All About Wainscoting + The One Thing You Must Never Do!

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

My husband and I adore your blog! We especially like the rooms you show with wainscoting, and wonder what you think about rooms with peaked ceilings? We’d love to do wainscoting but wonder if the top of the walls would look naked!

I know you don’t answer individual letter-writers but I bet it would make an interesting blog post.

Thanks!

Elizabeth

 

Hey Guys,

That was a real note from a lovely reader, Elizabeth.

And I’m so glad that many of you enjoyed the moulding post from last week. But… many of you had questions and I’d like to address some of them.

Some of you expressed concern about the mouldings looking fake and/or over-the-top.

Yes, that is a very real possibility and why if you’re not a designer, I very much recommend you work with one or at least with a contractor who has a good sense of proportion. But frankly, the ones that do are very expensive. Okay, you might luck out.

 

I would hire a designer, but short of that, let’s go over what wainscoting is and where it is appropriate or not.

 

Originally, I was going to do an overview of ALL of the wall mouldings and then I realized that if I were to do that, the men in the white coats would be carrying me away. I think that they’re on standby in any case. Seriously. I’m editing the post now, 8 hours after I wrote that, and yeah… It’s a big subject.

 

So, today, it is ALL about WAINSCOTING

 

Wainscoting (pronounced Wayne’s coating) or the alternative term, wainscot had its origins around the 14th century in Holland. Not only was it decorative, it was a means to protect the lower half of the wall as well as provide insulation in homes. After all, they didn’t exactly have central heating and as we all know, the warm air rises.

 

Over the course of time, numerous variations have taken place, so let’s go over them.

 

Today, wainscoting may go on the lower third of the wall, two-thirds of the wall, or the entire wall.

 

But the one thing you must never do with your wainscoting is apply it half-way up the wall.

 

Oh man, I saw this once during a consultation in a dining room, and it was horrible! I whipped out my tape measure and yep, the top of the chair rail came in at exactly 49″. Tres ugly.

 

The cure, would be either ripping it out and starting over, OR adding additional wainscoting so that the wainscot would go up approximated 2/3 of the wall. An attractive scale would be so that the upper panels are square. But all in all, sometimes one just has to cut their losses.

 

Well, Laurel, how high should the wainscoting be?

 

That’s a good question. Generally speaking, one can’t wrong with “rule of thirds.” For an eight-foot ceiling that would be about 33 inches. We did ours at 35″ and it was perfect. This is for the standard lower third of the wall wainscoting.

 

wainscoting with applied panel moulding

wainscoting very similar to our old house

 

In my opinion, when in doubt with mouldings, go smaller, not larger. Under-scale is better than over-scale. Of course, we don’t want to see dinky in a room with a 12′ ceiling, but we need to be careful with 8 feet and lower.

 

Here’s a look at the classical elements of wainscoting.

 

I made this graphic (below) for you to show the basic components of what goes into traditional wainscoting.

 

elements of wainscoting

 

Traditionally wainscoting is made of wood or it can also be made out MDF board.  You can even get it made out of plastic, but unless there’s a compelling reason, I prefer to draw the line.

 

handyman wainscoting guide

 

Another breakdown of wainscoting from Handyman

 

Let’s delve further in and begin at the top with the chair rail, wainscot cap or dado cap. Dado is another word for wainscot but it does not necessarily have paneling, nor it necessarily made of wood.

 

Dado Wall Taj Mahal via Flickr
via Flickr

 

Above is the exquisite carved stone Dado of the Taj Mahal.

 

The chair rail can either be a horizontal piece with a specified profile or it can even be a small solid crown moulding.

 

I did the latter in my home and loved it! (there’s an image coming later of all of the mouldings I used to make our wainscoting in our old home, so please hang on and no fair looking ahead.) ;]

Rails are the horizontal flat pieces of the panel and the stiles are the vertical flat pieces. I remember the difference because when I think of rail I see a railroad which runs horizontally.

Panel moulding are the pieces that fit inside the rails and styles. It is also called picture frame moulding. Or sometimes it is a small set in piece called a bead.

