Paneling has been a popular choice in home decor for centuries. It has a timeless appeal that can add a touch of elegance and warmth to any room. However, in recent years, some homeowners have shied away from paneling in their dining rooms, fearing it may look dated or too traditional. The truth is that paneling can still be a stunning and modern addition to a dining room if done right.

So yes, it’s true — paneling can add a touch of sophistication, but it can also make your house look dated if not used correctly. In this article, we will explore how to use paneling in the dining room without making your house look dated. We will cover the different types of paneling, materials, colors, and styles you can use to achieve a modern look.

Cottage dining space designed with board and batten trim, an arched door and beams on a vaulted ceiling.
Elegant French dining space boasts a crystal chandelier fixed over a round dining table surrounded by pink and green damask French dining chairs positioned on a herringbone wood floor. Pale beige wainscot walls are lined with matching crown molding, while windows are covered in light beige curtains.
Galbraith & Paul Lotus wallpaper lined with white wainscoting accents a beautiful blue dining space featuring a brown trestle table surrounded by gray and blue chairs placed on a blue rug and lit by a candelabra chandelier.
Half wainscot dining room walls are positioned behind a round cream dining table matched with green velvet dining chairs and lit by a white cascading chandelier.
Wainscoting finishes dining room walls clad in blue grasscloth wallpaper. An ivory and blue abstract art piece hangs beside a window dressed in blue curtains and faces a French glass chandelier hung over an oval Chippendale dining table The dining table is matched with blue striped wingback head chairs and Chippendale dining chairs placed on an ivory and blue rug.
A brass chandelier hangs over a round, brown dining table paired iwth black spindle dining chairs. The dining space is positioned on a stained wood floor in front of windows framed by white shiplap.
White French fabric dining chairs surround a glossy black French dining table placed in front of wainscot walls.
Cream and black graphic chairs sit at a rectangular black dining table lit by a white and gold linear chandelier. Wainscoting frames a small alcove featuring a black and white curved buffet cabinet placed beneath a square frame art piece.
Spacious gray and black dining room design features gray and black dining chairs at a black wooden dining table illuminated by a rectangular chandelier.
Placed around a round beige wooden dining table, beige woven dining chairs sit on a gray rug in front of gray wallpapered walls finished with light blue wainscoting and light blue crown moldings and baseboards. The ceiling is completed with glossy white shiplap.
Blue grosgrain roman shades cover a row of a window framed by a board and batten wall finished with a blue upper wall in a charming cottage dining room. Cane chairs are placed on a charcoal gray rug at a marble top dining table.
In front of a wainscot wall, gray and brown oval back dining chairs are placed on an ivory and blue wool rug around a glossy brown lacquer dining table lit by a 2-tier nickel candelabra chandelier.
Hung from a blue wallpapered ceiling, a vintage cane lantern lights a burl wood dining table matched with pink velvet chairs. Gold framed vintage art hangs on either side of a window from blue wallpapered walls lined with blue wainscoting.
A glass bubbles chandelier hangs over a round black dining table matched with blue block print dining chairs placed on a light gray rug in a dining room clad in Galbraith & Paul Lotus wallpaper finished with blue crown moldings and blue wainscoting. Blue framed windows are dressed in pink curtains.
A glossy pink gray ceiling complements a round brown wooden dining table paired with blue and pink dining chairs placed on a natural woven rug. Wainscot walls are finished with Brunschwig & Fils Ashanti Wallpaper.
Hermes orange art hangs from a green wainscot dining room wall.
Blue paneled living room features a dark brown dining table seating six dining chairs and 2 white wingback head chairs on a Madeline Weinrib Mandala Cotton Rug illuminated by a gorgeous white twigs chandelier. Behind the table in an arched nook, a blue fireplace accented with a gray surround boasts a painting flanked by bronze sconces while an adjacent wall is fitted with a blue framed window dressed in ivory curtains.
Cottage style dining room with a built-in sideboard accented with a wood top displaying an abstract wall art lit by a set of recessed lights. Ro Sham Beaux Frankie Malibu Chandelier decoratively hangs over a white round dining room table with wicker chairs over a gold and red Persian rug.
Beautifully designed contemporary dining room is lit by a white faux antlers chandelier hung over a black French dining table surrounded by Kartell Masters Chairs placed on a wood herringbone floor. Blue art hangs on a gray wall accented with gray paneling and gray crown molding, while white French pleated curtains hang in front of black glass doors.
A wood and metal lantern hangs over a brown wood dining table surrounded by vintage wooden dining chairs. Walls half-covered in beige wallpaper are lined with blue crown moldings and finished with blue millwork.

