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16 Wainscoting Kitchen Island Examples

Wainscoting your kitchen island can be a fun, DIY project that not only improves the overall look of your kitchen, but also adds value to your home!

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Wainscoting your kitchen island can be a fun, DIY project that not only improves the overall look of your kitchen, but also adds value to your home! In fact, studies have shown that spending money on kitchen remodeling has a return on investment of up to 182% in smaller cities! With so much value to be added, a kitchen island makeover is the perfect project for a Sunday afternoon. Whether you chose to take on a DIY project or hire the help of remodeling services, below are a couple of design ideas to help you get started on your kitchen island makeover.

Table of Contents

1. Make Your Own Board and Batten

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Wainscoting refers to the paneling that is placed over a wall that can protect against scuff marks, provide insulation, and cover up old damage. There are several types of different wainscoting, but one of the most popular styles of wainscoting is board and batten!

Board and batten looks gorgeous when placed over lower walls in your home, and can provide a modern style to your kitchen island. Board and batten is relatively simple to install, and is an easy DIY project for any beginner. It can be done in as little as a day, and can be done using a nail gun, caulking, baseboard (if your kitchen island doesn’t have any already), and faux trim. All you have to do is measure out even spaces in between the boards.

Then, using an adhesive and a nail gun, nail the faux trim onto your island. Next, install the base molding or use caulk to fill any nail holes and space between the trim and the base molding. Finish off by sanding down the caulk, and apply your favorite paint color to the boards. It’s that easy!

2. Install Beadboard Panels

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Beadboard panels are relatively inexpensive, and they embody the modern farmhouse style that many homeowners and homebuyers find attractive. Beadboard panels can be installed easily and come in pre-made large panel sheets with separate molding. These sheets of beadboard panels consist of vertical boards with an indent or groove in the middle, also known as the bead. The bead is where the two boards connect, which is great news if you’re looking to do a kitchen island makeover in little time. All you have to do to install beadboard is snap the boards in place across the entire width of your kitchen island.

Beadboard panels are usually made of medium density fiberboard. This is a sturdy material that can also be made to be waterproof and moisture resistant. When you’re installing wainscoting in your kitchen island, you’ll want to make sure to get wainscoting that won’t warp in case of spills. Moisture resistant beadboard panels are an excellent choice in this regard.

3. Mix and Match Beadboard Widths

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The great thing about beadboard is that they come in a variety of widths and sizes. For a farmhouse style, you should decorate your kitchen island with beard boards that have 1 1/2″ to 2 1/2″ vertical beads. Or, you can opt for wider beadboard panels that give off a more modern look. You can even mix and match widths on different sides of your kitchen island. Install smaller width beadboard on the left and right sides of your island, while the main backside panel can have larger width wainscoting.

4. Invest in Raised Panels

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There are various types of prefabricated wainscoting styles. One of the most classic are raised panels, which can give off a sophisticated style in any room. Although raised panels are traditionally used in living rooms, dens, and study areas, you can easily install raised panel wainscoting on your kitchen island. These raised panels look beautiful in dark woods, such as cherry, mahogany, and oak, or they can be painted and look just as lovely.

You might be wondering, why do I want my kitchen island to look sophisticated? I just eat there! Well, one of the hottest trends right now is that of multipurpose kitchen islands. More and more people are enjoying working, entertaining, and of course cooking on their kitchen islands. Installing luxurious wainscoting like raised panels does a great job at making your kitchen island feel more like a piece of furniture central to the home, rather than just a space to prepare food.

5. Paint your Panels to Match Your Kitchen Wall

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Your kitchen island makeover can be as simple as painting existing wainscoting to match the rest of your kitchen. If you have old wainscoting or a kitchen island full of scuff marks, shoe prints, and dents, a quick wainscoting and paint job can hide these flaws. By painting your island to match the wall, you can seamlessly integrate your island to the rest of the kitchen and make the space feel more unified.

You can paint your kitchen island and walls white to make the space feel more open and calm. Or, you can paint your panels and walls gray, blue, yellow, or green, which are all considered some of the best colors for the kitchen according to HGTV experts!

6. Match Panels to the Countertops

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Kitchen countertops come in a variety of patterns and colors. One of the most popular countertops in kitchens are granite countertops, which have a variety of colors in them. From speckles of pink and black, to gray and white throughout, granite countertops can be beautiful all on their own. Bring out their beauty by painting your wainscoting to match the color of your granite. If your kitchen countertops don’t match, painting your kitchen island is a great way to make your kitchen look less awkward.

