Tips For Pulling Off Shiplap Walls Without Going Full Farmhouse

Incorporate this country staple into a chic urban abode.

Eric Piasecki

Let's face it, we all love Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV's "" and their incredible taste in design. It's no secret that the powerhouse (emphasis on house) couple loves shiplap, but if you don't live in, say, Waco, Texas like them, you may not feel so comfortable incorporating the style into your urban dwellings.

Don't despair shiplap lovers: Even if you reside in a city, you can pull off these farmhouse-style wooden boards. Our proof? Two urban interior designers with a passion for the material. Read on to snag their savvy tips for using shiplap in your home.

Keep Spacing Uniform

Got a nickel? Great, then you can pull off a contemporary shiplap look.

"When you use shiplap, clean installation is what makes it look contemporary rather than country," says Nashville-based interior designer . "Use a nickel as a spacer between boards to give it a very uniform, modern look."

In this Nashville home Arnold designed, an entire wall of the guest bedroom is covered in uniformly-spaced shiplap — even the closet doors.

shiplap walls
Courtesy of Jason Arnold


If you're trying to send a message along the lines of "Greetings, folks, I'm Tom Bunyan!" then go on, leave that shiplap bare. Otherwise, always paint or stain the wood.

"White painted shiplap has a bit of a Cape Cod look that's clean and fresh, so it's terrific for a kitchen, laundry room or bathroom," says , a London-based interior designer, who designed the California home below. "If you have a smaller space you want to add some interest to, however, paint it either a [more dramatic] dark or bright color."

Eric Piasecki

Get 'Em Glossy

A major perk of adding shiplap to your home is that it offers texture that drywall lacks. Still, that doesn't mean your walls have to look like you're roughin' it.

"I've painted shiplap high gloss before, and that gives it a very contemporary look, but you still get the shiplap texture, which is key," says Arnold.

His tip for an über modern look: Cover an entire room in shiplap, and paint it in high-gloss white.

Stick To Horizontal Boards (Usually)

Horizontal boards are best for creating a space that feels expansive and modern.

"I tend to use horizontal boards more often than vertical boards," says Arnold. "It can really expand a space, making it feel larger than vertical boards can. Horizontal boards also feel more contemporary."

However, vertical boards can be ideal for rooms with high ceilings.

"In much taller rooms, I'd pick vertical boards," says Konig. "It's also quite nice to mix horizontal and vertical boards to give a tall room a break."

In the case of mixing boards, line the bottom of the wall with horizontal boards and install vertical boards above. This creates a varied design that provides a visual break in a massive room.

Eric Piasecki

Try It Out In Small Doses

As mentioned before, horizontal boards can make a small space seem larger. But as with any new project, it's worth trying shiplap in a small area before you commit to a larger portion of your home.

"Shiplap is good on every wall in a small powder room," says Arnold. "You can also incorporate it in a backsplash or an accent wall to add texture. If you use it on an accent wall, paint it the same colors as the rest of the wall for a clean, modern feel that still offers a variety in texture."

An added benefit of using shiplap in kitchens or bathrooms: It's incredibly easy to clean.

Blend It With Other Materials

Arnold suggests mixing shiplap with materials like brick, marble or concrete for a contemporary, urban aesthetic.

"Bringing in wood automatically softens the space to help counteract really cold concrete or brick, which is common in urban lofts," says Arnold. "It's also really great with marble or any other type of stone."

If you have a kitchen with, say, marble counters, try accenting the backsplash with shiplap. Alternatively, if your living room has plenty of exposed brick, try one accent wall in shiplap.

Courtesy of Jason Arnold

Finally, Mix The Width Of The Boards

A six-inch board is typically a good place to start when it comes to selecting size, but don't be afraid to mix it up.

"I love mixed-width boards in both flooring and walls," says Konig. "You get a relaxed look, and you really don't notice the differences until somebody points it out."

Eric Piasecki

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