One way to ensure that your paneling won’t look dated is to choose a modern style. Shaker-style paneling, for example, is a simple and clean design that works well in contemporary spaces. You can also consider a more minimalistic approach, using paneling sparingly and combining it with other modern materials such as glass or metal.

A wood and metal lantern hangs over a brown wood dining table surrounded by vintage wooden dining chairs. Walls half-covered in beige wallpaper are lined with blue crown moldings and finished with blue millwork.

Photo Credit: Karen B Wolf Interiors – A wood and metal lantern hangs over a brown wood dining table surrounded by vintage wooden dining chairs. Walls half-covered in beige wallpaper are lined with blue crown moldings and finished with blue millwork.

Another way to update your paneling is to experiment with color. Traditional paneling is often painted in darker shades such as brown or green. However, by choosing lighter or brighter colors, you can give your dining room a fresh and modern look. Soft pastels, such as pale pink or blue, can create a romantic and dreamy atmosphere, while bold hues like navy or emerald green can make a statement.

Hermes orange art hangs from a green wainscot dining room wall.

Photo Credit: Mrs Paranjape – Hermes orange art hangs from a green wainscot dining room wall.
Beautifully designed contemporary dining room is lit by a white faux antlers chandelier hung over a black French dining table surrounded by Kartell Masters Chairs placed on a wood herringbone floor. Blue art hangs on a gray wall accented with gray paneling and gray crown molding, while white French pleated curtains hang in front of black glass doors.

Photo Credit: Lauren Nelson Design – Beautifully designed contemporary dining room is lit by a white faux antlers chandelier hung over a black French dining table surrounded by Kartell Masters Chairs placed on a wood herringbone floor. Blue art hangs on a gray wall accented with gray paneling and gray crown molding, while white French pleated curtains hang in front of black glass doors.

Consider the placement and proportion of your paneling. Instead of covering the entire wall, try using it as an accent or creating a partial paneling effect. This will create visual interest without overwhelming the space. Additionally, consider the height and width of your panels. Taller panels can create a sense of grandeur, while shorter panels can be more playful and casual.

Types of Paneling

There are many different types of paneling that you can use in your dining room, but not all of them will give you a modern look. Here are a few types of paneling that work well in modern dining rooms:

Cottage style dining room with a built-in sideboard accented with a wood top displaying an abstract wall art lit by a set of recessed lights. Ro Sham Beaux Frankie Malibu Chandelier decoratively hangs over a white round dining room table with wicker chairs over a gold and red Persian rug.

Photo Credit: Drew Castelhano – Cottage style dining room with a built-in sideboard accented with a wood top displaying an abstract wall art lit by a set of recessed lights. Ro Sham Beaux Frankie Malibu Chandelier decoratively hangs over a white round dining room table with wicker chairs over a gold and red Persian rug.

Shiplap

Shiplap is a type of paneling that is made up of long boards that are overlapped and joined together, which are typically laid horizontally but can also be styled vertically. It gives a clean, modern look to any room when used the right way, or you can incorporate it within design styles such as rustic farmhouse or a coastal theme.

A dining room with white shiplap, a wooden table and chairs.
A dining room with white shiplap, a wooden table and chairs.

Photo Credit: Sea Island Builders & Alan Smith Architects

Flat panels

Flat panels are a type of paneling that are made up of flat boards that are joined together. They are simple and elegant, and work well in modern dining rooms.

Cream and black graphic chairs sit at a rectangular black dining table lit by a white and gold linear chandelier. Wainscoting frames a small alcove featuring a black and white curved buffet cabinet placed beneath a square frame art piece.

Photo Credit: Collective Studio – Cream and black graphic chairs sit at a rectangular black dining table lit by a white and gold linear chandelier. Wainscoting frames a small alcove featuring a black and white curved buffet cabinet placed beneath a square frame art piece.

Beadboard

Beadboard is a type of paneling that is made up of vertical boards with a small groove or “bead” in between each board. It adds texture and interest to any room, and works well in modern dining rooms.

Materials

The material you choose for your paneling can also affect the overall look and feel of your dining room. Here are a few materials that work well in modern dining rooms:

Wood

Wood paneling is a classic choice for dining rooms, and works well in modern spaces when paired with clean lines and simple furnishings.

Blue paneled living room features a dark brown dining table seating six dining chairs and 2 white wingback head chairs on a Madeline Weinrib Mandala Cotton Rug illuminated by a gorgeous white twigs chandelier. Behind the table in an arched nook, a blue fireplace accented with a gray surround boasts a painting flanked by bronze sconces while an adjacent wall is fitted with a blue framed window dressed in ivory curtains.

