Wall paneling is one of the great, guilty pleasures of home renovation. Nowadays it is called, more correctly, decorative wall paneling. For me, any kind of faux wood grain wall paneling is still a pretty tough sell. Even so, you will find that the photo replication techniques of wood paneling have pretty much kept in step with techniques found with laminate flooring. So, even though wood grain wall paneling has a long ways to go, it is coming along.
Two types of decorative wall paneling that do seem to work are beadboard and tile board. Beadboard is that stuff you often see in children's rooms, laundry rooms, or even in nice dining rooms: paneling distinguished by thin vertical lines which help to hide the seams between the panels. I think that beadboard works very well, especially since it does not have to go all the way up to the ceiling (in fact it's not really designed to go up to the ceiling - just about 4 feet high, and often topped with a piece of wood trim called chair rail).
Tileboard doesn't come off nearly as well as beadboard, but it looks decent. There was a time when the only type of tileboard you could get was white tile with white grout lines. Now, tileboard comes in a variety of light-shades and pastels (though still nothing really bold or amazing).
The best thing about beadboard and tileboard is ease of installation. Remember: you cannot install decorative wall panels straight onto studs or masonry. In the case of studs, you'll need a base of hardboard, MDF, plywood, or drywall. In the case of masonry, install against horizontal furring strips. As Georgia-Pacific describes it:
Furring strips are 1" x 2" lumber or 1⁄2" plywood cut into strips 11⁄2" wide. Strips should run horizontally 16" apart (based on 8' ceiling) with vertical members spaced 48" on center where panels meet.
Image Copyright/Courtesy Georgia-Pacific