Wood paneling was all the rage in the mid-20th century, before falling out of favor for decades. If you wanted an updated home, the first thing to go was the wood paneling on the walls. Bright, sleek colors were used to replace what was seen as dated wood textures.

But now wood paneling is back. People are finding clever ways to use it in a variety of modern styles. With some sleek geometry, creative stylings and light colors, wood paneling fits well into the updated, modern space. Read on for several ways to use wood paneling in your modern home.

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Wood Paneling Lines Geometry

Warm wood paneling creates great contrast with cool grays. Image: Heritage Construction Companies

Use wood paneling to create sleek lines

A wonderful aspect of wood paneling is that it can produce sleek geometry. By cutting the paneling into narrow strips, you can get a more lined, geometric look. Modern spaces are all about stark geometry, so this is a key way to use wood paneling in a modern style.

The photo above shows that changing the direction of paneling between the ceiling and the walls adds visual interest and bold geometry. You can also try switching it up, with narrow panels on the ceiling and wider panels on the wall.

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Wood Paneling Section Style

Wood paneling plays well with geometric elements like the vertical design over the balcony. Image: AGSIA Design Group

Create segmented spaces

Another way to incorporate modern wood paneling is to use it on just a small portion of the room. In the photo above, a narrow area of paneling surrounded by white walls actually helps the space look more modern. The wood area creates a sudden change in texture, generating visual interest.

The wood paneling also acts as a visual barrier for the sitting area by the TV, which is a good way to separate different spaces in the open-concept areas that modern spaces are known for.

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Wood Paneling Accent Wall Reclaimed

Wood paneling fits right into a rustic chic style. Image: Creative Floors

Opt for rustic chic

A popular modern style in homes is rustic chic. That’s where elements of rustic design combine with more modern elements. For instance, in the photo above, the rustic accent wall (made from reclaimed barn wood) complements the modern white chairs.

Another interesting element is the herringbone layout of the wall, demonstrating again the value of geometric designs. The distressed texture of the wood adds even more interest.

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Wood Paneling Three Dimensional

Three-dimensional wood paneling can be subtle and still have a huge impact. Image: Legacy Construction Northeast

Go for three-dimensional geometry

Yet another option for updating the idea of wood paneling is to try a more three-dimensional style. This is easy to accomplish: Simply raise a few panels above the main backdrop. It’s a funky style that fits well with modern styles, since modern aesthetics tend to veer towards creative geometry and three-dimensional home features.

What’s more, this idea is highly customizable. You could choose large square panels at different heights, like in the photo above, or opt for narrow, long panels. You could also go for smaller panels of different sizes for a collage effect.

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Wood Paneling Light Color

Light-colored paneling fits naturally with modern color schemes. Image: Berg Design Architecture

Use light colors and lots of windows

For a fresh take on a modern room, stick to paneling that has lighter colors. Lighter colors, in general, help the space feel more open. The light color of the walls breaks up the wood paneling on the ceiling and floors, and the light gray stone on the fireplace creates an interesting focal point.

Many people with modern tastes may consider an abundance of wood to feel cramped — likening it to a cozy cabin. The style above counters this fear with lots of natural light. We’ve also spent some time detailing additional ways to brighten up a space.

Wood paneling doesn’t have to feel tacky or dated. With any of these tips, it can actually work to your benefit in making a space feel more modern. Will you be incorporating this classic material into your home? Let us know about it below!