Budget Decorating Idea: Dealing With Wood Paneling

 wood paneling

Flickr Photo Credit: Vegan Straight Edge

As my husband and I have spent a great deal of time looking at potential income rental properties, or fixer-uppers to flip for profit, I’ve run across a great deal of that ugly old wood paneling that was so popular a few decades ago.

It’s present in many of the old houses and apartments, at least here in the states. I’ve also seen many horror stories about what not to do with it. Two techniques however, stand out in my memory as particularly successful.

First was an idea I saw in a home painted by my sister-in-law. The home owner had wanted a subtle, pastel look. So she primed the paneling and covered it with a deep cream matte color. Then, on every other section of the paneling (you know how it has grooves in between the sections to simulate barn board) she painted over the original cream using a semi-gloss version of the same color. The effect was similar to an elegant satin stripe wall paper. This technique was used in the home owner’s living room. I would think it would be equally as appropriate in a formal dining room, and that darker colors could be used just as effectively.

Second, inside a rental property we looked at (and nearly bought), the homeowner had primed all of the walls well, and proceeded to paint the house in a deep American colonial color palette. The barn reds, bold mustards, and colonial greens made a great backdrop for the reproduction advertising art and rustic (but not cutsy) countryish look. I think part of what made this approach with the paneling so successful was that the deep colors really went with the barn board type of look that most of that old paneling has.  Even though the owners had fixed it up for sale and broken from the traditional neutral color palette, this technique still worked because the color scheme went with bolder modern art, rustic country, traditional, and primitive styles. In fact, we were so blown away by how great the house looked, it was quite some time before we even realized the wall covering was the old paneling.

I decided to post these ideas because whether you are trying to make the most out of a budget apartment or trying to get some equity value out of a fixer-upper, these are ideas you can use without having to rip out walls. Sticking to a paint-only interior job can give you other monies to deal with roofing, siding and curb appeal issues.

Here are some additional internet resources for dealing with paneling. Several ideas I’ve seen involve filling in the spaces with some sort of product. I guess this is fine if you have the time, but I like the above ideas because they can be done quickly and still look nice, provided you don’t skip the primer step.

This should get you started on your quest to cover up those ugly walls and get rolling with style!