Now I’m aware that after nearly ten years together (for some of us) I don’t need to tell you this; but if ever you were having a wobble about how to redecorate know that I read this week in one publication that the trend for tongue and groove was definitely over. The following day I read a long list of interiors trends for 2021 which said that “textured joinery” is definitely having a moment.
There are two points to note here. One is basically trend-schmend, you must simply take the time to decide what you like and carry on. The second is that what is billed as a new trend (so magazines and stores can appear fresh) is often exactly the same as the old one with a different name. Thus tongue and groove aka shiplap aka a version of panelling aka textured joinery is all the same thing. New year new name. It’s all sticking bits of wood onto the wall either because you like the look of it or because you want to hide some shoddy plasterwork.
The point being that you can (and should) decorate however you damn well please and if necessary you can give it a new name and have people falling over themselves at your fashion forwardness. My current trend of choice is probably Natural Rustic, which will reveal itself to be quite dusty with lots of holes in a faded colour palette.
But the other thing is that as soon as someone declares a fashion to be over it’s usually when most of us are just getting round to installing it. So it is with tongue and groove, many people have had it for years while others are just coming round to it and, in period properties at least, it’s a classic look. It’s also a good way of bringing in another colour to your scheme – the lower walls and woodwork in one and the top half and ceiling in another – this will make the room look cosy and the ceiling taller.
It’s also a lot easier to install than traditional Victorian or Georgian panelling. There are lots of online tutorials about how to DIY. but the key point is that it’s perfect for kitchens and bathrooms (as seen here) whatever their age. We installed some in the bathroom of our last house (over 10 years ago) as it was a cold room and we felt the wood would be warmer than tiles.
Above you can see it in utility room with an extra layer of utility in the form of the painted Shaker pegs round the top. This also works well in kids rooms for storage and if you paint the woodwork in eggshell, or even gloss, it will create a tough wipe clean surface that won’t mind being bashed about.
Above and below you can see it in the bathrooms of Melanie Lissack (hers is painted Farrow & Ball Treron) and Sophie Robinson (who chose wallpaper by Ottoline Devries for hers). Melanie lives a fabulous Georgian house while Sophie is in a Sussex farmhouse and both take this style of decor really well.
But if you live in a new build and want to add character then tongue and groove is also your friend. Use wider boards and stick to a modern colour palette. Cream might look more traditional but black or navy or even brighter shades will give it a fresh look when paired with modern furniture and styles.
Basically when a “trend” works for everyone in every style of house you can expect it to stick around for a while with or without a name change. So all you have to do is take a few minutes to decide if you like it because you like it or if you like it because it’s a bit fashionable – which isn’t wrong by the way but leads you to a second question – and will you still like it when it’s “over”? Know that, find your interior style and away you go.