Your hallways can set the scene for the rest of the color schemes throughout your home, and by using paneling ideas for walls you can create spaces rich with character and charm. Wooden paneling was traditionally used in houses for insulation, but soon became a beautiful decorative feature that was included on walls in hallways and the rooms beyond for decoration. Decor and insulation aside, hallway paneling is hugely practical, offering much more resistance to scuffs and knocks than wallpaper or paint alone can.

Modern hallway paneling ideas

Mixing modern elements, such as contemporary paneling styles, with traditional, such as paneling paint ideas, bold wallpaper designs and modern panel shapes, you can create vibrant hallway paneling ideas that unite the old with the new. So whether you want to update the traditional paneling in your hallway with paint, or make your own paneling and add a traditional architectural feature to a modern hallway, these modern hallway paneling ideas will offer you some inspiration.

1. Choose a unique geometric design  

There is an array of hallway paneling styles out there to choose from, from classic board and batten to sleek tongue and groove, but for a modern hallway, why not use a unique geometric design that makes the most out of your space?  ‘In this large entryway, the front door is defined by an intricate paneling effect, with the paneling used throughout the space embracing a similar style,’ says Homes & Gardens’ Editor in Chief Lucy Searle. ‘The white panels used beside the stairs mirror the gradual rise of the steps, a clever design detail that unites contrasting features together – a great choice for stair paneling ideas. ‘The overall design is fresh and uplifting, and by using a neutral, calming palette, your attention is drawn to the sophisticated use of contrasting geometric shapes.’

2. Paint your paneling a timeless gray

Gray has rapidly become an increasingly popular shade to decorate with in the modern home, with gray hallway ideas guaranteed to create a long-lasting scheme that can coordinate with changing furniture pieces and décor ideas over time.  Painting the paneling in your hallway a timeless gray shade is a subtle way to add a contemporary twist to a traditional feature. Gray can act as the perfect backdrop to a scheme, and makes for a stylish, sophisticated entrance to the home.

3. Use all one color

For a more dramatic effect, painting hallway paneling and the walls all one color will create a enhanced, modern scheme that celebrates color.  Choosing a monochromatic color scheme is a great way to add a contemporary flair to traditional paneling in a hallway space.  In this design, the paneling and walls have been painted a deep blue-gray shade, creating a bold yet relaxing design that welcomes you into the home.

 4. Choose a tongue and groove style

‘Tongue and groove paneling is a well-established, traditional hallway paneling method. The style refers to the use of two flat pieces of wood mounted side by side, creating a clean, single flat surface.  ‘A cozy and inviting design, the style is also very practical for a hallway space, adding a solid layer of protection to the walls – ideal in an area such as hallway that has a lot of heavy use,’ says Andrea Childs, Editor, Country Homes & Interiors. Choosing warming hallway paint ideas, like in the hallway above by Neptune (opens in new tab), will enhance the tactile, textured look, creating a unique architectural feature that is stylish and inviting.

5. Be bold with paint ideas

A simple coat of paint in a bold, contemporary shade is an easy way to make hallway paneling feel fresh and new.  Using colors and paint ideas that are present throughout the rest of your home will create a cohesive scheme bursting with personality.  ‘In this hallway, the palette of colors used create a stand out space. The pale, painted pink paneling creates a beautiful contrast with the warming, natural wood floor and blue painted stairs, with elements such as the colorful floor tiles tying all elements together,’ says Jennifer Ebert, Homes & Gardens’ Digital Editor.

 6. Enhance your wallpaper with painted paneling

Wallpaper and paneling are two design features that work harmoniously together. For hallway wallpaper ideas, wooden paneling can act as a luxurious frame to a wallpaper design, enhancing the look with added texture and color.  Painting your hallway paneling in an accent shade that complements your wallpaper will create a bold, contemporary design, perfect for your hallway as well as for living room paneling ideas.

7. Uplift your hallway with white paneling

‘Simple yet effortlessly effective, decorating with white does not have to be boring –quite the opposite, in fact,’ says Homes & Gardens’ Editorial Director Sarah Spiteri. ‘Styled in the right way, white hallway paneling can create a refreshing, elegant design – a great option for ceiling paneling ideas also. ‘Ideal if your hallways are on the smaller size, using white painted paneling can make the area feel bright and spacious whilst still adding texture and character. When paired with other accent colors, the overall effect can make for a timeless design.’ In this hallway, the green accent color lifts the all white scheme, with the dark black furniture creating an elegant contrast.

8. Pick a square paneled design

Square hallway paneling, also known as Jacobean style paneling, creates a neat and sophisticated decorative feature for your hallway space.  Traditionally crafted from solid wood, this style is defined by the symmetrical placement of squares, forming an elegant grid effect. In this hallway, the paneling has been painted in a soothing off-white shade, creating a tranquil atmosphere that unites traditional features with a clean and contemporary look.

9. Use practical paneling

The hallway is a high traffic, multipurpose area in the home, so it pays to ensure that your design schemes are both stylish and practical.  The storage cabinets in this hallway have been crafted to mirror the traditional tongue and groove paneling used on the walls. Painted in a calming mint green shade, the overall paneled effect in this hallway embraces tradition but with added elements of modern practicality. This is also a handy tip for bathroom paneling ideas where space can often be limited. 

10. Enhance your paneling with artwork

A great way to enhance the artwork in your hallway by creating an additional framed element, hanging artwork in the center of traditional board and batten paneling can create an eye-catching focal point in a hallway, ideal for wall décor ideas. The artwork and two decorative wall lamps in this modern, art-deco inspired hallway space have been mounted on sleek white paneling, providing an elegant backdrop that adds emphasis to the decorative designs.

How do you decorate a hallway with paneling?

There are two main ways to decorate a hallway with paneling.  Either, update the existing, traditional paneling in your hallway with paint and wallpaper, or if you’re in a modern property – build your own.  To add your own hallway paneling, pick a style that will enhance the size and character of the space, and embrace colors and shapes that connect with the rest of your home.  Helen Shaw, Director at Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab) states, ‘whether you opt for traditional symmetrical patterns, the simple elegance of tongue and groove, or a more contemporary geometric design, ensure that you have thought through how the installation will work. ‘Careful planning is essential so you can ensure that the joins work and that you’ve thought of practical considerations such as how it will work in relation to plug sockets, fireplaces and doors’.

Can hallway paneling be modern?

Using dynamic paint schemes and added elements such as wallpaper and artwork can create a vibrant, modern design with hallway paneling.  Uniting traditional, architectural features with contemporary color schemes and modern spaces can create beautiful interior designs that reinvent traditional features. Do not be afraid to use hallway paneling in your modern home or add color to your traditional paneling in a period property, a mix of styles can make for a refreshing design that is completely personal to you.