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Get a Cottage Look with Beadboard Paneling

Updated on February 1, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Beadboard is a vintage style of paneling that is very versatile. It can be used in almost any room of your home with success because of its informal charm. If you love the look of a cottage, a lake house, or a country Victorian farmhouse then beadboard paneling may be exactly what you are looking for. This versatile trim is not just a casual look however. Depending on whether you choose to paint or stain the beadboard, and which colors you choose, it can also look just right in a formal setting.

It can be made from several types of wood. You will want to make your choice depending on whether you will be painting or staining, making this trim an affordable option for nearly anyone.

The varieties of wood most commonly used are:

  • Oak
  • Pine
  • Fir
  • Cedar
  • Wood composite

Imae:Courtesy Nantucket Beadboard Company
Imae:Courtesy Nantucket Beadboard Company

History of Beadboard

Beadboard became very popular during the late 1800s and early 1900s. During this time it was used for the more informal areas of the home; halls, kitchens, and bathrooms.

Builders used leftover wood to create thin strips that were joined to make panels. These panels were usually applied at chair rail height, although they could at times, be applied higher.

The purpose of the beadboard was to protect the paint on the walls in high traffic areas, a use that is still popular today. Lining a hallway with beadboard will help make cleaning a breeze as fingerprints can just be wiped off with a damp cloth

Decorating with Beadboard

There are many ways to use beadboard in homes today.

By using beadboard in a bathroom you give the room an instant vintage charm. It is easier to clean than paint and so makes a nice addition to the room. Since bathrooms have a lot of horizontal lines the vertical lines in the beadboard help to draw the eye upward and create a sensation of roominess in this (usually) small room.

Some homeowners use beadboard on the ceiling, especially in a kitchen or sunroom. Beadboard can help cover up problem areas on a ceiling and give the room a cozy look. A country kitchen with cranberry red painted beadboard on the ceiling will be warm and inviting any time of the year.

Other areas of the kitchen can be good spots for beadboard. Using it on cupboards, backsplashes, and chair rails creates a comfortable, country look in these areas

  • Give your home a beach cottage look by keeping the beadboard light, either with paint or with a pine finish. You aren't stuck with just white however, a light sea foam green, sky blue, or butter yellow can give the same casual cottage look.
  • For a Victorian country look use dusty colors; mauve, sage green, rose, dusty blue. Use deep tones for an elegant look.
  • Burgundy, pine green, and navy blue can all give the feel of a country manor.
  • Stained beadboard will give your home a Bungalow or Arts and Crafts look. Rich, dark stains are best for this.

Norm Abrams Instuctions on Installing Beadboard

Vintage Beadboard

If you have an older home you may have beautiful vintage beadboard. It may be hiding under thirty layers of paint or need to be stripped and revarnished but it is worth it to try to save the original wood at all costs. This vintage trim was made from old growth trees and the look and quality of it is different from anything currently available. If you need to replace some of the vintage beadboard or if you want to use the vintage beadboard in your decorating then search the local architectural salvage companies. They often have old house parts that you can pick up for a reasonable price.

If you don't have salvage companies locally then eBay may be a good place to try.

Using beautiful beadboard in your home can add warmth and character and speed up cleaning.  What's not to like?


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    • scaffolding tower profile image

      scaffolding tower 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      It looks amazing. A touch of class, so to speak.

    • shanel profile image

      shanel 8 years ago from Seattle

      I just finished a room with five foot tall beadboard paneling finished with a rail. It looks fantastic. Thanks for the history of beadboard - it all makes so much sense now! Nice hub.

    • greg austin profile image

      greg austin 8 years ago from Canada

      I'm a huge fan of beadboard, or more generally, thin wood paneling. You can stain or paint it depending on the look you are going for, and as rugsdynamic says, it can quickly cover up other finish issues.

      I have used wood paneling to great effect on several different reno/redecoration projects of my own.

    • Helen Straw profile image

      Helen Straw 8 years ago from Tasmania

      Love the beadboard panelling, it reminds me of the type of walls in an old farmhouse I used to live in when I was a child growing up in the countryside. It was a very popular paneling those days.

    • jeffrogers79 profile image

      jeffrogers79 8 years ago

      Nice site, I like it. you have some great stuff

    • rugsdynamic profile image

      rugsdynamic 8 years ago

      Beadboard is a quick fix for a number of issues - I like the idea of using it on the ceiling.

    • SuperiorInteriors profile image

      SuperiorInteriors 8 years ago from San Diego, California

      It gives the bathroom a nice lake cottage feel. Any Bathroom renovation would come up short of it's potential if they forgot the essential beadboard. Good tips to pass on to any interior designer. I ran into some problems finding the right type but after talking to a coupel different sales reps started to get a good idea of what was going to work best for my remodel.