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There are many things I like about drywall. It's easy to cut, moderately easy to hang (practice certainly helps), easy to paint, is relatively cheap, and a fire barrier to boot. I've probably missed a few positive attributes too.

Drywall mud and tape though... well, that sucks, or at least I suck at it, even with practice. It takes a long time, creates a heck of a mess, and is easy to do a bad job and hard to do a good one.

Mudding and taping sucks enough that I don't mind paying for someone else to do it for me. I may even pay a premium. Except, contractors who I know are good at it are already booked to next year and beyond. There are other contractors available, but they are aren't very good (says painful experience), or at least not good enough for the money they want. There are, I assume, some out there who are both good and available, but invisible to me.

Sooo, what if we just skip the painful part, and just use drywall without mud and tape? What are some creative solutions? that still look good?

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You CAN do it. There's a whole bunch of youtube video's of people showing you how to do it properly. It's actually not as hard as you think. Change your mindset –  Matt Jul 21 '13 at 20:29
    
Put a batten of trapezoidal section over each joint that works off the bevel in the drywall. Once painted over, it becomes a "design feature". Certainly not for everyone, but may not look too bad. –  bcworkz Jul 21 '13 at 22:30
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Hang everything horizontal. Throw some 1x6s (using wider board will really cover any hanging mistakes - sure 1x4s would work too) on the main seams to make a faux rail. A lot of decorators are breaking up rooms like this now. The rail usually being white and different colors on top and bottom. Your would also need something for the vertical seams. You can go with 1x6s or 4s again. This would look fine for the bottom section and could look fine for top but not common. I guess it would have a alsace/swiss feel.

On corners, including ceiling joins you can use quarter round. If you painted this well it wouldn't really be that noticeable. White for ceiling joins and the same color as surrounding paint for the other corners or seams.

This could be done. It could look great. You could even convince me if you were really good with wood work that this could be done in a similar amount of time as mudding. But you will spend more time on materials and will have a style that not everyone is thrilled with.

On the issue with taping and mudding... If you apply your coats thin enough then it isn't messy at all. I do 5 total coats. I scrape with my knife between each coat. After the 4th coat I might sand a little if I was messy - but not much. It isn't messy or hard. It is very time consuming I agree.

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A swiss look might work for this room. Thanks for pointing out whatever is used instead of mud+tape will have it's own, possibly greater, time cost. As to many coats and not much sanding... well, hasn't worked out for us yet. :) We're on our 4rth reno project involving drywall now. –  matt wilkie Jul 22 '13 at 15:51
    
I consider myself a bad "artist" and mudding is easier with an artistic hand. There are really just two rules to go by. #1 You need to progressively use wider knives and #2 don't ever leave a ridge next to unmudded drywall. #3 (if you have trouble with the first two) scrape off your areas 4-5 hours later and never add extra coats without scraping. We have been looking at houses lately and have noticed a couple of "swiss" basements... really wondering if they mudded now. –  DMoore Jul 22 '13 at 15:58
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Most drywall is rounded to accept mud joins so I'd still mud the joins, even just glob it on and scrap it in once to fill the abscess. After that a textured wall or wall paper would cover it up.

One of the most creative solution I've seen is putting it up as horizontal sheets, put a chair rail up to cover the horizontal seam. The bottom was white or tan but on the top every sheet of drywall was a different color. It was a non-profit that helped feed kids so they actually had chairs lining the wall (kinda hid to lower half's seams) and bright colors above.

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