For the Love of Shiplap: Adding Texture with the “New-Old” Wood Paneling

While many New England homes, both historic and newly built, include wood paneling, it has typically been of the iconic beadboard variety. But there’s a new kid in town; shiplap.

Beginning in the early 1900s, New Englanders often incorporated beadboard into rustic beach cottages and hunting cabins, and the utilitarian spaces of a home; kitchens, mudrooms, back hallways, etc. Made with the remnants of millwork, beadboard was durable and inexpensive.

At about the same time, far away in a land called Texas, shiplap had similar origins. A nearly indestructible material relegated to cabins and kitchens, it was considered the “blue jeans” of the lumberyard.

Flash forward to 2018 and shiplap has firmly taken hold as a wall treatment in homes throughout the U.S. including in New England.

2015-12-Hingham&Showroom-©Cutrona-5382 (714x661)

It was about five years ago that shiplap began making its mark in New England, about the same time we added what we call the “Urban Farmhouse” display, which includes shiplap-lined walls, to our South Shore kitchen and bath showroom. It was also five years ago that Fixer Upper”, the HGTV phenomena filmed in Texas starring Joanna and Chip Gaines, made its debut.

A coincidence? We think not.

If Chip Gaines revealed hidden shiplap on what he joyously referred to as “demo day,” chances were wife Joanna was going to build her design around the vintage wood paneling.

With a look that can be either country or contemporary, depending on how it’s used and the way it’s finished, shiplap’s appeal is nearly universal.

“Shiplap is hot in New England, but it’s getting used differently than it is on “Fixer Upper,” says Judy Whalen, design director at Roomscapes. “In Texas, it might be the interior finish in an entire room. Here we do it as an accent treatment.”

kitchens with shiplap

One example of using it as accent is in a kitchen and bath renovation we recently completed in a home on Cape Cod.

“Shiplap was in the rest of the house, so I brought it into the kitchen to make it feel cohesive; to create a sense of flow,” says Judy of her design which includes shiplap as an accent on either side of the range.

And rather than stopping the shiplap where the kitchen ended, Judy opted to wrap an adjacent alcove in it as well.

“I wanted it to feel like a whole, like ‘oh, here’s the shiplap again,’” says Judy of her decision to incorporate it in the alcove. She also used it on the lower portion of the walls in the home’s new spa-like bath.

bathroom with shiplap

When Judy began contemplating her design for our display at 7 Tide in Boston, she wanted to use shiplap, but in a technique other than as a wall treatment.

“I wanted to see if we could use shiplap differently, repurpose the way in which it was used into something unexpected,” says Judy. “I wondered if it could translate into cabinetry facing, if we could construct cabinets with it that would feel built-in, a part of the architecture.”

Our carpentry and fabrication teams do so like a challenge, and they expertly brought Judy’s vision to life…beautifully.

“I thought it was show-stopping stunning,” says Judy of the completed display.

IMG_0243 (544x443)

Judy isn’t the only one at Roomscapes who is a fan of shiplap.

“I like the nice lines, the symmetry of shiplap,” says John Hall, one of our carpenters and cabinet installers. “It’s a clean look.”

An island for a kitchen renovation in Hingham that John and the team have been working on is shaping up to be another “show-stopping stunning” piece.

ship lap island (2)

“I like how the shiplap is wrapped around the entire island, not just on the front,” says John. When finished, the not-quite-black shade of brown on the shiplap is certain to make the island the focal point of the kitchen.

“Shiplap is casual yet understated, it has a sophistication to it,” says Judy of its wide appeal. “It’s interesting.”

We couldn’t agree more!