DIY Time - Faking Craftsman Wainscoting

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We moved into our new house in June of 2012. And about a year after we'd moved in, we finally got around to the dining room.

Not that there was anything really WRONG with it - it was just a bit more traditional than we'd prefer... we'd like to take our house from "transitional" back toward "craftsman".

(Without spending much money, of course.)



Ms. AAAD wasn't UNhappy with the existing dining room setup.

It was pretty nice!

But she really didn't like the light fixtures or the two-tone green walls, or the traditional waist-high chair rail.

I knew that this was a high-visibility room, but since it was also a low-TECH room, I found it hard to get too excited about it.

After careful deliberation we decided that the room's makeover needed a bit more than paint.

First, however, we had to change out that chandelier.

Light fixtures

Ms. AAAD found a great light fixture on Craigslist, up in Winnetka.


It was a great deal. I'm not sure exactly HOW great a deal it was (the seller told us they'd paid a ridiculous amount for it at Restoration Hardware).

Regardless of the original cost, I guarantee that we paid a fraction of that amount.

It's a fantastic "showpiece", and really set the tone for what we wanted to do in this dining room.

In fact, it gave us an idea for what we wanted to do with the walls. No more green jewel tones. We were going with gold harvest tones.

And then, inspiration! We didn't need TWO paint colors. One would do.

Faux Wainscoting

What we really wanted was Craftsman-style wainscoting.

But I didn't want to hire an actual craftsman to create it.

With the right paint, we could get that look using the elements already in place.

We used the chair rail and the baseboard as the bottom and top borders of the wainscoting.

Neither piece is particularly "craftsman" - both have details that we wouldn't have necessarily chosen.

But with some basic square trim pieces running the distance between them, and with a high-gloss lacquer-style finish, we could make the drywall below the chair rail look like wood.

Above the chair rail - harvest gold.

Below the chair rail, we used Sherwin Williams Alabaster Pro-Gloss - a paint which promises an "oil/alkyd-like finish".

It dries into a HARD, glossy surface. My father-in-law is a great DIYer, and even he thought the white area was a wood surface.

The next step was the vertical trim pieces.

We couldn't use anything that was very deep - we only had a quarter-inch of depth at the bottom of our chair rail.

This 88-cent / linear foot pine lattice got the job done. I bought 70 feet worth, because I wasn't exactly sure how many vertical pieces we'd need.

In fact, that took a bit of doing.

I had an Excel spreadsheet up and working, with the various wall sizes, and the gaps we'd need between lattices if we used 10, 11, or 12 pieces per wall.

We had to ensure that none of the lattice pieces ran into an electrical outlet - we wanted a "clean" look, and cutting the lattices would draw attention to the fact that the wainscoting was added after the fact.

Once the math portion of our examination was over, the next steps were easy:

Cut the lattice pieces to the correct lengths.

Attach with Liquid Nails, and then Actual Nails (from the father-in-law's nail gun).

Caulk around the sides of each piece, to eliminate any gaps between the lattice and the wall. Prime, and re-paint the ENTIRE lower piece of the wall with the same white lacquer.

And just like that - Faux Wainscoting!


We're really happy with the results here. Not much of a connection to iOS 7 or OSX Mavericks or whatever, but hey - this is a DIY blog AND an Apple blog.

More project updates on the way soon! Thanks for reading AAAD!

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