Historical Evolution and Classic Styles of Wall Panels
Today, wall panels have always been an essential decorative element in interior design. It adds character, warmth and texture to any space, turning an ordinary wall into a beautiful focal point.
When it comes to home decor, nothing evokes a sense of history and grandeur like wood paneling on your walls. While paneling may feel formal or stuffy in some modern homes, using traditional styles like Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Regency and Stuart paneling can add character and character to your room. Exquisite. Below we’ll review different siding styles throughout history, outlining what makes each period style unique.
If you are also interested in topics about wall panel design ideas, please check out our previous articles:
I. The evolution of wall panels in the past dynasties
What is the difference between Georgian, Stuart, Edwardian, Tudor and Victorian wall panels? It’s important to remember that there’s no real set style for each period, it’s more about placement and wall covering than design. Some designs were created during a specific time period, but you’ll find that they have been used in many different eras. We’ve put together a timeline below to show the different siding styles and locations for each period.
1. Tudor Dynasty (1485–1603)
The Tudor style originated in England during the reign of Henry VII in 1485 and lasted until the end of the reign of Elizabeth I in 1603. It features exquisite woodwork and ornate carvings. The wall panels are made of oak and feature intricate designs such as quatrefoil, rosette and linen pleat patterns.
Tudor siding is all about the intricate and ornate wood siding technique. Paneling was used to emphasize the richness and warmth of the interiors of the time, their designs were rich and sophisticated and made using advanced joinery methods. Apparently, these styles of decorative wall panels were only available to the upper classes, nobility, and royalty. This is why many beautiful pieces can still be found in heritage buildings across the UK.
The walls of the early Tudor period were mainly carved in site panels, with a central area raised above the frame. Examples of this paneling style can be found today at Hampton Court Palace in London.
During the English Renaissance, paneling became simple, while during the Italian Renaissance, architects used paneling only on the ceilings. Paneling’s influence then spread to parts of America’s newly formed Southern colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. During this period, the material used for paneling was usually oak or pine.
2. Stuart Dynasty (1603–1714)
Stuart design refers to the English Baroque style prevalent during the Stuart period from 1603 to 1714. While the Stuarts drew inspiration from classical Rome and Renaissance Italy, they incorporated patterns such as columns and cornices to make it feel more fluid and organic.
One of the most distinctive and key features of the Stewart siding style is symmetry. The design, often referred to as Jacobean wall paneling, is characterized by a grid shape of evenly spaced squares to recreate a checkered pattern. There were no restrictions on the placement of Stuart-era siding, with siding sometimes covering the lower portion of a wall, or if you’re really fancy, they spanned the entire area from floor to ceiling.
Unlike later Georgian and Regency paneling, Stuart paneling feels more free-flowing and asymmetrical. Curved shapes, split pediments over doorways, and decorative ornamental patterns are common. The wood is also finished to emphasize the striking grain. The overall effect is intended to convey movement and eclectic grandeur.
The bold drama of Stuart paneling will make any space feel luxurious. Carved details and striking wood grain are eye-catching. For a brighter effect, paint the panels in a soft, contrasting color.
– What is Jacobean paneling?
Jacobean wall panels were most commonly used during the Stuart period. They are often referred to as shaker style siding, but this is incorrect. Jacobean panels are square and when installed they resemble a grid, while Shaker panels are rectangular in shape. Jacobean wall panels are a popular choice for interior rooms such as bedrooms, dining rooms and drawing rooms.
3. Georgia (1714–1837)
Georgian style originates from the Georgian period in England, dating from 1714 to 1837. Interior decoration of this period is characterized by order, symmetry and refined neoclassical details.
This Georgian style was heavily influenced by classical architecture, emphasizing symmetry and proportion. Wall panels are usually made of mahogany, walnut, or oak and are simple in design, with flat or raised panels.
Georgian architecture is characterized by high ceilings, symmetry and columns. Georgian wall paneling is more restrained in detail, and interior walls considered feature walls are often paneled from floor to ceiling and divided into three sections to mimic columns. Georgian interior design focused on balance and proportion, which is evident in its paneling style. Whole house siding is usually placed at the height of the wainscoting, with wallpaper placed on top. The technical term for Georgian siding is molding. These decorative features provide texture to the walls.