 

George Saumarez Smith classic homes doors mouldings wainscoting

This is a door designed by George Saumarez Smith of Adam Architecture in a photo I took during my trip to England. Here we can see the bead moulding inside the panel on the door. Why is it slightly cracked? It’s wood and wood expands and contracts. It’s not a defect.

2 bedroom blues board and batten wainscoting

2 Bedroom Blues

In shaker style or what is commonly called board and batten, there is no bead or picture frame moulding. It’s just flat pieces of wood There are a ton of tutorials on pinterest on how to do this because this is the easiest to apply. And it suits a lot of folks who want a less fussy look. The one linked above gives the exact proportions they used. I respect people who can make things like this!

 

For more traditional wainscoting, the panel itself can either be raised or flat or rather recessed. Or the panel could be the wall itself. More about that in a bit.

 

 

original source unknown

Recessed Flat panel with a bead

 

Wainscot Solutions

Doors have a raised panel and the wainscoting a flat panel. I don’t think there’s a bead, but there could be.

 

Wainscot Solutions

Beautiful raised panel wainscoting in perfect proportions.

 

Ben Pentreath classical architecture mouldings and wainscoting

One of Ben Pentreath’s magnificent creations. We did visit this fabulous place, but were not allowed to take photos. Ben IS allowed, haha and this is his image. As you can see he did a combo of recessed flat panels on the wainscoting and raised panel moulding on the shutters and doors. Gorgeous, gorgeous home!!!

 

elements of wainscoting

(Repeating my graphic so you don’t have to keep going back and forth.)

 

The baseboard can be a separate piece (or pieces), the baseboard can also be an extension of the lower rail as shown in the graphic.

Finally, is the shoe moulding, also known as a quarter-round. This is not an essential piece. I did have this in my old home. My apartment now, which was built in the 20s has both original baseboards and newer ones. None of them have a shoe moulding.

 


You may recall this lovely image I took of an Adam Architecture renovation in Winchester England. And what do we have here? An enfilade!!! and a beautiful raised panel wainscoting. And something I JUST noticed. There’s a ‘hidden’ door on the left just before the first doorway!

 

There is another version of a recessed panel that uses bead-board. It’s okay. Not my favorite. I prefer if using beadboard, to just use beadboard.

 

And then there’s the applied straight to the wall moulding which is a bona fide way to do wainscoting.

 

A beautiful French apartment. Sorry, the original source is unknown. But if it’s good enough for the French, it’s good enough for me. This is a tall wall, so the moulding is beefier than what we used for our eight-foot high living room.

I can’t believe that I can’t find a decent image of my old living room with the mouldings, but I do have one really bad image which might be worse than nothing. haha.

Bombs away…

 

mouldings townhouse goldens bridge wainscoting

Sad, huh? Oh well. This was applied directly to the wall and then painted in a semi-gloss (oil-base alkyd, thank you very much!). Pratt and Lambert Ancestral. Very pretty.

 

 

At least we have the stairwell. Not the best angle, but it’ll have to do.

 

Hey Get back up there! I told you not to look ahead unless you didn’t look ahead ;]

 

(no worries. I would do the same!)

 

mouldings for our wainscoting from Dykes Lumber

Here is what we used from Dykes Lumber.

 

Of course, you can use a more typical chair rail, but have to say that I loved the crown!

We did a beautiful crown moulding (ceiling crown) that is about 4.5″ It was the perfect scale for our 8-foot ceiling.

There are some compelling advantages to doing the wall applied moulding for wainscoting.

 

  • cost savings. tremendous. And really, you had to get right on top of it to realize that it wasn’t the real recessed moulding. Everyone thought it was the real thing!
  • It is easy to adjust the space in between the boxes. I had to fudge it a little, but the space on each wall was consistent. It ranged between 4.5″ and 5″ but if necessary, it was a bit bigger on the ends. I would not go wider between the boxes than 5″ and I don’t think it looks good if it’s less than 3″– minimum space between the boxes.

The picture frames were all the same. (I think. It’s been 21 years!) I don’t remember the length,(maybe 21″?) but the width I believe was 14 or 15 inches.

