Why didn't I think of that?!?! Easy wainscotting idea: buy frames from Michael's, glue to wall and paint over entire lower half. Got this tip from a savvy home improvement person. Ha! That's stupid easy.
Any common area looks better with the finishing, defining touch of crown molding: http://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/remodeling/budget-remodels/weekend-home-projects/?socsrc=bhgpin040114addmolding&page=8