Photo Credit: BBA Architects – Blue paneled living room features a dark brown dining table seating six dining chairs and 2 white wingback head chairs on a Madeline Weinrib Mandala Cotton Rug illuminated by a gorgeous white twigs chandelier. Behind the table in an arched nook, a blue fireplace accented with a gray surround boasts a painting flanked by bronze sconces while an adjacent wall is fitted with a blue framed window dressed in ivory curtains.
Hung from a blue wallpapered ceiling, a vintage cane lantern lights a burl wood dining table matched with pink velvet chairs. Gold framed vintage art hangs on either side of a window from blue wallpapered walls lined with blue wainscoting.

Photo Credit: Zoe Feldman Design – Hung from a blue wallpapered ceiling, a vintage cane lantern lights a burl wood dining table matched with pink velvet chairs. Gold framed vintage art hangs on either side of a window from blue wallpapered walls lined with blue wainscoting.

MDF

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a type of engineered wood that is affordable and easy to work with. It can be painted or stained to achieve any look you want.

Cottage dining space designed with board and batten trim, an arched door and beams on a vaulted ceiling.

Photo Credit: Studio McGee – Cottage dining space designed with board and batten trim, an arched door and beams on a vaulted ceiling.
Half wainscot dining room walls are positioned behind a round cream dining table matched with green velvet dining chairs and lit by a white cascading chandelier.

Photo Credit: Meghan Carter Design – Half wainscot dining room walls are positioned behind a round cream dining table matched with green velvet dining chairs and lit by a white cascading chandelier.

PVC

PVC paneling is a type of plastic paneling that is durable and easy to clean. It works well in modern dining rooms that get a lot of use.

White French fabric dining chairs surround a glossy black French dining table placed in front of wainscot walls.

Photo Credit: Shop House Design – White French fabric dining chairs surround a glossy black French dining table placed in front of wainscot walls.

Colors

The color of your paneling can also affect the overall look and feel of your dining room. Here are a few colors that work well in modern dining rooms:

White

White paneling is clean, crisp, and modern. It works well in dining rooms that get a lot of natural light.

A brass chandelier hangs over a round, brown dining table paired iwth black spindle dining chairs. The dining space is positioned on a stained wood floor in front of windows framed by white shiplap.

Photo Credit: Tatum Brown – A brass chandelier hangs over a round, brown dining table paired iwth black spindle dining chairs. The dining space is positioned on a stained wood floor in front of windows framed by white shiplap.

Gray

Gray paneling is sophisticated and elegant, and works well in dining rooms with neutral or bold color schemes.

Elegant French dining space boasts a crystal chandelier fixed over a round dining table surrounded by pink and green damask French dining chairs positioned on a herringbone wood floor. Pale beige wainscot walls are lined with matching crown molding, while windows are covered in light beige curtains.

Photo Credit: Munger Interiors – Elegant French dining space boasts a crystal chandelier fixed over a round dining table surrounded by pink and green damask French dining chairs positioned on a herringbone wood floor. Pale beige wainscot walls are lined with matching crown molding, while windows are covered in light beige curtains.
Placed around a round beige wooden dining table, beige woven dining chairs sit on a gray rug in front of gray wallpapered walls finished with light blue wainscoting and light blue crown moldings and baseboards. The ceiling is completed with glossy white shiplap.

Photo Credit: Honey Collins – Placed around a round beige wooden dining table, beige woven dining chairs sit on a gray rug in front of gray wallpapered walls finished with light blue wainscoting and light blue crown moldings and baseboards. The ceiling is completed with glossy white shiplap.

Black

Black paneling is bold and dramatic, and works well in modern dining rooms with a monochrome color scheme.

Styles

The style of your paneling can also affect the overall look and feel of your dining room. Here are a few styles that work well in modern dining rooms:

In front of a wainscot wall, gray and brown oval back dining chairs are placed on an ivory and blue wool rug around a glossy brown lacquer dining table lit by a 2-tier nickel candelabra chandelier.

Photo Credit: Hudson Interior Designs – In front of a wainscot wall, gray and brown oval back dining chairs are placed on an ivory and blue wool rug around a glossy brown lacquer dining table lit by a 2-tier nickel candelabra chandelier.
A glossy pink gray ceiling complements a round brown wooden dining table paired with blue and pink dining chairs placed on a natural woven rug. Wainscot walls are finished with Brunschwig & Fils Ashanti Wallpaper.