 

Oh dear. I haven’t answered Elizabeth’s question about if she should do wainscoting or not!

 

She sent me a photo of a room similar to hers.

 

This is a very lovely room. And I agree with the decision to paint the ceiling and walls one color.

 

It looks like they just moved in because there’s nothing but a table and chairs.

 

I wouldn’t bother with the wainscoting in this room because if putting up draperies, by the time you do that, there won’t be enough wall to make a difference. If doing wainscoting however where the windows come down low, like this I hate it when they make an L shaped box. That looks weird. What I would do in this case, is one box between the windows and then a horizontal box under each window.

But again, unless there will be no drapes, it’s hardly worth it. The other situation where it doesn’t make a lot of sense is if the furniture is covering up nearly the entire available wall.

 

beautiful wainscoting wall mouldings and millwork

Beautiful New York apartment with charming mouldings. via New York Times.

 

Well, I hope that this answered some of your questions. But if not, please fire away!

 

There are some good ideas in this post too.

And also this post about how to deal with a boxy boring home.

 

xo,

PS: Don’t forget to check out his week’s hot sales!

 

  • Fea - February 17, 2018 - 12:05 AM

    Hi Laurel, How does one go about choosing which moulding elements to use? Do you just pick the ones that look good to you and are appropriate for the size of the room? Or are there Georgian-style mouldings that go with Georgian-style homes and you will just look ignorant if you put up Victorian-style mouldings, etc.? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 17, 2018 - 12:39 AM

      Hi Fea,

      There are so many variables, but certainly for a historic home, it is important to maintain the integrity of the period in which it was built. That is why their are historic preservationists. So, one could consult with one of them or hire them to specify the appropriate mouldings.

      Or an architect, builder or interior designer who has a good eye.

      OR, you can also do your own research, get samples, do a mock-up. Sometimes, we even make life-sized models. This is all part of the design process.

      It ain’t easy, is it? :]ReplyCancel

      • Fea - February 17, 2018 - 4:03 PM

        No, it isn’t! I read something from a Suzanne Kasler interview: “Suzanne doesn’t worry too much about period—in fact, for Suzanne this mash-up of styles and eras is what gives a home character. ‘I like houses to look collected, not decorated,’ she says. ‘It’s being able to mix the things you find—that’s what creates style.’” That’s more my style and it alleviates the stress of historical accuracy! Obviously our forbears didn’t want to get stuck in one time period any more than we do, which is why windows and mouldings etc. were changed over the years. I think we can honor and preserve important pieces of history while allowing ourselves and our homes to adopt new things over time. It’s a balancing act if you have an historic property, though.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - February 17, 2018 - 5:38 PM

          Ya lost me hun. Oh wait. You see, I can’t see what I said, only that you answered my comment. And yes, that’s lame. But when I went into the backend, I found what I said. Sorry, a bit inundated. I love everything Suzanne does and her philosphy as well. And even in history, there were variations. I think that the most important thing is getting the proportions right and that very often is a matter of experience.ReplyCancel

  • Amy Ohrtman - January 30, 2018 - 10:08 AM

    I think faux beams would really make that room look awesome. Those might be costly but I think they look great with ceilings like that.ReplyCancel

  • Justin H - January 28, 2018 - 2:56 AM

    Hi Laurel, love the blog. While I don’t know a lot about interior decorating, this is a subject that I feel I can add something. Wainscoting traditionally represents the pedestal on which a classical column would sit. The proper styling and proportions were always based on the orders of classical architecture, although architects and carpenters have always taken some liberties, historically. There’s a great book called “Get Your House Right” by Marianne Cusato that has a chapter on historically appropriate molding sizes, which always vary depending on ceiling height, as I’m sure you know. I also love 19th century pattern books like those by Asher Benjamin. It’s weird to think that crown moulding really just represents the gutter on the outside of a classical building, but it’s true! Our ancestral builders were very familiar with classical proportions, but unfortunately that education has been lost due to the modern need to build faster, cheaper, and simpler. Anyone curious about proportion and the use of mouldings can never go wrong by learning about the classical orders (Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, etc.). There really is an interesting “logic” to mouldings that most people are completely unaware of. When it’s done right people really can tell the difference, even if they can’t explain it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 28, 2018 - 9:36 AM

      Hi Justin,

      This is so weird. I answered your comment, but it didn’t publish for some reason and it just vanished! Oh well.

