Living Room

17 Brilliant Living Room Wall Panelling Ideas to Update Your Space

The living room is the heart of your home. It’s an opportunity to express yourself through design, so how can you make it look stylish but personal? Panelling is one of the biggest home décor trend.

By Amy Booth Updated: March 10, 2024 11 mins read

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The living room is the heart of your home. It’s an opportunity to express yourself through design, so how can you make it look stylish but personal?

Panelling is one of the biggest home décor trends in recent years and there are so many ways to do it.

Whether you go for a simple row, frames or an abstract design, panelling can be as subtle or as statement as you like. It’s the perfect way to add some texture and a pop of colour to your living room.

If you want to spruce up your space but don’t know where to start, here are 17 living room wall panelling ideas to give you some inspiration.

1. Get Geometric

You can keep it simple with classic square panelling. This geometric design works well in living rooms of all sizes without dominating the space.

In smaller rooms, wide pieces and large squares will make your home feel bigger. If your room is more spacious, mini squares will also work.

Avoid over-accessorising with wall art and let the panelling do the talking. Because of the simplicity of this design, it looks effective in any colour.

2. Use Natural Materials For a Timeless Look

Panelling has been around for a few years, but unpainted wooden slats give the trend a fresh twist. Natural materials never go out of style, so this is a sustainable choice that won’t look dated when the trend fades.

Choose a lighter wood, like oak, for a Scandi vibe or go traditional with dark walnut. Thin strips of panelling look most effective for this design.

3. Play With Colour and Art

If you’re brave enough, make a statement with a colourful feature wall. Choose a contrasting shade from your furniture and go for a simple layout using thin panels with wide spaces. This style works especially well to frame art prints. Stick to one tone of metal, such as brass, to make your fixtures and fittings pop.

4. Give the Illusion Of Space

Panelling only the lower half of your wall will make the ceiling appear higher by drawing the eye up, giving your room a more spacious feel. If your sofa feels lost against a plain wall, half-height panelling will add another dimension and rebalance the proportions of the room.

The rule of thirds is a universal design concept, so try panelling the lower two-thirds of walls in taller rooms with bigger furniture.

5. Try an Elegant Monochrome Palette

For a sophisticated, classic living room, choose a minimal colour palette of black and white. For bigger rooms full of natural light, black panelling is stunning. If your room is on the smaller side, go for a dark grey shade instead. Stick to one dark feature wall to compliment white walls and neutral furniture.

Complimentary lighting is essential for this scheme to work, so choose warm bulbs to create a calm, cosy space in the evenings. Style the room with big green houseplants to keep it feeling fresh and modern, rather than gloomy and cave-like.

6. Incorporate Built-in Panelled Cupboards

Period properties with original fireplaces look incredible with panelling. Hire a carpenter to create built-in cupboards and shelves on either side of your chimney. Continue the panelling across the whole area.

Add architraves, cornices and coving in the same colour for a modern take on a traditional design. Quirky handles and drawer knobs are another fun way to add some personality to your room. Choose a brass finish for a contemporary look or mix and match knobs to create a country cottage feel.

7. Pair Panelling With Wallpaper

Patterned wallpaper has made a big comeback this year and a complimentary print makes panelling pop. The trick to a cohesive appearance is painting your panelling in a colour picked out from the wallpaper.

Look for a dainty pattern on a pale background to avoid a garish 80s nightmare. Classic William Morris prints have seen a recent resurgence and botanical patterns aren’t going out of fashion anytime soon.

8. Panel a Feature Chimney Breast

If panelling a whole wall feels too daunting, try sticking to your chimney breast. It makes an interesting alternative to traditional fireplaces and gives a simple, contemporary look to your space.

Paint it the same colour as the walls on either side for a sleek appearance or pick a colour pop to contrast with white walls. Adding a large mirror in the centre will make your room feel brighter and more spacious. Circular mirrors are a great way to break up formal shapes and add interest to your living room.

9. Mix Panels With Exposed Brickwork for a Rustic Vibe

If you’re lucky enough to have an exposed brick wall that’s in good condition, play into the rustic look for the ultimate cosy home. For a modern twist on this traditional aesthetic, contrast your exposed brick wall with contemporary panelling.

Choose a grey paint for a country cottage vibe or a bright jewel tone for a contrasting pop of colour. This look works particularly well on bookshelves on either side of an exposed brick fireplace. Alternatively, try panelling the lower half of your wall, leaving the brickwork exposed on the top half.

Pair with decorative filament bulbs and black metal fixtures to create industrial charm.

10. Fresh, All-White Panelling

You can’t go wrong with a clean, pure white colour scheme. This timeless look won’t restrict your furniture options and keeps the room bright. White panelling lends itself well to an abstract design without feeling crowded. Alternatively, keep it traditional with simple rectangular frames.

Paint your remaining walls white too, then add simple wooden accents and plenty of houseplants for a calming, neutral space. This look works equally well in an old country cottage or a modern new build home.

