The Beauty of Bespoke Wall Panelling

Bespoke wall panelling is a big trend in the UK right now. We decided to dig a little deeper and answer all of the questions imaginable about this beautiful decorative wall trend. 

MDF Panelling is showing no signs of going out of fashion in the UK anytime soon. In fact wall panelling is embedded in our very history, many of the panelling styles around today evolved from early wall panelling methods. Bespoke panelling dates back as far as the 13th century, they were more of a practical necessity than a decorative design back then. Wooden wall panels were used to provide much needed insulation and protection from the damp in a time where houses were made from stone and central heating wasn’t yet available. As time went on the popularity of wall paneling grew, bespoke panelling became a stylish means through which the upper classes could show off their wealth through ornate and intricate pieces. Many of these beautiful bespoke panels can still be seen in castles and country homes throughout the UK. 

Now wall paneling has become an established artform in it’s own right. Decorative wall panels now adorn the walls of many UK homes regardless of social standing and we can see why, it’s absolutely stunning and easy to do yourself. We’ve decided to compile a list of all of the questions we receive about wall paneling, in turn this should help you decide if bespoke panelling is the right fit for your home. 

Are wall panels in fashion?

Yes, yes and again YES. A wall panelling revival is taking place in the UK right now. All manner of wall panelling styles are embellishing interior walls in a dazzling array of shades to please any palate. 

What are decorative wall panels called?

Well that depends entirely on the style of panel you’re interested in. Typically us Brits refer to them as wall panels, mdf wall panelling or the given name for the particular form of panelling, for instance Jacobean, Shaker, Wainscoting, Georgian, Edwardian, Victorian and geometric, the list goes on and on. 

What is the difference between wall paneling and Wainscoting?

In the 18th century, a new style of wall panel emerged. Generally referred to as Wainscot panelling. It takes its name from the Danish Wainscot Oak. The Wainscot style can be recognised by its position on the wall, typically the panels only cover the lower portion/ three-quarters of the wall, with a dado rail above. Whereas paneling in it’s different forms usually spans from the floor right up to the ceiling. We refer to everything as panelling as we don’t feel you should be limited by wall placement, if you want Shaker style across the entirety of your wall – then why shouldn’t you? In short, Wainscoting is just a term and doesn’t hold much relevance in today’s world where interior design is limitless. 

Wainscoting courtesy of Family Handyman https://www.familyhandyman.com/project/how-to-build-a-wainscoted-wall/

How to make your wall paneling bespoke

In essence, all wall paneling is bespoke. The design, colour palate and placement is all relative to your tastes. Often what people mean when they search for the term ‘bespoke wall panelling’ is how do I go about installing the style of panels I want. There are so many terms for panelling that it can be quite overwhelming, so the easiest term to use is bespoke. We all want something unique in our interior space, a little bit of us in every room. Panelling your walls is a clever way of doing this, it’s a timeless design which can be transformed into a contemporary talking piece or a traditional feature in your home. 

Are wall panels expensive?

If they’re made out of a rare sapphire only found in the depths of a volcano, yes, I imagine it would be very expensive. The higher end of the wall panelling cost spectrum would be wooden wall panels, these are often quite costly but at the same time they have a traditional aesthetic which a lot of people don’t mind paying extra for. The more cost effective solution is mdf wall panelling, it’s just as hardy providing you look after it and mimics wooden wall panelling without the hefty price tag. 

Traditional wooden wall panelling photo credit Vincent Reed https://www.vincentreed.com/panelling/

How much does it cost to panel a wall in the UK?

Well it depends on the size of the wall that you plan to panel, mdf panelling is probably the cheapest option in the UK. Without seeing the space that you’re panelling it’s quite hard to price it. However for mdf panels you can expect to pay around £20-£50 per square metre, there are cheaper options out there such as mdf wall panelling kits but keep in mind that it will take more than one kit to cover the average wall. There are other costs involved with mdf panelling, such as paying for adhesive, primer, paint and all the other bits and pieces you will need – which can be found here

Is Wall Paneling easy to do yourself?

