NataLee 9-1-1: To Paint or Not to Paint Wood Paneling?

Natalie from Elk Ridge, Utah writes:

Ok, Do I have a design dilemma for you….
I have recently purchased a home, nestled in the foothills of the Wasatch mountains. It has old charm and I love the footprint. But my kitchen/dining/sitting room is too country for my taste. Real wood paneling, wallpaper and brass just add to the dated feel of the space. I want it comfortable and casual, I have other more formal spaces.
My design style is more East Hampton’s meets Craftsman. I love the clean lines, trim and character of craftsman homes with soft beach colors. But of course I do wish to stay true to the area as well (and the very traditional feel of the home itself). I have never had trouble decorating before, but that wood paneling is just so beautiful, I’m not sure I can paint it. And the cabinets are gorgeous in person… so how to update, infusing a little cape cod, while still having that comfortable mountain feel….Oi – please help

-Yours truly,
P.S. the flooring, cabinets, and countertops are all brand new (previous owners)

I would love to use this gray…
Glidden #GLN40 – WOOD SMOKE (shown in pic#162)
I  love it… sometimes it looks a bit tan, sometime blue always elegant and timeless….I tried to get you a sample but, it is far more flat pale grey online than in my home depot paint chip….

Natalie… we have something more in common than just a name… I also love that Hampton East Coast feel. It’s just so relaxed, comfortable, and cheery to me.  And with the above attached close up of the wood paneling, I can see why you have struggled to paint it… it is much nicer than most! However, I’m going to play the devil’s advocate and say that I do feel painting is the best option, as you will have an extremely hard time achieving the look you want without doing so.  I have actually found a room very similar to your family room that might help and give inspiration.

As you can see in the before, although it’s not as big, it’s very similar to yours down to beams on the ceiling!

Here’s another view:

Here is the amazing after!!!

I love the cow print pillow mixed with the sea grass rug!  It all just works.

Another view:

This lighter yellow looks nice, but your blue-gray color could work well too.  I am totally obsessed with Restoration Hardware’s paint line (check out my previous post to see colors) right now… and there would be some strong contenders for a wall color as well. As long as you stay in the lighter tones you’d be safe.  I would paint out your mantel too… you could hold off on the brick to see how it works, like the following example:

But do spray paint your brass surround black, just please make sure it is fire retardant… we don’t want your lovely new home burning down!

Off to the right of your fireplace, I would also suggest covering up some of your brick with some decorative shelves like the above picture as well.  If you want that east coast feel, light colored (washable, if you have kids) slipcovered furniture.  Here is another example:

I just L-O-V-E this room!  Light colors mixed with a teeny bit of animal print and natural elements like the woven wood blinds, linen drapes, and the sea grass carpet… YUMMY! Texture is very important in any type of design, but especially “coastal meets craftsman” because nature is very much apart of this style.

Now for your kitchen.  Here is the deal… when trying to achieve the hampton feel in a home, this is where it gets tricky for you… almost all of them are white.  Here is the quintessential example of a Hampton kitchen… from the movie, Something’s Gotta Give.

However, with how new and beautiful your cabinets are, I don’t think painting them is the way to go right now, plus, since I am suggesting you paint all your other wood out, it would be nice to keep some warmth.  

I would suggest in the future you do put in a natural stone counter(soapstone or granite), a subway tile backsplash, and the hardware needs to go. 

Here are some exmples of hardware and subway tile that would work.

I love the seafoam green color of this tile…

…Or if you want something more toned down in color you could go with something like this.

Finally, I would suggest in your breakfast nook to loose the wallpaper…

Paint the wood trim white (don’t tell my brother-in-law the finish carpenter!) and install bat and board trim (as shown below).

Well, Natalie… I hope I’ve helped!  Would love to see pictures of the finished product! Good luck!


Designed to the Nines

“Making the home you have… the home you want!”

One thought on “NataLee 9-1-1: To Paint or Not to Paint Wood Paneling?

  1. natalie says:

    well, I hate to say it, but great minds think alike… I have to agree. What kills me, is how beutiful all the wood is… unfortunately way too much wood. It will most likely take me the whole summer to get this puppy finished, but I promise to send you some photos whenever I get it done. Thank you for this detailed response, it is so nice to get an opinion you trust in the Do-it-yourself age.

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