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What Color to Paint Wainscoting

Beth Asaff

Crisp and White

Wainscoting is a great way to add some additional detail to any room of the home. It can be painted or stained in a variety of colors and finishes, which can suit any decor. When considering paint colors, be sure not to overlook white; it can look very crisp and clean when paired with bold wall colors.

Soft Neutrals

If you have a pattern or wallpaper on the wall along with the wainscoting, pick a soft neutral color that complements the pattern. This will highlight the design without competing for the eye's attention.


Add a lot of richness and depth to the room by painting the wainscoting a color that both contrasts and coordinates with the color above. This soft blue pops against a brown wall, lightening and softening the brown, but without dominating the room.

Soft Gold

If you paint your walls a bold color, and don't want the starkness of white against it, consider using a soft color for the wainscoting, like gold. This rich, warm color tones down the bold red, making the entire room feel more inviting.

Wood Tones

If you have a lot of woodwork in one room, consider a stain, rather than a paint. Stain has a richness that lets the grain of the wood show through. This lends an elegance to the room, that also makes it feel welcoming and lived in.

Dark on the Bottom, Light on Top

If you have a room with very high ceilings, paint your wainscoting a darker shade of the color used above it. This will bring the scale of the walls down by giving the bottom half a heavier feel.

Bold Color

Wainscoting that is made of beadboard or paneling can handle a bold color in small spaces. This bright red is balanced out by the gold above it, with the two textures working together to keep it from appearing flat.

Chocolate Brown

In a room full of neutrals, rich, chocolate brown becomes a pop of color. Pairing beadboard paneling with a vertically striped wall paper keeps the eye moving upwards, which can help to make the room seem taller, while the dark brown color anchors the walls.

Dark Neutrals

Remember that neutral colors don't have to be bland. This dark khaki colored wainscoting adds depth to a room that would otherwise be plain. Picking up the color again at the cornice helps to tie the walls together.

Soft Gray

For a soft colored palette, consider gray on the wainscoting. Gray complements many colors like blue, green, taupe and purple, but doesn't compete for color dominance.

To get some more inspiration for painting your walls, check out these painting techniques.

Beth Asaff
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What Color to Paint Wainscoting