Living Room Paneling Project - Comments Please

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Blog entry by Roostermiester posted 01-26-2010 05:24 AM 1904 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been starting a wood paneling project for the past couple months now (part of a larger reno project). It was originally going to be done in MDF (and was started) until my wife informed me that she wanted it stained to match some other built-ins we have. So that means real wood. I am thinking about doing it with 1×3 poplar top rail and stiles, 1×4 bottom rail, and 1×2 or 1×3 chairrail and the panels in either 1/4 in. birch or oak plywood. Depending on how the bottom rail looks on the floor, there may or may not be a small floor moulding. The desing is a simple Craftsman-ish style, no mouldings or raised panels, just nice straight lines. I may put in some type of simple brace on each stile to hold up the chairrail. The plan is to route 1/4 in. in the edges of the stiles and rails and fit the panels between. Since I won’t be using any ferring strips and the stiles don’t all line up on the studs, I am thinking of using Liquid Nails to secure the panels and stiles to the wall and brad nail where there is a stud and brad nail the rails. That brings me to another issue. Since there are windows on 2 of the walls, I can’t make the panels all the same size across the wall (I want a stile on each edge of the window). So I’ve fit them in the best I can to be as close in size as possible, although it probably won’t be hard to see the difference.

Any feedback, advice, considerations, or validation is welcome. I’ll attached my SketchUps for the project (I hardly start a project without them anymore), in color and b&w so you can see the lines better.

Panel SketchUp #1
Panel SketchUp #2

-- Scott Rust - The Roostermiester

8 comments so far

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3587 days

#1 posted 01-26-2010 06:07 AM

Not very familiar with the frame & panel construction to comment or advise. But looking at the SU design, it’s going to be very nice. As a hobbyist woodworker (not really woodworker or interior designer) I like the first. Just an opinion, the white would be more appropriate for the top portion and the bold & darker colour is for the bottom.
But I guess most women would choose the second design.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Roostermiester's profile


19 posts in 3109 days

#2 posted 01-26-2010 06:14 AM

To clarify, the textured pic is what the colors will look like. The walls are painted a tan color with a rubbed stain finish (not sure exactly how to explain that, but it looks a little “old world” or something). The wood will be stained a mohagany color to match other elements in our house. The first pic is just to see the edges of the panels more clearly – maybe you can see the size differences.

-- Scott Rust - The Roostermiester

View woodworm's profile


14468 posts in 3587 days

#3 posted 01-26-2010 06:25 AM

Oop! I thought it’s going to be something like wainscoting.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View KnotWright's profile


258 posts in 3484 days

#4 posted 01-26-2010 06:35 AM


From an old boss of mine, “Less is more” try to keep the styles to a minimum, unless you are going for that look. If you want a style on each side of the window, then on the small window you might not want to put any other style under there, and maybe only one under the large window. Since it you’ll be using plywood panels, figure in the 48” max when you try your spacings also.

Since you are good with SketchUp, try a few variations before you start construction.

I did a job this past year that the customer also wanted the wainscoting to match the kitchen I’d just built for them. So I used the same rail and style bits I used for the cabinet doors and made up the wall panels to match. The baseboard was the same height as the toe kick, the top rail was the same as the styles, and I made up a small top cap with a little detail to finish things off.

-- James

View sras's profile


4796 posts in 3125 days

#5 posted 01-26-2010 05:26 PM

Looks good! Here are a few thoughts -

I assume the window trim already exists. If not, consider incorporating that into your design.

If possible, consider increasing the width of your baseboard. May not make sense if the rest of the house is this size.

It might be intersting to use two different width panels and alternate from wide to narrow. YOu could probably get away with tweaking the widths to fit in the space allowed.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 3344 days

#6 posted 01-26-2010 10:27 PM

Providing this type of detailing to an existing room can be quite a challenge and usually requires a whole series of compromises. Not knowing how much experimenting you have done to arrive at your current design I offer the following in the hope these comments don’t cover ground you have already traveled.

Since the windows offer the biggest challenge in this type of design below is a series of ways to ‘treat’ them in relation to the paneling:

1. They are separate and control the space above and below them:
The paneling stops at the vertical edge of the windows and something other than the paneling is above and below the window, the window’s sill and head isn’t incorporated into the paneling

2. They are separate and superior to the paneling but control the space above and below them:
The paneling meets the vertical edges of the window and then deforms around the windows, the window’s sill and head isn’t incorporated into the paneling (your current design)

3. The paneling is superior to the windows:
The paneling makes no accommodation for the window

4. The paneling is superior to the windows and encompasses window:
The window is trimmed out in similar form to the paneling’s details, the sill is incorporated into to grid of the paneling in some direct manner, additional trim could be added to the room to reduce the wainscoting ‘effect’

I would argue all but number 3 offer good design potential and are therefore worth exploring.

Lastly, I am curious as to how you determined the height of the paneling, does it respond to an existing condition, did you use some sort of proportional system? Also, does the division of the wall have any proportional relationship with the panels (ie the panels are app. 1/3 width to height and therefore the overall height is 1/3 the wall height)? To my eye the height seems a little low, particularly if you are interested in making it ‘Craftsman-ish’.

Good luck on the project.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View Roostermiester's profile


19 posts in 3109 days

#7 posted 01-26-2010 11:02 PM

Thanks for the comments. As for the height, it was basically my wife saying “I want them yeh high.” Although I did do some research and the common heigh seems to be between 36-42” high, or like you mentioned 1/3 of the wall height. These are 9’ ceilings and the chairrail is at 41”, so a bit over 1/3 the height of the wall. I think the perspective of the picture might make it appear lower. We also didn’t want it so high that it overlapped the light switches.

-- Scott Rust - The Roostermiester

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3047 days

#8 posted 01-27-2010 07:16 PM

Here is another reference. It’s the top row, center picture:

Might be a little too high for your situation, as it would probably fall right in the middle of your light switches, but I suppose you could fudge it a couple of inches downward.

This also gives you another visual on how to possibly deal with the windows.

It also seem similar to your rail and stile pattern you’ve selected, only theirs appear to be spaced farther apart.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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