Friday, August 19, 2016

Dining Room: Painting the Paneling

Right away both Matt and I fell in love with the unique brick floors, the vaulted wood ceilings, and the rich wood paneling in our new house. But it didn't take long for us to realize that there was just too much going on. Like waaaay too much.

There were three different wood tones in just one room. The walls were warm-toned, the floors were warm-toned, and the ceiling was warm-toned. While the house had character in spades, sometimes while we were eating dinner it felt like we were being shipped by UPS.

We put together a mood board and slowly started to tackle the steps to make it more balanced.

Adding windows made the room a lot brighter and more "room-like," but it still just did not feel polished or complete.

We spent years going back and forth discussing whether or not we should paint the paneling - polling our friends, researching online.

I found this article by Young House Love and told all my friends "I just discovered the coolest blog!' They were all like "Um yeah. We already know about that."

 Okaaay. So I was super late to DIY blogs. But it turns out that everyone has a strong opinion on painted paneling. The people against painting insisted that you should never, ever paint over natural hardwood. It's a travesty! And the people for painting said it freshened up the room. Better to live in a beautiful room than to preserve hardwood you don't like.

I found pictures on Pinterest, wrote up a blog post with all our mixed feelings about painting, and waited.  The responses flowed in fast, furious, adamant, and divided. But our friend Michelle's comment made a lot of sense to us.

Our minds made up, we went to our favorite paint store (Sherwin Williams for the win!), loaded up on primer, and primed...

and primed...

and primed.

I'm not going to lie. My heart was pounding when I did those first couple rolls, but after taking the plunge, it was easy to see that it was the absolute best choice.

The wood just soaked up the primer. I ended up doing two coats of primer and two coats of SW Westhighland White paint on each wall. The primer was almost impossible to get off myself, so I was going into work with white on my knuckles and in my hair for almost a month.

I painted over the sky blue paint with a nice gray-green. And Michelle obviously knew what she was talking about. Streamlining the colors on the paneling and the walls made everything far more harmonious.

As the walls got covered in coats of paint, the floors and the doors immediately stood out. Those gorgeous features we loved had been completely lost in all the wood paneling.

Here you can see the difference in between our first Christmas in the house and our third.

Doesn't it look more "gracious and open" just like Michelle said it would?

Thank you to everyone who weighed in - especially Michelle who was the one who finally convinced us. Our only regret was that we didn't do it sooner.

And guess what? A few months later I went to a book signing for Loveable Livable Home with John and Sherry Petersick of Young House Love and got to show them the before and after pictures they inspired!

Look how happy they are about all that white paint!


  1. It looks amazing! The wood ceiling, doors, and brick floor really shine through now. I would have been in your shoes. I always hate to paint over wood, but it really was competing and nothing got to shine through!

  2. I have painted paneling and I know what a job it is but it is rewarding to see the finished product. Everything is looking great Elizabeth.

  3. It does look great, Elizabeth. Glad you took the plunge. I'm also glad you are posting again. I missed reading about your adventures and your recipes. You have inspired me to make a cherry pie from some cherries I have been hoarding. I want to try your butter crust recipe too.


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