Modern dining room wainscoting.
One of the main reasons we purchased the house we are currently in is because it had the potential for a huge, and I mean a HUGE, dining room! We own a beautiful 10-foot reclaimed barn wood table, which is always full when we have people over, so we needed ample space for it. When we started out with this space we were actually dealing with two open concept rooms; a formal sitting room and a small dining room. Instead of staging the home with a sitting area that would never get used, we transformed the two rooms into one large dining space that was perfect for our dining table and our entertaining style.
The first major project in this room that we worked on were the faux beams. The purpose of the beams was two fold; one, they served as an extension of the lower ceiling, allowing us to suspend light fixtures directly over the table in the centre of the room; two, they helped to visually make the two open concept areas appear as one.
The faux beams do a great job at connecting the two separate areas, but this very large room, with its darker olive green walls (terrible colour choice on my part!), dark brown hardwood floors, and some high, 20' walls, was feeling a bit more like a dark dungeon rather than an inviting, comfortable space for our guests.
To help lift this room from its darkness, we wrapped it with tall, crisp white, beautiful wainscoting. Check out how we did it all by ourselves...
The first step was to decide on the height of the wainscoting. Our room is very large, with half of the ceilings being 20' tall (remaining walls are 9' tall) so in order to make the wainscoting look proportional to the scale of the room, we ignored all the "wainscoting height rules" the internet offers, and selected a height we felt was visually complimentary to our space (and also was the maximum height before having to relocate the thermostat on one wall!). Once that decision was made, we pulled off the baseboards, primed, and painted the lower portion of the wall where the wainscoting would go.
Next, I painted a thick line with the new wall colour along the planned top edge of the wainscoting. Doing this step before installing the wainscoting saved some serious time as there was no need to tape off or "cut" with a paintbrush later when all the walls were repainted. While I had my paintbrush wet, I went ahead and filled in all the wall corners and "cut" along the ceiling where the paint roller doesn't reach (without making a terrible mess, that is!).
Finally it was time to start on the real good stuff! The wainscoting itself! To go with our style, we planned for a modern design. We didn't want any fancy trim work or elaborate shapes. Eric and I both really liked a simple, rectangular pattern. To try and "get a feel" for what it would look like in the room, and more importantly, to determine how wide the rectangles should be, we stood some trim pieces along the main wall...
This was probably the most time consuming part of this project! We moved the trim around a billion times and deliberated (very heavily at times!) about the width of the rectangles and what looked best. We also had to consider which measurement can be best matched on all the walls so that the rectangles are as close to one size as possible. In the end, we both agreed on a narrower width simply because it just so happened to yield rectangles that were the same exact size on the two largest walls, without any "skinny" or "partial" rectangles in the corners or ends of walls.
Once the width of the rectangles was determined, we installed the bottom trim that runs parallel to the floor and sits above the baseboard. A few blocks of wood cut to desired height along with a level were helpful in getting the trim into place quickly.
The next step was to address the air return vent in one of the walls. Instead of using the same style of metal cover that the home builder had originally installed, we opted to cover the vent with a decorative metal sheet and framed it with the same trim as the rest of the wainscoting.
Next, the vertical trim pieces were installed. To make the job efficient and accurate, we used a "spacer", a scrap piece of wood cut to desired length that we placed in between the trim pieces. A level was used to ensure that all trim was installed straight. To ensure that all the vertical trim were of the same height and that they'd all fit inside the wainscoting, a long piece of trim was temporarily installed along the top.
Piece by piece, the wainscoting quickly began to take shape...
Then, we installed the horizontal trim along the top...
We also added trim around the window frames as we felt that gave a more finished look. Underneath the windows, we treated that as its own separate area and simply divided it into equally sized rectangles.
Finally, it was time to put up the baseboards. To prevent the baseboards from flexing in towards the wall into the empty space above the floor and below the wainscoting, scrap trim pieces were used to fill that space. We opted to buy all new baseboards (that matched the original trim work) as the pieces we pulled off were banged up, painted over a few times, and looked worn. The new boards are fresh, flawless, and clean.
Once the wainscoting was all up, all the joints and nail holes were filled with compound and sanded down to a smooth, even surface. All corners, gaps, and seams were filled in with DAP. The entire wainscoting was painted in white gloss paint, just like the rest of the trim work in the house.
Meanwhile, a new coat of paint on all the walls in a soft, light blue colour was a welcome change from the dark olive green that was there previously.
To finish off, we added a thin decorative ledge along the top of the wainscoting. It's a small detail, but it gives big impact and creates a finished, professional look.
So there it is! Eric and I absolutely adore how the wainscoting turned out. Along with the new lighter wall colour, it transforms the room into a bright space with a fresh and airy feel.
The wainscoting is relatively high, reaching up almost 2/3 of the way up the 9' walls, but because the room itself is large and has a few 20' high walls, the wainscoting looks proportional to the scale of this room.
The most complex part of this job was figuring out the size of the wainscoting, deciding what height and size of the rectangles would look best. I'd say we got it bang on!
It's clean, crisp, and simple in design. Although it is a feature one would typically find in a traditional home, it goes really well with our modern/rustic/industrial decor.
This entire space, that technically was two open concept rooms, now appears unified. The wainscoting also helps to "fill" all the wall space and creates a really great architectural feature in the room.
It was a pretty easy project too! After having done the wainscoting in our bedroom, we learned a few time saving tricks and were able to execute this project in no time at all!
It's exactly the inviting, comfortable atmosphere we were going for. Now the only thing left to do is accessorize with a few decorative pieces to complete the look.
See you at dinner time!