      Thank you for all of that. I’m not sure I’m following the part about wainscoting being a pedestal since wainscoting is a vertical element applied to a wall. If a column is attached to a wall, then it’s called a pilaster. Maybe it’s a similar sounding term, you’re thinking of?

      I wrote another post which I believe is linked to in the post which talks quite a bit about the “golden mean” as a means for the ratio of classical proportions for pretty much everything. Here is is:

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/2015/04/26/the-one-interior-design-element-that-makes-rooms-soar/ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 28, 2018 - 8:56 AM

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks for all of that although I’m not following the definition of wainscoting representing a pedestal, since it is applied to the wall. I don’t know if you saw the previous post on mouldings where I discussed the “golden mean.” It has been said that the most pleasing proportions are based on that. ReplyCancel

  • Dana E - January 26, 2018 - 3:35 PM

    One note about “base shoe” molding that might be of interest..my interior designer told me years ago that the proper way to use it with wood flooring is for it to be stained to match the floor not the baseboard. Of course it makes sense, as your vacuum cleaner would be scuffing it up otherwise.
    Thank you for this Laurel!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 26, 2018 - 10:20 PM

      Hi Dana,

      With all due respect for someone else’s opinion, I disagree. It’s not part of the floor; it’s moulding that’s part of the baseboard and all of the moulding should be painted one color. Otherwise, staining the shoe moulding the floor color makes it look like the floor is trying to crawl up the wall.

      I have rarely seen it stained and every time I do, it bugs me.

      Actually, I never noticed, but my bedroom which has relatively new baseboard does have a white painted shoe moulding. There’s no issue with the vacuum cleaner.ReplyCancel

      • Heather Bates - January 28, 2018 - 2:08 PM

        Well then.

        Laurel, You’d certainly be appalled if you visited most homes in VA. Seems every house – including the ones I’ve owned, has the shoe moulding stained to match the floors!ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - January 28, 2018 - 7:33 PM

          Hi Heather,

          It depends on the people. As long as they’re nice, I don’t care what they do. Really, I don’t. :]ReplyCancel

  • Gaye - January 25, 2018 - 12:51 AM

    Laurel, if you were guessing a paint color of the Hefferman room shown (NYTimes), what would you guess? In terms of Benj Moore.ReplyCancel

  • Carol - January 25, 2018 - 12:21 AM

    Laurel..great post!! have wanted to put wainscoting in my dining room for years. So glad you mentioned its ok to put the rails etc directing on the wall. My house build in the late 40’s and has lath & plaster walls which are smooth, and this is a very boring looking house to boot. If you do this, should also be in most of all your main rooms too i.e. living, dining room & hallways?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 25, 2018 - 1:14 AM

      Hi Carol,

      You can. My apartment still has a little of the original applied wall trim and then there’s nothing until the bedroom. But some apartments have it everywhere.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - January 24, 2018 - 10:25 PM

    Sigh. Another orange peel sufferer here–in south Mississippi. It’s a favorite way for builders to get away with using unskilled/lazy drywall installers. They don’t have to be nearly as careful with the floating. They just blow the entire house once the walls are up. Boo.

    But nevertheless your post is still so appreciated. Norm Abram himself couldn’t have given a better lesson–and obviously wouldn’t have your talent for the entirety of design.

    Alice, I’m so glad you have your Bay House. That is a lovely dream come true, I’m sure. My first job was in Mobile. I lived in the Oakleigh District two houses away from Washington Square and a block away from the world’s greatest bar, Callaghans. I lived in a 100+ year old home with beautiful pocket doors and gorgeous fireplaces–and what felt like not a single stitch of insulation haha. Enjoy all of your sunsets!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 25, 2018 - 1:12 AM

      Thanks so much Nicole. I had no idea about the orange peel thing. I did live in Cali for a while and plenty of stucco but never saw any orange peel.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - January 24, 2018 - 4:27 PM

    Dear Laurel,

    Thank you so much for this post! I read your Metrie post a few weeks ago, and was yearning for more info. I was especially interested to know if moulding straight to the wall was legit in a designer’s eyes.

