Wood panelling can be a wonderful addition to your home. It can be used to add period detail or to create a timeless, nature inspired feature wall. Popularised during the Edwardian era of British interior design, the ever widening range of available materials mean this choice of wall covering is yet to reach its peak.
Though available in many different styles and finishes, wood panelling basically falls into two main categories. The first and historically the most popular is raised wood panelling. Think of any classically designed stately home or library and you’ve probably got an accurate image of what high quality raised panels can do for a space. Though fabulously ornate, this type panelling was actually born out of necessity- originally designed to prevent chairs from scuffing the expensive wallpapers of Edwardian well-to-do homes as they were pulled out. This explains why they only ever rise to roughly one third of the height of the room. Raised wood panelling carries with it an air of class, respectability, and quality workmanship that goes hand in hand with the era in which it rose to prominence.
Raised wood panelling can be purchased in almost any wood and can therefore be enjoyed by homeowners of all budgets.Mahogany, oak and cherry are the classic woods of choice. Woods such as these require nothing more than a coat of wax for protection. Vanish or wood stain can be used to deepen the shade of lighter, less expensive softwood and bring out the natural pattern of the grain. Alternatively, a layer of paint will effectively conceal any corners cut on budget. A brilliant white finish in matt or eggshell will allow rooms to remain airy and contemporary whilst still reaping the benefits of period glamour. Soft furnishings such like elston curtains mixed with period details like tasselled table lamps will really add to this look.
The other main variety of wood panelling is tongue and groove panelling. So named due its method of assembly where panels slot together laterally in a similar way to laminated flooring. Generally used to cover a whole wall, this type of panelling is much less rigid in its styling and is therefore open to limitless interpretation. Its oldest guise is probably the log cabin style still popular in America and Scandinavia. Generally made of pine, its trademark is the prevalence of knots and strong grain in the surface of the wood, which helps it to add real character and rural charm to any home.
Cypress wood is another popular variation. Cypress wood panels gained great acclaim in the early 1900’s because of its natural resistance to rot, insects and decay, not to mention its natural beauty. Modern cypress is most often harvested from dead trees in swamps and river bottoms, then kiln dried and cut for lumber, making it an environmentally friendly choice. It isn’t cheap, but you won’t find a better panelling material anywhere.
Today, largely due to the resurgence of retro design, whole wall panelling is being used in a much more modern way as it takes influence from the teak and rosewood veneers which cover most retro designs. Log cabin style has leapt into the future as whole walls of rich veneers of unusual woods such as walnut, iroko and bamboo, finished to a high sheen through the use of finely applied lacquer, become show stealing features of ultra modern interiors.