Wood paneled walls...help!
Lara Johnson
November 30, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Our living room (23'x16') has vaulted ceiling...and wood walls...nice wood panels (not typical paneling, but real wood). The pic with the windows give the best idea of the wood color. Although the living room has windows all along one wall, the room is still dark. We'd like to get a chandelier to help brighten the room, but are also thinking about a) painting the wood on some walls a light color, b) removing the wood down to a chair rail height and replacing with drywall, painted a light color, c) painting the ceiling white between the rafters, and/or d) removing one or more walls of wood and replacing with drywall painted a light color.

Any suggestions? Any of those could be in combination.
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sstarr
I would try a large light fixture and white curtains before touching the walls.
November 30, 2013 at 9:54pm     
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Lara Johnson
I guess another question is... What do you put on that wall above the fish tank? It is opposite the fireplace.
November 30, 2013 at 9:57pm   
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MarleneM
I agree with sstarr, try white curtains and light fixture. everything seems same colour, floors, walls, ceiling, blinds. If I would pick something to paint, it would be the ceiling between the rafters.
November 30, 2013 at 10:07pm     
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kheighlah
i understand if you were hesitant to paint since it is real wood.. i lived with brown paneling for a few years before i couldn't take it any longer. I painted all the walls cream and almond colors. it made such a difference! I guess that would be the cheapest route.
November 30, 2013 at 10:46pm     
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Ger Fleming
We had the same dilemma a few years ago in a house we were flipping. i had a professional wall paper company paper over it with a paper that looked like textured paint. They had a special base wall paper that they applied first. The base wallpaper was made for covering wood paneling. The difference was amazing!
November 30, 2013 at 10:52pm     
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2dogssashatess
I would possibly leave one wall as wood and paint over the rest white
November 30, 2013 at 11:11pm     
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PRO
Sustainable Dwellings
I actually think this particular wood is not like the cheesy paneling seen in many *cabins* where I live... If you were going for a Rustic look, all you need are some iron chandeliers, art, rugs, and art to brighten it. You could always add skylights to bring in natural light too.
December 1, 2013 at 1:19am     
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chookchook2
Don't forget the patchwork curtains made from Granny's bloomers.
December 1, 2013 at 3:33am   
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PRO
CoHo Properties, Inc.
You sound a bit conflicted in terms of whether or not to keep the wood paneling. My question to you is do YOU like the paneling? Do you want to remodel to increase the value of the house? Where is the house located (metropolitan area or rural area)? The reason for the last question is the vast majority of people in urban areas do NOT like wood paneling and see it as a dinosaur, however, in certain part of the country, wood paneling is very much en vogue and given the higher quality of your paneling you would be hurting the resale value if you painted or removed the wood walls.

Not knowing the answers to these questions, my advice may be way off base...but here is compromise type of solution:

Keep the wood paneling on the wall with the fireplace (and perhaps the opposite wall if you choose) and remove the paneling from the two side walls and replace with drywall. This way you will brighten up the room, but still keep a rustic feel by having the wood paneling on one or two of the walls. I would also cover the brick on the fireplace with either a field stone or ledger slate - this would help the room feel a bit more contemporary.
December 1, 2013 at 4:16am     
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Betty
Quality solid wood panels in good condition are rare these days. The texture is adds a feel that is much different than plain drywall. If you like the texture and just want to lighten it up you could lightly sand the wood to degloss it and go over it with a pigmented stain in a lighter color like dove grey. You could also "whitewash" it with a diluted cream or white or light gray paint that is dry brushed right over it. I don't know your decor taste, but I'd leave the ceiling alone. If you like a rustic or country look you could take the wall panels off down to chair rail height and leave the wood as is, or stain, drybrush, or paint it and add drywall above (I'd go darker on the lower chair rail and lighter on the drywall above). Adding lighting, curtains, rugs, accent pillows, mirrors and pictures will take it to a new level. Taking all the paneling off and drywalling will give you a room like everyone else has...is that good or bad? Again, depends on your decor style. Good luck!
December 1, 2013 at 4:19am     
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PRO
Belle Chaise
How about re-staining the walls a lighter color? They look like knotty pine and they may have just darkened over time. Lighter walls with light curtains and furniture will give the room a completely different feel.
December 1, 2013 at 4:38am     
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Lara Johnson
The wood is a really pretty dark honey color that we really like. There is just so much of it. It is actually wood, not paneling. We are on 11 acres in a mostly wooded environment. This time of the year, that big window lets is occasionally see bald eagles as they go down river. We are years away from actually doing anything to the wood if that's the route we go...This house has other needs first! (Like painting the board and batten exterior siding). Thanks for the thoughts and ideas though! It helps as we are making our house repair/remodel list!
December 1, 2013 at 4:48am   
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jsedlock
Painted or washed white would transform this space tremendously. I would clean up and leave the doors original wood or paint them a bold color: red, black, and maybe the window sashes, too. Here's a nice example of white paneling. Good luck.

