How to Brighten a Room with Wood Paneling

Wood wall paneling can add warmth and depth to rooms. It can also work well in a variety of decorating styles.

Light finishes on wood paneling maximize natural lighting in a room while still allowing the beauty of the wood to show through. Darker finishes provide stateliness and elegance.

Try a whitewash or neutral paint on your panels to brighten them up. Check out this lovely shabby room from Careyscountrygarden.

Whitewash your walls

Although wood paneling is known for shabby chic and old-timey décor, it’s an incredibly versatile material that works well with many interior design styles. If you’re still a fan of the texture but want to give your space a fresh new look, one easy way to do so is by whitewashing your walls.

You can achieve this effect by using a watered-down paint solution and brushing it on your panels. After each section is painted, you’ll need to wipe it off with a damp cloth. This process allows the wood to absorb the paint and creates a soft white hue that’s perfect for any room in your home.

When it comes to painting wood paneling, it’s important to keep in mind that the grooves in the paneling can become distracting if you’re not careful. It’s best to stick with a neutral color for the grooves so you don’t draw too much attention to them. Then, you can use darker paint for the rest of the walls, as in this den from designer Elizabeth Pash’s Locust Valley home. This approach takes the emphasis off the slats and makes the entire room feel more elegant.

The key to success is sanding your paneling down first before you apply the paint. You can buy a sanding kit that includes a variety of grit sizes at your local hardware store, or you can try sanding by hand with medium-grit sandpaper. Be sure to wear a mask and eye protection while you’re working; sanding can generate a lot of dust. After you’ve sanded the panels, make sure to wipe them down with a damp rag to remove any remaining dust and debris.

Paint the ceiling

Wood paneling on the ceiling can look just as dated as its counterparts on the walls. To update this feature, paint it in a shade that complements the wall color or creates contrast. For a modern look, try white or gray. When painting the ceiling, be sure to follow the grain of the wood and not cover it up with too much paint. It’s also important to prime the paneling using a high-quality water or oil-based primer before you begin painting. Once the primer has dried, you can start painting. Be careful not to overdo it, and don’t forget to apply a second coat as needed.

Conventional wisdom would make you believe that wood paneling can’t be painted, but this is not necessarily true. In fact, you can usually use any wall paint on paneling as long as it’s a solid wood or quality veneer. However, before you go gung-ho and start painting your wood paneling, pick an inconspicuous spot and do a test patch to make sure that the paint sticks. Once you’ve done that, proceed to paint the entire surface of the panels. Be sure to let the paint dry before putting anything up on the wall, such as artwork or photos.

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While wood paneling used to scream the 1970s, this design staple has been reinvented into something that is both sleek and contemporary. Whether used as a room divider or a stunning accent wall, paneling can work in any interior design style, from rustic to midcentury modern.

Shiplap is a common interpretation of this classic style that accentuates the clean lines of any space. The narrow slats of wood are placed vertically and evenly spaced apart to create a geometric composition that looks stunning in a variety of shades. This style works particularly well in kitchens, which can add warmth and character to an otherwise modern room.

Add a rug

While wood paneling often evokes images of dark and broody drawing rooms, it can actually be quite a versatile wall finish. It adds texture and depth to the room, which can elevate it in a way that paint or wallpaper simply can’t. In fact, if you use the right type of wood and color, it can be an incredibly chic option.

While there are many different types of wood panels to choose from, some of the most popular include shiplap, beadboard, and raised paneling. These options can provide a range of textures and designs to suit any interior design scheme. Shiplap walls are great for a rustic or farmhouse look, while beadboard panels add dimension to the space. Raised paneling is great for a colonial-style dining room, and it can even be used on the ceiling to create a version of coffered ceilings.

Another advantage of using wood panels in your home is that they are durable and easy to maintain compared to other types of wall coverings. They won’t peel or flake like wallpaper and can be wiped down with a damp cloth to keep them clean. Moreover, they’re a natural insulator, which can help reduce your energy bills.

When choosing a rug for your wooden paneled room, it’s important to consider the colors of your other furniture as well as any other finishes in the space. A light-colored rug will work best if you’re going for a neutral or grey tone. If you want to incorporate a rug with a more vibrant shade, opt for a darker one instead. In either case, be sure to place the rug centered on a major architectural element in the room (i.e., the fireplace or large windows) to ensure it doesn’t pull focus from the rest of the room.

Paint the mantle

Reader Ellen has wood paneling around a large fireplace in her family room, and she wants to brighten the space by painting the mantle. However, she has a lot of other furniture and decor to deal with, so she doesn’t want to spend too much time on this project.

Wood wall paneling is a design trend that has gone in and out of style over the years. While many people love it, others are adamant that they want flat, timeless walls like those found on drywall. If you’re part of the latter group, it’s easy to paint over wood paneling to create a more modern look. Just be sure to follow the proper steps, including filling in the grooves that are telltale signs of wood paneling before you start.

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You can still update your room with a new rug if you don’t want to commit to full-wall paint. Pick a solid color or one with subtle patterns but avoid busy ones that might clash with the natural tones of the wood paneling. For example, a floral or other pattern will compete with the wooden texture of the walls and may end up looking jarring or disjointed.

White carpets make a crisp contrast with warm wood wall paneling, and they convey a sense of luxury and elegance that can elevate your room’s aesthetic. Beige, pale yellow, and light gray carpet colors also pair well with wood wall paneling. They can help create a clean canvas on which to build an organically inspired decor scheme. Alternatively, an olive-green carpet can add a pop of color to a modern wood-paneled room, and it can be used as the foundation for a botanical decor theme that is both chic and inviting.

Add built-in bookshelves

One of the best ways to brighten wood paneling is by adding a set of built-in bookshelves. These shelves will make the room feel more streamlined and modern while creating a focal point. When building your shelves, be sure to measure and plan carefully so you can fit as many shelves as possible without leaving a large gap behind them. Also, be sure to caulk around all of the edges of your shelving to help close any gaps and give them a more finished look.

Another great way to brighten wood paneling is by painting it light. White paint is a popular choice; it can instantly brighten a space and create a clean, modern look. However, don’t be afraid to try a different shade than white—blue or green are both cool options that can work well with paneling.

If you love the wood grain texture of your panels but want to brighten up the room, try a technique called “whitewashing.” This is when you paint over the wall with watered-down paint—brush on, wipe, and repeat until you reach your desired color. This method is great for those who don’t have the time or money to invest in a full-paint job.

One of the simplest ways to brighten up wood paneling is by placing a patterned rug in the space. This will deflect attention from the ridges of the panels and make the room feel more open and airier. Additionally, you can add other patterned décor, such as floral prints or geometrics—both of which are trendy right now and will instantly brighten up the panels.

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