A classic beaded wainscot is easy to build and can add depth, visual interest, and durability to walls in homes of various styles. But it's important to trim the wainscot.

Traditionally, wainscoting served both to protect walls and, in echoing the form of a pedestal beneath a column, to provide a feeling of solidity. A run of board without a cap or base feels incomplete, as would a pedestal without a cap or base. Also, the trim helps hide the gaps between the wainscot and the wall and flooring. When designed well, the cap and base serve to tie these elements together. —Brent Hull is a millwork consultant and author of the book, Historic Millwork . Reach him at www.hullhistorical.com.

drawing, Rick Vitullo; architect, Mark Hutker and Assoc. Architects