Installing wooden panels or wooden boards on the bottom third of a wall adds texture and visual interest to a room. Such panels, or wainscoting, also protect walls from dings and scratches that are caused by table chairs or furniture bumping against the wall. Decorating a kitchen with wainscot is a rewarding home improvement project because the wooden texture makes the room feel warm and inviting and provides a rustic, country, cottage or colonial theme to work with.
A cheerful way to decorate and combine colors in your kitchen is to paint wainscoting a different color from the rest of your walls. You might paint your wainscoting a slightly darker shade than your upper walls to create depth and creativity in the space. For example, you might paint the wainscot a deep Wedgewood blue and paint the top section of the walls a lighter gray-blue. You can also contrast wainscoting with your walls by painting them bright white and painting your upper walls a color that coordinates with your kitchen motif, such as beige, golden yellow, light brown, soft gray, cherry red or sage green.
Because wainscoting is made of wood paneling or wood boards, it provides a natural, rustic appeal when left unpainted. It’s an ideal decorative addition in a rustic country cabin, Mediterranean-themed home or home with Southwest or Spanish influences. You might install weathered wainscoting or sand and age the wood yourself. Natural wood wainscoting coordinates well with other natural outdoor elements, such as stone countertops, brick inlays, natural wood cabinets, copper pots and pans, rustic tile and wrought-iron accessories. You might need to apply a clear protective coating or wood stain to your wainscoting to avoid splintering and deterioration, so seek advice from a home design expert about your particular type of wainscoting.
Country or Cottage Appeal
When wainscoting is paired with a chair rail or decorative trim, the combination is well-suited for a country or cottage kitchen design. You might paint a chair rail the same color as your wainscoting to create a harmonious design or paint it a contrasting color to draw attention the space. For example, tan-painted wainscoting with white-painted upper walls looks appealing with a silver-painted chair rail to blend with stainless steel appliances or brushed nickel kitchen hardware. Raised-panel and wide-beam wainscot is especially appealing in a country, cottage or colonial-style kitchen. A tin water pitcher, checkered curtains and a ceramic bowl of lemons are bright and energizing accessories.
Pair wainscoting with wallpaper to create a kitchen design that has pattern, variety and texture. You might opt for a tan and white striped wallpaper or a blue and white damask wallpaper to blend with bright white raised-panel wainscoting. Cheerful floral designs, mosaic tile prints and vine-themed wallpaper patterns also look appealing in kitchens and blend well with natural wood or painted wainscoting. To avoid a kitchen design that feels too busy, you might install wallpaper above the wainscoting on one wall only and paint the rest of the walls.