This Once-Dated Wall Paneling is Now Making Homes Look so Elegant and Sophisticated

Experts tell us that this interior finish is back in style, and it's the perfect accent for a touch of classic charm

white living room with dark wooden shaker paneling
(Image credit: Cuppett Kilpatrick)

The trends that 'once were' are now coming back to their prime, and this particular design idea is proof that some things will never truly go out of style. We've seen a resurgence in decorative antiquities and this trend perfectly ties into the theme of quiet luxury and vintage beauty. We've seen it making subtle appearances in modern homes (including the likes of Athena Calderone's), working to ground living spaces while also giving it a charmingly rustic quality that would otherwise be hard to accomplish.

Interior design trends are constantly circling in and out of virality and while this design element was considered dated not so long ago, it's now praised for its ability to efficiently infuse a home with a sense of luxury for a sophisticated and elegant look. Love it or hate it, it has a timeless quality to it that's perfectly suited to the mood in interiors right now, and it brings so much character to your home. To further corroborate the rise of the trend, we spoke to a couple of interior design experts and they've let us in on the reasons behind its welcome return.

Wooden Millwork for a Comforting Ambiance

a hallway with timber paneling and tiled floors

(Image credit: German Sáiz. Design: Sierra + de la Higuera)

Dark wood paneling has been making its way out of its archaic era and into the present day. Plenty of stunning modern homes that are known for their contemporary style feature notable shaker paneling or wainscoting, and we think that it's because this fashionable element lends a sense of holistic earthiness which is essential to the aura of a home. With the outside world being faster and louder than ever, a home is meant to be a zen oasis made to unwind and these subtle accents make all the difference.

We think that millwork trends are timeless due to their versatility and Ana Coddington, lead interior designer at Archival Designs, agrees. 'The revival of dark wooden paneling is a nod to the blending of traditional craftsmanship with contemporary aesthetics,' she says. 'Many homeowners and designers are drawn to wooden millwork for its ability to inject warmth and natural texture into modern spaces that might otherwise appear cold or austere.'

A wood clad library room with a leather chair

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

In conversation with Tim Rooney, partner at Jeffrey Beers International, he tells us that millwork, especially in deep woods like walnut, adds a beautiful and tailored layer of design. 'It can frame the space, bring character to the interiors, as well as add richness to a home,' he says. 'If you're lucky to move into an apartment that has original millwork, be sure to honor the hand craftsmanship that went into creating and detailing it.'

He goes on to tell us that the value of wooden paneling wrapped around a room's walls has taken on a new level of importance in the real estate world and explains that it's due in part to the precious artistry of such decorative elements.

When it comes to retrofitting modern homes with this classic detail, Ana tells us that it involves a thoughtful balance of old and new. To achieve a chic look, she recommends pairing wall paneling with modern materials like metal and glass to create a contrast that highlights the wood's natural beauty. 'Consider using milled wood in unexpected ways, such as in a contemporary kitchen as cabinet detailing or as part of a minimalist staircase,' she says. 'It's advisable to keep the surrounding color palette neutral or monochromatic to avoid overwhelming the space.'

So if you're looking to create a home that's rooted in tradition while still pulling toward the current and ever-evolving stylistic trends, dark wood paneling is a stunning option to consider. Whether you dabble with wooden wainscotting or completely immerse yourself in the trend and adopt plenty of ornate wooden accents, there's plenty of room to experiment with this sophisticated aesthetic.

Finish the look with these dark wood buys

News Writer

Amiya is the News Writer at Livingetc. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has lent her words to beauty, fashion and health sections of lifestyle publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Health. Her experience as a research analyst has equipped her with an eye for emerging trends. When she’s off the clock, she can be found reading, listening to music or overanalysing her latest Co-Star update.