DIY Tutorial: Parisian Inspired Wall Paneling

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Before we got the keys to our new home I already had mood boards made for each room. I had a clear idea of what I wanted for each space and a plan for how we were going to get there. Then, as we waited on the keys being exchanged, I binge watched Emily In Paris on Netflix and fell in love with the Parisian aesthetic. If you haven’t watched it already I highly recommend it, even if just for the fashion and interiors!

I decided I wanted my own little slice of Paris and my mood board quickly changed from a boho, plant filled retreat to a chic white room with chevron floors, rich velvets and of course, wall paneling.

Our living room already had some great features like the ceiling rose and intricate cornice as well as a beautiful big bay window. We just needed to add some Parisian inspried touches, the main one being big chunky wall panels.

Tools Needed

  • Bright masking tape
  • Laser level
  • Spirit level
  • Measuring tape
  • Mitre saw (or mitre block and hand saw)
  • Strong adhesive – we used no nails
  • Panel pins
  • Decorators caulk
  • Wood Primer
  • Paint

The first step was measuring the walls and planning the layout. To start I took pictures of each of the walls and drew on them to figure out what I thought looked best. When I had settled on a rough plan I marked it out on the wall with bright tape to check the sizes worked and nothing looked odd. I used a laser level to make sure the lines were the same height around the room. This would have been pretty difficult to do without a laser because our floors are not level and there are 3 door frames in corners. If you don’t have a laser lever you can measure from the floor at one point and then use a long spirit level to mark draw a continuous line around the room. I would suggest buying a laser though, you can get some pretty inexpensive ones on amazon. When everything is marked out you will have a better idea of what the room will look like with your new panels. At this point I did make a few changes, we decided to remove the ones above the door frames. Each door frame in the living room is a different height and it looked a little messy (to me) having different sized panels on the wall.

I then measured out the amount of wood we would need. The wood we planned to use was 2400mm long so I had to figure out the best way to cut it to minimise waste. I think we ended up using about 38 lengths of the panelling wood and 6 lenths of dado. I wanted the panels to be quite chunky so we actually used dado rail for both parts. For the main dado which borders the full room we used a pre-primed MDF dado from wickes and for the main panelling we chose a pine dado from B&Q. I picked these based on looks, I would have preferred to use MDF for the full room but I couldn’t find an anything that looked right. MDF is smooth and pre-primed but the pine needs a little sanding in places and needs a couple coats of primer before painting. It’s not a huge problem, it just adds a little extra time.

Onto the actual installation. I marked out the lines with pencil and peeled of the masking tape. We then re-measured and cut all the pieces using the mitre saw. I found it easiest to measure one for each length and then use that as a guide to mark the rest. If you are using a hand saw you might need to sand the edges to get rid of any rough parts before sticking them to the wall. We used plenty of glue and fixed them to the walls only using panel pins when the wall was uneven and the wood was popping off. Getting these level is a two person job, one person to hold the corners and watch the height and the other to make sure it is straight using the spirt level.

When all the panels were in place I used decorators caulk to fill the gaps between the new wood and the wall and to cover any gaps in the corner joins. I waited a day for it to dry and then started priming. This was the most exciting part I think, you could actually tell what the room was going to look like and the panels started to blend into the wall. I used two coats of primer and then painted everything with two coats of wall paint.

I’m really pleased with how the panelling has turned out. It adds a lot of drama to the space but keeps it nice and bright. Now I’m looking around the flat wondering what else I can add panelling to.

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