December 1, 2013 at 4:51am     
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jsedlock
Oops, I meant white wood.. Hopefully you get the feel..
December 1, 2013 at 4:52am   
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Rina
You've plenty to think about in these comments about the wood so I won't add to them. I think you need bright, cheerful homey art above the fish tank. (Fish are beautiful, but the tanks rarely are, so give your eye something to enjoy from a distance.) Unframed canvas looks great on wood.

I haven't done this work any favours by reducing it to stick on your wall, so I'm reproducing it at a bigger size. Also, of course, it wouldn't be quite as bright on your wall as it looks here. But it's a great example of what I mean by bright, cheerful and homey.

Peter Graham: Pitcher of flowers http://www.art.com/gallery/id--b1854-g207264/still-life-posters_p7.htm?ui=4F5A3343DCCB46E89B061A7CD6716C52
December 1, 2013 at 5:08am     
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Brenda
your wood ceilings, floors, windows casings -- all beautiful. the wood clad walls are too much in my opinion. I would take the wood down and replace with drywall.
December 1, 2013 at 5:17am   
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ellyn143
Agree with all the other comments about the wood being lovely but.......just too much of a good thing making the room feel dark. What about playing the ceiling up by lightening the walls (with paint or drywall) and using light color upholstery fabrics like the photos below?

Source: Costal Living Magazine
December 1, 2013 at 6:46am     
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peggers1
Take the panelling down. Drywall and paint. Here is my living room which was panelling and dark brick fireplace previously...
December 1, 2013 at 7:16am   
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sbrustein
The den in my old house was all wood panelling. I hated it and painted it. But maintenance was a nightmare. Every time there was a little scratch, the original wood showed through and glared at me. Ultimately, I had a wallpaper guy in who spackled the grooves and put a neutral single color wallpaper on and it lasted forever.
December 1, 2013 at 7:30am     
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decoratinglady5
Painting with a white or cream would be my choice..
December 1, 2013 at 7:41am     
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houssaon
I would not remove it. You could white wash the wood to lighten it up. Here is one room where the look is very contemporary: July Rug Living Room. This is very elegant: New Construction - Beach House - Atlantic Beach, NC.
December 1, 2013 at 8:09am     
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soberg
Before considering painting or removing such beautiful paneling, I would recommend you try a professional lighting installation with recessed LEDs, Solatubes, halogens, etc. to provide the light you need. Painting a room white does not add light....only bringing in sun or artificial light will make a room lighter. A white painted room without adequate lighting ends up gray and gloomy.

BTW, I am in an urban area, upscale, modern blah blah etc. and I would greatly value such beautiful paneling. It's not just Ma and Pa Kettle who love wood. My 2c.
December 1, 2013 at 8:17am     
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Brenda
have you made any decisions about what you are going to do with your room Lara?
December 3, 2013 at 5:35am     
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Lara Johnson
Haha! No! But I'm thinking the paneling will stay! We have to get through Christmas and see where we are financially after that. If I can get some sheer curtains, it'd be a start!
December 3, 2013 at 2:51pm     
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PRO
Solarise Tube Skylights
You can always add some natural light. This will help solve alot of the darkness problems while keeping that nice cabin look.
December 4, 2013 at 6:57pm     
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Lara Johnson
This is our lighting solution for Christmas. We will have nearly thirty people over and with a large table in the middle if the room, lighting becomes a bigger challenge! I love it and have already told hubby they should stay up all year!
December 22, 2013 at 6:41am     
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decoenthusiaste
I will assume some of the suggestions above will work for you down the road when the walls become your priority, and that replacement of the aluminum windows is higher on your "to do" list. If you like the lighting you just posted, you might extend additional beams across the area with LED lights in them. This would give you more ambient light to see your way into the room. Then add floor and table lamps for task and accent light.
Magnolia
Living room
December 22, 2013 at 6:55am     
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saratogaswizzlestick
Look how lovely your room looks decorated for Christmas. Keep the lights and when budget allows look for a permanent lighting solution. Love the way the white decorations pop off the wood tones. I am glad you are keeping the panelling.
December 22, 2013 at 7:06am     
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fredm51
I would keep one wall and whitewash it. Replace others with drywall. Carefully remove the molding to save money if you can. If wood is on the ceiling white wash it a light blue.
December 22, 2013 at 8:13am   
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maggiemaxwell
I would agree with the use of the solar tubes. We had several installed in our home more than 20 years ago with no problems. They banished the shadows and provide a clean natural light year 'round.
December 22, 2013 at 8:30am     
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lessismoore
I would keep the wood here. May be that what you really need is light: skylights, and enlarged windows/ambient lighting to create a lighter feel at any time. Keeping the decor super simple works in these environments.
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December 22, 2013 at 8:52am     
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lessismoore
December 22, 2013 at 9:00am     
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Lara Johnson
Lessismore- I love that chandelier! It's amazing! We already have one wall that is windows from side to side (one huge one with a traditional sized one in each side). The opposite side have a nook with windows on two sides and a door filled with glass. So I think we have windows in all the places we can. The other two walls go into the family room and kitchen/dining.

