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Rethinking Wood Paneling For Your Walls…Should You Go Modern?? (These Ideas Are Going To Convince You Should)

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that EHD loves wood…A LOT. I myself can’t get enough which is why I’ve had to implement a “no more wood” rule in my living room when it comes to decor. I need to make sure it feels layered with more than one material:) You also may have just seen the big design pivot Emily made for the river house library. Since they had enough leftover ceiling clad, they decided that they should use it on the walls and boy was that the right decision!

But I want to be clear that in this post we won’t be talking about the power of classic wall cladding or wainscotting despite how beautiful and style-appropriate they are in certain homes. Nope, we are going in a different direction today. I have been pinning and saving some extremely inspiring “modern” ideas for putting wood on your walls. If you’ve been following my style evolution then you know my obsession is European mid-century modern design. I love the boldness, the simplicity, the details, the tones, the colors, you name it. So that is more of the direction we will be headed today. Hope you’re hungry for some sugar because this eye candy is real good.

Let’s start out both simple and BOLD. Slats have been a DIY favorite for a minute (more in the “accent” capacity). Sometimes I see it and love it and sometimes it’s well, not my favorite, feeling it’s a little overdone. However, the way this architecture firm, Kennedy Nolan, played with scale and direction has my heart nearly exploding. It’s absolute artistry. I love how cool and inspiring it is while still feeling warm and welcoming. So for anyone who is wanting the wood slat look take a page out of their book. Really think about how you can mix and match not only the wood’s orientation but also the widths. It clearly will create something very special.

Ok, this one is a little more on the farmhouse/organic side but I love the slight variation in tone of the individual slats that Pernille Lind Studio did for this back kitchen. That feels very tricky to do well because I’m sure it’s easy to veer into a zebra look. However, if you keep the other colors and tones of the room in the same world (like how all of the tones in this space are fairly dark – ie walls and appliances), the varied slats create a very special and layered look.

Ok, here we go! Now I’m pretty positive that this is a wall of cabinets by Furora Studio but you can’t tell me that this wouldn’t be equally as cool if this wood paneling were flush to the wall. It’s 70s-inspired, it’s chic, it’s simple, and to me, perfect. I also just love the idea of playing more with darker wood wall panels that don’t fully go up to the ceiling, like a very cool spin on wainscotting. I would absolutely do this in a home if I owned a home:) SOMEDAY!

This application is one of my favorites. It’s so simple but stunningly rich and gives the space so much texture. The fact that there isn’t any art on the walls and you don’t miss it shows how special this design is. I just love everything about it and think it’s very timeless.

My heart stopped when I saw this paneling. It’s SO GOOD and from my understanding, original from 1939! The two-tone stain and the larger scale 3-D squares make this home look and feel even more special than it already is. It’s understandable that committing to such a bold and likely expensive treatment for your walls is intimidating but if you are up for it, I think the reward is wildly worth it as you can see. Can you imagine something like this on my ceiling??? The only downside is all that work might make it the project that causes my dad to fully disown me and change his number…never to be seen again.

Now, if the two-tone look isn’t exactly your style but you love the 3-D idea, then this home by Laplace could be the inspiration you are looking for. The way they modernized classic wall moulding is so genius! It still gives that stunning dimension but uses the most sleek, clean application. Using the same wood as the walls, as well as the large-scale pieces, also lets your eye relax while staying excited at the same time. No notes.

Geometric shapes forever! This walnut square pattern wall is everything to me. Being the only actual wall in the room (the rest are windows) it was such an opportunity for something spectacular and that’s what Mike Moser did. Even the small detail of alternating the grain orientation makes it come even more to life. I also hope I can do something like this one day.

But of course, you don’t have to choose a huge room to try out some modern wood paneling. Take this beautiful little bathroom by Pernille Lind Studio. Can you tell I’m a fan? So while the construction of this cabinetry/wall feature is extremely practical, I love not only the exposed framing but the shift in wood grain direction in the small center section. What a little but impactful detail that I am in love with. I also love the wall color and the toilet and the scones and everything else but that’s not what this post is about;)

But if you love a good old-fashioned (circle 1950s and on) large-scale paneled look then this home from Studio Muka is right up your alley. The tone is warm, the seams are flawless and it’s easy on the eyes, to say the least. I also really love the mix of styles with that big antique portrait against the MCM wooden walls. Just perfect.

So these three examples are not wall treatments but they are three very cool examples of how you can use and play with wood in your own home. I just had to share! I know wood isn’t cheap at the moment but it’s so worth it if you can afford to have it be a feature in your home. Plus, good wood lasts forever:)

What do y’all think? Have any favorites? Any plans to make any big wood statements in your home? If nothing else I hope this post provided a healthy design dose of beautiful inspiration.

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Design by A 1000x Better | Photo by Michael P.H. Clifford | From: Moody California Casual Design – The Rise Of Walnut Wood (And How To Use It)

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1 month ago

Fantastic post! Your ideas for modern wood paneling are so inspiring. It’s great to see how wood paneling can be updated to fit contemporary styles while adding warmth and texture to a space. I especially love the sleek, minimalist designs you showcased. Thanks for sharing these convincing ideas!

1 month ago

We are redoing our backroom with paneling right now. I pinned pictures where the wood was stained different tones slightly like here. My woodworker friend told me that’s what was happening-I didn’t realize 🙄 ! Yeah, not happening..the mill stains there on site to save me $ on labor, there aren’t closely matching tones in their options. I see this now as beautiful but truly art. For the artist to create and the masses to appreciate but not imitate at home.

1 month ago

As the owner of an early 1970s house along the northwest Oregon coast I’m finding so many great ideas in this post! Thanks for pulling all of this together! I’ll be referencing it going forward

1 month ago

Great inspiration, Jess. This post and Arlyn’s post about the new “modern farmhouse” have been most useful to me in my current playing with my own 1970s home. Thanks!

1 month ago

I love reading these posts with compilations of ideas on a theme! I just had an idea for one: odd nooks. I have an under-stairs space that was closed up and I just opened up and I am looking for ideas! There are lots of “reading nook” ideas out there but they are all similar :cushion/playful wallpaper (a lot of the nooks are made for kids…) Any ideas beyond that?

1 month ago

I grew up in a split level MCM house built for our family in 1960. The main floor had poured terrazzo floors and the upstairs bedrooms had wood floors. There was a wood paneled wall separating the family room from the living room that went about 7/8 of the way up to the ceiling. Between the top of the wall and the ceiling were square metal posts painted orange (as was the front door) that connected the wall to the ceiling. My mother lived in that house until she downsized in 2012. I miss the classic MCM features of that house and I am always drawn to that architectural and design esthetic.

1 month ago

Love all of this, but will say that not all wood is meant to shine. Cheaper wood paneling, often a veneer, or paint grade wood doesn’t create the same effect no matter what you stain it. Just a thing to understand. But came here to say my house was built in 1941 and we use a small bedroom for my WFH office. At first I hated its floor to ceiling knotty pine paneling, but seeing so many great designs like the ones feature here helped me overcome my bias against it. I realized this bias was formed a teenager in the 1980s, when everything cool was anti-60s and 70s and we all painted wood white. I’ve learned to embrace and celebrate wood. The best designers help us see materials in new ways. Well, same can be said for the best design blogs. Thank you!