Wooden panelling has been used in homes for centuries. Initially used to help insulate homes and protect the occupants from draughts and damp, it soon evolved into more decorative options and used as a sign of wealth and status, from medieval halls to Regency splendour, Georgian classicism or Victorian gothic. But don't be fooled into thinking wooden panelling is just for period properties - it can also make a statement in contemporary homes.


And adding some panelling doesn't have to be expensive either and can be something easily done a t home by the keen DIYer. Here's how to make and install wooden panelling for a period look.

Best wooden panelling ideas

Tongue and groove panelling

Kay attached tongue-and-groove panelling to the walls and painted it in a gentle pale shade. She also painted the floorboards to add character. ‘This room is my sanctuary,’ says Kay. ‘I love the warm soft grey tone of Farrow & Ball’s Skimming Stone – it’s one of those colours that look different in all shades of light.’ The Poppy Field rug from French Connection brings colour and print to the neutral scheme

Tongue and groove panelling is a traditional panelling style that is synonymous with the idyllic cottage look, however it can also be used with great effect in more contemporary and city homes. It is particularly effective in hallways, kitchens and bathrooms – where it can make a great alternative to tiled walls – as well as those seeking a nautical or coastal look. Whether you go bold with colour or keep it neutral and simple, do the whole wall or just half, wooden panelling can really transform a room.

Georgian panelling, from £19 per sheet, The English Panelling Company

This grey and white colour scheme with pair-backed washed floorboards has timeless appeal.

The wallpaper, from Wayfair, sits perfectly above wall panelling painted in Farrow & Ball’s Bancha. The floor runner was a hand-me-down from some family friends, while the lights were just £5 on Facebook Marketplace

This green tongue and groove panelling really adds period charm and depth to a narrow hallway, while complementing the gorgeous wallpaper above it.

clapboard Granary building in Woodbridge harbour, Suffolk decorated with a nautical theme
This wooden panelling has added charm and authenticity to a tasteful nautical scheme.

Classic panelling

Black classic interior with fireplace, leather armchairs, carpet, candles. 3d render illustration mockup.

Georgian architecture was known for classic, symmetrical lines inspired by antiquity, often favouring tall and narrow panelling designed to resemble ancient columns.

The panelling adds character and depth to a room and while a dark colour (above) can add cosiness, a lighter colour can add elegance and light

Restoration of Victorian London house furnished with classic and contemporary design pieces
Credit: Getty Images

If you don't want to go to the expense or trouble of installing the panelling but still want the look, you can use wallpaper.

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This wood panel wallpaper in soft grey is available from ilovewallpaper.co.uk, (priced £22)

Contemporary wooden panelling

Dining room, visually separated by wooden slats from the kitchen. Render image.

This slatted wooden panelling not only creates a very cool feature wall but also a feature ceiling that helps divide the dining area away from the complementary kitchen.

Modern kitchen with island, wooden beams and ventilation grilles - 3d rendering Note: the room does not exist in reality, Property model is not necessary
Why not combine storage within panelling? The panelling in this kitchen also incorporates wine storage for an innovative new take.
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Behind a bed, panelling can act as a headboard, even when it spans the entire room.

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By choosing not to extend the panelling to the top of the wall in the bedroom, you can create an effect less of a wall treatment and more of a piece of oversized furniture. While this design is large and dominating, it still brings a minimalist quality to the room, as it doesn’t rely on vast amounts of further styling, allowing just the wood grain finish to bring character to the space.