Thursday, January 20, 2011

Learning to Wainscot!

The existing dining room was pretty standard, and we, apparently, are not OK with standard, so it was time to crank up the design on the dining room a bit!

The first thing that we did was take the very traditional crown moulding and replace it with the more modern profiled crown moulding that we used in the kitchen.  Just that alone made a big difference, but we weren't done yet!

Being fairly obsessed with design, we look through a lot of books to keep up with the design trends.  We also both have high-end clients whose homes we get to visit so design ideas are constantly coming at us.  One classic element that we both loved was a high wainscoting.  The current dining room was painted a yellowish-brownish color (in fact, the entire house, literally every single room, was painted the same color) and had a typical chair rail about 30" above floor level.  We really wanted to raise the height of the chair rail by about 18" which would then line up perfectly with the bottom of the upper cabinets (remember, the dining room was opened up to the kitchen when we removed the old pantry).
In the "olden days" (ha, ha, I couldn't think of another way to say it!) chair rails were hung higher so that while the floors were being swept, the ladder back chairs could hang off of hooks attached to the chair rail.  So, we were really just channeling our ancestors for this design idea!

We decided to go with a simpler style rail to fit into the style of the kitchen cabinets.  We used a simple 1"x6" primed pine board for the rail and capped it with a piece of moulding that we found at Home Depot, just to add a touch of relief at the top.  We also added a 1"x6" board along the bottom of the wall that would eventually have the base moulding nailed to it.

Notice in the photos above where the old chair rail height was and the height that we are installing the new chair rail.  Also notice that the new height lines up perfectly with the center of the windows.  It is really important when using such a visual line around a room to make sure that it is a consistent line.  It would be a little jarring if the horizontal center line of the window was above or below our chair rail height because your eye can no longer follow the line around the room.

In order to achieve a simple wainscoting, we added 1"x4" boards vertically every 24" to create a panel detail below the chair railing.

When designing, having a consistent element throughout the home helps to unify the design styles of each room.  Our unifying element was the panel detail.  You will see it in the kitchen cabinets, and now the dining room, and it will show up again and again in later posts.

Anyways, after the horizontal and vertical boards were added, we needed to sand the areas where the horizontals and verticals met in order to get things nice and flush with each other.  We then used a router to add a 1/8" radius on each of the boards for a subtle detail.  You can only imagine how dusty our house was for the 6 months of this renovation!  We skim coated the drywall where the old chair rail used to hang, and painted the chair rail and all of the areas below the chair rail with our Benjamin Moore Cloud White paint (we used latex rather than oil based for everything other than the cabinets).
 And voila! We have, in our opinion, a very gorgeous, modern day, wainscoting!  Now, let's put some fabric above the chair rail.  Yep, that's right, fabric!  More about that here.

1 comment:

  1. "We then used a router to add a 1/8" radius on each of the boards for a subtle detail." I don't quite understand what you are saying you did-- and did you do it on just the horizontal boards, or the vertical ones, too? Please be so kind as to explain this a little more for this DIY newbie! Thanks-- your dining room looks great!