Ever since Chip and Joanna Gaines renovated their first home for the popular HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” the term shiplap has become not only a household word, but a word put to good use in a lot of households.
Shiplap by definition is wooden boards with grooves cut in the top and bottom allowing the pieces to fit together that have been commonly used as exterior siding on houses, barns or sheds way before the Gaineses brought it to everyone’s attention as an interior accent. When used on the interior of a home, shiplap boards are usually painted or stained white and mounted horizontally with gaps in between, which can create a rustic look that adds some interest to a particular space.
While using shiplap to add some punch to an interior wall is nothing new, getting creative and putting it in different areas can still be a great way to accentuate without going overboard on a trend you probably don’t want on every wall in your home.
Nashville builder Tommy Harris of Team Builders said using shiplap used to be something he used to do “once in a while,” but now it’s in almost every house he works on.
“Shiplap is transcending being just a farmhouse trend and is this whole modern thing now,” he said. “We are remodeling a house in Franklin where we just used shiplap in the back of some built-ins, on a wall in the butler’s pantry and a mudroom. Upstairs, we have shiplap behind every one of the bathroom vanities. It can be cool, elegant or modern and can mean different things in different places.”
Laura Hood is a commercial interior designer with STG Designs in Nashville and said shiplap is even being used commercially. She says it’s a timeless material.
“We bring it into a space to create visual interest and warmth,” she said. “A tie in back to nature brings warmth and texture to a space. We see it as a feature wall, behind a reception desk and on ceilings.”
LCT Team – Parks Realtor Marabeth Poole used touches of shiplap in her personal home, built by Tennessee Valley Homes. She has shiplap throughout her family room and kitchen ceilings as well as her covered porch.
“The back porch has a vaulted ceiling with an interesting, pickled finish,” Poole said. “One of my favorite spots is the shiplap hood above my range. Shiplap is definitely popular, but it is a classic building element with a timeless feel.”
McClain Franks, broker for Tennessee Valley Homes and Battle Ground Realty said shiplap is such a diverse material that adds great texture to any project.
“We have a lot of customers using it on fireplaces, islands, built-ins and hoods, as well as walls and ceilings. Shiplap is versatile as well in that it can bring a farmhouse feel to a space or painted black it can feel more modern.”
Cara Brock, of Cara Brock Interiors, works with Trace Construction on their new homes and says when done correctly, shiplap is a very tasteful way to add visual interest to pretty much any room.
“Shiplap has been around forever, but designers and builders now are doing more creative things with it,” Brock said. “I like to vary the sizes of it. Instead of all 1×6-sized boards, I’m using 4-inch boards or mixing 4-, 6- and 8-inch boards in a room. If you paint it white it has a Nantucket vibe to it. If you paint it dark it has a clean, more contemporary or modern type look.”
Although typically mounted horizontally, many designers are incorporating it vertically and in various shapes like diamond patterns, chevrons or squares.
“I think it adds texture and visual interest,” Brock added. “It engages you. It makes you look at it.”
The ABCs of shiplap
If you are someone who has seen shiplap and isn’t sure how to implement it in your own home, here are the professionals’ ABCs of what to do/not to do when it comes to the popular wood accent style.
A – Accent. While shiplap can and has been used on entire walls, a good place to start is an accent area. Pick a range hood, kitchen island, backsplash or drop station as a spot to add some shiplap. Builder Tommy Harris says, “Initially you could only put it on certain walls and now people are putting it anywhere. It makes a nice background in built-ins and can give the ceiling a little pizazz.”
B – Blend. Even though shiplap looks great in model homes, on Pinterest and on HGTV, it may or may not be the right element for your home. Designer Cara Brock says it’s important for your home to blend and flow. “You want the whole home to be cohesive,” she says. “Everything needs to be in harmony. You don’t want to have a rustic shiplap situation in one room and high gloss in the next. It is better to have all of those main rooms flow.”
C – Color. While the most popular uses for shiplap are the modern farmhouse style where boards are painted or stained a shade of white, they can also be painted bold, dark colors to give a space a more modern feel. So don’t be afraid to experiment with color. Designer Cara Brock says, “White is a crisp, clean color, but in terms of wood paneling the sky is the limit. Navy is a really pretty color these days, sage green, muted jewel tones. You can do whatever you want.”
D – Don’t. Even though there are many ways to use shiplap to add interest in your home, there are a few things you shouldn’t do. Our experts all agreed the worst mistake you can make is overdoing it. It’s meant to be a splash, not a theme throughout your entire home. Designer Cara Brock says, “You don’t need shiplap in every room. I might use it in the foyer and paint it a really dark color, but then I won’t use it again.”