    Who would I look to hire to install moulding in my dining room? In other words, what is the name of the position? Trim carpenter? Contractor? etc.

    Thanks,
    LindseyReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 25, 2018 - 1:08 AM

      Hi Lindsay,

      Yes, a carpenter or GC, but probably one that does smaller jobs.ReplyCancel

  • Alisa - January 24, 2018 - 12:28 PM

    Thank you Laurel, Your posts are so informative and well-edited. I always learn something new, and get a nice chuckle, too.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 3:47 PM

      So glad that you’re getting a chuckle, Alisa. To me, this one’s pretty dry but I guess my natural somewhat irreverent style seeps through anyway. lolReplyCancel

  • Em - January 24, 2018 - 12:27 PM

    I couldn’t pin/save your helpful graphics fast enough! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Valerie - January 24, 2018 - 11:58 AM

    Thank you for such a detailed post on wainscoting. Are there any “rules” about painting the upper walls a different color than the lower wainscoting ? I’ve seen both where the whole wall including the wainscoting is painted the same color and also where the upper wall is a different color, as seen in some of your examples. Is one look more formal than the other? Does the size of the room determine which option is best? Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 3:42 PM

      Hi Valerie,

      There are a lot of factors that need to go into those decisions. All of them are valid design choices and no, I don’t think the size of the room matters all that much. But I do love the look of the trim and walls painted the same color ala Sheila Bridges.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - January 24, 2018 - 11:36 AM

    I get your point about skipping the wainscoting in Elizabeth’s room. What about the vaulted ceiling? Would it make sense to add moulding to her ceiling and if yes what should it look like?

    You are the best!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 3:39 PM

      Hi Mary,

      I would not add trim to this ceiling. After-all, we live our lives about 5-6 feet off the ground. I would change out the fan, however and work on the lighting.

      In case it’s not clear, this is not Elizabeth’s room, but one similar.ReplyCancel

  • Sharon - January 24, 2018 - 11:07 AM

    I wish you had shown us a pic of what not to do so we could compare side by side the good the bad and the truly ugly!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 3:35 PM

      Hi Sharon,

      Believe me, I would love nothing more but unfortunately, this particular topic would be difficult to not share something that a colleague has done. And even if I did not know that designer, there’s an excellent chance that someone reading the blog does know them. It happened once and I was mortified.

      My best rec is to use sources and get pro help from folks that you trust. Do research. And use the good examples as a template of sorts. It might need to be adapted for one’s unique situation. But there’s rarely only one way of doing something that’s correct.ReplyCancel

      • Jane - January 26, 2018 - 5:12 AM

        Funny! Ever since I read your excellent piece on wainscoting, my Pinterest feed has been sending me pictures of wainscoting… and LOTS of half and half! It gives a very stolid feel to a wall I think. Mine will be low, a) because I like it like that, and b) because the exterior window blinds have the interior strap at about 2ft6. This is a Portuguese/Spanish thing.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - January 26, 2018 - 10:11 PM

          Hi Jane,

          Yeah… they try to send you what you are looking at. For a while, all they were sending me was Chinoiserie even though it’s only about 10% of what I post.ReplyCancel

  • Marcy S. - January 24, 2018 - 11:03 AM

    Hello Laurel,

    I’ve always loved the look of wainscot and thanks for writing about this.

    What do you think of using wainscoting when the walls have a highly textured drywall? I’m not sure what you call that type of drywall effect. It’s not eggshell or pitted, it’s rougher looking. I see this drywall effect in a number of homes in my area in Southern California and it’s difficult to reconcile the smooth panels of wainscot with semi-trowel looking drywall. This is something I have been curious about.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 3:29 PM

      Hi Marcy,

      That issue came up in the post last week, I believe. Orange peel, she called it. And it’s a western US thing.