I do like the idea of opening up lights in the ceiling somehow.
December 22, 2013 at 10:11am   
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PRO
Passacantando Architects AIA
Wood paneled walls are an expensive option if this was a drywall only space. I would keep the wood in its natural state. You might want to lightly sand and reseal the surface in a matte or semi gloss. The best upgrade would be accent wall lighting. This can be achieved with directional pin lights or LED strip (tape) lights. Since all the surfaces have solid wood, meet with an electrician to figure out the easiest approach to adding lighting. This might be best done to the bottom of the ceiling support beams. Low voltage cable railing or LED up lighting to bounce light off the ceiling. Attached image shows accents on an interior stone wall, different material, same idea.
December 22, 2013 at 10:32am   
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noiwh8
Echoing what you probably already know. You have something no one with cheap drywall has, walls and ceilings with a depth and warmth that only comes from natural wood. Very expensive homes use wood as shown in the photo posted by lessismoore, and capitalize on the warmth and welcome of natural wood.

Find a chandelier (or two or three) you love, and amp up the evening light. Look at Restoration Hardware for ideas, and shop around as there are lots of knockoffs at reasonable prices. I really like the industrial/antique baroque look at Restoration Hardware, and that would bring your room instantly into the latest style with one step.

Lovely room!
December 22, 2013 at 11:21am     
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Anna Belyaev
Has anyone mentioned lightening up your furnishings, for a Do It Yourself baby step, first? I see you have a really dark couch for example. Slipcovering your couch and chairs in white or a light color, and using a big rug in a lighter tone than the wood could do a lot. Whitewashing the brick of your fireplace could make a big impact, as well, within the DIY category still. Replacing your door with one that has glass panels, maybe with white curtains could let some light in as well and break up the scene, depending upon what is behind it.
December 22, 2013 at 4:29pm   
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soberg
Your simple Christmas lighting installation is stunning and really makes the point that what this beautiful space needs is LIGHT, not paint or drywall.
December 22, 2013 at 7:53pm     
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lessismoore
I know everyone's busy this time of year, but could you take and post some daytime pix of the room too? I think you will get even better feedback (the more we can see :-) I know others here have discussed skylights, led and lighting on the beams, etc. and it "seems" as if your room is lit by only two lamps (am I close?) and some tiny sconces by the fireplace.
December 22, 2013 at 11:44pm     
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Nancy Travisinteriors
Looks knotty pine. You could paint but it will show though. Do not do chair rail. That look is gone. You could leave on one wall. Then remove others. Paint a light color. Add good lighting. A chandelier would help. Paint trim and doors white or get more updated ones. Like Lowes. Or Home depot.
December 23, 2013 at 7:26am   
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Nancy Travisinteriors
The ceiling is nice. If going the farm house look. Leave doors.
December 23, 2013 at 7:27am   
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Lara Johnson
Lessismore, yes we pretty much have two lamps in the middle of therein and sconces by the fireplace. There is a breakfast nook with a lamp too, but it pretty much lights it's own area an that is all.
December 23, 2013 at 8:32pm   
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lessismoore
Thanks for answering Lara - I would love to see the main room in daylight, get a sense of your furniture placement and areas within the room. and a daylight shot will provide way more information there. Beyond a chandelier, (though, I do love your xmas lights in the beams and would be sorely tempted to leave them up all year) with a room so large, with all the wood (that suck the light up) and especially with the high ceilings, having better (more) ambient lighting and task and some "atmosphere" lighting should make a huge difference in the evenings. Hope we can continue exploring solutions as the holidays progress. I know there are people here with specific backgrounds in lighting design and perhaps we can lure some of them in too.
December 23, 2013 at 11:13pm   
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