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Ideas on How to Enhance Your Kitchen Design with Beadboard Wainscoting

Beadboard wainscoting is often associated with older homes, especially since it’s been around since the 1600s, and was originally used to protect walls from damage. It can be found in any room of a house, from bathrooms to hallways to kitchens, where it can cover all or part of the walls. It can be distressed, stained, painted, or even left in its natural wood tone. With so many options, beadboard is a great addition to your kitchen, whether you choose it as an accent or install it more liberally.

Beadboard consists of tongue and groove strips of wood that are fitted together and nailed along the wall. The bead, or indentation, that runs between each board is what defines beadboard. This bead can be various widths, depending on the width of the boards themselves and the type of beadboard you purchase. Wainscoting generally goes partway up the wall, although beadboard can certainly be both vertically or horizontally over the entire wall, if desired. Traditionally, it is placed vertically with a decorative chair rail and molding along the top and bottom, framing the wainscoting along the wall.

Although real beadboard is tongue and groove and comes as separate boards, you can purchase sheets of beadboard at lumber yards or home improvement stores. They are available in primed and unprimed, pine, oak or a composite. It’s best, for authenticity’s sake, to choose a real wood product. If you plan to paint the beadboard, pine is the most cost-effective, and primed options will save you a step. The real wood also looks more realistic than the composite sheets.

Beadboard Wainscoting in the Kitchen: Where Should it Go?

There are several ways beadboard can enhance your kitchen. It can be a focal point or an accent, depending on your taste. For example, if you want it to be a focal point, you can choose to reface your kitchen cabinets with doors that feature a beadboard center. You can also make beadboard as your backsplash, both of which help draw attention and will define your kitchen’s style.

For a more subtle approach, consider adding beadboard to the outside of your kitchen island or put it along your walls, especially if you have a large, eat-in kitchen that will show-off your beadboard addition. If you have a built-in seating, such as a banquette or bench seat, perhaps beneath a window, consider facing it with beadboard for a cottage feel.

Finishing Options for Beadboard

Beadboard wainscoting does not have to be white, but can be painted to complement your existing kitchen color, perhaps a darker shade if you plan to put it on the wall or highlight seating. You could distress it for an aged, antique look or you might stain it, especially if you plan to use it on cabinet doors or along the outside of a kitchen island, although a painted finish will work well here as well. Of course, if you prefer its natural color, simply apply a clear varnish to it to preserve it and make it shine.

Bob Fischer writes about creative applications of kitchen design, and he shares his kitchen ideas and writings with a worldwide readership of home improvement aficionados.