The Wood Paneling Debate

July 27, 2011 by
Filed under: Ben, Home Decor Ideas, Inspiration 

Since moving into our 1940’s cottage style home, Ben and I have always disagreed about our living room’s wood paneling.  We have that “real” wood paneling that I believe is knotty pine, that a previous owner thought was really fancy and had it installed in both the living room and one of our bedrooms.  Ben loves it and thinks it is really fun and vintage.  I hate it and how dark it makes our living room.  I seriously want to paint over it and Ben hates that idea.  Since it is our house and not just my house, I would like for us to make the decision together but we are stuck in a wood paneling debate for real.

I don’t quite get why guys love wood paneling so much and hate the idea of painting it.  Every time we have someone new over to our house, 9 times out of 10 if that person is a guy he will say something like “man i love the wood paneling in here” or “wood paneling, Nice!”  If that person happens to be a female, they will usually make a comment like “have you thought about painting the wood paneling?”  To which my normal reply is “Everyday of my life.”

So in order to encourage Ben to at least think about painting our wood paneling, I have decided to share a couple photos. 

Side Note:  While searching through Google images for  Wood Paneling, more than a couple of the listings were from a website called which I feel proves my point.

Painted wood paneling

Painted Wood Paneling via Houzz

Pretty Painted Wood Paneling via Apartment Therapy

Awesome Before and After via I Still Love You

Awesome Before and After via I Still Love You

Painted Wood Paneling from Monica Wants It

Painted Wood Paneling from Monica Wants It

Wish me luck in convincing Ben that we should paint our wood paneling!

In case you are interested in painting your wood paneling, Young House Love has a great tutorial.

Also this post “Why Do Men Fear Painting Wood?” over on Hue is pretty funny.

by Selena Faye

Be Sociable, Share!
Pin It


10 Comments on The Wood Paneling Debate

  1. Cassondra
    on Wed, Jul 27th 2011 @ 8:52 pm

    I totally get where you are coming from about the darkness. There is absolutely no denying that it sucks the light out of a space. I think everyone gets caught in this can’t paint wood thing in the same way they can’t paint brick. It seems like a sin because the material itself is inherently beautiful. If your room has enough natural light and tons of windows, it may be able to support the dark wood, but it never seems to work out that way. Maybe compromise by striping it and staining with a light stain color. This would, of course, be extremely labor intensive, but it may serve both purposes by lightening up the space, yet leaving the wood grain visible. It would lend itself to a more cottage like feel and make for an interesting weekend project as well. I’ll see if I can find some pics of what I am thinking of. Good luck gal.

    • Faye
      on Fri, Jul 29th 2011 @ 8:40 am

      Thanks for the awesome comment. I have thought about staining it a light green or blue but that also might look horrible. We do have a lot of natural light in our living room but because we live on a busy street, we usually have the curtains closed. Its whatever, I have enough projects that I am currently working on to keep me busy until we decide what we are going to do.

  2. Amanda
    on Wed, Jul 27th 2011 @ 8:53 pm

    Okay. So I love wood paneling if it is right. There is cheep crap that we had in our house in Korea then there was the ballin stuff in my retro basement in CT. Either way don’t paint it. That is just ugly. If you want to cover it up with paint, I suggest the wallpaper you cover the paneling with then paint. It gives your wall the smooth look you crave and completely hides any trace of wood paneling.
    My suggestion – Compromise, leave one room, paint/wallpaper the other.

    • Faye
      on Fri, Jul 29th 2011 @ 8:43 am

      Hi Amanda, thanks for commenting. We do have the “ballin stuff” which is as retro as you can get and since our house has a vintage feel, it does seem to fit but I just hate how it feels like we are always camping. Also we already painted the craft room/music room which is the other room with wood paneling and it was not fun. So anyways, I guess you will just have to come visit and see it for yourself 🙂

  3. erika
    on Tue, Sep 6th 2011 @ 4:15 pm

    I have just moved into an apt and have the wood paneling in the room and was actually thinking of replacing it with drywall but i think i’m inspired by this it looks very lovely i’m just scared of messing it up

    • Faye
      on Tue, Sep 6th 2011 @ 4:59 pm

      Thanks for saying mine looks lovely, I appreciate the compliment. You could try painting it. Who knows, it might looks awesome.

  4. mary
    on Fri, Jul 20th 2012 @ 2:52 pm

    i too have retro wood paneling in a 1950s era home. mine stops about two feet below the ceiling. i really debated painting it but i figure it has made it this far with no one touching it that maybe i should just leave it. i painted the wall above a really pretty green and the ceiling a very crisp white. i added very colorful pillows to a neutral sofa and some great artwork. my room does have lots of natural light so it doesnt seem dark at all. i get lots of compliments on the “cool retro” quality of the room and men more than women comment on the “awesome” real wood paneling. the problem with painting it is that once it is painted then it is done, you cant go back. think long and hard. retro style is IN now anyway. good luck.