Georgian paneling usually consists of simple panels with molded edges, arranged in a symmetrical pattern on the wall. Panels are usually painted in light colors such as off-white, light blue, or soft green. Elegant details come from decorative plaster reliefs added above the panels or carvings incorporated into individual panels. Mantels that extend to the ceiling are also a common Georgian design feature.
Overall, the clean lines and light colors of Georgian paneling create a fresh, airy feel while still maintaining a formal aesthetic. This versatile look can give people a solemn and elegant feeling, or it can give people a relaxed and casual feeling.
4. Regency Wall Paneling (1811–1820)
The Regency period coincided with the reign of King George IV from 1811 to 1820. The architecture and interior design were inspired by ancient Greece and Rome, reflected in the United States as the Federal style.
Regency paneling reflects this neoclassical aesthetic. Mahogany, imported from the West Indies, was the wood of choice, prized for its warm reddish hue. Decorative elements include columns, cornices, curved arches and strict geometric lines. Brass inlays provide polished accents.
The simple shapes and exquisite details of the Regency paneling give the room a stately and intimate character. Brighter wood finishes can prevent the look from feeling too dark or heavy.
5. Victorian Era (1837–1901)
The Victorian era, which ran from 1837 to 1901, coincided with Britain’s powerful industrial expansion, and the Victorians admired decoration and rich detail. The Victorian paneling reflects this eclectic decorative style, which featured revivals of Gothic and Renaissance styles. Wall panels from this period were typically made of mahogany or oak and featured intricate carvings, moldings, and ornamentation. Some of the most popular designs include arabesques, acanthus leaves, and grapevines.
The Victorian clapboard style is best described as formal, and these homes often have impressive architecture so there’s no real need to add interest to the walls. Victorian wall panels are a series of small rectangles that are reminiscent of Victorian shutter designs. You’ll often see these designs on panels under stairs, and you’ll also find them on sash window boxes.
The carved patterns on Victorian paneling are often heavy and majestic. Deep dark wood tones are typical, with intricate patterns covering every inch of the walls. Design themes include gothic arches, flowers, fruits, animals, coats of arms and complex geometric shapes. Victorian carvings were designed to impress.
Today, wainscoting refers to the decorative treatment on the lower portion of a wall, but this actually comes from one of the most popular eras of wood siding. This type of siding was very popular during the Victorian era due to its simple design and appearance. Wall panels performed well during this period due to the popularity of stripes and simple geometric designs.
Going for an ornate Victorian style will make a bold statement in any room. Dark paneling colors also help create an intimate, cozy atmosphere. For a lighter touch, the wood can be painted or finished in a brighter, more sophisticated hue.
Victorian style interior design can be classified by bay windows, high ceilings and mid-height dado balustrades. Wainscot railings are often used to protect wall panels from chair backs. Victorian houses can be identified by the depth and shape of the skirting boards that dot the perimeter of the house. The intricate design of the wall panels, mainly geometric and characteristic stripes, was chosen to emphasize the lavish decoration of the period.
Additionally, the tall baseboards and cornices look beautiful when paired with the siding. During this period, exploration of different wood materials for wall panels also began, and more materials were used for paneling, including:
– Solid wood (walnut, birch or mahogany)
– Plywood (thin wood veneer on a plywood base)
– Translucent material (plexiglass)
6. Edwardian Era (1901–1910)
The Victorian era was followed by the Edwardian era, which lasted from 1901 to 1910 under the reign of King Edward VII. Edwardian style marked a shift toward less heaviness and more sophistication.
The style of Edwardian wainscoting was much more understated than other eras. Wall panels are primarily slatted, but with wider spacing between each piece. It is usually installed three-quarters of the way up the wall and capped with a wainscot railing.
Compared to the Victorian era, Edwardian paneling relied less on intricate carved patterns. While Edwardian panels were still made from rich woods, it preferred simple rectangular or square shapes. Styling and trim have also become more streamlined. Panel patterns also move towards order and symmetry rather than dense decoration.
Glowing natural wood grain and soft tones give Edwardian paneling an airy, elegant feel. Simple lines retain the historic charm of traditional paneling without overpowering the space.
