Coloring Tips for Wainscoting Your Living Room

Wainscoting brings an elegant, interesting element to your living room. Pick from the many different types of wainscoting for the style you want to achieve, and paint it to match your décor.

What’s Wainscoting?

Wainscoting originated in the 1500’s. Early home construction included plaster walls with little or no insulation. The use of wainscoting acted as a barrier to prevent dampness from seeping through the walls. Wainscoting is wood panels that are nailed to the lower portion of a wall throughout a room. Typically, wainscoting is hung at least three feet from the baseboard. Molding tops the wainscoting for a finish look.

Types of Wainscoting

Bead board

Tongue and groove



Bead board wainscoting is wood sections with vertical grooves to add texture. Tongue and groove wainscoting is made up of interlocking planks of wood. Raised panel wainscoting is architecturally decorative. It includes wood panels with protruding trim and molding to create squares and other patterns. Flat wainscoting panels give a room a classic modern image.

Wainscoting Materials

Wainscoting can be found in solid wood, Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), Vinyl, and veneers. Other materials such as tile or wallpaper can also mimic the appearance of wainscoting.

Selecting Colors for Wainscoting

Wainscoting should always be the same color as a room’s trim. The classic color for wainscoting is white. White wainscoting makes warm and cool colors appear vibrant and crisp. If you are more adventurous, you can paint the wainscoting a different color. Invest in a color wheel to help you pick a color. The wheel is a staple of designers because it allows them to see how colors work together. To match harmonious hues select colors that are side by side or opposite each other on the color wheel. Some adjoining colors are blue/green, yellow/green, and orange/red. Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are green/red, orange/blue, or yellow/purple.

What’s Your Color Combination?

The color combinations for your wainscoting and walls are endless. You need to determine your color style. Do you prefer neutrals, traditional, historic, bold or fun colors? Once, you answer the question you can get started picking a color scheme.

Keep it Serene

For an elegant understated ambience paint the walls and wainscoting two different tones of the same color. For example, use a light creamy white for the walls and a slightly darker white for the wainscoting. This is also accomplished by painting with two shades of one color like blue, green or yellow.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are the hues that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Try muted colors such as burgundy for the wainscoting and olive green for the walls. Blue and orange are complementary colors but you can use a variation like copper for the wainscoting and a pale blue for the walls.

Expand Your Color Choices

Think about rich gold, rust and taupe colors as pairings to capture an earthy feel in your room. For a romantic causal affect, consider blues, greens or lavender together. A more bold or whimsical approach includes bright blues, oranges and greens. Paint the wainscoting a dusky blue, pumpkin, chocolate brown or Kelly green and apply ivory to the walls. Make a dramatic statement by using black for the wainscoting and white for the walls. Let color create the mood that you want for your living room.

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