Dado Rail come-back?

Is the Dado Rail making a come-back? Not only the dado rail, but also panel detailing on walls and cupboards seems to be a lot more prevalent in current interiors, or is it simply an interior detail that I have only recently begun to appreciate? I would guess the latter is more the case, as many older homes still have the original dado rails, but have you also noticed many new homes are being fitted with these features to give a stately and dramatic feel? You would have to admit this is not a detail that would have been popular during the minimalist design phase, but is now quite popular. Think of designers such as Greg Natale, who adds dado rails and moulded details to walls in many of his projects, and yes while some of these homes are renovated, there are others that are in fact new.

So you may be wondering what exactly a dado rail, dado or picture rail is…

Traditionally a dado rail was a timber strip placed horizontally around the perimeter of your wall, also known as a chair rail, as its main purpose was to protect the wall and expensive paintings from the backs of chairs. The dado rail will usually be around 900mm – 1500mm high, but will vary depending on the other proportions of the room… The dado is the section between the dado rail and the skirting, this was often finished with panelling not only to protect the lower section of the walls, but also to hide rising damp. The picture rail, like the dado rail ran around the room horizontally but at a height of 2100mm – 2700mm. The picture rail was not only decorative, but also functional,  picture rails were used to hang paintings from with wire and picture hooks, as many older homes had plaster set walls; if you were to hammer a nail into the wall not only would you damage the wall, but the plaster was not always strong enough to support the painting.

These days wall detailing such as dado rails, picture rails and mouldings are purely for aesthetic purposes, so enough of the history lesson, here are some stunning examples of how wall detailing can add so mach charm and character to a room.

via – Greg Natale

via – Greg Natale

via – House to Home

via – Spicer and Bank

via – Mix and Chic

via – Mix and Chic

via – the Lennox

via – the Lennox

via – House to Home

via – House to Home

via – House to Home

via – House to Home


As you can see the combinations you can come up with are endless! If you are considering doing something like this in your home, a few things to consider are;

What height should the dado rail be? Use some painters tape and tape it on the wall at the height you are considering so you can get an idea of what it might look like before you go ahead.

Are you going to use a timber or moulded strip (dado rail) to define the dado and the top section of your wall or do you prefer a more streamlined painted effect?

Do you want there to be a lot of contrast or do you prefer a more subtle look?

And then the fun of deciding on a colour scheme, selecting paints and or wallpaper and get started! Generally darker colours work best on the bottom with lighter colours on top, (though pictures 2, 5 and 8 defy this theory) as does a bold heavy pattern on the bottom with a lighter colour or finer pattern on top, but as I always say- there are no rules when it comes to interior design, so do what suits your taste and reflects your lifestyle!


I can not pick a favourite today! How about you?


Rochelle xx


2 thoughts on “Dado Rail come-back?

  1. My favourite is the third picture, i love the detailing…On a completely different note, that bunny rabbit statue in picture 4 is so cute! I want it!

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