The Definitive Guide to Wall Treatments

The number one way to make a space feel custom is to add a wall treatment. It's also one of our top tricks to adding character to your home. There are dozens of different types of wall treatments, each with varying intricacies, costs, and commitment levels. Adding wall treatments can be as simple as applying. a specific type of paint to the ever popular shiplap. Our goal in interior design is always to steer away from trends and focus on innovative design that compliments time honored traditions. Today, we're rounding up our favorite types of wall details in our Definitive Guide to Wall Treatments including examples of each.

Our 5 Favorite Types of Wall Treatments


Custom millwork is an age old architectural detail that proves relevant time and time again. The term millwork, however, can feel vary vague. By definition, millwork is any (milled) wood detailing applied to a wall. That includes everything from paneling to chair rails, door casings to baseboards. Popular wall treatments that fall under the millwork category include: vertical shiplap or nickel gap paneling, board and batten, and wood fluting.

Fluting is having a major moment and I must admit - I kinda love it. The detail and dimension it adds to a space is unparalleled, especially when used in an application like a long hallway, like in the example below. This treatment can be applied individually using half dowels, or as a full panel.

Fluted Hallway Detailing via Danthree by Klaudia Adamiak

Shiplap is a timeless classic and looks great in virtually any space. The key to making shiplap feel high end is to install it vertically. It instantly makes your ceilings feel taller and feels much more English cottage than midwest farm house. Below, I've included two very different applications of this millwork detail - one that is timeless and classic and another that feels contemporary and geometric. Both look exceptional and make each space feel truly special. See what I mean? Shiplap is not over.

Vertical Shiplap design by Clemons Design Co.

Vertical Shiplap in a modern treatment designed by Sarah Ellison, Photographed by Dave Wheeler

Board and batten is another favorite, especially as we continue to see lumbar prices at record highs. This wall treatment is applied more sparsely, either in traditional vertical orientation with 12-18 inch gaps between or in a more formal application, "framing" the wall with trim. Either option can feel classic and timeless or modern. To keep it from feeling too formal, paint the millwork the same color and finish as the wall, and make sure you're starting with a smooth finish.

via Alice Lane Interior Design

Lime Wash

Not every wall treatment needs to be costly or time extensive. Lime wash is an entirely natural paint finish that's been around for centuries. Its chalky, mineral base results in beautiful movement on the walls and nicely hides imperfections. Lime wash is made from crushed, burned and dyed limestone mixed with water. Lime wash works best on untextured walls, but they certainly don't have to be perfectly smooth. The application process can be tricky, so we definitely recommend working with a specialist to get the brush strokes just right. Portola Paints is our go-to for lime wash paint, but JH Paints is a newcomer and we are here for it.

via House of Grey


Similar to lime wash, plaster gives a space depth and character. However, the application process is much more labor intensive than a lime wash finish. Historically, plaster walls were used before the invention of drywall. Layers of Portland cement, sand and water mixed together to create this smooth coat finish. It's much more fire retardant than wood or brick, so it was often preferred as a building material. Plaster provides great insulation, absorbs sound, can withstand water when treated properly. Today - nothing is more beautiful than a smooth plaster wall, and many products have come out that mimic the perfectly smooth texture of it in an easier to install application.

via Cometa at the Rocksplit Project


While it may be obvious, I think people often forget about the power that wallpaper has as a wall treatment. From super subtle options to bright and bold patterns, wallpaper is one of the most substantial changes you can make to your walls. With both permanent, semi-permanent and peel and stick options available, wallpaper is the perfect way to get your feet wet in the wall treatment world. Wallpaper installation can be tricky, especially if a larger pattern is involved, so we always recommend having a wallpaper specialist install for you. Our team of incredible craftspeople ensures our projects always result in pixel perfect placement, and that subtle attention to detail can't be compromised.

wallpaper and design via Stefani Stein


Tile can be used in soooo many more ways than a shower or kitchen backsplash. Using tile as a focal wall can be a true show stopper wall treatment. In the example below, tile was run way beyond the kitchen - all the way through the adjacent breakfast area. Whether simple and subtle, laid in an expected format or bright and bold, I definitely see tile making a major statement in the future of wall treatment design.

Design via Amy Meier Design

For even more inspiration, check out our latest design guides for:

- How to Select the Right Rug Size

- Elements of Our Signature Style

- How to Enhance Your Curb Appeal

- How to Add Character to Your Home

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