parisian wall paneling

How to Transform Your Room With Parisian Wall Paneling

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Whether you’re inspired by Parisian apartments or just want to add a little bit of class and glam to your home, Parisian wall paneling is definitely the way to go. It can transform any room and make it look like a million bucks. Good news? You don’t have to hire a contractor to do it. Here’s how you can do it yourself!

How to Transform Your Room With Parisian Wall Paneling…yourself!

I’ve had some requests to dive deeper into my Parisian-inspired wall molding after posting about my office and I was thrilled that there is an interest for more! One, because it’s a really cool project, and two, because I was planning on doing it anyway! 😉

If you saw my office update then you’ve already seen the finished product of the wall panelings, but this post will be more technical as I explain how to do this project yourself.

Yes, I’m a girl that can “get dirty”, but my husband, Titus, did this project himself. So even if I say “we” I mostly mean him. It’s way above my skill level…I’m still on the building a kid’s table level! 😉 Which is still pretty cool though…

First, let me wow you with a before and after before I dig into the technicalities!

The decorative wall panels are subtle yet dramatic at the same time. It’s perfect if you like glam, but even more perfect if you’re going for a Parisian apartment look since the majority of apartments have some sort of molding like this!

Step 1- Start with a smooth wall

This step is really for the best visual outcome.

In my office, underneath 3 layers of wallpaper revealed faux wood panels. We decided to rip all of that out and underneath remained really beat-up sheetrock.

Instead of fixing up the sheetrock (because we’re not super great at large-scale joint compound projects), we installed plain white panel boards from Menards for around $7 (if I remember the price correctly).

I’m glad we did this because it gave it a super smooth finish, which helps to make it look extra fabulous. Titus used a circular saw for cutting the white panels and plywood, but you could use a table saw if you have a setup that can handle large panels.

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create parisian wall moldings

If you already have smooth walls you should be good, but you want the boxes to be smooth and if you have textured walls, consider skim coating them first.

Step 2- Decide on the look that you want

There are so many different ways to do wall paneling/Parisian-inspired molding, some more intricate than others. Decide on the type of look you are going for and sketch it out on the wall to get an idea of what it would look like. You can copy what I did or feel free to get lots more ideas here!

(below) You can see that we drew out the style to scale of what I wanted. Once we knew the size, we were able to get our measurements.

DIY wall moldings

Step 3- Frame out your boxes

Now depending on the look you’re going for, things may be a little different for you here on out, but next, we framed out the boxes with plywood. We did this to hide the gaps that the white panels left. It also adds another layer of depth and interest but isn’t necessary. You can skip this part and just put the trim right on the wall if you want.

We used quarter-inch plywood panels cut to size. Everything went on with an airgun.

Step 3- Install your “picture frames”

After you framed out your boxes with plywood, it’s time to install your picture frames i.e, create your boxes with trim! We used trim that had a quarter-inch groove in the back so it would sit on the edge of the quarter-inch plywood.

We got everything for this project from Menards and Titus used a chop saw to cut the trim.

(below) Don’t mind our gaps on the ceiling. We reinstalled the crown molding that was already in this room before us. Note: I highly recommended crown molding to hide gaps and finish off the job beautifully!

parisian wall panelings before

You’ll also see that we made new baseboard heater covers- oh and by the way, there’s a tutorial here for that!

Step 4- Finish installing your trim

Depending on the style you chose, it’s time to finish installing the rest of your trim! For us, it was the thick middle part (just a basic wide wall trim that I picked out) that separated the two boxes. You can already see how the design draws your eye up and makes the room look bigger without even painting anything yet!

DIY wall moldings

Step 5- Prep to paint

Wood filler and caulk will be your best friends! Get everything filled in, sanded, and clean before you begin painting.

Step 6- Paint!

We taped off the whole room and used a paint sprayer. It takes a while to tape everything off, but in the end, it’s faster and the application is way better. Can you imagine painting all of those tiny boxes and edges by hand??

Just 6 steps give or take, sounds easy peasy right? 😉

It is a technical project and you have to do a lot of cutting and measuring, but it’s not crazy hard. It’s definitely time-consuming though! Just take your time, get more supplies than your plans call for, take your time on the cuts, and use plenty of wood filler and caulk.

Our project was a bit more time-consuming because we had to do work to make it look like we were starting with a smooth wall, but if you are already working with nice walls your project will be way easier. All you have to do is install trim!

I went with a more classic look, but you could do so many different wall panel designs! You could easily go modern or geometric, depending on your style and skill level. You could always buy a wooden panel wall decor as well to mimic the style you’re going for if customizing a whole room sounds too daunting. Or, just do one entire wall instead of an entire room! It’d make a great focal point.

This style doesn’t just have to be in a bedroom or office either! In a Paris apartment, you’d typically find these French wall panels/molding in a living room and sometimes a dining room.

If you want to take this classy wall panelling look a step further, you could even add molding to a door panel or any of your interior doors. It instantly adds a custom design to even the most basic door and the great thing is that it won’t take that long on such a small scale item!

If you love all things Parisian, then you’ll probably love my posts on French style. Check out my next post on 11 Ways To Nail a Classic French Style Clothing Look!

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Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.