a linear fireplace surrounded by horizontal planks with a dried boxwood plant in the forefrontWe’ve all heard of shiplap walls unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade. That’s when Joanna and Chip Gaines of Fixer Upper came on the scene to the masses. Shortly thereafter, it seemed everyone was decorating in Joanna’s farmhouse style. Then followed the newly built black and white modern farmhouses – they started popping up everywhere and shiplap became a household word.

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a desk with a laptop in front of a shiplap wall with a piece of aart

This is modern farmhouse style

Shiplapped entrance hallway farmhouse style black and white
Farmhouse exterior black and white

I'll admit I was a little skeptical.

I grew up in New England where classic homes with gorgeous millwork abound so I had seen these boards installed both horizontally and vertically many, many times…especially in beach homes. We call it planks or panels or beadboard (which actually has a small bead between the boards). And none of the homes I laid eyes on looked like the photos above.

Scott Sidler of The Craftsman Blog has a great explanation: “Shiplap is a 1x board that has a special rabbet or notch cut on the edges of the board in an alternating fashion. These rabbets allow the boards, when installed horizontally, to self-space themselves and keep water from getting behind them because they fit so perfectly.”

That would be pretty important for a boat, right? 

Wooden board with notched edges
The Craftsman Blog

Sheathing and Clapboard

Individual planks are fitted with tongue and groove and that’s usually what you see. What the Gaineses find behind the sheetrock is called sheathing – just plain squared-edged boards nailed next to each other, but let’s be honest, shiplap sounds so much sexier.

Older homes used clapboard for exterior siding so when homeowners wanted to enclose a porch they often left the clapboard in place and it became a wall on the interior. This has always been very common in coastal areas – think beach cottage. These boards overlap so they’re not exactly planks, but it’s the same idea and gives the appearance of a shiplap wall.

Enclosed porch addition with green clapboard

Rooms can be designed intentionally to look like
the exterior was enclosed

Sunroom addition with clapboard

Here’s a gorgeous example by ID Audrey Sterk. I can’t tell if it’s a recently enclosed porch or part of the original home, but when it looks this good it doesn’t matter!

Another example is shown in the following 2 photos – the owners’ suite in the Southern Living 2019 Idea House. ID Heather Chadduck designed the walls with planks and bracing, reinforcing the idea the room was once a porch. (And the perfect shiplap wall behind the bed.)

Bedroom with planking and bracing on the walls featuring a canopy bed
Bedroom sitting area overlooking Amelia River

It’s a new build, folks. The home is in Amelia Island, FL, and boasts the Amelia River as its backyard.

I couldn’t get enough of this house – visited it 4 times, noticing something new during each visit. During the last day of the home tours, I saw Heather gathering a few of her personal items because the house had sold and the new owners were anxious to move in (fully furnished ❤️).

So…are you beginning to notice a theme here?


Planks installed horizontally or vertically will always be classic in coastal/lake homes. Therefore, saying “shiplap is out” is a non sequitur.

My husband and I live in a craftsman bungalow in a beach town in Florida. The home was void of any architectural character. During a full renovation, we added tons of charm through millwork – craftsman-style moulding. We wrapped our large island with squared-off horizontal planks placed 3/8″ apart. It adds dimension and design and relates to the fireplace wall across the room which also has squared-off planks.

Kitchen island with green horizontal planks
©2019 D. Miko Designs, LLC

Now that we know the difference between sheathing and planks let’s get on to the drool-worthy photos. There’s some serious inspiration here…I can’t decide which I like better!

Horizontal Planks

Going horizontal makes the room look wider and works great with the modern farmhouse, coastal, and rustic aesthetics.  Shiplap wall, anyone?

Living room horizontal planks orange art
Bunk room horizontal planks
Twin iron beds horizontal planks
L-shaped banquette horizontal planks
Mudroom with horizontal planks

Vertical Planks

Installing vertically makes the room look taller. Vertical planks are timeless and work well in traditional, transitional, coastal, and rustic homes. They also work beautifully as a backsplash in a kitchen.

Kitchen green cabinets with vertical plank backsplash
Corner banquette with horizontal planks & wooden propellers on wall
A black range with marble slab backsplash and vertical planks as backsplash behind the cabinetry
Living room with vertical planks
Blue and white bedroom with vertical planks
Bunkroom with vertical planks
Bathroom with vertical planks
Canopy bed with vertical planks


Beadboard is vertical – narrow planks with a bead in between. It works beautifully in cottages, bungalows, and Cape Cod style homes, among others, and is extremely popular in New England.

Living room with green beadboard
2-story living room with white beadboard
Mudroom with beadboard

Paneled Ceilings

This style makes the room look taller while adding charm and dimension. Plus, it’s a great way to cover those popcorn ceilings.

Corner banquette with paneled ceiling
Pale green kitchen paneled ceiling
Bedroom paneled ceiling ocean view

While most of the photos above show gorgeous custom millwork, I have a secret. Many of these planks come in large sheets like wood paneling from the 70s. For a quicker, more affordable way to get the look and elevate your room’s style, visit your local hardware store for these sheets and you too can have a shiplap wall.

Remember, vertical or horizontal planking is appropriate in several home architectural styles, but not every style.

Is it right for your home?

Keep Dancing, Darlene