Yes – we’re big fans of the DIY mdf wall panelling movement. We’ve also got heaps of wall panelling installation guides with tips and tricks to help you on your way. If you’re not a big fan of DIY, we recommend using an mdf wall panelling kit as this removes the stress of cutting the panel design out yourself and generally makes the process a lot easier. 

Can I design my own diy mdf decorative wall panelling panels?

Anything is achievable with wall paneling, maybe you have a bespoke design in mind. We’ve seen some unusual yet striking pieces that are completely custom, a lot of work goes into creating these designs and we imagine you need to have a good head for symmetry to achieve it. To create completely bespoke panelling you will need to do everything from scratch, from working out your design and its measurements to selecting the right placement. It might be an idea to contact a CNC company to design and cut the panels for you, it would save a lot of time if you’re not experienced in the design field. 

How thick should MDF be for Panelling?

6mm or 9mm are the best thicknesses for MDF wall panelling, we recommend working with the depth of your skirting board to avoid any unsightly gaps. It also depends on how much depth you want your panelling to have, the texture with panelling is reliant on the depth and subsequent shadows it casts. 

Which rooms can I panel?

Wall paneling can be installed in any interior room, it isn’t limited to bedrooms and living rooms. You can install wall panelling in every room of the house and you aren’t limited to using only one style of panel, you can mix and match to give every room its own charm and character. The versatility of the wall paneling trend means it fits in with any aesthetic, be it traditional country farmhouse decor or stylish metropolitan townhouse interior design. 

Jacobean Style Wall Panelling From Ideal Home
Jacobean Style Wall Panelling From Ideal Home https://www.idealhome.co.uk/all-rooms-ideas/wall-panelling-ideas-229783/amp

What kind of paneling can be used in a bathroom?

We strongly recommend using MR MDF for diy wall panelling when it’s being installed in bathrooms or kitchens. MR MDF is better in this application over standard MDF, MR stands for moisture resistant so is ideal for placement in rooms where there is a high level of humidity. 

Jacobean Bathroom Wall Panelling
Jacobean Bathroom Wall Panelling Photo credit Houzz https://www.houzz.co.uk/magazine/24-ideas-for-using-panelling-in-your-bathroom-stsetivw-vs~131514348

Wall Paneling Through The Ages

What’s the difference between Georgian, Stuart, Edwardian, Tudor and Victorian wall panelling?

It’s important to keep in mind that there wasn’t really a set style in each period, it was more about placement and wall coverage as opposed to the design. Some designs were created in specific periods but you will find that they have been used across many different eras. We’ve put together a timeline below to show the different wall panelling styles and placements in each period. 

Tudors (1485–1603)

Tudor period wall panelling was all about intricate and ornate wooden wall panel techniques. They were rich and sophisticated in design and were created using advanced joinery methods. Obviously these styles of decorative wall panels were only available to the upper classes, aristocracy and royalty. Which is why many of these beautiful compositions can still be found in heritage buildings throughout the UK. 

Tudor Style Wall Panelling from Tudor Artisans http://www.tudorartisans.com/examplepaneling.htm

Stuarts (1603–1714)

The Stuart wall panelling style is most recognisable by one key feature – symmetry. Often referred to as Jacobean wall panelling, the design features a grid shape of uniform squares evenly spaced out to recreate a checkered pattern. The wall panelling in the Stuart era wasn’t restrictive when it came to placement, panels sometimes covered the lower portion of the wall or if you were really fancy they spanned the entirety from floor to ceiling. 

Stuart era wall panelling from Stuart Interiors https://www.stuartinteriors.com/oak-panelling/

Georgians (1714–1837)

Georgian architecture is all about high ceilings, symmetry and columns. Georgian wall panelling was somewhat more restrained when it came to detail, the interior walls which were considered feature walls were typically panelled from floor to ceiling and split into three sections to mimic columns. Georgian interior design focused on balance and proportion which is evident in their panelling style. Wall panels throughout the home were usually placed up to dado rail height and wallpaper would be placed above. 

The technical term for Georgian wall panels are mouldings. These are decorative features which give texture to the wall as pictured below.

