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How to Make Wood Paneling Look More Modern

Walnut stained paneling in a zigzag pattern.

Although wood paneling may have fallen out of the good graces of home designers a few decades ago, it’s making a comeback. Yes, the 1970s are back and better than ever—whether you’re talking bell bottom jeans, avocado green, or wood paneling. Keep in mind, this isn’t the dark, musty wood paneling from your old rec room. Whether you want to add paneling to your home or need a few makeover ideas to update your existing walls, here are 11 different ways you can make wood paneling look more modern.

APPLY SOME PAINT

For an easy, quick update to your wood paneling, add a fresh coat of paint. White is a popular choice among homeowners and can quickly brighten up a room (plus, it has a cute, country cottage look!). But don’t be scared to be adventurous and go for a bold color, like blue or green.

CREATE A GEOMETRIC PATTERN

circle sawn herringbone wood paneling

Wood paneling doesn’t have to be installed vertically or horizontally. Geometrics are becoming a major interior design trend that can work well with wood paneling. Play around with different patterns to create an eye-catching, vibrant feature to your wall.

WHITEWASH YOUR WOOD

Want to brighten up a room, while keeping the wood grain texture of your paneling? Rather than using a full coat of white paint, consider the “whitewashing” technique. Start by watering down your paint, brush it on your walls, and then wipe immediately. Repeat this process until you get your desired color.

INSTALL PANELING ON THE CEILING

Wood paneling isn’t limited to just your walls. Take your wood paneling to new heights by installing it on your ceiling. You can also try extending the wood paneling on your walls to the ceiling to instantly make the room look bigger.

TRY SHIPLAP

8-inch whitewash shiplap

Rough sawn grey shiplap paneling

Thanks to HGTV’s hit show, Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines have made installing wood paneling the epitome of style in the modern age. However, rather than installing the paneling using the traditional tongue and groove technique, shiplap is a more modern technique where the boards overlap and are installed by nailing into the front of the board.

MIX AND MATCH COLORS

Wood paneling painted in blue, grey, and aqua.

Why settle for one color? Mix and match different paint colors or stains on your wood paneling to create dimension that will attract eyes.

ADD TEXTURE

circle sawn barn wood siding

circle sawn barn wood siding with rusted steel wainscotting

Color isn’t the only way to make a room pop. Add some texture by installing paneling with rough cut textures, such as circle-sawn, band-sawn, and planed wood paneling. Circle-sawn wood paneling is perfect for anyone who is going for an authentic rustic appearance, as it is the roughest of the three textures. Band-sawn texture is less rough and since it’s produced with a band saw, the face has straight markings instead of circular. Planed boards are the smoothest of the three, but will still give you the texture you need to attract eyes.

INSTALL WAINSCOTTING

Wainscot wood paneling.

Wainscotting is a design term where just the lower part of a wall is lined with wood paneling. It provides the perfect mix of style and function, as wainscot wood paneling can protect the wall from scuffs and smudges while adding a touch of sophistication to a room.

LEAVE A SMALL GAP BETWEEN BOARDS

nickel gap in country white.

1x8 whitewash nickel gap in laundry room.

Often confused with shiplap, nickel gap is a popular wood paneling installation trend that will complement any modern farmhouse aesthetic. Installing nickel gap is similar to tongue and groove, but differs by creating small gaps between the boards (about the size of a nickel).

CREATE AN ACCENT WALL

Wood paneling accent wall in bedroom.

Ease into the wood paneling trend by using it as an accent wall. It’s a great way to add texture and warmth to a room.

USE THIN SLATS

1x4 thin slates of wood paneling 1x4 paneling in mud room

Thin stats might seem retro, but with the right wood stain, you can totally make it work for your modern abode. Consider installing the thin wood slats vertically, rather than horizontally, to achieve for a more modern look.

FOLLOW THE TREND: UPDATE YOUR WOOD PANELING

Northern Log Supply offers cedar and pine wood paneling, harvested and milled in the woods of Michigan. With features like tongue and groove and end-matching, installing your wood paneling is a breeze. Complete your project by choosing a clear coat to bring out the wood’s natural beauty, or select a stain like “country white” or “gunstock” from our pre-finish stain selection for cheaper and faster installation. Our friendly staff can help you from measuring to ordering through shipping and installation.

Ready to modernize your wood paneling? Contact us to see how we can help you with nearly any look you’re trying to achieve.

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