Beautiful Ways to Update Your Wood Paneling: Inspiration & Ideas

Wood paneling, that den and basement rec room staple of the 70s, has lost its allure for many homeowners. Whether you are updating your current home or are considering the purchase of an older home, “fix the paneling” may be at the top of your to-do list. Are there options other than ripping it out completely? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Bringing your wood paneling into the 21st century is actually a fun project and gives spectacular results.

wood paneling in modern living room

Paint Is Perfect

Paint is the miracle worker of home improvements. Painted paneling is a quick and easy fix and looks fabulous. Experiment with your own ideas or consult with interior design Santa Monica professionals to get more inspiration. Some popular options include:

  • Go Bold. A bright, vivid color, such as purple or teal, livens up a room and makes paneling look great. This is an especially effective choice if the paneling is on just one wall of the room. 
  • Go Black. For a dramatic, modern reinterpretation of paneling, black is a nice choice. Pair it with a light floor and an abundance of color splashed throughout the room, and you will love the effect. 
  • Go Pale. Whitewashing is a painting technique that adds very thin, translucent layers of paint to the paneling. This lightens the wood and creates a softer aesthetic. Whitewashing works well if you wish to use neutral paint colors to brighten a room

Bookshelves Are Brilliant

If painting the paneling is the wrong design choice for your room, consider installing custom bookshelves. The paneling becomes the back wall of the shelving and is therefore no longer noticeable. Depending upon the type of wood you would like the shelves to be built with, you can have the paneling stained to match a different wood tone.

If you happen to need more storage in the room under consideration, this solution is a win-win. There are countless built-in bookshelf options. Talk to Santa Barbara interior designers for ideas on how to get the maximum storage usage from your space.

Mixed Media Is Marvelous

teal, livens up a room and makes paneling look great.

You don’t want to paint, and there’s no room for bookshelves in that space. Are there other options? Of course, and one of the best is to embrace the paneling for what it is and mix it up with other textures and media. Some possibilities include:

  • Add art. Cover up that dated paneling with beautiful works of art. Go modern or traditional, whatever suits your home, but definitely consider softer textures, such as canvas prints and tapestry hangings.
  • Add tile. Particularly effective in paneled kitchens, add decorative tiles in strategic blocks to break up the wood. This could include a tile border along the edges of countertops, cabinets, doorways, or windows.
  • Add more wood. Believe it or not, adding a different wood gives a sharp, modern contrast to the paneling and reduces its impact. Consider wainscoting, for example, or shiplap running from the floor to the bottom of windows.

Check with an interior designer for even more ideas, and enjoy the makeover journey.

rachel bustin

*This is a collaborative post

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