Wainscoting will make any home look a little bit more special. If you are in a new build with plain beige walls, a simple wainscoting detail can make a world of difference. The best part is that it is simple and relatively inexpensive to achieve a very nice look. In many cases your material choices will determine the perceived value of the work. Don’t skimp on material since this will make a lasting impact. Select quality wood material for your trim (MDF is fine if it is painted) and plywood (or painted drywall) for your inset panels. Paneling type material will not cut it. Nothing looks more phony than sticker over wood composite.
You can customize a simple wainscoting in many ways. Some prefer a deep cap in the mission style look, others prefer the store bought chair rail molding at the top. The more detail you put into your design generally translates into a more expensive look.
Good luck with your own wainscoting project. Mine is going into a tiny bathroom to cover up some walls that have too many layers of wallpaper to cope with. Click on the image for the full plans:
Other resources: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,216493,00.html