Updating a wood panelled wall

Most wall panelling on the market today is made from MDF, with the intention that it is painted.

Once fitted and painted, it would be difficult to distinguish it from wood.

Provided the walls are fairly level, MDF panelling is easy to fit on a DIY basis.

If the walls are uneven, they can usually be battened first.

Be certain of your room’s dimensions, and what proportions suit the style and period of your home.

A complete reclaimed room, including matching doors and sometimes a fireplace with overmantel, all restored and ready to install, will be a major investment.

If you come across a large quantity, you may find that the dealer will only sell the set, as complete suites are rarer and more valuable.

Whether yours is a period home with a contemporary appeal or a modern home that you've added panelling to for architectural interest, you can simply update panelling with a bold paint colour. If your panelling is original and in a beautiful wood in good condition, it's better to preserve it than paint over it; equally, intricate panel designs won't suit a bold paint colour, so if yours has already been painted, stick to a neutral paint shade.

While it adds authentic aged character, quantity can be an issue.

Wall panelling is a desirable decorative feature not just in period homes, but contemporary spaces, too.

Fitting new panelling can be a good way to return character to a home that has been stripped back, to fill in gaps in an existing scheme, and to help a new extension to blend in. If you live in a listed property, you should speak to the local conservation officer to see if panelling will be an acceptable addition.

And, no, the secret to pulling off the look isn't to paint over it.

In fact, these chic wood-paneled rooms have proudly left the material in all its golden, knotted glory. An unexpected proportion of paneling (a lot or just a little), the accompanying furniture (clean-lined and contemporary), and, of course, natural light (as much as possible).

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