      My take is that it would not look good because it’s like mixing taco sauce with creme brulee. But without a visual for the entire house, it’s impossible to say what the viable options would be. ReplyCancel

      • Marcy S. - January 24, 2018 - 8:35 PM

        Thank you, Laurel! Yes, it is a ‘western US thing’. I looked up images of ‘orange peel walls’ and see it. There’s another drywall texture type called “knockdown”, which is what my walls are. I learned something new today. Always do, with your posts.ReplyCancel

  • Paula - January 24, 2018 - 8:55 AM

    I will never look at Wayne’s Coating (!!) the same ever again. Love the infographic you’ve created and the shout-out to old doors and moldings. I know that old door in England – I suspect his long-lost cousin is hanging around my house, groaning and puffing up from time to time.ReplyCancel

  • Alice Christian - January 24, 2018 - 8:48 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    We put 2/3rd wainscoting in our guest bath and it looks wonderful. It was a lot of work as we did the work ourselves. I am always so relieved to read a post and find that I actually designed it correctly!

    I have learned so much from you over the years and have been able to have your words and suggestions in the forfront of my brain as we renovated our home which overlooks Mobile Bay in AL. We never could have afforded a move in ready home on the Bay, so we dove into a true fixer upper, doing a lot of the work ourselves, only using a contractor to build an addition (actually tear down a garage that was not structurally sound and rebuild with a master bed and bath above.)

    Looking at the picture of the room instead of wainscoting, couldn’t they just beef up the height of the baseboard and trade out the small window trim for a taller cap over the windows with a wider side trim and apron. The 3 windows at the end of the room could be trimmed out as one unit with trim between the windows and a continuous header and apron?

    All the best,
    AliceReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 3:24 PM

      Hi Alice,

      Thanks so much for all of that! I concur that the baseboard could be a little taller. The rest, I think is fine.ReplyCancel

  • Amy, Home Glow Design - January 24, 2018 - 8:25 AM

    Fabulous, FABULOUS post. I know that you and many other big bloggers were head-over-heals for the decorative mouldings at KBIS, but this is the nitty gritty that people only hear from you! Your experience is invaluable to us all. Thanks! Saving many of these images to reference with clients who look at me like I have 2 heads when I discuss different types of wainscot. 😉ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - January 24, 2018 - 8:10 AM

    Hi Laurel!
    Great teaching on wainscoting.! Just wanted to let you know I really appreciate all of the work that you put into your blog posts! Have a great day and know we are out here reading!
    Thanks!
    MichelleReplyCancel

  • Angie - January 24, 2018 - 7:59 AM

    Great post and very timely for us as we continue to debate staying in our 10 year old home or downsizing to something smaller now that we are truly empty nesters. Either way, there will be renovations or a new build in our future. Thank you for all of the time and energy you spend on each and every blog post. It is greatly appreciated. AngieReplyCancel

  • Rose - January 24, 2018 - 3:49 AM

    Love this post Laurel! I was so hoping you would tackle this topic eventually, as I’m obsessed with all things trim. We are in the middle of a big wainscot project now, and so glad to know I’m on the right track. You mentioned an oil based alkyd as your preference, would you care to expound? I’ve researched alkyd BM Satin Impervo vs BM Advance, and both have its merits. However, my paint supplier noted that I may not like oil based Alkyds, as they tend to noticeably “yellow” after about 5 years. Any insight?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 11:39 AM

      Hi Rose,

      Did you just hear that? That was my eyes rolling so far they fell to the ground! lol If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that oil base paint yellows, I’d be wealthy, wealthy.

      Does it? Well, mine did not and I had it all over my house. Dark rooms, BRIGHT rooms and everything in between. NO YELLOWING WHATSOEVER.

      so there, all of you naysayers!

      The pics are bad, (in the post) but both the living room and stairs had been painted at least ten years earlier and even 12 years later, not one sign of yellowing whatsoever. This is with Pratt and Lambert.

