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Trend Alert: The Return of Retro Wood Paneling

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Trend Alert: The Return of Retro Wood Paneling

August 10, 2021

Along with plaid and gingham, domed mushroom lamps, maximalist mix-and-match prints, and saturated color (yellow, olive greens, etc.), we’re officially adding dark wood paneling to this summer’s nods to ’70s style. Plain, unfinished wood walls that may have been deemed dated and painted white just a few short months ago are now adding an intriguing backdrop to interiors—more retro than rustic.

One theory for the comeback? “Biophilic design, or bringing a connection to nature into our homes,” designer Nicola Holden told Refinery29, perhaps spurred on by lockdowns. “A lot of the ’70s trends incorporate this, such as wood paneling, shag pile carpets, fringing, the use of natural materials and texture (exposed bricks and textured walls), and curved shapes.”

Whatever the reason, we’re into it (exposed-wood trim and doors, too). Take a look at a few favorites from our archives.

wood paneling, newly added along the lower half of the walls, adds a vintage fe 9
Above: Wood paneling, newly added along the lower half of the walls, adds a vintage feel to this dressing room at a wedding venue in upstate New York; see An Arts and Crafts Icon Reborn in the Catskills by Jersey Ice Cream Co. Photograph by Nicole Franzen.
one couple&#8\2\17;s quest to return their midcentury ranch house to its or 10
Above: One couple’s quest to return their midcentury ranch house to its original style included stripping the cedar wall paneling of its white paint. See the rest of the project in The Wood House: A Midcentury Work in Progress in Westchester. Photograph by Brian W. Ferry for Remodelista; styling by Alexa Hotz.
old school meets nautical at the roman and williams designed greydon house in n 11
Above: Old-school meets nautical at the Roman and Williams-designed Greydon House in Nantucket. Photography courtesy of Greydon House.
the bones of architect elizabeth robert&#8\2\17;s own bellport, long island 12
Above: The bones of architect Elizabeth Robert’s own Bellport, Long Island, weekend house are far older than a few decades (it was built in the 1850s). Still, we like the way the dark wood walls are left bare—or, as is the case in this bath, half painted, half undone. Take a tour via Elizabeth Roberts at Home: The Architect’s Own Beach House in Bellport, NY. Photograph by Dustin Aksland and Eric Striffler, courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts.
dark wood cladding feels tailor made for the home bar; here&#8\2\17;s a gli 13
Above: Dark wood cladding feels tailor-made for the home bar; here’s a glimpse from An Arts and Crafts Icon Reborn in the Catskills by Jersey Ice Cream Co. Photography by Nicole Franzen.
a wood lined bedroom evokes cabins, cottages, and camp—pure summer. photograp 14
Above: A wood-lined bedroom evokes cabins, cottages, and camp—pure summer. Photograph by Constance Gennari, courtesy of The Socialite Family; see A Fashion Designer’s Cabin in the Cape Cod of France.
&#8\2\20;we paneled and stained the walls in the dark half of the living ro 15
Above: “We paneled and stained the walls in the dark half of the living room,” say Jersey Ice Cream Co.’s Tara Mangini and Percy Bright of this house on the North Fork of Long Island. “It was a huge amount of work, but now it is one of those things that everyone assumes was original to the house.” See more of the project in Building Character: Jersey Ice Cream Co. and the Case of the Charmless Manse.
at a cabin at lake arrowhead in the san bernardino mountains, knotty, stripped  16
Above: At a cabin at Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains, knotty, stripped-back cladding lends pleasing contrast to simple fittings. “Behind a layer of varnish, the 1941 paneled interior had great potential,” writes Margot. “The paneling in the bedrooms was left natural but sanded to mute its varnished finish.” Photograph by Melissa Gidney, courtesy of Rip & Tan; see A Star LA Stylist’s Year-Round Family Lake Cabin for more.
knotty salvaged oak paneling covers walls and ceiling alike in elizabeth robert 17
Above: Knotty salvaged oak paneling covers walls and ceiling alike in Elizabeth Roberts’ Bellport entryway and WC. Photograph by Dustin Aksland and Eric Striffler, courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts, from Elizabeth Roberts at Home: The Architect’s Own Beach House in Bellport, NY..
another take: wood paneling as backsplash, as seen in a hollywood director’s  18
Above: Another take: wood paneling as backsplash, as seen in A Hollywood Director’s Refined Off-the-Grid Cabin by Commune Design. Photograph by Stephen Kent Johnson, courtesy of Commune Design.
last but not least, wood paneling is somewhat of a hallmark of design firm of  19
Above: Last but not least, wood paneling is somewhat of a hallmark of design firm of the moment Green River Project, as seen here in one of their interiors, the Bode boutique in New York City. Green River is helmed by by Aaron Aujla and Ben Bloomstein, who “share an appreciation for earthy materials and darkly patinated wood,” writes Samuel Hine in GQ‘s article on the duo, New York’s Hottest Design Studio Creates Wood-Paneled Dreamworlds.

Time to strip back the white paint? Let us know what you think.

And if you’re looking for a deep dive on wood cladding options (painted or unpainted, consult our guides:

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