What is Boiserie?

Boiserie is a French term that refers to intricately carved wood paneling used for walls.


Boiserie, pronounced wah-zuh-REE", is a decorative technique originating from France, dating back to the 17th century. It involves the use of carved wood paneling to enhance the aesthetics of interior spaces. Boiserie can encompass a range of styles, from the intricate florals of the Rococo period to the more restrained geometric patterns of the Neoclassical era. Traditionally, these wood panels were not merely decorative, they also offered insulation in large, drafty rooms and protected walls. Over time, boiserie has evolved but its essence of adding elegance and detail to spaces remains constant.

In modern interior design, boiserie is often used to inject a sense of history, luxury, and texture into a space. It may cover entire walls from floor to ceiling or be used sparingly as wainscoting. While traditional boiserie is crafted from wood, contemporary adaptations may use various materials including plaster, medium density fiberboard (MDF), or even plastic molds that mimic the look of carved wood. Modern technology has allowed for this decorative technique to be more accessible, providing the opulent look of traditional boiserie at a fraction of the cost.

Boiserie is versatile and can be integrated into various design styles, from classic to contemporary.


Traditional examples of boiserie can be found in historic French châteaux, palaces, and manor houses, adorning libraries, salons, and dining rooms. In contemporary settings, boiserie might be incorporated into residential and commercial spaces alike, used to enhance the elegance of living rooms, hotel lobbies, and fine dining restaurants. Designers may choose boiserie panels with intricate carvings for a luxurious feel or opt for simple, modern designs for a subtle textural element.


  • Can boiserie be painted?

    Yes, boiserie can be painted. Painting the wood paneling can either highlight its intricate details or help it blend more seamlessly with the room's overall color scheme. Choosing the right paint can also add durability and make the woodwork easier to clean.

  • Is boiserie only suitable for traditional or historic interiors?

    No, boiserie can be adapted to fit a range of interior design styles, including modern and contemporary spaces. The key is in the selection of patterns, the extent of coverage, and the materials used.

  • How is modern boiserie installed?

    Modern boiserie panels are typically mounted onto walls using adhesives, screws, or a combination of both. Contemporary materials like MDF or precast panels are lighter and easier to install compared to traditional solid wood panels.

Practical Application

When incorporating boiserie into your design, consider the scale and detail of the wood paneling in relation to the room’s size and overall style. For a harmonious look, match the boiserie's style with that of your furniture and decor. If you are aiming for a contemporary aesthetic, choosing simplified boiserie designs or painting the panels in a monochromatic scheme can blend traditional elegance with modern minimalism.