INSTALLING MODERN WAINSCOTING IN THE OFFICE

 
Installing modern wainscoting in our home office. Office makeover by Nadine Stay. Vertical slats painted in a rich hunter green. Full tutorial - how to install modern wainscoting in your home.
 

Ok so we converted our guest bedroom into an office like 3 months ago and then we abandoned the rest of our office makeover because we got #BUSY! Like we’re talking a new job, launching another business, and showing up to all 600 of the family festivities kind of busy.

But the chaos is (kinda) slowing down so we have a chance to work in the home office again. Several months ago we built a large waterfall desk and I tried 5 different paint colors on it before I landed on good ole' white! The issue with the desk being white is that our walls, trim, and curtains are also white. It was feeling a little sterile in here and I needed a bit of contrast to break up the monotony of white.

Waterfall desk made with leftover 2x4’s and plywood

Waterfall desk made with leftover 2x4’s and plywood

What our office looked like before

What our office looked like before

With some brainstorming, I landed on the idea of adding wainscoting to the walls in a contrasting color. But not the traditional board and batten or beadboard wainscoting that is most popular. I wanted something more modern that will blend with the style of the rest of our house better. So I decided on doing skinny vertical slats!

 
Installing modern wainscoting in our home office. Office makeover by Nadine Stay. Vertical slats painted in a rich hunter green. Full tutorial - how to install modern wainscoting in your home.
 

The first step to this project was selecting the material for our wood slats…and ironically enough we decided not to use wood! I didn’t want the grains to show through the paint so we decided on 1/2 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. MDF sheets. MDF has an incredibly smooth finish which is exactly what I wanted, plus it’s far cheaper than wood!

We decided that each slat would be 3/4" wide by 48" tall and spaced approximately 3/8" apart on the wall. Our MDF sheets were already 48" tall so all we had to do was run the sheets through the table saw and cut individual slats at 3/4" wide.

Hot Tip: Using a new "finish" blade will help tremendously when cutting the MDF sheets! General construction blades (or an old finish blade that hasn’t been replaced in a while) will chip the edges quite a bit.

 
Installing modern wainscoting in our home office. Office makeover by Nadine Stay. Vertical slats painted in a rich hunter green. Full tutorial - how to install modern wainscoting in your home.
 

Once all the slats were cut, we sanded them smooth. I went over the edges with a power sander and 220 grit sandpaper. Chris then went over the face of the slats with a fine grit sanding block.

 
Installing modern wainscoting in our home office. Office makeover by Nadine Stay. Vertical slats painted in a rich hunter green. Full tutorial - how to install modern wainscoting in your home.
 

In order to maintain a level top line for the wainscoting, we decided to install our chair rail first. (This is especially necessary if your floors/floor trim aren’t perfectly level) Using a laser, we drew a level line at the height we wanted in the entire room and then we nailed the backband moulding onto the wall.

We chose a chair rail with a bit of a lip because we knew we were going to have to trim the height on some of the vertical slats to fit. In order to eliminate any height variations from one slat to the other, the lip on the chair rail covered any gaps or height variations we had (and there were plenty).

 
Installing modern wainscoting in our home office. Office makeover by Nadine Stay. Vertical slats painted in a rich hunter green. Full tutorial - how to install modern wainscoting in your home.
Installing modern wainscoting in our home office. Office makeover by Nadine Stay. Vertical slats painted in a rich hunter green. Full tutorial - how to install modern wainscoting in your home.
 

Now comes the fun part - nailing the slats on the wall! I used this nail gun and this air compressor and I popped 4 nails in each slat to secure it to the wall. (Note: If you’re having trouble with the slats not staying attached to the wall, use liquid nails first and then nail them on.)

I also used a scrap piece of wood between the slats that was 3/8" thick so I stayed consistent with the spacing.

 
Installing modern wainscoting in our home office. Office makeover by Nadine Stay. Vertical slats painted in a rich hunter green. Full tutorial - how to install modern wainscoting in your home.
 

Gotta fill in those nail holes! We used this wood filler and sanded them smooth once the filler was dry. We also filled in any gaps along the chair rail with paintable caulking.

 
Installing modern wainscoting in our home office. Office makeover by Nadine Stay. Vertical slats painted in a rich hunter green. Full tutorial - how to install modern wainscoting in your home.
 

Next up, priming and painting! We went with my trusted primer - Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3. I’ve used this primer for years and it always performs best! For the paint color, we chose "City Arboretum" in a satin finish with the HGTV HOME by Sherwin Williams paint line. It’s a beautiful rich hunter green that added major contrast to this space!

We decided to paint the wainscoting with a paint sprayer since that would be the easiest and fastest option. Of course, that meant that we had to tape and tarp every inch of the entire room! So worth it though!

Admittedly, the sprayer I used was too small for this job but it still gave me an incredibly smooth finish! Next time, I’ll probably upgrade to a larger sprayer though.

I applied one coat of primer over the face of the slats and then 2 coats of paint over everything! (And yes, I wore a mask so I wasn’t breathing in all the fumes.)

 
Installing modern wainscoting in our home office. Office makeover by Nadine Stay. Vertical slats painted in a rich hunter green. Full tutorial - how to install modern wainscoting in your home.
 

We love it! No more sterile hospital vibes in this room!

Next up for the office makeover - we’ll start working on the desk situation again. I’ve decided to paint the filing cabinets under the desk to match the wall and then we’ll build more storage under the desk for our printers hide in. And then of course I will finally decorate this room! Can’t wait to take you along for the transformation! Stay tuned!


For your reference here is our supplies list:

 

TOOLS USED:

 

Until next time,

 
 
 

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