How to build a simple feature wall: board & batten style with a corbeled shelf.
Our dining room has a large wall that always felt empty and lacking. I tried several art galleries, an old window, wallpaper… nothing seemed to complete the space.
One day, much to my husband’s dismay, I took everything off that wall and started drawing on it with a pencil. I drew my ideal board and batten wall with vertical boards and a corbeled shelf. I even drew on the little shaker-style peg hooks. (If you zoom-in on the before picture, you can see my drawings.)
Seeing the design helped persuade him to start the project (…along with my constant chatter.)
So after reading this, leave him a comment about how well this turned out. It will hopefully fuel future DIY projects.
May we wives stick together on the persuasion fore-front.
Keep reading to learn how we went from a boring builder-grade dining room to old house charm for only $250 in materials. (Not included is the usual me-telling-him-how-to-do-this commentary…so I will tell you instead!)
I will link materials below from places I like to shop. Remember theses quantities are specific to my feature wall size and design. Re-calculate numbers to suit your project. Shop around for the best lumber prices; wood is out-of-site these days and completely wrecked the budget for this project…eek.
- 3- 1x6x16 primed pine boards
- 11- 1x4x8 primed pine boards
- 5- rubber wood corbels
- 10- peg rail hooks
- 1 gallon trim paint; semi-gloss acrylic
- Paintable caulking
- Wood filler
- Liquid Nail
Totaled: $243.79* at time of purchasing.
- Trim Paint Brush
- Roller pan and paint roller
- 3 in 1 Caulk tool
- Caulk gun
- Brad Nailer with nails
- Drill/impact driver
- Stud finder
- Speed square
- Tape measure
Step 1. Measure your wall and create your design.
Board spacing and height is all subjective.
We have 9 foot ceilings, so using the law of thirds, I split my wall at 6’ vertically. The top of my shelf is exactly 6’ heigh.
To calculate my board spacing, I started with a vertical batten in the center and calculated back to the adjoining wall to get a proportional distance. My vertical boards are spaced 16.75″ apart. I chose to double the battens in the corners to make it appear more finished.
Look closely where your electrical outlets and switches are placed. Design around those; keep the project simple by keeping battens on drywall, instead of cutting them out for outlets.
I literally drew my design on the wall with a pencil using a level as my guide. This helped me visualize the overall look and feel I was hoping to achieve. (I recommend this step because you will also be eager to finish the wall and not live with pencil drawings for months.)
After I was happy with the design, I made guide marks for each vertical board on the wall. This saved my design for an easy install later.
Patch & Paint
My wall needed no visible repair since the battens would cover my existing nail holes, so I began painting. (If you need to patch drywall, do it now.)
I painted one coat of my favorite trim paint (Sherwin Williams, pro classic, acrylic enamel in semi gloss) to the height of my top shelf. I left the guide marks for the vertical boards visible. Do not paint over those.
Start Vertical Trim Boards
Once dry, you are ready to begin applying trim boards.
Crucial step**** determine if your baseboard is level. If it is, proceed. If it is not, you should remove the baseboard and reinstall it level. Hide the discrepancy with the floor using a piece of quarter round or shoe molding. If you continue with an un-level baseboard, each batten will need to be cut at various heights and angles to get a level shelf. (Insert: major headache and sure-fire way to create a bad day and grumpy husband).
Cut your vertical battens to height. Height is whatever you say it is. Ours are 60.25″ tall.
Use your square and cut them true. Discrepancies will stick out like a sore thumb. My husband knows all about those too, oops.
Once they are cut, adhere them to the wall using liquid nail.
Use a square to keep them straight.
Lastly, nail the boards at an angle to “toenail” them in place into the wall. This will keep the boards from moving (since you aren’t securing into a stud).
Repeat this step for all vertical boards.
Capping the top of the trim
Next measure your wall and cut the top 1×6 to cap the molding. Once cut, dry fit the board in place. Retain the board and use it to secure your corbels. The corbels need to be attached to this top trim board BEFORE it is attached to the wall.
Attach the corbels in their appropriate locations with screws, drilling in from the back side of the trim board.
Once all corbels are attached, you can install the cap board over your vertical battens. Secure this board with liquid nail AND screws into STUDS. This is very important considering this will anchor and support your shelf.
Next, cut your top shelving board to length. Lay it across the corbels and attach it with screws, down into the corbels.
Add function with Peg Hooks
Attach shaker style peg hooks by drilling a tiny starter hole for each. Twist in the pegs by hand. Mine are spaced 10.25″ apart in the center of the top 1×6. Again, use your own spacing guide here. I linked my favorite amazon pegs in the materials list above.
Fill all holes with paintable wood filler. Let dry. This may take 2 coats. Sand in between.
Caulk all gaps around boards, where they meet the drywall. Use a caulking tool and a wet paper towel to get a nice clean edge. Let dry.
Lastly, paint everything 1-2 coats. Let dry fully in between.
Admire your work
Now, stand back and admire your work. Your husband will brag about how good it looks while also clearly reminding you, “I never wanted to do this project.”
Congrats! You just transformed your dining space from builder grade to old house charm for $250 🙌🏻 If you take on this project, PLEASE send me a message. I want to hear all about it!
Shop other pieces in our dining room by using the “Shop” tab above or simply click this link. It will take you to my Like to Know it Feed, which is a fun app that lets you share products directly from your home.
Pages contain affiliate links which are clearly marked. Stacey receives a small commission for purchases made with these links. They do not incur any extra cost to you, but simply help generate income to help keep this blog up and running. If a post is sponsored, it will be marked as such. I partner only with brands that I value and consider valuable to you. Find the rest of my disclosure here.