7. Use Wainscoting Rail as Shelves

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Wainscoting consists of various parts, including the panels, cap moldings, top chair rail, and base moldings. If you have a particularly tall kitchen island, you can use the top chair rail as a mini shelf to display pictures, a funny sign, or anything else you want! Using the top chair railing as a shelf can add a unique style to your kitchen, and help you save space too. When you purchase wainscoting for your next project, just choose wainscoting that has a large chair rail.

8. Consider Flat Board Paneling

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Flat board paneling is almost similar to board and batten panels. The great thing about flat panels is that they add a certain depth to your island at a fraction of the cost of raised panels. Flat panels are usually made of fiberboard, and can easily cover up damages to your kitchen island. Because they’re made of fiberboard, they’re easy to install and can instantly improve the look of your kitchen.

9. Stain your Wood Paneling

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If you’re using wood paneling for your project, you can drastically change the look of your wood by staining it in chocolate, beige, or other glazes. Staining your wood paneling allows you to keep the natural, beautiful grain on your island while also changing the color slightly. Staining your panels also allows you to add an extra layer of protection from scuff marks (common with kitchen islands). In addition, stained wainscot can add a rustic look to your kitchen, and is a great kitchen makeover idea if you want to add warmth to your kitchen.

10. Mix Up the Paint Job

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If you’re using beadboard panels for your kitchen island makeover, it’s easy to mix up the paint on your panels and add a bit of contrast. This can be entertaining to the eye, and add a bit of character to your kitchen. Paint the beads themselves for a pin-strip look, or paint individual panels separately. This is one of the best design ideas for your kitchen island makeover, as it can quickly add style with minimal effort!

Keep in mind, however, that painted panels in different colors can look a bit messy if you’re painting every single board a different color. Instead, choose between 2 colors to paint your beadboard panels, and match your paint to the rest of the kitchen.

11. Install Hooks

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If you already have wainscot panels installed into your island, add on a couple of hooks to hang utensils, hang your aprons or small tote bags, and add more functionality to your island. You can even use nail heads as hooks for a more rustic, distressed look. Installing hooks is one of the easiest kitchen island makeover ideas. Once you see how useful your hooks are you’ll wonder how you lived without them!

12. Consider Your Cabinet Doors

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Matching your kitchen island to your cabinet doors is one of the easiest kitchen island makeover design ideas. Your kitchen cabinets are sometimes the first thing people notice when you walk into a kitchen, especially if they’re stark white cabinets or are painted a different color than traditional kitchens, such as black or mint green. To better integrate your island to your kitchen, consider matching your wainscoting to your cabinets. This can be done with some paint, or even by matching wood types such as distressed wood.

13. Opt for White Paint

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White Paint is one of the most popular choices for a kitchen, and for good reason. White paint jobs can help to make you feel calmer, make a space seem bigger, and reflect more light to make a space seem brighter. Although you can paint your wainscot panels or use wood paneling, opting for white paint is a simple, yet brilliant choice to make your kitchen look new. White paint is classic and can be matched easily to other furniture such as bar stools on your kitchen island. The downside is that white paint does tend to get dirtier more easily than other paint jobs do, so use it if you know you won’t have to constantly clean your kitchen island.

14. Use Barn Door Inspired Wainscoting

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Have you ever noticed barn doors with those giant, cross-style patterns? Barn doors can be rustic, eye-catching, and can add a unique style if you want a barn-inspired kitchen. Barn door style is one of the hottest trends, and you can easily incorporate it into your project by purchasing extra boards and setting them up in an x in between your panels. This is one kitchen makeover project that, like board and batten, can be done in a day and can be accomplished using wood filler, finishing nails, extra trim boards, and a nail gun.

15. Consider your Backsplash

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Many kitchens nowadays have a tile backsplash or other backsplash such as mosaic, slate, or even metal or copper. If you have a backsplash in your kitchen, matching it to your island is a great way to set up a two-tone kitchen and make it seem as if your kitchen was professionally designed! You can either paint your wainscot panels the same color as your backsplash, or do the opposite and install a backsplash that matches your wainscoting color.

16. Use Natural Wood

Natural wood kitchen islands are a hot trend, and they offer a look that is timeless, clean, and beautiful. Natural wood islands don’t have to be expensive. You can use reclaimed wood to add a dark, dense style to your island. Or you can use pine boards or maple boards that are sturdy, stand up to wear and tear, and can be relatively inexpensive. Opting for natural wood to wainscot your island is an excellent choice, and can save you time since you don’t have to worry about staining or painting your island. Just make sure to choose a wood that has a nice grain pattern so your island won’t look too boring or plain in the middle of your kitchen.