Wainscoting is more than just pretty-- it's a smart move for people with kids because it protects the walls. It's also usually painted in high gloss, which means it's easy to clean.
It looks great in any room, but I especially love it in dining rooms and entries.
this tutorial from Centsational Girl (though I'm not sure it's necessary to put the panelboard underneath--you could just adhere the wood straight onto the wall).
this tutorial suggests using actual picture frames rather than wood trim pieces to mimic the look. It might be hard to find the right size frames for every space, but how simple would this be?
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