Beadboard was used on the inside of cabinets then. Cabinets now often have it on the doorfaces, which is pretty, but not historically accurate is that is your cup of tea
Although the beadboard sold at Home Depot is in sheets like paneling, authentic beadboard was in tongue and groove strips, much like a hardwood floor. It wasn't made in sheets until after WWII. Victorian beadboard (which is what you see replicated at Home Depot) had the two grooves that make the “bead.” There were many styles made, with varying sizes and widths of the grooves. You will notice at the hardware store, they give it names like “Cape Cod” and such... but this is all about marketing and notsomuch anything historical. There were many styles of beadboard back then, and you can bet the Victorians were not lining up to ask for “Cape Cod” beadboard.
Craftsman didn't have the bead-grooves and was much less ornate looking – just solid planks. Kind of like strips of wood though a lot lovelier than the 1970s paneling you might have grown up with. Purists with a Craftsman home will not want to use the Home Depot “Victorian” beadboard. (Those with Victorians, or newer homes that they want to give a cottage look, feel free to use the hardware store sheets.) But to the Craftsman purists – good luck. No one is making this style beadboard and you will have to make your own. (Yikes!) I have some good resources on making your own if anyone is interested.
It is very hard to find pictures of Craftsman beadboard... but this would be close, although they would have stained it and not painted it
There are also a few companies now that make a plastic or laminate beadboard that can be installed in bathrooms as a tub surround or shower panel. These are uber expensive and subway tiles end up being a lot cheaper. Since the oldsters certainly didn't have plastic beadboard in their bathroom, I tend to shy away from that being a preservationist... but if you love beadboard and don't mind the look, that is another option.
Finally, I found a company making beadboard wallpaper. All I can say to that is: Don't!!!
Note: to those with existing old school beadboard (like my porch ceilings) that has been painted, you can simply flip each board strip and may luck out and have original wood finish on the other side. Currently, my porch ceilings are painted white, but I plan to paint the front porch ceiling pale blue. I am told, in the South, it is good luck to paint your porch ceiling blue. Heaven knows I have a ton of blue paint laying around. (I have a Goldilocks stash of paint around as I tend to buy a few different shades and put them on the wall until I pick one that is “just right.”)
This poor thing is not my ceiling, but it looks like it is getting the TLC it needs
So, next time you are at the hardware store with the hubby, you can point out the “Victorian-styled” beadboard and let him know that real Victorian beadboard was tongue and groove planks. ;)