A Georgian Panelled interior from Etons of Bath https://www.etonsofbath.com/portfolio_page/georgian-townhouse/

Victorians (1837–1901)

Victorian interior design can be categorised by bay windows, high ceilings and mid-height dado rails. The dado rail was typically used to protect wall panelling from chair backs. Victorian homes can be identified by the depth and shape of the skirting boards dotted around the home. The Victorian wall panelling style is best described as formal, these houses typically boasted impressive architecture so there was no real need to spice up the walls. Victorian wall panels are a series of small rectangles, evocative of the Victorian window shutter designs. You will often see these designs on panels under the stairs and you will also find them on sash window boxes. 

Victorian Wall Panelling courtesy of Houzz https://www.houzz.co.uk/magazine/a-beginners-guide-to-installing-wall-panelling-stsetivw-vs~70714525

Edwardians 1901 – 1910

The Edwardian wall panelling style is considerably more understated than other eras. The slat style of wall panel was used predominantly but the spacing between each piece was wider. It was commonly installed three-quarters of the way up the wall and capped with a dado rail. 

Edwardian style wall panelling from James Mayor https://jamesmayor.co.uk/wall-panelling/bespoke/edwardian/

What is Jacobean panelling?

Jacobean wall panels were most commonly used in the Stuart period. They are often referred to as Shaker style wall panels but this isn’t correct. Jacobean panels are square and when fitted they resemble a grid whereas Shaker panels are rectangular in shape. Jacobean wall panelling is a popular choice in interior rooms such as bedrooms, dining rooms and living rooms. 

Jacobean style wall panelling
Jacobean style wall panels courtesy of Rock My Style https://rockmystyle.co.uk/panelling/

What is Shaker Style wall panelling? 

Shaker style panelling is one of the more traditional forms of panelling – it can be found adorning the walls of elegant country estates and townhouses. You may recognise the pattern as it’s also used on the front of cabinets. A firm favourite with many, shaker style wall panels are very on trend. This style of panel can be identified by evenly spaced rectangular shapes as seen in the image below. 

Shaker Bathroom wall panelling
Shaker Bathroom wall panelling as featured on https://www.industville.co.uk/products/swan-neck-outdoor-bathroom-wall-light-brass-globe-glass?epik=dj0yJnU9Ml9ZNEQxRUVRNGxuaEJPbjlLVnBFbHJpWFdsdUR6SUsmcD0wJm49dGxodVhNNzh0R212TW5WYXp3UTdndyZ0PUFBQUFBR0QteDRv

What is Geometric wall panelling?

Geometric wall panelling is fairly modern, think of it as the newcomer to the panel world. If you’re looking to add a contemporary flourish to your interior walls – geometric panelling is the one for you. If you want to accentuate just one wall, this form of panelling is ideal. The Geometric panels are made up of very fine strips, which are then positioned to create an abstract design. The slim strips can be placed horizontally, vertically and diagonally. Once the entire wall is painted it reveals a very clever and cool aesthetic. 

Geometric wall design from https://www.digsdigs.com/geometric-panel-accent-walls/

What Does Tongue & Groove wall panelling look like?

MDF Tongue & Groove Wall Panelling – This form of wall panelling is typically made up of 100mm – 120mm  wide slats. The strips are then positioned alongside each other vertically across the wall. Most commonly they are placed on the lower portion of the wall and topped off with a dado rail, however they can span the wall from floor to ceiling, and also be positioned horizontally – it’s really down to your preference. 

Slat Tongue & Groove Wall Panelling
A fantastic example of Slat Tongue & Groove Wall Panelling from Greenbank Interiors https://greenbankinteriors.com/how-to-transform-your-hallway-with-traditional-panelling/

In conclusion all wall paneling is bespoke. It’s bespoke to your tastes and preferences, and also the home you live in. You can design your very own bespoke wall panelling from scratch, or pick a style and buy it online. It all boils down to where you plan on panelling, how you install it, the shade you pick and how the room is furnished. We think we’ve covered everything you could possibly need to know on wall paneling, but if you think we’re missing something – let us know in the comments.