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Modern Dado Rail Ideas

Modern Dado Rail Ideas

Posted by Skirting World on 15th Dec 2023

In home décor, it's often the little things that make the biggest difference. One such detail that can make a significant impact is the dado rail; a practical and aesthetically pleasing interior feature that has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. Along with the return of wall panelling, the dado rail has become an emerging trend in modern interior design.

Also known as chair rails, the dado rail has historic origins and is present in classical architecture around the globe. Initially intended to protect walls from damage that may be caused by chairs and other furniture, the dado rail has transcended this application in modern times, with it more prominently being a solely decorative fixture.

The dado rail often accompanied wall panelling, which was installed to conceal stains caused by rising damp, and this pairing can be witnessed in French chateaus, British palaces and even in the Taj Mahal.

Today we will explore this burgeoning trend, offering insight into how you should incorporate dado rails into your projects for a stylish and functional touch.

Modern Dado Rail Ideas

Finish off your Wall Panelling

This is the classic usage for your dado rail. Dado rails are an excellent way to give your walls a more sophisticated look, and when combined with wall panelling, dado rails can offer a beautiful and cohesive design.

This gives you the freedom to adapt your dado rail to suit your interior aesthetics. Those seeking classic, traditional interiors should opt for intricate dado rails and panelling which prominently features decorative mouldings and detailed design. Consider a serpentine Ogee Profile for a classic look, or the Antique 2 for a unique and ornate design.

However, those who are looking to compliment contemporary stylings may wish to choose shaker style half wall panelling, which can then be topped with a modern Dado rail. Our 324 MDF Dado Rail is a great example of a rail with contemporary features. The more minimally inclined may prefer a sleek Bullnose style.

Finish off your Wall Panelling with Dado Rail

Make your space feel larger

Decorating a small home is often a daunting task. Limits on available space result in limits on decorating options, and it can be difficult to walk the line between cosy and cramped.

Whilst a dado rail can’t add square metres to your home, a cleverly positioned dado rail can work wonders at creating the illusion of space.

Placing your dado rail ¾ of the way up your wall creates a classy look that works well to add some depth to your rooms. This effect can be bolstered by painting contrasting colours above and below your rail, creating a two-tone effect that can work wonders to visually enlarge your space. For this effect to work, the lighter colour must go above the rail. Conversely, if you are working around tall ceilings and walls, you can choose to reverse the colours to close in your space and add an element of cosiness to your hallway.

However, in extremely narrow hallways and sardine-tin bathrooms, mounting your dado rail too high can lead to a closed in feeling and an oppressive atmosphere. You may prefer to fit your dado rail approximately three feet above your skirting boards and introduce subtle depth with contrasting paint colours above and below your dado rail.

Make your space feel larger by changing the height of the Dado Rail

Dado rails for stairs and hallways

Dado rails are a fantastic option for your hallways and stairs and offer both functional and decorative advantages in your home. Practically, dado rails are a great way to protect your walls from damage and scuffs. This is especially vital in high-traffic areas, where you may want to protect your paint and panelling from unnecessary wear and tear. No more worrying about tearing wallpaper when moving boxes, luggage and furniture up and down the stairs.

Aesthetically, a dado rail can offer a lot of visual interest in your stairs and hallway. Being the first part of your house guests are likely to see, it is important to focus on décor in these areas to make a good first impression. To make a narrow hallway and staircase feel lighter and larger, juxtapose light-toned paint above the rail and a darker hue below. To avoid making your hallway feel too dark, you should consider muted, earthy tones for below your rail. These tones maintain the visual illusion of a larger space, without sapping your space of its light. These colours are very on trend in modern interior design, and will offer a trendy, contemporary feel.

If you have a banister, you should mirror its height when placing your dado rail. If not, a good rule of thumb to follow is to mount your dado rail three feet above each step, to achieve an angle parallel to the slope of your stairs.

Dado Rails for stairs and hallways

Get Creative!

Dado rails don’t need to be just dado rails. You can consider them as extra-large mouldings, to be used freely in your renovation projects. The intricate designs featured on dado rails makes them perfect for use as decorative features in your projects, and they are typically available in larger sizes than panel mouldings which may better suit your plans.

We have seen dado rails used in place of panel mouldings to create prominent, large wall panelling looks in your home. Consider using dado rails in conjunction with panel mouldings for an increased sense of depth and dimension, to achieve elaborate and unique wall panelling designs.

However, this isn’t the full extent of their usefulness - Dado rails can be used to adorn furniture for a custom feel and a bespoke finish. Add a decorative border to drawers or wardrobe, or craft a custom frame for artworks and family portraits. Generally available primed, this makes them a breeze to install and paint, so you can get stuck into your DIY project with minimal delays.

If you are the type that isn’t keen on off-the-shelf styles, you may wish to consider using dado rails to bring a personal touch into your home.

Get creative with your Dado Rail installation