In this article we are going to have a deeper look at one of the most versatile coverings: boiserie (from the French bois, wood). Depending on the configuration of choice (low, middle or full) and the chosen material and finishes, wood paneling can set the style and the atmosphere of the entire house. Let’s find out more!

boiserie Versailles
Interiors of the appartement intèrieur du Roi at Chateau Versailles

The first examples of boiserie appeared in France between the 17th and 18th centuries, and they were used as precious decoration in the most luxurious mansions. In Versailles there are many examples of walls, doors and partition covered with painted boiserie or decorated with wooden frames.

It is not by chance that, even today, we associate the elegance of boiserie with representative rooms, historical mansions or classic style apartments.

Indeed, boiserie is one of the most eclectic and surprising wall coverings of all.

To what is owed this versatility? Mainly from the fact that wood is a variegated and everchanging material.

Modern boiserie

Do you think that 3D wall cladding and frames are not suitable for modern minimalism?

Maybe, but not necessarily.

A boiserie can easily fit a contemporary context, given that it is lightened by a slim frame and neutral shades of color.

With the right touch, a boiserie will be in line even with the most modern apartment.

On the contrary, it will become the focus point of the room, the decorating item capable of enhance a minimalist furniture.

In some cases, the boiserie can work as a dividing element between the domestic environments, most of all when spaces are fluid and connected.

boiserie carminati
A custom made boiserie from

On the other hand, they can also create a unique style and act as a common thread in the home’s design. Boiseries, in fact, can do so even more efficiently than a palette color guide. The reason lies in the tridimensionality and the strong scenic impact they have.

Whether it is classic or modern, a boiserie never goes unnoticed.

Concerning style, modern boiseries are characterized by squared frames, without decorations and opaque colors in the shades of grey, white and dusty tones. There are, however, some examples of wooden panels painted in bright and daring colors, with the purpose of creating a sharp and expressive contrast.

Wooden paneling for every style

Even though plaster or stucco are becoming more popular in contemporary design, the material par excellence for a boiserie is wood.

But which wood should you use? Is it better to use pre-assembled decorative panels or to create a customized version using rough wood to decorate as we like?

To make a shabby chic boiserie it would be ideal to use natural wood boards and whiten them, or paint them in pastel colors, adding, if necessary, scratch or spatula effects.

boiserie shabby
A wooden panel colored in pastel purple, in pure Shabby Chic style, from Shabbylab

If you want to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, typical of the mountain houses, the best choice is dark wood boiserie (walnut, beech, durmast) which could be either matching or in contrast with the floor and the baseboard.

To give a classic and refined style to your living room or a classic style apartment you can get inspired by the classic baroque style of the first boiseries of 18th century France.

At the time, walls were covered by inlaid wooden panels decorated with frames, stuccos and lavish carvings. Classic boiseries of this kind are perfectly matched in neoclassic style homes, which are really trending now, especially if mixed with modern items and design icons.

All the advantages of a boiserie

The purpose of a boiserie is not only decorative.

In mountain homes, wooden panels enhance the thermal insulation of the walls, thus improving domestic comfort.

Boiseries in wood or other materials can also provide a valid acoustic insulation.

Modern materials such as polypropylene are ideal against humidity and mold.

Of course wooden boiseries have a unique charme, but also thermoplastic materials can become decorative elements, since they can be painted in basically every tint.

boiserie archiproducts
A classic boiserie with integrated storage unit from

From a designer perspective, the frames are very functional, especially when there is a problem with space and proportions. Depending on how they are mounted and assembled, frames help creating optical effects that make the room feel larger or smaller.

Different shapes and colors, if overlapping, can create visually strong corners, giving personality even to the most anonymous space.

Finally, the boiserie can hide potential imperfections of the walls, creating a uniform surface which is completely customizable, giving order and continuity to the spaces.


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