Adding Wainscoting In The Nursery | One Room Challenge Week 2

April 12, 2017

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Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

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We had such an eventful week getting home and recovering from the kitchen makeover we did for the sweetest couple in Baltimore–thank you for all the love on that reveal! We rested and worked from bed for two solid days (just long enough for my ankles to return to a normal size–haha!) before we felt enough energy to break out the nail gun, miter saw and caulk once again to add some pretty dreamy trim to the nursery walls.

As a refresher, here’s where the room was last week! So clean, so…plain.

There’s a million different ways and styles to add wainscoting to walls. We actually first looked to the height of the crib we had picked out for the room, because one thing we didn’t want was for the top of the crib to line up exactly with the top of the wainscoting, creating an uncomfortable tangent. Our crib is 36″ tall and we decided to make our chair molding a few inches higher than that.

Before we added any of the fun stuff, we had a few repairs to make. This room still had a phone jack in it (!?), so we removed that and used one of these handy self-sticking wall repair mesh squares and joint compound to fill in the space. And removed the old, smaller existing trim work around the room, too.

Metrie is one of the sponsors for the One Room Challenge and we had never worked with them before, nor were we obligated to at this time, but we are really impressed with the trim options and styles they had available online. This room had a few tricky areas–including an off-centered, large window–and we were able to to talk to the wainscoting pros before we ordered about what would work best in this room. We went with their Fashion Forward line which felt simple, but still impactful.

We started with the window and doorway and quickly moved onto baseboards and then finished our first trim day with crown molding. Crown molding is notoriously tricky, but our Kobalt miter saw comes with crown stops which hold it in place and make it much easier to get the right cuts. Love that thing.

In the morning, we started on the more detail specific wainscoting detailing. We decided to keep 2″ gap next to the walls and 3″ in between each box. We measured each wall, and subtracted the buffering inches, to determine how many panels each wall would accommodate if they were all the same size. We determined 3 was the magic number on the shorter walls and 4 on the window wall with each box being 33″ wide.

We kept a small level and measuring tape handy to keep the spacing just right and attached each trim piece using a bead of liquid nails and securing it into place with the brad nailer. Sidenote: Chris only wears his hat backward when his face is thiiissss close to the wall for a long time. Haha 

With every piece of trim, the room was looking larger, which was a surprise to me. I think it’s because the room was starting to have depth to it. The other realization I started having was, this is gonna take a lot of caulk! 

I put on a few of my favorite podcasts and the entire room took me about 4 hours to caulk and fill in nail holes. The difference may be minor in pictures now, especially before we paint, but the above was taken before caulking. And below is after:

Seams be gone! Something else that I should point out (or shouldn’t, because that’s all you’ll see in this photo now)–the trim that meets under the window is the same size, but this time of day, the shadow is hitting the inside trim on the left panel and the outside trim on the right, making them look like two different sizes. I had to go take my tape measure to it because I almost had a panic attack.

Wallpaper is going in later this week, which means we have a short window to get everything painted (and cleaned up for goodness sakes) before that gets installed. Catch sneak peeks of it over on my instagram, @chrislovesjulia, and we’ll be ready to show that off in next week’s check in.

If you missed week 1, where we spill our plans, you can check out that post here.


Check in on the other ORC participants below!

Centsational Girl | Chris Loves Julia | Christine Dovey | Dwell With Dignity | The English Room

Glitter Guide | House of Brinson | House Updated  | J+J Design Group | Lark & Linen | Abby Manchesky

Nesting Place | Old Brand New | Old Home Love | The Pink Pagoda | Rambling Renovators

Erica Reitman | Sketch 42 | Suburban B’s | Erin Williamson  Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by CIH

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What do you think?

  1. Dan says:

    That before and after is really a nice, classic, and elegant improvement. Nothing wrong with the before, but when you compare it to the after, it really elevates the impression the room gives.

    I had a couple of quick questions. I have a similar situation with a wall largely dominated by a fairly tall window with a chair rail (i.e., there’s 9 inches from the bottom of the moulding around the window to the top of the baseboard). I love how y’all made contiguous the wainscoting the to the left and right of the window with a portion that reaches under the window. To make sure I understand the measurements, do you know the height of the sheetrock between the bottom of the moulding around the window and the top of the baseboard in your application? And when you say you did 3 inches between the boxes, does that mean 3 inches at top and bottom as well? If so, with my measurements, do you think I could get away with 2 inches so as to leave 5 inches as the “height” of the wainscoting under the window or is that just too close?

