Photo Images: THR & Sons
When we built a home years ago my brother suggested some cost cutting carpentry illusions that gave us the look of custom raised wainscoting panels in the dining room and up the stairway. It's fairly commonplace now but at the time, it was a clever construction cost cutting idea.
Wainscoting was originally used to camouflage what was known as rising damp, a wicking effect on interior walls. Even though the causes of rising damp have long been solved, the use of wainscoting continues for its style and visual interest.
The trick we used was to use inexpensive half-round trim to outline 'panels' on the lower 1/3 of the drywall. We painted the trim and drywall a soft white and painted the top 2/3 of the wall taupe.
It resembled raised panel wainscoting for a fraction of the cost. Check out these photos of various wainscoting styles you could achieve for less if you are, or have access to, a handy carpenter.