      I don’t think that you can get oil based any longer in New York. But I have to say that the luster it had was incredible. Can you get the same result with water-based? They’ve come a long way. I haven’t actually seen Advanced but have researched it and it does take a skilled painter to work with it and if so, the results are excellent. ReplyCancel

      • Gemma - January 24, 2018 - 5:21 PM

        NJ is anal about oil-based paint, too. Tip: if you want a gallon of oil trim paint, Benjamin Moore makes a commercial product named “Super Spec.” Great stuff….and available on-line or in full-service paint stores. I prefer high-gloss oil trim, which hardens to a classy, impervious finish. After 25 years, trim is still classy, non-yellowed, and chip-less.ReplyCancel

      • Rose - January 24, 2018 - 12:43 PM

        You are so funny! I hadn’t heard of yellowing from my research, until that conversation I had, which put all the frustration back into my decision. You have set my mind at ease! Thank you. You are right — Oil-based is exceedingly harder to find nowadays, but (acc to supplier) is still allowable in California, if purchased by the quart. My husband is not too keen on using this tho, but that’s another story.. ;).ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 3:49 PM

          Hi Rose,

          Yeah, we did oil-based poly on a kitchen floor here in Bronxville 3 years ago and had the contractor could only get it in PINTS and I believe in Connecticut which is nearby. He had to purchase 24 pints! Outrageous!ReplyCancel

      • Amy, Home Glow Design - January 24, 2018 - 11:43 AM

        I have used (or had my painter use) Advance. Came out beautifully — not quite like oil-based, but better than semi-gloss. The trick my Ben Moore rep said was not to constantly try to paint over the brush marks. They will fill in as it dries.ReplyCancel

        • Gail Caryn - January 26, 2018 - 10:13 AM

          Love Advance! Did a set of repurposed cabinets in it in satin finish and used it on a vanity. Gorgeous water born alkyd paintReplyCancel

          • Laurel Bern - January 26, 2018 - 10:12 PM

            Thanks for weighing in Gail!

        • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 3:39 PM

          Thanks so much for that info Amy!ReplyCancel

  • Gaye - January 24, 2018 - 2:17 AM

    Were I so financially well-endowed as Bill Gates or similar folks, I would have you doing an hour-long program opposite the worst of the house fixer-upper type television shows. You are a superb teacher, and so many people want beauty and can afford it, but simply do not see it in their friends’ homes. Beauty transforms those who live within or near it. And you explain the how-to’s better and more simply than anyone I know. Great post.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 11:30 AM

      Oh, that is so sweet of you to say that Gaye! I adhere to the KISS philosphy (Keep IT Simple and Stupid) lol whenever possible!ReplyCancel

  • Leeanne - January 24, 2018 - 12:31 AM

    what a fabulous, informative blog! Thank you. All these years, I’ve been calling, bead board, wainscoting! Would the same rule of thumb apply for bead board? And board and battan? Thank youReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 11:28 AM

      Hi Leeanne,

      Well, this is funny, because I once had an argument with my boss who never took one interior design course in her life. She INSISTED that beadboard is wainscoting. And it IS wainscoting. It’s a type of wainscoting, but not the only type. That is what she refused to accept.

      In my post, I mentioned a type of panel moulding where the panel is made from beadboard. But what you’re referring to, is just straight beadboard capped with something and then with a baseboard. It was more popular about 20 years ago and then shiplap took over.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy George - January 24, 2018 - 12:04 AM

    Loved this informative post. I put panel mouldings in my bedroom and love the difference it made. Much more elegant look. I did all the measuring and cut the mouldings with a power mitre saw. My son helped me put them up with a nail gun. Even he was impressed with the finished look!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 11:25 AM

      Hi Nancy,

      I totally admire people who have the patience and skill to do this! It must be quite gratifying when it’s finished!ReplyCancel

  • Christina Miller - January 23, 2018 - 11:18 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    Things come to mind reading this:

    1)Can wainscoting work in a space where the opposite wall is planked with toungue and groove boards, installed horizontally and painted? Too busy?

    2) regarding painting ceilings same color: what made you decide that? When is it appropriate? My walls are Linen White and I LOVE them. I have planked, vaulted ceilings in my upstairs living area and I have been trying to pick the right white for ceilings/trim for the better part of the last 6 months. Maybe the same color in a glossier sheen is the answer to my color stalemate? HmmmmReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2018 - 11:38 PM

      Hi Christina,

      Sorry, I wish I could help you with number one, but since I can’t see what the sitch is, it’s impossible to advise.

