How to Decorate a Room with a Dado Rail

Far from being sad and stuffy, dado rails lend bucket loads of character to any setting. They accentuate the period charm of older properties and give the illusion of space. If you love modern or art-deco aesthetics, they provide contrast by separating block colours and geometric wallpaper prints.

However, many glaze over their full potential despite the myriad benefits, seeing them as cumbersome rather than intrinsically creative. Initially, painting around them may feel unnecessarily complicated. In reality, it couldn't be more straightforward.

Whether you're working with an existing rail or installing one brand-new, we're here to help. Keep reading as we run through six inventive ways to incorporate dado rails into your design scheme.

1.   Create space with the right positioning

If your interiors feel dark and dingy, use dado rails to give the illusion of space. When positioned correctly, they lengthen walls like a funhouse mirror and make ceilings appear much higher.

How do you know what height is right? As a rule, measure your wall floor to ceiling, then place the rail one-third of this length from the floor. For example, a nine-foot ceiling means your rail should be three feet from the floor.

Some guides may suggest specific measurements, but take these with a pinch of salt. If you install a rail at the same height for both a seven-foot and ten-foot ceiling, one will look wildly off-kilter. The placement should always be proportionate based on your unique measurements.

2.   Match the ceiling colour for added height

Matching the colour above your dado rail to the ceiling makes rooms feel more expansive. It replaces sharp boundaries with soft blended edges, convincing the mind there's limitless space above.

Use light and bright colours to achieve the maximum effect. Try dazzling whites, concrete greys or pale pastels. To capture the all-encompassing brilliance of summer, choose a palette bursting with sky blues, sage greens and vibrant yellows.

For added oomph, paint the bottom half of the wall with darker shades to anchor the room. The stark contrast stretches walls, making them seem taller than they are.

3.   Get artistic with colour blocks and clashing

Dado rails give you the perfect excuse to get artistic with colour because there's a clear distinction between top and bottom. 

For subtle contrast, choose two tones of the same colour or complementing neutrals like beige, sand, ivory and tan. If you're leaning towards an all-white or all-neutral design, the dado rail adds depth to stop rooms from looking flat.

As much as we love stripped-back schemes, why not use this opportunity to combine bold blocks of colour on the same wall? It's almost impossible to pull off in any other situation.

Go retro with clashing reds, oranges and blues. Bring the outside in by merging earthy greens and browns. For unbeatable luxury, draw from gemstone shades like amethyst and inky onyx. The possibilities are endless, which is why they’re continually in fashion.

4.   Combine wallpaper and paint

Are you stuck between paint and wallpaper? The trusty dado rail makes room for both. Together, they create visually exciting spaces with tonnes of texture and intrigue.

It doesn't matter which way around you do it. If you'd like the wallpaper to stand out, there's more space for it to shine above the rail. Dado wallpaper panels are a popular choice for vintage lovers. When hung on the lower part of the wall, they imitate highly ornate Georgian interiors and emphasise architectural features in older properties.

Nothing is stopping you from using different wallpapers on the same wall. Clashing geometric and Gatsby-esque prints scream art-deco. Finish the look with lacquered woodwork, metallic brass or chrome accents and bespoke furniture.

5.   Experiment with the rail itself

Using the dado rail itself is an effortless and cost-effective way to breathe new life into your home. There are plenty of styles to choose from to suit diverse surroundings, and they're fully paintable.

Contemporary homes benefit from slimline rails that divide rooms with a sliver of colour, whereas thicker designs invoke 1950's pop-art culture. If you're feeling fancy, some rails boast intricate designs and elegant carvings for a touch of luxury.

If you decorate your room in one colour, you can use the dado rail as a way to break the monotony. A shiny black rail interrupts the flatness of all-white rooms, or something more colourful injects playfulness into uninspiring interiors.

6.   Try a vertical or unusual placement

We know this is a little out there, but hear us out – why not place your dado rail vertically? It's an unconventional way to use this decorative moulding, but it frames wallpaper or focal points for extra emphasis.

You could have several different wallpapers or coloured paints striping the room for an unusual zebra effect or use the rails to border a living wall.

While this next idea doesn't feature a vertical placement, it's equally outside the box. Several innovative decorators have used dado rails for impromptu shoe racks – perfect if you don't have space for a walk-in wardrobe.

Find unique and on-trend dado rails for your home

At Cover Your Wall, we have an exceptional collection of high-quality dado rails from leading brands to transform your home. 

From Georgian to art-deco styles, we have something to suit every setting and taste. Whatever you choose, our dado rails promise to break up walls and add interest to drab decor. Plus, they're fully paintable and customisable.

Most excitingly, our CFC-free designs are cheaper and easier to install than traditional wood. Extraordinarily robust and shock-resistant to withstand knocks and scrapes, they'll look brand-new for years to come. 

There's no need to worry about the messy application process. Simply peel off the protective film and press the self-adhesive moulding strip into place for a long-lasting style.

We're committed to making sure you're delighted with our products and service. That's why we deliver your items the next day for free when you spend over £100 with us. With our price match guarantee, you know you're getting the highest quality products at an unbeatable value.

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