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6 Ideas for Country Wainscots

Plain-spoken wainscot treatments create architectural interest for farmhouse walls. By Patricia Poore

    Board wainscot in a Federal houseArchitecture magazines are keen to present high-style homes and decorating—that which is fine, large, urban. But the old house you inhabit was likely built in what was then a rural area, or in an early suburb. The house may not fit into any particular “style,” or be ornate, or have high ceilings. Its rooms would not have had expensive wallpaper imported from France or England hung above a mahogany linen-fold wainscot.

    Paneling and wainscots were, however, used in even the simplest homes, as they are practical as well as attractive finishes for a plaster wall. Many were made of lower-grade wood, meant to be painted. Here you’ll see a handful of historic wainscots, mostly from what were once, or are still, farmhouses.

    1. Board Wainscot [above]

    Original woodwork in the dining room of an 1811 Federal house in Newport, Rhode Island, includes a simple board wainscot topped by a chair rail.

    2. Victorian Beadboard

    Victorian beadboard in a restored bathroomA varnished wainscot of beaded boards dates to the 1896 update of this bathroom in a simple Victorian farmhouse.

    3. Cottage Beadboard

    country-wainscot-ideas-cottage-beadboardBeadboard continues to be the wainscot of choice in bathrooms and kitchens; this bathroom in a new old house has a typical cottage painted wainscot.

    4. Paneled

    Paneled wainscoting in a Greek Revival dining roomIn an 1840 country Greek Revival house, a panel and molding detail is confined to the area under windows in the dining and living rooms.

    5. Early Planks

    Early plank wainscotingA vine stencil fancies up the Federal-era parlor in a house with a 17th-century core; the wainscot is made up of three horizontal planks.

    6. Battened Wall

    Board and batten paneled wallA wainscot with horizontal emphasis is topped by vertical boards and battens for a fully paneled wall treatment in the parlor of an 1885 summer house.

    Published in: Old-House Journal December 2013

    { 3 comments }

    toni January 11, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Finally!! A house like mine! My farm house provided a roof over the family’s head. I have done the entire history of it from being a land warrant in 1857. It was never a show place or a social venue. I would suppose there were parties with neighboring farm families but nothing different from the rest of the working farms. It’s disheartening to always see the lavishly finished Homes shown in magazines. Even if I could afford it, that décor would not fit this house. Can we have more of this type of article?

    Andi January 25, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Would you please post more info and how to build the chair in the photo? I love the walls and the stacks of magazines. Reminds me of my great-grandparents house. And I agree with Toni, please do more articles like this!

    Maureen November 26, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Love that stencil where can I purchase it. Please let me know I’ve been looking for something like that for a long time. Thank you



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