How to turn utilitarian pegboard into a stylish home accent


Pegboards have long been organizational mainstays in sheds and garages. But recently, the compressed wood boards once reserved for corralling screwdrivers and gardening shears have been popping up in other parts of the home, including kitchens, laundry rooms, offices and playrooms.

They’re looking better these days, too. People are getting imaginative, painting pegboards to look like murals or creating custom wall installations using beautiful wood for the panels and chunky dowels to support shelves.

“From that utilitarian who-cares-how-it-looks approach, where it was strictly about its functionality, it really morphed into a decor statement, where it’s the perfect marriage of something that looks cool and fun, but also is very functional, ” says Amy Panos, an editor at Better Homes & Gardens. “And I think that’s why it’s taken off recently.”

Pegboards with curated displays and decorative touches allow people to turn a useful piece into something that reflects their personal style. And, of course, it’s satisfying to see your belongings presented in an organized and appealing way. “It feels good, and it’s a serotonin boost,” Panos says.

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The aesthetics of the pegboard are wooing interior designers as well. “It’s an inexpensive way to organize and takes minimal space doing it,” says William Lyon, an interior designer based in Connecticut and New York. “With different material selections, paint and all the different functions of how you can make it work, you can really do anything.”

Here are tips from design experts on where — and how — to use pegboards in your home.

Laundry areas and mudrooms

Pegboards work well in high-traffic spaces where there’s a need for slim storage solutions. Lauren Shaver of Bless’er House painted a pegboard in her small combination laundry room/mudroom white, then added metal baskets for cleaning supplies and hooks for dustpans and brooms.

“It doesn’t disrupt storage in the rest of the room,” she says. “We still have room for coats and shoes.”

To dress up pegboards from hardware stores, Shaver suggests painting them black or navy and using copper hooks and baskets. “It’s then got that luxe masculine look, but it’s glittery and pretty.”

A versatile pegboard wall is ideal for playrooms and children’s bedrooms, Lyon says. It can change functions — and you can move the pegs higher on the wall — as the kids get older. “It works in all aspects for playrooms and anything dealing with the kid,” he says. “It grows with them.”

“I would use it 100 percent for toy storage,” says Shaver, who recommends installing the material on a wall in a playroom and using it to hang costumes, bins of Legos and more.

Lyon created a custom plywood pegboard wall with oversize movable dowels and shelves for a playroom in the Greenwich, Conn., home of a client with a child who enjoys painting. She uses the board to store her supplies and display creations.

Pegboard had a starring role in Julia Child’s Cambridge, Mass., kitchen, now enshrined at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in DC She hung her cooking utensils and more from a board painted in a soft shade of blue, with outlines to show where each item went. “She was the OG of using pegboard in a way that is both functional and drop-dead cool,” Panos says.

To mimic Child’s look, Panos recommends tracing pans or utensils lightly with a pencil, then painting a silhouette on the pegboard. “That gives you a visual cue for what goes there,” she says. “And when it’s not there, it just looks cool.”

Pegboard can be installed on a wall, the side of a cabinet, an island or the back of a door. Panos has even seen it used as a backsplash.

Pegboard is a “huge space-saver” in home workspaces, Lyon says. “It gets things off the desk. Just add a mail slot and pencil holder. Wrap chargers on it.”

Retailers such as the Container Store and Ikea sell sleek pegboards that can be hung above desks. And DIY projects involving Dollar Tree’s small panels with accessories such as hooks and shelves have been popping up on TikTok. It can also replace a corkboard; it’s studier, and you can attach materials with hooks, clips or bins. Lyon is considering adding pegboard in his new design studio to hang large fabric samples and wallpapers.

Interior designers are also finding other fun and interesting ways to incorporate pegboards in homes.

At the Brooklyn Heights Designer Showhousefor example, Dorion’s Studio used pegboard to create budget-friendly shutters in a guest room. “We wanted to use a nontraditional light-filtering material for the shutters,” says designer Michelle Ficker. “Part of the concept of our space was to use modest materials in an elegant way.”

Manufacturers are tweaking the traditional pegboard to create fresh looks with larger holes and substantial dowels. “It’s getting supersized and getting done on a larger scale with better wood,” Panos says. “It has become this statement wall treatment that’s also very functional.”

The larger dowels also increase how much you can use pegboards for, because they can support shelves holding plants or even artwork. “Layer the art on it, do one big piece or a diptych,” Lyon says. Or create a plant wall by clustering greenery on shelves and wrapping vines around the dowels.

Another option is to turn the pegboard itself into art, such as by painting a mural on it or using unusual materials, colors or finishing materials to create visual interest. “There’s a lot of different looks pegboard can have by changing materials and scale,” Lyon says. Try custom neon Lucite dowels to give it a Lite-Brite vibe, or finish the board in a lime wash paint to add texture and patina. Or, in a mid-century space, paint it in a high-gloss bright color.

“You can make it as chic as you want,” Lyon says. “There’s a lot of possibilities for making a pegboard look pretty.”

Marissa Hermanson is a freelance writer in Richmond.