      I have been painting vaulted ceilings the same color as the walls for the last 25 years! lol And whenever I do a white or off-white wall, 98% of the time do the same trim and ceiling color. I’m pretty sure that there’s a post or two on here about that.

      Trim is always in semi-gloss (but satin is okay for a more rustic room) and the ceiling in flat or matte.ReplyCancel

  • Darla Powell - January 23, 2018 - 10:11 PM

    This is crazy informative! Love!ReplyCancel

  • Elena - January 23, 2018 - 10:03 PM

    Dear Laurel,
    Thank you for wonderful post! LOVE your blog! I was wondering if you could do a post about millennial pink color. It looks like it is been making it’s way into interiors for the last couple of years and is not going away any time soon.
    This would be an interesting refreshing subject and such a treat to be covered by you as your sense of color is exquisite.
    Thank you!
    ElenaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2018 - 10:27 PM

      Hi Elena,

      I have done some pink posts. They are in regards to Ben Pentreath’s pink living room. There are a couple of posts from October-November. But his pink, is a little warmer and browner than Millenial Pink. There is another post about “rethinking pink” that is actually pretty old now.ReplyCancel

  • Julie - January 23, 2018 - 10:01 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    I really loved this post. I love the look of wainscoting. In your opinion do rooms have to be very large to add wainscoting? Also, if wainscoting is added to one room on the first floor, does it have to be added throughout the whole floor? Is it possible to just have it in one room? Would this look odd? Same question about crown moulding. Once you put it in one room, does there need to be a kind of cohesive moulding style throughout the house? We have a 1940’s colonial with no wainscoting or crown moulding at all, and it does look plain, in my opinion. We do have lovely wide trim around the doors and archways, as well as 8 inch base boards with quarter round shoe moulding. The ceilings are 8 feet high. I love the look of the moulding on the ceiling from the other post you did. Would that be too contemporary for a colonial house from the 1940’s? Thank you so much! Love your blog- you keep me laughing, and I’ve learned so much!

    All the best, JulieReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2018 - 10:18 PM

      Thank you so much Julie,

      I appreciate that you have a lot of questions, but this tired brain stalls out if there’s more than one or two. And also some of those are visuals that I don’t have in front of me. You don’t have to put mouldings in every room, but should be some cohesion.ReplyCancel

  • HeidiP - January 23, 2018 - 9:37 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    It’s like you’re reading my mind:-)
    Great post, I’ll have to re-read it to majen sure I don’t need make any mistakes on our Mouldings,,, I’m pretty sure our dining room’s Mouldings are incorrect height 😩
    Question:
    How do you work with baseboard heat and Mouldings??ReplyCancel

    • Gail Caryn - January 24, 2018 - 2:34 AM

      I’ve done wainscot with baseboard heaters and made it work. Remove the heaters then apply your wainscot using a simple base that is wider than the heaters. A straight-edged base is best with a simple shoe molding or just a small quarter round. You will need to drill holes in the base for the wiring. Remount the heaters high enough so the shoe fits underneath. Paint everything the same colour using a heat resistant paint. I have sprayed the heaters with a coat of Tremclad, then used a top coat of my wall paint. The wide, simple base provides a backdrop for the heaters and, when painted, they sort of disappear. Or, if you can afford a great finish carpenter, check out this beautiful job http://www.gngcarpentry.com/wood-heat-base-covers-new-jersey/ReplyCancel

      • HeidiP - January 24, 2018 - 11:35 PM

        AMAZING!! thanks Gail! Some great ideasReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - January 24, 2018 - 11:32 AM

        Oh wow! Oh WOW! I was hoping someone would come to my rescue with that one. THAT is sensational. I need to link back to that one. Well, you did. Have to dash now, but need to add a link to that in the post. That made my day!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 23, 2018 - 10:15 PM

      Hi Heidi,

      Abominable things those baseboard heating fuglies. Wainscoting will not work with that. Or at least, I don’t think so. But that’s a good question.ReplyCancel

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