Boiserie - history and modernity of wooden panels

YourFoRest panels follow high standards of comfort and wood paneling aesthetics while having a modern and unique look. Eco-friendly wood-centered design is a trend with a bright and interesting history.

3D Rack Panel by YourFoRest
Batten Plank Panel by YourFoRest

Batten Plank Panel by YourFoRest

Ancient Egyptians were the first to decorate their houses with wooden panels. It is dated back to the third millennium BC. Ancient Egypt architecture is baroque, massive, and effort-intensive. The walls of tombs and palaces of pharaohs were decorated with paintings, sculptures, wooden panels, and precious metal coverings. The pharaohs' architects exploited valuable imported wood (ebony wood from Central Africa, Lebanese cedar from North Africa). They decorated it with carvings and paintings.

Pharaoh Tutankhamun on a chariot. Wood painting. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo, XIV century BC

Tomb of Ramses, Valley of the Kings

The wood panels as known today originated in medieval Europe. Boiserie is a French word meaning "wood paneling". We can trace the time French architects came up with their new design vision – the Château de Chenonceau (1530) has no boiserie yet while the Château de Chambord (1680s), the Château de Cheverny (1650) and the Palace of Versailles (1660-1680) are full of it.

Chambord Castle, France

Wooden decoration became possible with the development of domestic heating—iron chimneys significantly reduced fire hazards. In the 18th century, with the advent of the steam heating age, Boiserie reaches its heyday. The panels originally used for heat insulation and moisture control became decorative elements. The panels were used not only for walls, but also for doors, frames, cabinets, shelves, mirrors and fireplaces.

The Château de Cheverny, France
The Château de Cheverny, France

Promoted by Louis XIV, boiserie turned into a sign of luxury, a symbol of power and success—not a mere practical and decorative piece. Wooden panels were enriched with tapestries, paintings, embossed leather, and inlays made of fabric and precious metals. The Louvre and Versailles, classic Parisian residences and the pearls of world architecture, preserved the first luxury boiseries. France set a global trend, and the boiseries moved to English, German, Russian noble houses and to the rich estates in Spanish colonies in Mexico and Cuba.

Versailles, France

That was the beginning of a classic English study clad with wood panels from floor to ceiling. However, practical and concise English people put French gloss under English restraint – so wainscot paneling was born. Wainscot style as a type of wall decoration implied covering the lower third of the wall with oak panels. Even poor families could afford this type of cladding. Wainscot paneling was used not only for decorative purposes, but also for practical ones—it provided extra moisture and thermal insulation since the premises were heated only by fireplaces.

Traditional English study

White wainscot panels in the interior

The internationalization of boiseries modified them to suit the taste of each new country. Refined Italian people decorated the ceilings with wood paneling, pretentious French people practiced decorating the actual panels while democratic Americans simplified and standardized the interior panels. The result was another, the most concise wall covering – "dado rail". Dado rails are fixed to the wall. The height is derived from the height of the chair backs so that they do not come into contact with the wall. The thicker covering material belongs to the lower part of the wall to protect it against wiping, splashing and damage.

Stairs decorated with a dado rail

Stairs decorated with a dado rail

It is easy to find examples of luxury boiseries in Ukrainian architecture—just visit the houses of aristocrats and industrialists of XVI-XIX centuries.

Tereshchenko Mansion, Kyiv

Khanenko House, Kyiv

Manor in Kachanovka
House with Chimaeras, Kyiv

Mariyinsky palace, Kyiv

The main purpose of wall panels in a modern interior is to decorate the space, give it an interesting look, and add textures. Panels may keep furniture out of sight, divide space into zones, decorate niches, mask secret rooms and corridors. In modern design there are several main types of wall panels:

  • Solid panels. They are made of ash, maple, beech, cedar, oak, and walnut. They are installed only in dry rooms – offices, living rooms, bedrooms.
  • Veneer panels. They are less sensitive to changes in temperature. This is a budget option.
  • Modular panels. This is a popular type. They are often made of planks or tiles. A 3D effect can be achieved due to height, thickness, and toning. This wood decoration is quite customizable.
  • Plywood panels. These panels made of flexible wooden sheets are typically used for decorating columns and arches.

Fence Panel with integrated lighting. YourFoRest

The variety of ways to embellish panels allow us to create a unique design that meets the needs of various interiors. The main types of decoration include:

  • Various types of lacquer finishing
  • Stain or paint finishing
  • Intarsia—wood inlaying
  • Patination
  • Painting
  • Inlay—the ornate decoration of a surface with the materials that differ from the material of the surface (mother-of-pearl, marble, porcelain, etc.)
  • Marquetry—inlaid work made from veneer pieces
  • Wood carving or gilded wood carving
  • Silver or ivory applique
  • Fabric, tapestry, leather covering

Mosaic Pixels Panel by YourFoRest

Batten Curtain Panel by YourFoRest
Mosaic Honey Panel by YourFoRest

YourFoRest gives designers and customers the ultimate freedom of expression in its projects. Solid, veneer and modular panels become reality in the hands of our experts.

Wood panel—natural ash veneered MDF,
floating carved pattern covered with golden patina.
Custom design by YourFoRest
Ash wood panel, intarsia.
Custom design by YourFoRest
Author: Elena Belenkaya