Wainscoting Returns as a Popular Interior Design Trend

Wainscoting may sound peculiar but merely refers to panelling, typically made of wood, that lines the interior walls of a home.

Homeowners seeking to add a touch of luxury and elegance to a living space increasingly turn to wainscoting as opposed to mere wallpaper or painted designs.

Easy enough to do-it-yourself (DIY) and a cost-effective interior decor option, the trend has seen a resurgence over the recent decade and is currently popular on social media in Malaysia.

Humble Origins

White enamel wainscot tracing back centuries as can be observed on the walls of this replica of White House Oval Office, Washington DC.

The term ‘wainscot’ is derived from the German word ‘wagenschot’ and can be traced as far back as the 14th century. The French equivalent is ‘boiserie’.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term initially meant ‘a fine grade of oak meant for panelling’. Eventually, the terminology evolved in the 15th century to mean ‘panels lining the walls of rooms’.

Wainscot panelling typically covered the lower half of walls and once served a functional purpose despite being purely decorative today.

The panelling was used as a band-aid to hide water damage resulting from damp walls, particularly in a European climate with frequent rain.

As insulation, piping and drainage improved, the need for protective panelling declined in the average home. Wainscot evolved from a useful quick fix to a luxurious aesthetic that can span from floor to ceiling.

From manors to palaces

Gold-coloured wainscot adorn the Palace of Versailles, first built by King Henry IV in 1623 and rebuilt by King Louis XIII in 1634.

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Centuries-old royal palaces and luxury manors flaunt extravagant wainscot made of varied materials as a hallmark of prestige and opulence.

From the rooms of Buckingham Palace to Seri Perdana, one would be sure to find elements of wainscot incorporated into the interior design.

Wainscot your home

Choices range from half-length, full-length and multicoloured wainscoting.

Besides creating a luxurious ambience in a room, wainscot coupled with tasteful interior design could add value and desirability to a home.

Checks online show that wainscot services offered by professional painters and interior designers are charged per square feet and vary based on length, colours and intricacy.

Alternatively, one could try a more affordable but labour-intensive DIY approach. To save time pre-made wooden or plastic panels are available via online marketplaces but can also be custom-made, leaving only installation and painting to do yourself.

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