elledecor– We’re pretty sure many people would agree that no one does shiplap quite like Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of HGTV’s hit show “Fixer Upper.” Shiplap—a stack of wooden boards that can be positioned horizontally or diagonally—is a tasteful way to add texture and visual interest to just about any room. We’ve seen the popular Waco, Texas-based couple use shiplap to transform spaces ranging from living rooms to kitchens.
But even if you don’t live in an area like Texas, where shiplap has become a go-to design choice, there are ways to pull off the farmhouse style—even in an urban space. Keep reading for expert tips on how to make shiplap work for you.
EMBRACE ITS VERSATILITY
“Architectural details have the ability to add warmth to an unadorned room,” says Sweeten Founder and CEO Jean Brownhill.”You can install shiplap horizontally to create interest around an entire room or vertically to give height to a space—and to draw your eye up to the oft-neglected ceiling. You can even apply the material on an asymmetrical or slanted surface for a charming touch.”
KEEP SPACING UNIFORM
Got a nickel? Great, then you can pull off a contemporary shiplap look.
“When you use shiplap, clean installation is what makes it look contemporary rather than country,” says Nashville-based interior designer Jason Arnold. “Use a nickel as a spacer between boards to give it a very uniform, modern look.”
In this Nashville home Arnold designed, an entire wall of the guest bedroom is covered in uniformly-spaced shiplap — even the closet doors.
ALWAYS PAINT IT
If you’re trying to send a message along the lines of “Greetings, folks, I’m Tom Bunyan!” then go on, leave that shiplap bare. Otherwise, always paint or stain the wood.
“White painted shiplap has a bit of a Cape Cod look that’s clean and fresh, so it’s terrific for a kitchen, laundry room or bathroom,” says Rita Konig, a London-based interior designer, who designed the California home below. “If you have a smaller space you want to add some interest to, however, paint it either a [more dramatic] dark or bright color.”
GET ‘EM GLOSSY
A major perk of adding shiplap to your home is that it offers texture that drywall lacks. Still, that doesn’t mean your walls have to look like you’re roughin’ it.
“I’ve painted shiplap high gloss before, and that gives it a very contemporary look, but you still get the shiplap texture, which is key,” says Arnold.
His tip for an über modern look: Cover an entire room in shiplap, and paint it in high-gloss white.
TRY IT IN SMALL DOSES
As mentioned before, horizontal boards can make a small space seem larger. But as with any new project, it’s worth trying shiplap in a small area before you commit to a larger portion of your home.
“Shiplap is good on every wall in a small powder room,” says Arnold. “You can also incorporate it in a backsplash or an accent wall to add texture. If you use it on an accent wall, paint it the same colors as the rest of the wall for a clean, modern feel that still offers a variety in texture.”
An added benefit of using shiplap in kitchens or bathrooms: It’s incredibly easy to clean.
BLEND IT WITH OTHER MATERIALS
Arnold suggests mixing shiplap with materials like brick, marble or concrete for a contemporary, urban aesthetic.
“Bringing in wood automatically softens the space to help counteract really cold concrete or brick, which is common in urban lofts,” says Arnold. “It’s also really great with marble or any other type of stone.”
If you have a kitchen with, say, marble counters, try accenting the backsplash with shiplap. Alternatively, if your living room has plenty of exposed brick, try one accent wall in shiplap.
MIX THE WIDTH OF THE BOARDS
A six-inch board is typically a good place to start when it comes to selecting size, but don’t be afraid to mix it up.
“I love mixed-width boards in both flooring and walls,” says Konig. “You get a relaxed look, and you really don’t notice the differences until somebody points it out.”