Ask Design Mom: Decorating Above Wainscoting

September 24, 2010

I have this great room for my boys and I was so excited to have the wainscoting done, but now that we are living in the house I am not so sure how to decorate the walls.  It seems so high up to put pictures, but I also think it may look silly to put something on the walls over the wainscoting. Any ideas? — Hillary

Hi Hillary! The woodwork (see left) looks beautiful. What a fun room to decorate. From what I can see in the photo, I think hanging artwork above the wainscoting would be just fine. It might be fun to do a series of many small images in small frames (I’m thinking 8 or 10 inches tall) and hang them in a row. You could put them just a couple inches above the woodwork so that the wainscoting weights them. Hint: An inexpensive way to put together a series is to buy a favorite picture book or calendar with beautiful illustrations and cut out the pages.

I also love the wall decor suggestions in this helpful article from the September 2010 issue of Real Simple.

What about you, Clever Readers? If this was your room, how would you decorate?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mikelle September 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm

we just did wainescoating in our boys room. not up as high as yours. I plan to stick with a train theme and I took several pictures of trains close up and plan to print and put in frames in the boys room I am also putting up one shelf to put an old model train on given to us by grandpa. i think it is fine to put stuff above but agree to stick to smaller pictures as big ones would be too much and take away from the look you have already established.


2 Kelly@TearingUpHouses September 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm

I agree that some sort of framed art collage of sorts could be lovely. Maybe in matching frames? That’s what I did in my office…



3 naomi September 25, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I would have said the same thing – to hang pictures uniformly just a few inches above the wainscoting . . . . like in this photo?

(Sorry, I don’t know how to make it a live link.)


4 naomi September 25, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Ooh, it worked!


5 wren September 25, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Perhaps you could use the ledge of the wainscoting for a gallery ledge. (Or add a sufficient lip to make it possible.) That way the artwork stays low and grounded by the wainscoting. Something like is seen in the link below.


6 Billie September 26, 2010 at 7:41 am

the examples are all beautiful! but why not go with a decal, like here


7 Hillary September 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Thank you thank you for all of your thoughts and suggestions I am now excited to make this room something fun for my boys!


8 Torrie @ a place to share... September 27, 2010 at 8:01 am

Thank you for the Real Simple link!! Framing… another BIG to-do for me:).


9 Jenny September 27, 2010 at 11:49 am

I love “Modern Family!” Her expression that went with, “It was delicious,” was so funny.


10 CMN September 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Too late for one more tip? Visually, a standard rule of thumb is start hanging wall pieces at about 5 feet from the floor. With the wainscotting, still stay close to that rule of thumb… otherwise, you’ll be hanging pieces out of the average visual range, which will skew the visual perspective of the room. And don’t limit yourself to small things just because you have wainscotting. Think of the wainscotting like a paint color – it’s a beautiful background to work against. But it’s not a “No Parking” zone on the wall. If you want to hang something LARGE, ignore the fact that the wainscotting is a visual divider on the wall. A large piece should be hung from that same 5 foot range (i.e., that’s where the nail/picture hanger should be on the wall), so that it hangs against both the painted wall and the wainscotting.


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