Feature article

Make a statement: Wood panelling design ideas for interior walls

Choose from a range of panelling materials, profiles and applications to elevate your interior spaces.

Last updated: 25 March 2024

Wood panels and decorative wall panels are typically associated with more traditional homes, such as homes built in the Victorian or Georgian eras. But shiplap, wood slat panels and wainscoting can be added to any interior, from mid century to contemporary, to change the look and feel of a space. Here is a range of panelling design ideas to elevate your interior.

Create a feature wall and add character with these panelling profiles

With the popularity of panelling experiencing a resurgence, there are now more profiles to choose from than ever before. For a traditional look, wainscoting is the ideal profile. Choose from raised panel wainscoting, flat panel wainscoting, or simply have decorative dado rail timber cut into frames that can be affixed to the wall. Another popular style is board and batten wainscoting which suits interior styles from country to coastal and can be used to create strong visual patterns.

Contemporary styles of panelling include the classic ‘V’ groove, which imitates tongue-and-groove joints; slat wall panelling (which has a modern, architectural look); and fluted panelling, which celebrates the curves of the Art Deco era.

Each profile adds a different character to the space, whether you do a half wall, full wall or up to the dado-rail.

Cover image: In this home designed by Koia Architects, wood panelling is used to create a striking dark feature wall. Image: John Williams

In this home by Ben Hudson Architects, wood panelling is used to create a focal point for an office nook. Image: John Williams

3D, solid wood and veneer decorative wall panels

Decorative wall panels come in a wide range of materials. Traditionally, they were made from solid hardwood, but today the expense of using solid wood can be prohibitive. More popular (and cost-effective) options include ply, MDF, wood veneer and cedar. V-groove and wainscoting is typically constructed from MDF, while slat panelling comes in a wider range of timber types and wood veneers.

Wood veneer panelling is one of the most popular types of decorative wall panels on the market. It consists of thinly sliced wood veneer under 1mm in thickness, bonded to an MDF panel. It gives the option for a full wood look in a huge range of types of wood. Wood panel feature walls are a great way to get a rich, luxurious look without the expense of covering all the walls in a room.

In this renovated home with interiors by Sticks + Stones Design, wood panels add to the heritage character. Image: John Williams

The latest applications for wall panelling

Improved insulation and sound absorption were the reasons for decorative wall panelling when they were first used. These benefits are just as relevant today as they were then, but the applications of insulated wood panels have vastly increased. Not only are wood panel boards used on walls, they are now commonly used on ceilings and cabinetry too.

A wood veneer ceiling panel contrasting against the walls of a room creates a sumptuous, textural look. Equally, the ability to create a seamless surface throughout a space, including any built-in elements, makes panelling a great way to get a perfectly streamlined aesthetic.

Image: John Williams

DIY wood panelling

Laminex offers a vast range of innovative options for DIY and designer wall panelling. Available from a range of retailers in New Zealand, Laminex has also opened a new showroom at architecture and design hub (pictured above), Residium, in Parnell, Auckland, where a curated collection of its products are on display.

With wainscoting and decorative wall panels becoming popular in interior renovations, the number of DIY panelling products available in Aotearoa has flourished. Wainscoting products are available in stick-on panels; ‘V’ groove MDF is readily available at local hardware stores; and even wood veneer panels can be self-installed. Surround by Laminex is a popular option for DIY wall panelling and comes in a range of profiles from timeless vertical boards to contemporary scallops and soft undulating curves.


HOME Magazine
HOME Magazine


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