I read this advice the other day on a blog talking about shiplap. When you read this, tell me if this statement helps you decide if you should install shiplap in your home:
“We love how easily it brings a historic vibe to any space that is refined and thoughtful yet casual.”
Are you any further ahead now in making a decision on whether you should install it in your home?
Here’s how you’ll know.
Is your house countrified or modern farmhouse?
Seaside or beachy?
My caution is, as with any trend, it isn’t appropriate to every house or design situation.
If you have a spacious house with a farmhouse feel, or a beachy cottage where a painted wood panel finish fits and makes sense, by all means, go for it.
But if, like many of us, that is not your situation, and instead you have a regular new build in the suburbs, or a house from the 80’s or 90’s with a two story foyer and great room, shiplap is NOT GOING TO WORK. Instead, it will look contrived, trendy, out of place and, in the end, tacky.
All those modern 70’s homes with tongue and groove cedar ceilings? If you paint out the wood, you will actually end up with a shiplap look which suddenly looks beachy. Not a fit with this architectural style either.
I do think the related trend for reclaimed wood walls is definitely on the wane.
The rustic wood panelling looks pretty here (below) contrasted with a glam chandelier, but it is the one feature I would easily tire of in this room.
Looks great as long as the decorating in the room coordinates with it. However, a new look would necessitate a new paint job on the ceiling as well.
A good place to indulge in the trend if you don’t have the architecture to support it, could be in a powder room.
via Williams & Spade
It works in this bedroom (below) because it’s countrified. And, faux shiplap is probably a good solution to popcorn ceilings in some cases.
If you don’t have the architecture for it, you could use it in isolated rooms in smaller applications if you must (below), but I would not recommend installing it all over your living room walls, or your kitchen backsplash or your fireplace unless the look of the rest of the house absolutely supports it.
In case you’re wondering if I like shiplap? Yes it definitely adds interest, as long as it works with the style of your home.
I recently had a visit with a couple who are huge fans of Fixer Upper. The wife joked that Joanna Gaines was her husbands girlfriend.
They live in a builder home from the 80’s with a small oak kitchen and small great room with the staircase attached on one side.
They showed me a photo of the wrought iron X staircase they were going to install in their house.
Here’s an inspiration photo below:
via fixer upper
I looked at the photo of the about-to-be-installed staircase and looked up at their stairs and I must admit I was speechless.
If I’m in your house and I’m not talking, it’s because I’m calculating how devastating my bad news will be.
Sometimes I start carefully, by asking questions.
How much have you spent on this already, I inquired?
“$600” replied the husband. “And spent two weeks building it in my shop.”
“Okay good”, I said “Because you can’t put that staircase in here. It will become the most important feature of this end of the house, and it doesn’t work at all, with your style of home.”
The wife looked relieved. She said “I didn’t think it was right and it seemed too heavy”. The husband paused for a minute and then said “I’ll turn it into a gate instead”. Next he put his arm around me and started walking me around the house asking other questions.
Whew, crisis averted.
When you’ve seen as many homes as I have in my career, this kind of advice is easy for me. But I would rather you asked me BEFORE you did that much work.
It’s the same with shiplap. Since the Gaines are apparently single-handedly responsible for bringing this trend into existence, I thought it was a good place to tell the staircase story as well.
The lesson of the day? Every trend you love CANNOT go in YOUR house. Loving something should not get confused with “Will it work here?”
The minute you install it, and it becomes obvious that it clashes, you’ll stop loving it.
Just this morning, I received a blurry photo from a reader who had stumbled upon my website. She sent me a photo of a kitchen with newly installed granite. It looked like the cabinets were whiter than the creamy/black granite but it was hard to tell from the bad picture.
On top of the photo she had written HE LOVES THIS.
Her email to me was this:
“HELP! I saw your post and I think you are amazing. I’m really struggling choosing a backsplash. I would like your opinion on what kind of backsplash to get that matches my granite. Please reply as soon as you see this email. I need my backsplash by Monday.”
This was my response:
Hopefully the cream in your cabinets matches your granite, and if so you should install CREAM subway tile.
Anything else will be hideous and SCREAM a designer was NOT THERE.
Hope this helps, Maria
If the cabinets were white and your countertop is taupe and cream, then I would probably choose white to go with the cabinets (and ignore the countertop) because a backsplash is more visual. You could also choose a taupe backsplash but it’s hard to get the undertones right with hard finishes because you don’t have 10 options, you only have 1 or 2 if you’re lucky.
Back to the point of my point. If you feel you have to LOVE every single hard finish that goes into your house, you will most likely end up with a mess.
Then, after the mess has been installed, you’ll call a designer, cross your fingers and hope for magic.
Magic is hard to deliver after you’ve already made all the most important decisions so take my advice and study the style of your house.
Then decide what should stay and what should go.