    Thanks for the pictures and awesome ideas!

  2. Allie says:

    Do you guys have textured walls? I’d love to do some wainscoting and wallpaper in my home but my husband is wary since we have orange peel walls.

  3. Is the wall repair patch you got the kind with a big metal piece in it? I followed your link to order, but it looks like yours doesn’t have that part. Also did you have trouble getting the grid to not show through?

    • Chris says:

      It does have the metal webbing. It can be tricky to get it perfectly smooth, but I would say to plan on doing one layer, allowing it to dry completely, then sanding and adding another layer (with drying and sanding). Though we’re not huge fans of the orange peel texture in our home, that is one of the benefits – it helps hide things like that as well.

  4. Just wanted to clarify a question about this sentence…

    “We determined 3 was the magic number on the shorter walls and 4 on the window wall with each box being 33″ wide.”

    Are all the boxes 33″ wide, or just the ones on the window wall?

  5. Thalia says:

    So timely! Apartment Therapy just posted an article about how wainscoting is one way to make a room classy and beautiful!! (Post: The (Totally Doable) European Secret to Beautiful Rooms). Love it!

  6. Diane Rath says:

    WOW! That’s it-WOW!

  7. Carolyn VA says:

    Chris and Julia-IT. LOOKS. FANTASTIC!!! I have to say that you two have brought me back to appreciating a more traditional look especially because of how you make it modern yet still very familiar and cozy. Anyway, I wondered if now you will plan on changing up all the baseboards/window trim/crown moulding on the rest of the house to match this room? Our house has some rooms with no or different moulding from room to room and I’ve always thought it was the “proper” thing to have a cohesive look throughout regarding those details. Is it ok to have different trim depending on the space in your home?

    • Julia says:

      We’ve added trim/moldings to two bedrooms downstairs and now this one. We have plans to add some to our master and eventually the guest room. But, we’re just doing it in phases. Having it in all the bedrooms is the goal one day!

  8. Shannon says:

    Thank you for explaining the shadow thing…on the insta-story preview yesterday I was confused about why it looked like the around-the-window pieces were different sizes. Makes sense now :)

    The trim adds so much character! I’m excited to see it painted and paired with wallpaper!

  9. Diana says:

    What a huge difference a little…or a lot… of trim can make!! It’s going to look gorgeous! I can’t wait to see which wallpaper you select. :)

  10. Nicole says:

    OoooOOOooo. I love it! So excited to see what yall do for the room. My due date is similar to yours I believe – due July 30th so I’m in the thick of getting our nursery done too. Girl stuff is so fun!

  11. Susan C says:

    Julia, this is off subject. I’m wanting to add a black border to some Ikea Ritva curtains. I wondered how your black bordered dropcloth curtains faired using the ribbon? Or, at this time in your life, would sewing a fabric border be much better looking? Thanks!

  12. The new wainscoting looks amazing!

  13. Love the moldings. It looks like it was always there. It also makes the off-centered window look great!

  14. Andi says:

    That turned out so great! I would’ve had the same thought about how much caulking all that trim would need. Just finished our bedroom windows this past weekend. Music is a must!

  15. Team caulk! It looks stunning. This is shaping up to be the sweetest nursery.

  16. Michael says:

    Looks great. Can you tell me what kind of caulking you use? Do you apply it to the seams & between the wall at the trim piece? Do you fill the nail holes this way too? What do you use to apply it & get it smooth? Do you sand after? Lots of questions! Sorry!

    • Julia says:

      I use this DAP caulk. I applied it to every seam between the wall and trim and where two trim pieces come together. You don’t sand caulk, so to make sure it goes on nice and smooth, I recommend making sure not to cut your caulk hole too big to start with. There are measurement lines on the tip and I always go less than 1/8″. I also have a cup of warm water next to me and after I apply to caulk, I dip a finger in the water and run it over the line so it’s nice a smooth. Works beautifully! This also works for nail holes, but I tend to fill those with spackle (this is my favorite) just in case I do want to sand those down.

