Inside Job

10 ways to transform your timber home's walls from ordinary to extraordinary.

Inside Job
Something funny happens to people when they build timber frame homes: They get caught up in a whitewashed frenzy. Many are so worried about taking away from the beauty of their wood posts and beams that they opt for sterile, vanilla walls throughout every inch of their houses. Others are brave enough to clad a few walls in tongue-and-groove pine paneling -- in a shade that perfectly matches the hue of their timberwork, of course.

The truly daring know that beyond white paint or pine panels, there's much more to timber frame wall treatments. Incorporating different textures to your walls through faux finishes, fabric, stone and even paper truly can enhance your beams rather than detract from them. "Texture is one of the best ways to add depth to a room's decor," says Elaine Griffin, a New York-based interior designer. "It can create the mood of another period or even provide a sense of peace and tranquility."

So how do you enter this new, uncharted territory? Try these 10 alternatives to plain white walls and give them the red-carpet treatment.

Faux Painting

One of today's hottest trends is to create an aged patina.  By using a wash or an antiquing technique on painted walls, you can create a timeless look.


Rather than relying on busy prints and patterns that could look outdated in less than a decade, the latest wallpaper craze is texture.  New designs feature raised patterns that evoke woven linen, stucco, pressed tin, soft fabric and more.


You don't have to stencil the entire room to get the desired effect.  A few stenciled leaves peeking around a corner add intrigue; a collection of stenciled cowboy hats in a hallway sounds a note of whimsy.

Stone, Brick and Tile

Using brick on an interior wall has its advantages:  it's durable and requires little or no maitnenance.  Stoen is equally versatile.  By using interior stone accents, you can bring the exterior elements of your home inside.

Bamboo, Cork and Wicker

As one of the strongest natural fibers, bamboo adds an exotic note to ordinary decor and contrasts nicely with classic timberwork.  Wicker is also entering the wall-decor arena.  Some decorators are beginning to experiment with weaving walls from split cane.

Venetian Plaster

One thing to keep in mind about Venetian plaster:  It's not easy to reverse.  Since it's a textured finish, painting over it isn't as simple as it might seem.

Broken-China Mosaic

Every timber frame home is unique, so why not accent it with an equally unique wall-treatment.  To create this look, assemble a colorful array of tile and old china pieces and affix them to the wall with tile glue or cement.

Shimmer Paint

According to the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute, the hottest trend in home decorating is sheen and shimmer, so add a little sparkle to your home with sophisticated glossy paints.  In a timber frame home, shiny walls can play up the natural luster of the wood beams.

Fabric Coverings

If you want your walls to look and feel good, consider padding them with fabric or leather.  If you're looking for something you can do yourself, try "panelizing" your walls with fabric-wrapped panels.

Architectural Details

Add interest to a flat wall surface with a raised panel design.  Traditioanally used on doors and cabinetry, raised panels lend a unique architectural element to a wall. To read the full story on pulling off an inside job, see the April issue of Timber Frame Homes Magazine.

Story by Stacy Durr Albert