil the wainscotting and then go over it with larger squares and a lighter paint. This gives a raised look to the boards if done in muted colors.

11. Textured paint gives a nice touch but can be damaged by knocks from passers-by.