11. Go Bold With Ornate Panelling

Spacious Georgian properties lend themselves to grandeur and can pull off an intricate panelling design better than other homes. This traditional look requires intricate patterns which could be tricky to create yourself, so it’s worth seeking help from a specialist to get a neat finish.

Panel the full height of your walls and add white architraves, cornices and a ceiling rose to reflect the opulence of the Georgian era.

12. Pick a Classic Neutral Colour Scheme

Choosing a neutral colour scheme is a great way to make your living room feel big, even if it isn’t. Timeless neutrals suit any type of home and don’t have to be boring. For this elegant look, think light greys, off-whites and pale greens.

Instead of colour, focus on textures, shapes and fabrics for your accessories. Combine linen cushion covers with knitted throws and add wicker baskets for a complimentary scheme. Rather than traditional plants, try to find a beautiful bouquet of dried flowers or pampas grass for a contemporary finish.

13. Dramatic Floor to Ceiling Panelling

If you have tall ceilings or an interesting, vaulted roof, go wild and panel from top to bottom. Choose long, vertical panels to emphasise the height of your living room. White paint is a good choice, so the walls don’t feel overbearing.

A chic chandelier or an extravagant pendant light will draw the eye up and make your room feel even more luxurious. Lastly, some oversized framed artwork will finish the space perfectly.

14. Create an Abstract Design

Who said panelling had to be plain? Rather than a simple row of boards, get creative with a cool abstract design. Use thin pieces of MDF with diagonal lines and different angles to create a custom design that’s completely unique to your room.

This idea looks very impressive for how little effort it requires to create. Just grab a tape measure and draw your design onto the wall first with a pencil to check if the layout works. Avoid hanging anything on this wall for a simple yet statement finish.

15. Choose Chunky Panels

Rectangular frame designs are the most common, but you can use panelling to create any style you like. If your living room is already busy, choose simple chunky panels to add a subtle texture.

For a chic feature wall, simply line it with a row of wide planks without any gaps in between. Vertical planks will make your room seem taller, while horizontal planks will make it feel wider. If your living room has a rustic décor, use a rich wood stain on the panelling rather than painting it.

This style sits flush to the wall which makes it easy to hang up a mirror or some complimentary artwork.

16. Add Mirrors to Your Panelling

A fun way to jazz up a panelled wall is to fit matching square mirrors in the centre of each panel. It’s a well-known design trick to use mirrors to make a space feel bigger, so why not combine it with panelling for maximum impact?

A single mirror filling the wall risks making your home look like a ballet studio. Instead, breaking it up with panelling creates a bright and spacious feel. Choose medium to large-sized square mirrors, rather than a small mosaic design. To add another layer of depth to your room, try an antique bronze tinted glass.

17. Create a Shelf From Panelling

If you go with a half or two-thirds panelled wall, you have a great opportunity to build a shelf along the top of the panelling. Match it to your wall colour or opt for a wooden beam for a rustic vibe.

This idea is perfect for displaying your book collection, pretty trinkets or photo frames. When you decorate your living room for Christmas, a garland of baubles or tree branches with dried oranges will look amazing on your new shelf.

Do I Need to Be a DIY Expert to Panel My Own Wall?

Not at all! Panelling is one of the easiest ways to update your living room décor and is relatively affordable as well.

Once you’ve measured your wall, you’ll need to buy MDF. Most big DIY stores will be happy to cut the wood to size for you.

There’s no need for a screwdriver or nails, you can buy panel adhesive and glue the wood straight to the wall. Make sure your line is straight by using a spirit level.

Fill in any gaps around the edge of the wood with decorator’s caulk and then you’re ready to prime and paint.

Is Living Room Wall Panelling a Good Idea?

A panelled living room wall is always a fabulous idea! Although it’s trendy now, this traditional design always comes back into style so it’s a safe bet that won’t date quickly. Unlike some interior trends, you don’t need a certain type of property for this look to fit in.

If you’re not sure, test the waters with a simple design and a neutral colour first. Since it’s just glued on, panelling can easily be removed if you do change your mind in the future.

Will Panelling Suit My Living Room?

Yes! These living room wall panelling ideas are a great starting point for inspiration, but the beauty of this look is how versatile it is. Whether you go for a subtle look or a bold statement, panelling is easy to incorporate into any living room design and personalise to your style.

A light, neutral colour and half-height panelling is a great choice for a smaller living room. If you have more space to play with, floor-to-ceiling panelling in a dark shade will look amazing.

If you’ve been feeling like your living room is missing something but can’t pinpoint what, panelling could be just what you need to create a space that feels put together.

Amy Booth

Amy Booth is a freelance writer that’s passionate about all things home decor, art, literature, and nature. She lives in an Edwardian home in the North East of England, where her renovation adventures began with her husband and newborn daughter, Violet. Amy describes her home style as “traditional with a twist”, and in her spare time, she shares home decor tips and inspiration on her Instagram page, as well as her latest home updates. When she’s not obsessing over interiors, you can find her cooking vegetarian food or enjoying a glass of prosecco.

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