  17. Elli says:

    I’ve been wondering about removing phone jacks for a while (I’ve got one in almost every room and we don’t use most of them). What do you do with the wires? Since they’re not electrical wires can you just push them back into the wall and forget about them? Do you need to cap them off? Something else? Halp!

    p.s. the room looks AH-MAZE-ING already

    • Julia says:

      They are just data lines, not electrical, and aren’t connected to a main box. It’s not a bad idea to insulate each wire with tape, just to be sure–but ours haven’t been live or working since before we moved in, so we just covered it! We actually did the same thing in our kitchen!

  18. Meri says:

    Hi Julia! What kind of joint compound did you use to fill in the wall where the phone jack was? We are going to have to remove one in our kitchen.


  19. Amy Xiong says:

    UGH this is insanely beautiful already! Can I ask how large the room was and what was your total cost to wainscot the room? Looking to do this to my small master!

  20. Kim says:

    I have wanted to do this forever!!! I’ve got the dreaded orange peel texture though and I always thought I’d need to skim coat first. Are your walls textured in this room? If so, do you do anything to minimize it or just “go with it”?

    • Julia says:

      We have a slight orange peel, too! We just went with it and it’s not noticeable. If you wanted to, you could add a thin backer board or plywood behind the trim.

  21. Lana says:

    Hi Julia!

    Question for you about the caulk…

    I noticed you mentioned caulk in the video for your recent kitchen renovation too, and I never knew that caulk was something you used outside the bathroom (I’m new to home renovation and DIY). I would think that the slick texture of the caulk would make it difficult to paint, or that the paint would easily chip off. Is there a special kind of caulk that you use for wood / wall / trim projects vs. what is used around a tub for example?

    PS, we’re doing our first big DIY project…a mini renovation on our 100 year old house’s kitchen…inspired by your kitchen and the one you did in Pittsburgh! We’re about halfway done so far and it’s already such a huge improvement. Thank you for sharing all of your tips, process and design!!

    • Julia says:

      Wonderful to hear! So around a tub or sink, you generally use silicone. It’s water resistant. Caulk can be used pretty much everywhere and is very commonly used for trim project inside and out. If you have baseboards, or crown, or window trim or wainscoting, you’re gonna need caulk.

      I use this DAP caulk. It’s paintable and I applied it to every seam between the wall and trim and where two trim pieces come together. You don’t sand caulk, so to make sure it goes on nice and smooth, I recommend making sure not to cut your caulk hole too big to start with. There are measurement lines on the tip and I always go less than 1/8″. I also have a cup of warm water next to me and after I apply to caulk, I dip a finger in the water and run it over the line so it’s nice a smooth. Works beautifully! This also works for nail holes, but I tend to fill those with spackle (this is my favorite) just in case I do want to sand those down.

      • Lana says:

        Thanks so much for your response and all the info Julia! Going to pick some up this weekend as we’ll be replacing all of the baseboard trim over the new floor. We did the same 12×24″ faux marble vinyl tiles with grout that you used in one of your kitchen renovations and it looks sooooo much better than the old brown patterned vinyl that was there before!

        Thanks again for sharing everything that you do. It certainly makes DIY home renovation seem doable when you wouldn’t otherwise know where to start.

        Have a great weekend!!

  22. Maria says:

    We have been working on this same type of wainscoting in our living room to match the existing wainscoting in the adjoining dining room. Unfortunately, the only matching moulding we could find was oak–such a pain to cut and paint! Two walls down. Two walls to go!

  23. Amanda says:

    It looks beautiful! And you’re right the room looks so much bigger. My walls are textured I’m wondering if I could do this? Also what happens if you want to remove it, since you used liquid nails?

    • Julia says:

      Ours are a very slight orange peel texture and a lower sheen paint will hide it will. Anything more textured, putting 1/4″ backer board before adding trim is a good idea.

      On the removal, why would you want to remove it?? ;)

  24. I love how moulding instantly adds character to the room. Can’t wait to see it with the wallpaper! So good to see your installation went quickly – we’ve got a weekend of moulding installation in our future too.

  25. As they say, the devil’s in the details. It’s amazing what a difference the wainscoting makes – the room design is instantly more intentional and, like you said, has so much more depth. Can’t wait to see the wallpaper you chose… We’re also installing a wallpaper feature wall in our nursery, and I’m so incredibly excited!

  26. I love how that wainscoting looks in there! It adds so much character and really does make the space appear larger. I can’t wait to see how the wallpaper turns out :)

  27. Kelly says:

    The wainscoting is BEAUTIFUL!!!! It makes such a difference in the nursery. I love following your projects and can’t wait to see next week????

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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