How can I deal with ugly paneling?

My husband and I are moving to the great white North very soon. The house that we are renting has floor to ceiling paneling in nearly every room! It looks like the paneling was meant to give a warm, log cabin feel. Unfortunately, it makes me feel like I’m living in a boat. This does not make for a comforting, relaxing home to me.*

So, I am soliciting ideas for how to deal with the paneling. Anything that does permanent damage to the paneling is unacceptable; the owner of the house thinks the paneling is a draw and won’t change it. :rolleyes: Has anyone had any success downplaying or, even better, hiding paneling?

*In case you’re wondering, everything else about the house is great. And it’s in a great location. We couldn’t pass it up.

My wall solution was always to have more bookshelves than I had wall but…

Dunno, If you don’t mind dumping some money into it, you could try something like getting ceiling-high wooden frames that have some cloth stretched on them, then you just arrange those along the wall. You’d lose about a half inch of floor space (and it might end up looking like some cheesy old hotel) but as one idea.

I assume that painting is a “bad thing?”

I have rough cedar paneling and I’m sick to death of it. However, it is an ongoing battle with Mr. K. I will win…I WILL win…

I’d hang curtain rods along the ceiling and hang fabric to cover the paneling. You can change it periodically when you get sick of it.

Are you already living in the house? Maybe the paneling will fade into the background when your furnishings are there.

If the paneled rooms have lots of windows, you could put up drapes and extend them beyond the window frames, so the drapes cover some of the paneling. There are curtain rods that will do that. They’re hinged, and can be turned to cover the windows, or turned to the side to cover the walls. I’ve never seen any more than about 10 inches long though.

Is it nice paneling? Real wood?

Thanks for the replies so far. :slight_smile:

I had thought about the fabric idea, but I wasn’t sure how to make it work without looking too rigged.

Sage Rat , I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of bookshelves. We have tons of books and we could never have enough bookshelves. And, yes, painting is a “bad thing”, as is restaining the paneling.

Auntie Pam , the paneling is real wood. It’s actually quite nice and I’m sure it was very expensive to install. I almost like it in the family room. The problem is that it’s all over the house…

I was going to suggest paint, but I suppose that’s out if they want the paneling back as before. How about art? Lot’s of art, and mirrors, and other features to break up the appearance of the wall. I bet you could get art for the same amount as curtains, as long as you don’t go overboard.

Watch some of those decorating shows. They do it fairly often. If you choose the correct color (and I’d probably stick with a solid) you should be able to pull it off.

If that seems to “drapey”, you might want to consider using 3-panel screens…just here and there. They’ll draw attention away from the paneling.

No real advise here. Just wanted to know I share your opinion. I bought my house about a year ago the whole downstairs was paneling. So far I’ve gutted the living room and dining room to get rid of the freakin paneling. The paneling was covering damaged horse hair plaster. Now that those rooms have been sheetrocked I like the house so much more. Next I destroy the panelled kir=tchen with the horrible hung ceiling. My house is a hundred year old colonial. The seventies where very rough on her. I’ve also been reclaiming the wood floors someone tried to bury with carpet.

In your case the recomended fabric touch ups seems like the way to go.

You can take fabric and starch it to the walls, it just peels off when you are sick of it. I saw it used very well on a home show for a similar reason: renting, can’t paint. It looked great. You would probably still see the lines in the plywood, but they wouldn’t be that noticeable. BTW, you use liquid starch, wet the fabric and just apply it to the walls.

I have not tried this myself because my rental days are over forever (hopefully) but it sounds fabulous. (BTW, sheets from an outlet can be pretty cheap and wider than standard rolls of fabric.

Paint it.

Tapestries. Or pieces of art that you enjoy looking at that draws the eye to the foreground and obscures the background.

I see several suggestions that sound good, I think since you have the paneling all over the house (I like paneling but that’s going overboard, pun intended) it’s a matter of combining them.

Auntbeast’s suggestion is intriguing… that would do nicely in bedrooms, I think. For the common spaces, like living rooms, a few “focus points” like a mirror or a framed poster can do wonders. The ugly wall is still there, but so long as it’s not lime green your brain doesn’t bother about perceiving it.

I lived in a paneled basement with two small windows. The room was nice, because went with a brite orange for the curtians and bed spread. Orange does go well with the wood paneling. I placed mirror tiles on most of one wall to increase the appearance of spaciousness, and it brightened the room enough to make it a warm cheerful area. I loved it after that. You can get some of the larger mirror panels, that go almost from the floor to the ceiling, and attach by clips since you don’t own the house. You shuld put them on a wall that runs the longest, then the room will look spacious and not like a tunnel. I didn’t have to cover the whole wall ethier. I went with about two thirds of the wall.

Auntbeast , the starch idea is awesome. I don’t mind the texture of the paneling, just the color. That seems like it would approximate painting and be relatively easy. There are a few rooms (like the master bedroom, thankfully) that have only one wall paneled. The fabric would make a great accent wall.

I’ve decided to leave the family room alone. It has a kind of nice, cozy feel with the paneling. It’s a classic man’s retreat. My husband is very excited. :rolleyes: In the remaining rooms, I think I can get by with well-placed artwork, mirrors and bookshelves.

Thanks so much for all of the ideas! I’m starting to actually look forward to the possibilities in this house! :smiley: I knew the Dope would come through for me…

At Lowes, I have seen ultra-thin panelling made of plastic (though it doesn’t look like it.) There are all sorts of textures, a “wallpaper print”, subtle stucco-like roughness and plain smooth wall. I believe it’s made to be put over walls that have been damaged, rather than have to replaster the whole thing, and as an alternative to panelling and sheetrock for places like basements.

It probably wouldn’t do any noticible damage to nail those wall panels over the panelling, especially if you used those tiny brad nails. The wallboards don’t weigh much, so you wouldn’t need big ones.

You could paint or wallpaper the new wall surface. (You probably should paint them before you hang them, just in case any unnoticed paint seeps through the seams.) It’s totally removable, and might actually be a plus for you, since there’s going to be no future risk of accidentally scratching the panelling and losing your deposit.

Instructions for this method can be found here, along with other temporary/removeable solutions for renters to cover walls and hide panelling. Sounds like a cool idea! Enjoy your new home.

Thanks for the site. I was a little worried about trying the starch idea without any guidance.

You realize we’ll want pictures, right? :smiley:

If you do end up painting (sounds like you can’t, but I wanted to add my two cents), make sure you use Zinsser oil-based stain-cover primer as the first coat. The varnish in panelling seeps through any other type of primer coat and tints the color. I speaketh from the voice of experience.