  5. What to do about wood paneling? | A Bean Grows in Durham
    on Sat, Nov 17th 2012 @ 11:28 am

    […] paneling pop up everywhere recently, such as this post on Apartment Therapy. There’s also this post from Faye Dodge Zombies. It works pretty well with that rustic, manly, living in a cabin in the […]

  6. Melanie
    on Sun, Mar 9th 2014 @ 6:44 am

    Hey there. My husband and I have the same dilemma. And I have a love/hate relationship with the knotty pine walls. Mine are like yours. To top it off, I have 7 ft ceilings, in my 1940s cottage-style home. The knotty pine is limited to our breezeway (complete with the aluminum crank windows); then the first room you enter into the house, which is may home office, and the living room. The rest of the house is drywall and painted wainscoting in the kitchen.

    Here is what I have done. I put beautiful bluish gray textured slate tiles (12×12 each) on the breezeway floor and painted the whole room a creamy white. My husband agreed to let me do at least that room, and he loves it. It looks very cottage chic with an old glider with warm cream, red, orange, and green paisley and floral patterned cushions and a white wicker rocker, plus some white shelves and black iron accessories. There is a cedar wood storage cubby. I kept the dark pine door its natural color, but painted the brick creamy white also (this is the back of the brick fireplace in my living room.

    OK, so that doesn’t address your knotty pine dilemma. Just telling you there was a compromise. Next, the room that is my office, I invested in a random slate tile floor (pretty big expense) to match the home’s era. I put in a stainless steel modern ceiling fixture, and got an industrial style light wood desk top with metal legs from Ikea. I have a vintage orange fiberglass Eames chair with the Eiffel tower metal base, and a mid century modern floor to ceiling darker wood storage console with polished brass handles. I also went with modern/contemporary art (on the same line as yours) and the wall that has the two windows, I ran a black cast iron-looking rod with modern finials the length of that wall and filled it with tab top cream colored cotton floor to ceiling curtains.Between them is a modern framed architectural poster that is about 3.5 long. It brightens the whole space. I also have a combo of contemporary and mid century accessories. The room is a combo of industrial and mid century modern. It has become on of my favorite rooms in the house.

    The living room, I went with rich jewel tones. That is the secret with knotty pine. It is a warm color, so warm, rich, earthy jewel tones complement it well. The floor in this room was here when we bought it. It is cherry, and I had it refinished with super high gloss, so it bounces light around, although the room is still somewhat dark. The sofa is burgundy, and I covered the chair with a gold patterned slip cover. I have a warm olivey-green painted coffee table. I added large slat wood blinds, which gave it a 1940s chic look. All the art is on a black and white motif, nature and plant scenes (leaf prints, a frog leaping through the air, trees in the fog). There is a large beautiful mirror behind the sofa with a large elegant black frame. I have sort of a Harlequin print light green drapes with black rods. The biggest “pop” that brings it all together is 3 large floral pattered area rugs . The rugs are a beige color, but covered with jewel toned flowers. They’re modern, but also traditional. Even though there is a lot of dark wood in this room, and rich color, it works. I have lamps strategically placed to give the room cozy lighting. And the big focal point is the large brick fireplace with a 1940s knotty pine layered mantel. When we have a fire, it gives off warmth and light. One lamp is a cream colored porcelain urn-style lamp from the 1920s with ornate handles. The fireplace hearth was here, shiny black flagstone in odd shapes. People love this room, because it works. I used to fight the knotty pine, then decided to work with it. I think you have the right color scheme in that first pic. It looks nice to me. Can you add some texture like some throw pillows, or throws, accessories, etc? I found gorgeous print throw pillows at TJ Maxx that mimic the color and pattern in the rugs, and added a warm green textured crocheted throw on the dark red sofa. I used color, texture, and shapes/lines in the furnishings and accessories. I still have things I want to do in this room. I want to have a custom wood cabinet built in for the flat screen, and am thinking of going with a smooth maple with a low gloss finish, and I want to add some recessed lighting.

    This is probably TMI. 🙂

    I hope it helps! I think if you also stick to the home’s era, it works, or go for industrial or mid century modern.. I was going to get a collection of old cameras and film reels and hang those on the walls of my office at first, but then shifted. I think black and white also works with the knotty pine for art.

    • Faye
      on Mon, Mar 10th 2014 @ 8:12 am

      Wow, thanks for all of the tips!

Tell me what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Subscribe to the Comments RSS Feed