More DIY: Simple Wainscoting


I've lived in my condo for about a year and a half, and up until now, the guest bedroom has been a LARGELY neglected space that vey quickly became a storage room for misfit housewares and an obligatory bed for the occasional guest. I've always had high hopes for this room. Even though it's pretty small, it is a decent size for a second bedroom, and it gets better natural light than any other room in my place. One of the primary ideas that I had for this room was to create some sort of focal wall behind the bed; something that would be dramatic but wouldn't juxtapose too harshly against the muted aesthetic prevalent throughout the most of the condo.

And so began a week-long journey of grand ideas, some big mistakes, a bad summer cold, and a pretty cool final treatment.

My initial idea was to design a wood-cladded feature wall, but after doing a lot of research and scoping out the necessary tools and supplies, I realized that it'd probably be more trouble (and money tbh) than it was worth. As much as I love a good wood wall, I do think that it would look outdated pretty quickly and I'd probably regret the labor and money that I put into it.

I moved on to thinking about creative solutions using paint, but I wanted it to have more impact than a simple paint job. I started by mocking up ideas that incorporated some kind of molding, 2x4s, or anything else that would give me a little bit of dimensionality and depth.



I liked the idea of using simple 2x4s from a local hardware store to create an interesting architectural moment. The wood would be nailed into the wall, and then the wood and exposed portions of the wall would be painted the same inky color. The more I thought about it, though, I became concerned that it would look a little too crafstman for the home. The modern lines of this option would clash a little with the more contemporary slant of the existing baseboard. So I moved on to...



Bearing in mind my revelations about option one, I figured that I should probably create something more in line with the overall aesthetic of the space. And because the existing baseboard is pretty easy to match, I decided to get a similarly designed trim to create a series of panels on the wall. Again, I would paint the trim work and the exposed wall a dark, inky tone. I really dug this idea, so I figured out the measurements and drove over to my vacation home (Lowe's) to gather the necessary supplies.

I ended up buying this molding for the uppermost horizontal trim, and this decorative moulding for the panels. Lowe's does actually sell pre-made picture frame moulding. They just didn't have it available at the store, and because I'm slightly impatient about ordering things online, I decided to put in the extra work and cut the pieces by hand using a hand saw and miter box for the 45 degree angles necessary to create each panel (in retrospect, I should've just ordered the dang pre-made panels). At that point, it was simply a matter of sawing each piece to length.


After sawing each piece to the proper length, it was time to nail them into the wall. A more capable individual would probably use a nail gun for something like this, but... I'm not at a point where I feel comfortable enough using one to make that kind of investment, so I nailed in each piece of trim with a hammer. I made a handful of mistakes at this point: splitting pieces of trim, measuring the spacing incorrectly...but hey, you live and you learn. Oh, I also used a bit of wood glue to keep each piece in place while I nailed them in.

After all of the pieces were nailed up, I caulked all of the seams (this became a lot messier than expected), and once the caulk was dry, I started to paint the wall. And almost immediately, I got REAL sick. Like, barely-able-to-function-without-feeling-like-poop sick. I was so close to being done, though, so I just trucked through it. Consequently, I made a ton of mistakes, and had to repaint the same spots over and over and over and over again. Moral of the story: stop being so impatient and just rest when I'm sick like most normal/sensible people would do?


Anywayyy, it was fairly uncomplicated to design and it turned out pretty well! Now I just need guests.