tips and tricks5 min read

6 modern chair rail and picture rail ideas

Living room with modern dado rail

WordsMegan Lambert


 If you're looking for a way to make your period property stand out or if you want to add detailing to an otherwise boxy room: look no further. The ongoing popularity of chair and picture rails proves that decorating's latest trend is here to stay. That's why we're sharing with you six decorating ideas for how you can use our range of interior paint to complement these 18th-century fittings and bring them firmly into the modern-day.

First thing's first, for those of you wondering 'since when did pictures come on rails?', and what on earth is the difference between the two, let us explain...

What is a chair rail?

Also known as a dado rail, a chair rail runs roughly along the middle of a room, above the 'dado' – a panel made from wood – and is often painted a different color to the rest of the room. Although today their use is aesthetic, they were designed to protect walls and wallpaper from damage caused by furniture being propped against it.

What is a picture rail?

A rail that runs close to the top of the room, around the height of the door frame, or just below the ceiling. Similar to the chair rail, picture rails were designed to prevent damage to your walls when hanging artwork. Unlike the chair rail, they are sometimes still used for practical purposes and make for a very elegant way to hang a picture. They're also a gorgeous feature in any room and a great way to break up color on the wall.

Are picture rails and chair rails in fashion? 

Despite originally being an 18th-century trend, these decorative interior fittings have made quite the comeback in recent years. Why? Well, for one, they're an excellent way to add additional color and texture to an otherwise bare wall. At Lick, we know paint, and it's clear that sometimes our customers don't want just to pick one color for a room, they want several. By breaking up the room, not only can you use multiple color palettes and textures, but it also creates an instantly dramatic, sophisticated, or layered look. You can browse our paint sample boxes to find the perfect complementary colors for your chair or picture rail wall. Two, they're ridiculously practical! Instead of damaging your walls hammering in fixtures to hang your wall art, with picture rails you can change or alter the location and height of your decor with ease to keep your interior fresh.

How can you modernize a chair or picture rail?

So, it's clear that picture rails and chair rails are two trends that are here to stay. Whether for practical or design purposes, if you're thinking about incorporating them into your home, here are six of our favorite modern chair and picture rails ideas to get your mood boards going.

1. Create wall paneling

Très Parisian, whatever color you go to, highlighting wall paneling with chair and picture rails can help create an instantly elegant feel. Learn more about how to do DIY wall paneling here.