Sure, the master bedroom rarely gets seen by guests. But that doesn't mean that it—or any of the other upstairs rooms—can't benefit from a little extra architectural charm. This Arts and Crafts-style faux paneling project, created by This Old House readers Lee and Ashli Malinek of Cloverdale, British Columbia, is a budget-friendly, easy way to liven up boring drywall. Try it on an accent wall like the Malineks did, or cover the entire room. All it takes is stock trim, adhesive, and a weekend's worth of work. Soon the bedroom will be the first stop on your house tour.
Before beginning the project, you'll need to take your wall's measurements to figure out how much material you'll need for rails and stiles. Using paper or drafting software, create a diagram based on your wall's measurements. For the Malineks' design, Lee divided the wall, which is just over 13 feet long, into five panels 27 inches wide and separated by the (actual) 3½-inch-wide trim. You can tailor your own scale to the width of your wall and the width of your material with this formula:
a. Determine the number of panels you want—four, five, or six tend to look best.
b. Multiply the number of stiles your design requires by the actual width of the material to get the total width of the stiles. (Be sure to include the end pieces if following the Malineks' design—six stiles bracketing five panels.)
c. Take the overall width of the wall (in inches) and subtract the total width of the stiles to get the total leftover wall space.
d. Divide the leftover wall space by the number of panels. That will give you the spacing between stiles.
Mock Up the Panel Spacing
Mock up the spacing on the wall in pencil so that you'll see where to install each trim piece.
Install the Top Rail
To make as few cuts as possible, first mount the long upper horizontal piece, or rail, using glue and nails. If your existing baseboard doesn't match the trim material, do the same for the bottom rail. Hold off on the middle rail for now.
Install the Stiles
With the top and bottom rails in place, install the stiles. Even though they measured roughly 87½ inches long, Lee scribed each one and cut it with a handsaw to get a tight fit. And because the Malineks' panel spacing didn't correspond to the wall's studs, he glued and nailed each strip to the wall before proceeding to the next one.
Install the Middle Rail
Follow the same steps to mount the middle rail, which consists of five shorter pieces. Again, for the best fit, scribe each one and use a handsaw to cut before gluing and nailing. Let the glue dry over night.
Fill Nail Holes, Sand and Seal
Use joint compound to fill the nail holes, and sand the filled areas smooth. Seal each seam with paintable caulk. Wait a couple of hours (or overnight) for everything to dry. Wipe down the wall with a damp towel to remove sanding dust and debris.
Prime and Paint
Prime and paint the wall to achieve the desired shade. The Malineks put two coats on the MDF pieces and three coats on the formerly army-green drywall to get a creamy white.
For more information on this project and a full house tour, visit the Malinek's blog.