7. Art Deco Paneling (1920–1930)
Art Deco style paneling is characterized by its geometric patterns, smooth lines and the use of modern materials such as metal, glass and lacquered wood. This style was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and was used to create a sense of glamor and sophistication in interiors.
8. Mid-Century Modern Paneling (1950s)
The use of natural materials like stone and wood, along with simple decoration, define the Mid-Century Modern style paneling. This style was popular in the mid-20th century and was used to create a sense of simplicity and functionality in interiors.
9. The resurgence of wood siding (1970s)
Although wood paneling has never been ignored in home decor, it really came to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. Remember the synthetic panels on our grandma’s basement walls? Maybe you still have remnants of it in your home today!
This type of paneling is taking the world by storm because it’s affordable and easy to install on old drywall or in place of messy drywall. Plus, it looks great with a shag rug.
Trends tend to come back, and ’70s-style panels are definitely all the rage—but there are some very modern upgrades, too.
10. Modern Paneling (21st Century)
Today, siding is everywhere again! There is no limit to creativity and the interior design only proves the timeless use of wall panels.
Contemporary style paneling is characterized by versatility and the use of a variety of materials, including wood, stone, metal, glass, and even fabric. This style is very popular today and is used to create a sense of personality and personal style in the interior.
II. The return of wall panels
In recent years, siding has made a reappearance in people’s homes. Before the invention of MDF and technological advancements, siding was primarily used in the homes of wealthy people, making it more expensive for everyone.
Additionally, with the cost of living rising, especially heating bills, more and more people are considering taking steps to insulate their homes. In addition to providing insulation for your home, siding can bring elegance to any space.
– Integrate into the style of the times
There are endless possibilities for incorporating historic wood siding style into your home. When choosing complementary paneling eras, consider the architecture, proportions, lighting and decor of different rooms. Molding and decorative details and unfinished ceiling beams can also enhance the period aesthetic.
Study period-specific colours, furniture styles, wall coverings and lighting fixtures to create a harmonious room with elegance and personality. However, don’t be afraid to mix and match elements from different eras to create a unique eclectic fusion. You can create a stylish interior with timeless character and sophisticated appeal through strategic and creative paneling choices.
– Paneling in your home
When decorating your home it is always important to consider its period and history, this should then be used to influence the style of your interior architecture and decor. For example, in a Victorian house, it would be acceptable to use Edwardian paneling. However, using Victorian paneling or wainscoting in an Edwardian house makes no sense stylistically as it would throw the period back. Square or rectangular panels with sunken frames were popular in the 16th and 17th centuries and were particularly suitable for the restoration of country estates. The age of a building affects the proportions of its exterior and interior, and these considerations are at the heart of our George Panel design process.
Today, wall paneling or siding can be made from a variety of beautiful woods from around the world. Paneling can suit both traditional and modern interiors.
If you’re interested in a more contemporary style of painted paneling, then hardwoods like poplar may be a suitable choice. For paneling that shows off wood grain, sapele or softwoods such as European mahogany may work well.
Mahogany, walnut, and oak are classic paneling materials. Any wood will acquire character and age with the application of dyes and polishes.
Fabric panels can be utilized to bring texture and grandeur to gentler interiors, like bedrooms. In formal rooms, adding marquetry to panels can be eye-catching and gorgeous.
Wainscoting is ideal for darker, smaller rooms where full wall paneling might be too oppressive. Leaving the tops of the walls for paint or stickers provides the opportunity for color and pattern alongside traditional panels.
No matter how we’ve used wall paneling historically, now it’s a fresh and inviting way to create unique spaces. Board and batten paneling is more popular than it was in the Victorian era, and now we have many more styles to choose from. Once a sign of elite society or grandma chic, wall paneling can now bring texture and appeal to seemingly plain spaces at an affordable price!
Today, we have a seemingly endless number of materials at our disposal to customize our spaces any way we like. However, we are often drawn to timeless design elements like wood siding. This speaks not only to the versatility of this material, but also to our ability to modernize even the most classic styles. Technological advances in MDF and other wood materials have made siding more affordable while still being durable, resilient, and stylish. If you have any other questions you need to consult, please feel free to contact us at any time!