How To Make Tongue & Groove Modern |

How To Make Tongue & Groove Modern

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Often associated with country kitchens and old school bathrooms, tongue and groove hasn’t always been considered a contemporary décor statement, but it’s staging a comeback for 2016 – having been spied in some of the most modern and chic of homes. Instantly adding texture, warmth and character to a room, it also happens to be highly practical – covering up bad plasterwork, withstanding wear and tear and having the added bonus of being pretty affordable. We called on the interior design heavyweights to see how to pull it off...

How can you make tongue and groove look modern? 

“With a strong punch of colour; painting it a strong shade such as dark charcoal or a deep red takes it beyond the ‘traditional’ look.” – Karen Howes, Founder & Chief Executive at Taylor Howes Designs

“If used without detailing or borders it can have quite a Swedish minimal look which is really contemporary, especially if painted in cool neutrals. As with all things it depends on the environment and accessories you add in, so opt for clean-lined or simply-patterned accessories to go with.” – Sarah Ellison, Interior Designer, Frank & Faber 

“Keep the detail to a minimum e.g. no fancy hooks, pegs and shelves and try dark greys and inky blue shades.” – Mary Graham, Interior Designer, Salvesen Graham 

“If using it in a kitchen, make sure your cabinets do not have Shaker detailing (the kind which have a sunken centre panel) and use it in unexpected ways – horizontally rather than vertically for example.” – Natalia Miyar, Design Director at Helen Green Design


How much does it cost? 

“You can buy quite cheap, standard sheets of tongue and groove or you can cheat and use an MDF flat panel and apply the grooves to get the same aesthetic.” – Sarah Ellison Interior Designer, Frank & Faber

“If you are working with tighter budgets, purchase it ready-made in sheets from building suppliers.” – Karen Howes, Founder & Chief Executive at Taylor Howes Designs  

“Real tongue and groove can actually end up cracking after a few years so MDF is a very good option... Provided it is fitted and painted properly it’s a long-lasting alternative that can look really chic.” – Jane Churchill, Interior Designer


How would you advise using it? 

“For bedrooms, you can use tongue and groove across a whole wall as a feature, however it also looks great as a small section, for example as a splashback in the kitchen or as part-panelling in bathrooms with painted walls above.” – Karen Howes, Founder & Chief Executive at Taylor Howes Designs

“Whole walls do look great but I also love it half-height. For a more contemporary finish do a vertical line at the top instead of a shaped moulding border.” – Sarah Ellison, Interior Designer, Frank & Faber

“We like to use it in parts of the house that are prone to wear and tear – hallways, laundry areas or in a pantry.”  – Robert Angell, Interior Designer  



Any other tips? 

“Just keep details to a minimum, use a simple skirting and cornices and don’t be tempted by any decorative flourishes!” Mary Graham


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