Ideas for Using Wainscot in Kitchens

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Wainscoting is that specialized wood paneling you see in dining rooms and kitchens that comes partway up the wall, then stops. Originally designed to protect walls from furniture, it has developed into a popular design element. In kitchens, it's often painted (as opposed to stained and varnished) to accent the rest of the kitchen decor. If your kitchen has some open wall space that you want to do in wainscot, consider how else it might be used in the room.

Wrapping the Island

  • If your kitchen has an island in the center of it, try wainscoting the sides of the island to match the wainscoting on your walls. This will make the island feel more like part of the room and not something that's just sitting in the middle of the floor. Simply take whatever style and color of wainscoting you used on the walls and cut it to fit around the island. If the island has cabinet doors on it, consider cutting wainscoting to fit as fronts for the doors.

Doors as Wainscoting

  • If you have distinctive cabinet doors and you want to take that theme around the room, get some extra doors of the same type and hang them on top of your wainscoting. This would work best with a simple wainscoting base of plain wood, with the doors hung at regular intervals, essentially creating the look of raised panels. Don't leave the cabinet knobs on them--you're trying to carry a theme, not confuse people. For a little variety, finish the doors on the wainscoting in a different, but complementary, color than the doors on the cabinets.

Wainscoting as a Backsplash

  • If your wainscoting is the classic "beadboard" style, with close vertical lines throughout, try making your sink backsplash out of the beadboard. Just cut a piece of beadboard wainscot to the correct size to fit behind the sink and nail it to the wall. Trim around it in the same trim style that surrounds the wainscoting on the walls. Paint it the same color. Since there will be moisture present, it's important to seal the backsplash in two coats of polyurethane gloss and caulk all around it.

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