Discover some of our favourite ways to use tongue and groove and shiplap panelling in your home, as well as celebrated interior designer Emma Sims-Hilditch’s practical tips on how to source, plan and execute the much-coveted look. By Rosalind Sack
Looking equally at home in a traditional country cottage or an edgy city apartment, tongue and groove panelling is a décor stalwart that looks set to stay. Softening hard edges, creating a homely feel and adding instant depth and interest to characterless spaces, tongue and groove is as hardworking as it is good looking.
No longer just the preserve of traditional country kitchens and boot rooms, uniquely creative takes on the look are plastered across the likes of Instagram and Pinterest; think vibrant colours, mismatched board widths and playful detailing. As successful positioned centre stage in your scheme as a tantalising glimpse behind shelving or artwork. Couple this versatility with its affordable price tag and DIY qualities and it’s little wonder that the popularity of tongue and groove continues to soar.
Here, we look at some of our favourite examples of wood panelling and we ask designer Emma Sims-Hilditch, Founder and Creative Director of Sims Hilditch Interior Design Practice, why she is such a fan of this perennial favourite…
THE PANELLING IN THIS HANDSOME INKY BLUE KITCHEN ACCENTUATES THE HIGH CEILINGS, WHILE ADDING COSINESS TO THE SPACE. THE WHITE PANELLING IN SLIGHTLY SLIMMER BOARDS THAN THE BLUE, ADDS AN EXTRA LAYER OF DETAIL. IMAGE: NEPTUNE
What does tongue and groove or shiplap panelling bring to a space that a plain, flat surface doesn’t?
Wooden panelling incorporates an element of traditional English style to a room, suitable for both city and country homes. The natural wood creates a lovely texture in the space which not only adds interest to a design, but seems to create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere which is ideal for a family home.
Where does it work particularly well and where should it be avoided?
Floor to ceiling tongue and groove panelling in a bedroom, bathroom or cloakroom creates a lovely ‘modern country’ style when paired with the sharper lines of a rectangular mirror, metal coffee table or Crittall doors. It is a versatile feature that works equally well when creating a homely feel in a country pile, or when softening the harder edges of a more contemporary London townhouse. We often pair half height panels with elegant wallpaper designs in bedrooms or bathrooms, and have even used wooden panelling on the ceiling in some of our projects to maintain a slightly rustic and homely aesthetic.
What is the best wood to use?
We love to use timber designs by Neptune made of a light Norwegian Spruce, or else our high-quality natural wooden panelling is supplied by our carpenters and builders. If possible, reclaimed panelling is also a great option when creating a rustic finish in a more sustainable way.
Does it need any special finishing or sealant if used in areas that could get damp, such as bathrooms or splashbacks?
To avoid damp getting behind your panels, applying adhesive completely to the side of the panelling that is fixed to the wall is a good idea. This will prevent moisture from working its way behind the panelling.
Are there any particular rules you follow when deciding whether to run the boards vertically or horizontally?
Vertical panelling is a great way to draw the eye upward in a room. We sometimes like to install panels of various thicknesses and widths to add interest and character. This looks particularly effective in a city home when paired with more contemporary furniture and furnishings.
Likewise, what should one consider when deciding on the height of the panelling?
A half height panelling paired with beautifully patterned wallpaper is a really lovely way to add character and elegance in equal measure to a cloakroom or bedroom. If the aim is to err on the side of rustic or traditional style, full height panelling is a great choice as it brings to mind elements of the English countryside through its natural texture, especially when painted in calming natural shades reminiscent of the great outdoors.
(LEFT) THE WOOD PANELLING IN THIS STRIKING PITCHED BEDROOM DRAWS THE EYE UPWARDS, MAKING A FEATURE OF THE ROUND WINDOW AND HIGH CEILING. DESIGNED BY LAUREN CAISLEY INTERIORS. (RIGHT) THE RUSTIC FINISH ON THIS WOOD PANELLING ON THE WALLS AND CEILING ADDS INSTANT WARMTH AND COSINESS. OF THE OLD SCHOOLHOUSE. THE HOME OF DESIGNER EMMA SIMS-HILDITCH.
WOOD PANELLING IS USED TO GREAT EFFECT IN THIS HOUSE IN BARNES, LONDON, DESIGNED BY HAM INTERIORS. WE LOVE THE LAYERED EFFECT OF USING IT TO ADD TEXTURE BEHIND AN ECLECTIC GALLERY WALL. IMAGES: ALEXANDER JAMES
(LEFT) THE LOVELY RUSTIC DETAILING AT THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF THIS WOOD PANELLED WALL MAKES A FEATURE OF THE FITTINGS. IMAGE: ‘FOREST’ WALL HANGING BY NIC MILLER, AVAILABLE AT SURFACE VIEW. (RIGHT) SIMS HILDITCH HAVE USED A VARIETY OF BOARD WIDTHS HERE, ADDING A MORE CONTEMPORARY, CHARACTERFUL FEEL TO THE PANELLING IN THIS HOUSE IN FULHAM, LONDON.
(LEFT) THE PANELLING IN THIS VIBRANT KITCHEN ADDS DEPTH AND INTEREST WHILE LETTING THE COLOURS DO THE TALKING. (RIGHT) THE TWO TONE PANELLING (PAINTED IN INDIA YELLOW AND POINTING BY FARROW & BALL) IS A PLAYFUL TAKE ON A MORE TRADITIONAL SPLASHBACK. IMAGES: BRITISH STANDARD
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