Photo Credit: Lynn Morgan Design – A glossy pink gray ceiling complements a round brown wooden dining table paired with blue and pink dining chairs placed on a natural woven rug. Wainscot walls are finished with Brunschwig & Fils Ashanti Wallpaper.

Horizontal

Horizontal paneling gives a clean, modern look to any room. It works well in dining rooms with simple, modern furnishings.

Vertical

Vertical paneling adds texture and interest to any room. It works well in dining rooms with traditional or eclectic furnishings.

Mixed

Mixed paneling combines different types of paneling to create a unique, modern look. It works well in dining rooms with a mix of modern and traditional furnishings.

Wainscoting finishes dining room walls clad in blue grasscloth wallpaper. An ivory and blue abstract art piece hangs beside a window dressed in blue curtains and faces a French glass chandelier hung over an oval Chippendale dining table The dining table is matched with blue striped wingback head chairs and Chippendale dining chairs placed on an ivory and blue rug.

Photo Credit: Erin Gates – Wainscoting finishes dining room walls clad in blue grasscloth wallpaper. An ivory and blue abstract art piece hangs beside a window dressed in blue curtains and faces a French glass chandelier hung over an oval Chippendale dining table The dining table is matched with blue striped wingback head chairs and Chippendale dining chairs placed on an ivory and blue rug.
Blue grosgrain roman shades cover a row of a window framed by a board and batten wall finished with a blue upper wall in a charming cottage dining room. Cane chairs are placed on a charcoal gray rug at a marble top dining table.

Photo Credit: Croma Design – Blue grosgrain roman shades cover a row of a window framed by a board and batten wall finished with a blue upper wall in a charming cottage dining room. Cane chairs are placed on a charcoal gray rug at a marble top dining table.
Galbraith & Paul Lotus wallpaper lined with white wainscoting accents a beautiful blue dining space featuring a brown trestle table surrounded by gray and blue chairs placed on a blue rug and lit by a candelabra chandelier.

Photo Credit: Andrew Howard – Galbraith & Paul Lotus wallpaper lined with white wainscoting accents a beautiful blue dining space featuring a brown trestle table surrounded by gray and blue chairs placed on a blue rug and lit by a candelabra chandelier.

Paneling can be a great way to add sophistication and elegance to your dining room, but it can also make your house look dated if not used correctly. By choosing the right type of paneling, material, color, and style, you can achieve a modern look that will stand the test of time. Remember to keep it simple, clean, and elegant, and you’ll have a dining room that you’ll love for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What types of paneling are best for a dining room?

There are several types of paneling that can work well in a dining room, including beadboard, shiplap, and raised panel. Each type has its own unique look and texture, so it’s important to choose one that complements the style and decor of your dining room.

How do I choose the right color for my paneling?

When choosing a color for your paneling, it’s important to consider the overall color scheme of your dining room. If you have neutral walls, you may want to choose a paneling color that’s a few shades darker or lighter than your existing wall color. If you have bold or bright walls, you may want to choose a more subdued paneling color to balance out the room.

Can I install paneling myself, or should I hire a professional?

If you have experience with DIY projects and basic carpentry skills, you may be able to install paneling yourself. However, if you’re unsure of your abilities or don’t have the necessary tools, it’s best to hire a professional to ensure that the paneling is installed correctly and safely.

How can I update existing paneling that looks dated?

If you have existing paneling that looks dated, you can update it by painting it a fresh, modern color. You can also add trim or molding to give it a more updated look. Another option is to remove the paneling altogether and replace it with a more modern wall treatment, such as wallpaper or textured paint.

What should I avoid when paneling my dining room?

When paneling your dining room, it’s important to avoid using too much paneling, which can make the room feel dark and cramped. It’s also important to avoid using outdated paneling styles, such as 1970s-era wood paneling. Finally, be sure to choose a paneling style and color that complements your dining room decor and doesn’t clash with other elements in the room.

How can I incorporate paneling into a modern dining room?

To incorporate paneling into a modern dining room, consider using a sleek, minimalist paneling style, such as shiplap or beadboard. You can also choose a bold, modern color for your paneling, such as black or navy blue. Finally, be sure to balance out the paneling with other modern elements, such as a sleek dining table and chairs or modern light fixtures.

Is paneling a good choice for a small dining room?

Paneling can work well in a small dining room, as long as you choose a paneling style and color that doesn’t make the room feel too dark or cramped. Consider using a light-colored paneling, such as white or cream, to reflect light and make the room feel more spacious. You can also use mirrors or other reflective surfaces to further enhance the feeling of space in a small dining room.

You’re reading Dining Room Paneling Inspiration That Won’t Look Dated, originally posted on Decoist. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to follow Decoist on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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