The Easy Way Fixer Upper's Joanna Gaines Brings Texture Into A Boring Room

Even after painting the walls, pulling together furniture, and mixing in decorations, some spaces can still feel a little boring. If your space doesn't have good texture, anything in it may fall flat, feeling like an assortment of objects in a room rather than an interesting, welcoming, and cohesive environment. Anytime you're feeling stumped and need fresh design inspiration, you can depend on the star of HGTV's "Fixer Upper," Joanna Gaines, to save the day. Never one to shy away from a little traditional maximalism, Gaines shows us the perfect way to add texture to any bedroom, living room, or any other room that needs a visual boost. "Wainscoting, the white paneling on the bottom 1/3rd of the room, is one of the easiest ways to make a room feel finished and bring texture to a space," Gaines writes on Magnolia

Wainscoting is a go-to element that Gaines employs in many of her interior design schemes. While wainscoting in general has been used in homes for centuries, there's no shortage of unique ways to incorporate it into your home and enjoy its aesthetic and practical benefits. Here's why Gaines loves to use wainscoting in her designs and what you need to know to adapt this feature in your own home. 

Wainscoting is sophisticated and simple

It's estimated that wainscoting dates back to the 17th or 18th century in Europe, where it was particularly popular in upper-class homes, government buildings, and castles. The carved wooden panels were attached to the lower portion of walls to give them a distinct decorative edge, but may have also acted as insulation to help rooms retain warmth in winter. Additionally, wainscoting can provide an extra layer of protection for your walls, guarding the drywall against furniture damage, scuff marks, scrapes, and even kids' sticky fingers. 

Even today, wainscoting brings an elegant appeal to any space. "Typically you see wainscoting in older and more established homes, so adding it to this room adds in that classic timelessness we were going for and helps define the room," writes Joanna Gaines (via Magnolia). "I use this material a lot in my designs because it's such a simple feature to install and makes a huge statement in any room." Because it wraps around the whole room, wainscoting is great for making a boring space feel more connected and cohesive. While it adds some undeniable texture and interest, it also isn't too bold or visually distracting, acting as a supporting element to other upscale details, such as crown molding or carved banisters.

Gaines-esque style at an affordable price

Because it gives off an expensive vibe, people might wonder, "How much does it cost to install wainscoting?" There are several different types of wainscoting, also called wall paneling, so costs can vary considerably depending on the style and material. More high-end, raised panel wainscoting can cost between $10 to $30 per square foot, while cheaper flat panel wainscoting costs around $7 to $10 per square foot. Another affordable type of wainscoting, which has been very popular in recent years, beadboard paneling, is the classy wall option for clean lines in your home, especially in small spaces like bathrooms and mud rooms. While you can have wainscoting installed by professionals, it's also relatively easy to do the work on your own and save on labor fees. 

Once you've settled on a budget and style, how should you use wainscoting to enhance your interior design scheme? Traditionally, wainscoting would be in a stained wood or plain white paint, but there are endless options to mix up your color palette and create even more interest. Joanna Gaines does this wonderfully, often leaning into "new neutrals," monochrome looks, or classic paint shades like beige, warm white, or soft gray. "Even though we painted every house in Waco green, I'm back to green," she told Country Living, "It's a natural color, but it feels bold." Gaines also believes that a bold wallpaper can look gorgeous when grounded by the solid wainscoting, especially in small spaces like bathrooms.