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Wall panels are here with a purpose

  • Interior Design
Mar 04, 2024
Wall Panelling - Beautiful Homes

From classic wood to modern materials, unlock the potential of your walls with insider tips from designer Khushboo Khandelwal

Beyond its utilitarian role of safeguarding walls, paneling adds dimension, texture, and refinement to interior spaces. With a diverse array of materials and styles available, from traditional wood paneling to modern interpretations in PVC and MDF, the options are as abundant as they are versatile.


In this Q&A, we engage with a seasoned Mumbai-based interior designer Khushboo Khandelwal of Studio Design Inc, a multidisciplinary architecture and interior design firm she runs with Kunal Khandelwal. With her expertise in wall paneling, she shares the intricacies of selection, installation, and aesthetic integration, guiding homeowners towards making informed decisions for their living spaces. Edited excerpts from the interview:

Beautiful Homes: What is the importance of wall paneling in home décor?

Khushboo Khandelwal: I think wall paneling should not be looked at as an isolated element, but as a shell that defines the story that you are trying to tell or the aesthetics that you are trying to build up for a space. Identifying what a space stands for is the key to crafting the right wall paneling.

Kunal Khandelwal and Khushboo Khandelwal of Studio Design Inc  - Beautiful Homes

Kunal Khandelwal and Khushboo Khandelwal of Studio Design Inc.

White marble wall panelling design – Beautiful Homes

A white mist-fluted marble wall panelling with grooves are featured in the dining room.

BH: In what ways does wall paneling contribute to the overall ambience or style of space?

KK: If you leave your walls bare in an interior project and fill the space with furniture, décor, art or accessories, the spaces can delink. Any form of wall paneling or wall treatment is crucial to establish a connection with the overall design of a space. For example, if you place two separate furniture pieces in a space, without anything around it, the objects might start looking like clutter, but with wall paneling or wall treatment, the space comes together. So, whether it’s a paneling with a heavy shell, lighter shell, or simple texture, it brings together the design aesthetics of that particular space.


BH: Can you share tips on selecting the right material and design for wall paneling based on different room styles?

KK: Once the space is defined the next step is to decide on paneling as per the functions of the space. For example, if you are designing a luxurious living area, you can have a rich textural element, more luxurious than the remaining spaces. In spaces where the functions are not clearly defined, we can experiment more. For example, the living area can have varying possibilities, unlike a bedroom where certain compositions and proportions are standard. A bedroom design is typically a little more pragmatic than a living space and the wall treatments also work accordingly, they might be softer or airier depending on your choice. In terms of being able to experiment with materials like leather paneling, you can always look at a den, a study or a family room where the space needs to be warmer and more intimate. The wall paneling also helps define the function of a space.

White wall panelling – Beautiful Homes

Maintaining a neutral colour scheme, the daughter's room has white wall panelling.

Fabric wall panelling design – Beautiful Homes

A fabric collage wall with myriad patterns in soft hues serves as the headboard.

BH: Are there any specific trends or innovative approaches in wall paneling that homeowners should consider?

KK: If you start with the simplest, that is paint, there are a lot of textures possible. The warm and cool paint textures are great to experiment with and easier to maintain. Veneer paneling too has seen innovation in terms of layering veneers or combining them with metal. Similarly, with leather or metal paneling, ombre features are introduced with pure brass or coloured panels. There are some exotic stones available too that the homeowners can use to create a highlight feature. A lot of Indian stones also offer beautiful textural possibilities with the way they are laid or cut. The possibilities are immense for any homeowner today. However, you mustn’t get carried away by these kinds of wall textures. You must remember that you are not making a display showroom or hotel, it is going to be a home. The choices should reflect the homeowner’s personality.


BH: Are there any eco-friendly or sustainable options for wall paneling?

KK: Wood as a paneling treatment has been around for years and while there are a lot of different versions of it, like veneers, it is still one of the features people end up using a lot. There is a lot of use of fabric, jute and bamboo panel shutters that are more sustainable. For second homes, farmhouses or homes near nature, you can use bamboo as screens which can also double up as wall paneling. You can also use a biophilic design where the landscape acts as a strong highlight feature and forms a backdrop.

Veneer wall panelling design – Beautiful Homes
A strong, black ash and veneer wall panelling renders a bold character to the space.
Kids bedroom wall panelling design – Beautiful Homes
A custom-designed playful world map in soft colours adds a personal touch to the kid’s bedroom.
Acoustic wall panelling design – Beautiful Homes
The charcoal black, red and grey panels made of PVC pipes consist of a custom-designed acoustic solution.
Brass wall panelling design – Beautiful Homes
A set of 2 grey upholstered armchairs sits in front of a large brass and ebony panelled wall.
Wooden wall panelling – Beautiful Homes
A light oak wood fluted wall envelops the living room.
Arches wall panelling design – Beautiful Homes
A wall panelling with arches helps in disguising several doors.
Marble wall panelling design – Beautiful Homes
The bedroom has a grey patterned marble headboard paired with brass strips.

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