I am currently obsessed with bead board. I love the antique charm that bead board instantly brings to a room. Generally when people think of bead board they think of white paneling that is 36″-42″ tall. However, if you are willing to think outside of the box when installing bead board you can achieve a look that is different and refreshing. Recently we finished installing bead board in our kitchen and our barn guest room. In addition to my tips and tricks below, make sure you check out my before and after pictures to spark your creativity. If you have pictures of a project you have done or are working on with bead board I would love to see them! I am always looking for new ideas!
Install real wood bead board: Its more expensive and it isn’t as easy as installing the 4×8 MDF sheets you can get at the big box stores, but trust me, in this case, the real thing is worth it. I am known for my frugality and this is an area I won’t skimp on. If you are going for an authentic vintage charm and not 1980’s flash back, use real wood bead board. MDF bead board doesn’t look real and the seams are noticeable.
Use varying widths: My favorite kind of bead board is reversible. Each board is about 6″ wide. One side has a bead in the center making it look like 3″ bead board and the other side is flat so that you can have thicker 6″ wide bead board. In my kitchen I used the beaded side and in my barn guest room I used the flat 6″ side. Each have their own unique look. The narrower bead board looks more refined to me, prefect when painted white and installed in the kitchen. The wider boards look more rustic (like wide milled planks) and work well under our rustic bar and on the walls in our barn.
Install extra tall bead board: If you look through pictures of, or better yet walk though, old craftsman homes you may notice that the bead board goes all the way up the wall or in some cases it stops just a few feet from the ceiling. In addition to making your project look more authentic, tall bead board brings your focal point up, making the ceilings look taller rather than shorter. I used this technique in our kitchen remodel and its one of the first things people notice.
Install the correct chair rail: When selecting your chair rail try to find a style that copies vintage mouldings. The chair rail I used in the kitchen I found at Millwork Outlet and is one of kind. It isn’t something that is familiar to every joe, dick and harry that shop at the Home Depot so it looks authentic. Consider shopping at a building materials thrift store to get great deals and unique profiles.
Install bead board horizontally: I first tried installing bead board horizontally under our new bar. Our bar is made of reclaimed tongue and groove boards and my developing sense of interior design told me that vertical bead board would clash with the horizontal sight lines of bar. After using it under the bar, I fell in love and decided to try it in the barn guest room. You can see for yourself in my below before and after pictures how great it looks!
Switch up your finishes: In my kitchen I decided I wanted white painted bead board. I like the white paint because it brightens up my small kitchen and it is easy to clean. It also contrasts nicely on my dark brown walls. In the barn I want more of a rustic look so once we are all done we will stain the raw wood. The bead board is fir so it naturally has a reddish color, but I will stain it a darker color.
Kitchen Bead Board Gallery:
Barn Bead Board Gallery: