Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

This is an article I never thought I’d write.  Because I’m a paint-the-paneling-kind-of-girl.  If you read this blog on a regular basis, I’m pretty sure you know exactly how I feel about wood paneling.  To clarify, it’s not that I don’t like it – I just like it painted out.  Real knotty pine wood paneling is fabulous architecture to have.  But again, I prefer it be painted out.  

7O3A4740 400x600 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

knotty pine 

 

Sometimes wood paneling can’t be painted.  Because the man of the house feels unreasonably strongly about preserving the natural wood.  Other times, it is an issue of cost. If you have knotty pine paneling professionally painted, it requires a heck of a lot of prep, priming, and painting to permanently cover those dark knots.

DSC 2160 600x396 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

knotty pine before 

 

There is also a new generation of homebuyers who may have never been exposed to the infamous knotty pine. They didn’t grow up with it, haven’t tired of it moody darkness.  Maybe they are embracing the past, embracing the coziness of knotty pine. This week I staged a home with knotty pine – two big rooms of it.  Painting the rooms was off the table – not an option.  

DSC 2157 600x442 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

knotty pine paneling before

 

A couple of important things to remember when decorating with knotty pine walls – knotty pine is busy.  It’s usually orangey-brown and, duh, full of dark knots. Because of the inherent business of knotty pine, it’s important to keep other things in the space simple and clean. Clutter becomes visual chaos very quickly!

7O3A4731 600x400 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

staged knotty pine room after 

 

I know, that television is HUGE.  Moving that?  Not an option, either.  In knotty pine rooms, keep wall hangings/art simple – and use only a few carefully selected pieces so that they are truly noticed.  And it’s probably best to keep large upholstery in solid colors – not busy patterns.

7O3A4734 400x600 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

staging after 

 

Don’t try to layer the knotty pine with lots of fabrics and patterns, like those found in quilts:

DSC 2159 501x600 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

before 

 

Instead, keep it simple.  Choose one pattern to pop into a throw or blanket to make a bit of impact.

7O3A4733 400x600 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

less is more in a room with knotty pine wood paneling 

 

 

Knotty pine rooms often require ruthless editing.  Here’s one end of the den before:

DSC 2158 600x452 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

knotty pine den before

 

 

Simplify, simplify, simplify.  Let the knotty pine sing!

7O3A4730 600x452 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

knotty pine den after 

 

 

7O3A4735 395x600 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

knotty pine bookcase

 

 

Here’s a photo of the over-filled knotty pine office before:

DSC 2161 600x399 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

knotty pine office before 

 

A whole lot of editing and decluttering took place in this office.  And this is the final effect:

7O3A4737 600x410 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

knotty pine office after

 

 

And from another angle of the office, this is the before:

DSC 2162 600x432 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

before

 

 

Can you believe the difference?  The one thing I miss is the original linoleum sheet flooring – it was really, really awesome.

7O3A4738 600x400 Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

wood paneling office after 

 

I think this knotty pine redesign turned out really well.  What do you think?  Could you live with knotty pine?

 

 

pixel Designing Around Knotty Pine Wood Paneling

Comments

  1. Cindy Hall says:

    No, I had it once in my kitchen and stairs going to my basement. Painted it myself (hardest project I’ve ever done) and it was gorgeous. Wish I could find the picture.

    • I wish you did, too, Cindy! I painted a dark knotty pine room for a friend years ago. She was 7 months pregnant with her second child, and they needed to convert the den into a nursery. It was a lot of hard work (as you well know!) but it turned out so great.

  2. I would loathe this as much as my husband would love it.

    At least some, if not all of it would have to be painted for me to be comfortable.
    I think you did a great job of toning it down.
    My first reaction is to hang really large blank canvases on the walls just to break up all that wood.

  3. Judging by how many cottages have knotty pine in them, I’m pretty sure they must have been giving the stuff away free on Cape Cod in the 1960’s. Your after photos are a vast improvement, but I can’t help picturing how much better it would look painted. I just can’t get past the business of the dark knots allover the place.

  4. Hey Kristie! I’ve been following your blog for a while and really enjoying it.

    I must be in the very distinct minority of women who like wood panelling unpainted – but then again I like dark walls, too. They feel cosy!

    But I think you illustrate very clearly what’s wrong with wood panelling aesthetics by making it just right. De-cluttering! It’s a busy look that requires everything else in the room to be kept sparse and simple. Your ‘after’ images look quiet and homey. Love it. :)

  5. You did a great job of staging that home. Looked like a huge challenge to me, but you nailed it!

  6. Very useful post for me, Kristie! I’ve got a lot of this in one of my cabins. You’re a great editor :>

  7. Hi Kristie! Your knotty pine post is close to my heart! I cannot stand knotty pine! Yet, I live in Minnesota where it is very prevalent! I am an Atlanta girl, so southern style is near and dear to my heart. When my husband and I had the opportunity to live on prestigious Lake Minnetonka, we had to take the good and the bad (knotty pine!) when remodeling our dream lake cottage. I am obsessed with color, so I got started right away at transforming the original ‘cabin’ part of the home which was all vintage circa 1910 knotty pine. I have some great before and after photos if you would like for me to email them. I did the knotty pine in Benjamin Moore “Havana Tan” to mimic the sand of our beach and painted all of the trim in white enamel. What an amazing transformation. The kids bedrooms were all dark knotty pine, so I ‘whitewashed’ them to make them beachy. I would highly recommend whitewashing knotty pine!

  8. Michelle L. says:

    Nope, couldn’t live with it. Painted it out in my last house (kitchen and den) and it changed the look and feel of the entire home. Even the former owners came to see it and cried “happy tears” for how pretty Grandma’s home looked! Of course, you did a great job with this, Kristie. And what happened to the plate collection? Will there by a sale? Cause some of those look kinda cool!

    • Michelle L. says:

      “be” a sale

    • They have so much special stuff – the lady of the house has lived there 55 years! Lots of interesting and meaningful collections. They are moving to the northwest and will setting up a new home there. Hopefully, I will be helping them integrate their collections into their new place long-distance!

  9. The worst part of Knotty Pine to me isn’t even the knots, it’s the Orange! Oy! We handle the knotty busi-ness like we handle wallpaper but orange walls hurt my eyes – especially at night with incandescent bulbs. You made orange look as good as it possibly could!

  10. We had fake wood paneling with burned in animals in our kitchen when we bought our house. It was truly the most hideous thing I have ever seen. I painted it as soon as I could. It didn’t really help with the overall awfulness of my kitchen, but it was slightly better. Who wants to look at pheasants and elks while eating dinner?

    As for the knotty pine, I can kind of appreciate it’s appeal. I would probably feel guilty painting it but I would do it anyway. It’s too dark. I think if you grew up in the 70’s, there was paneling somewhere in your house and I know I never want to see it again!

  11. I have to add, I have a really pretty kitchen now and was not sorry in the least to see any of that awful decor go. It’s all on my blog. Monarch butterfly tile and all.

  12. Nancy Stinson says:

    It would drive me knotty…I mean nutty. :-) I would want to paint it every day I lived with it. And my husband would most likely want to leave it natural, but maybe not. He’s getting easier with such things. But if we were to buy a house with knotty pine, I would only do so on the condition we could paint it and I’d want that in writing. That’s how much I dislike wood paneling in its natural state. But I adore it painted. Long ago my husband and I painted a whole house full of paneling for a couple. Even the bathrooms were paneled. We did light gray walls and white trim all in satin. The owners did not see it until after it was complete. It was like a different, much larger, house and was so much brighter. It literally stopped them in their tracks as they came through the door. I will never forget it.

    You did a great job of working ‘with’ the paneling. I love the simple throw over the sofa, the pared down bookcases and the less-is-more of the walls. I can’ t help but want to paint that desk though!

    I wonder how many people want to keep their homes after you stage them?

  13. I could stand one room — the office that you de-cluttered is now gorgeous! What a difference! But I don’t think I’d like it in a living room or kitchen. Office or den, maybe. Would you come and de-clutter my husband’s office? :-)
    That brings me to another question — when is it okay to cover a piece of furniture with a throw? In terms of staging, of course. We are hoping to put our house on the market in June/July. Will your book be out by then????

    • My book better be out by then! haha – It’s totally ok to cover a piece of furniture with a throw. I was recently at a party where there were two old (and probably soiled) loveseats in a living room and they were covered in large faux fur blankets – they looked fabulous and elegant! In this house, we actually put a throw on the “coffee table” because it wasn’t really working for me. If it looks better in photos, I say go for it.

  14. I’ve painted out regular old 70’s paneling in my lake cabin, but that knotty pine has to be the worst to cover! My husband would probably love it and I would hate it! Great post, Kristie, because like your clients, not everybody can or wants to pain their knotty pine.

  15. Kristie, You are a staging genius!

  16. Ah, yes. We had a house full of it. Under the chair rail in living room, both built ins up to the ceiling flanking the fireplace, EVERY cabinet/vanity in each of three bathrooms, the “beams” in the living room and the ENTIRE kitchen. It is crazy expensive to have it pro painted. We got three estimates on painting until our neighbor finally told us that it would be much less expensive to rip it out and put up new trim and drywall. He was correct and it has been the single most rewarding project we’ve done so far. Next up, kitchen=sledgehammer. The previous owners of our home painted over it in one bathroom (to put house on market) and less than a year after we moved in, the knots were showing through. If you are thinking you can skip the toxic primer that covering the knots requires, you can’t. Just Rip. It. Out. It really doesn’t make that big a mess. It’s not about the wood, it’s about the nasty “orange” patina it takes on.

  17. Ugh. No way! Paint it!! :)

  18. Jane Cederholm says:

    Being in my 60’s now…I remember when this was just the coolest thing. Really it was. So I can imagine living with knotty pine in the right house and the right room. Having said that, no I could not take it in every room. And to be truthful I now live in a home with too much pine paneling-I am painting it out…room by room. Just takes a little time at my age but it is worth all the painful shoulder, knees and back-not to mention the hands!

  19. My hats off to you Kristie!! I know how challenging this job must have been, you nailed it!

  20. Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Great job, Kristie!
    Just curious—-did YOU have to pack up ALL that stuff with the homeowner?
    Or, did you direct her to pack it & then you returned another day?
    Yikes–the hours & hours it must have taken….& did she like the results?

    It IS amazing that people don’t “SEE” the orange color with brown dots.
    Would they wear a shirt those colors? (or a dress?)
    I actually stopped going to a hairdresser who has a wood walled cabin for a salon.
    Just couldn’t stand it any longer! Makes my skin feel funny!

    • Yes, Paula – I did a staging consultation a while back for this couple. They did a lot of work going through their things and packing them away. They have lived here a very long time – the woman has lived here since she was a child! When they were “ready,” I came back and spent a few hours staging it so it would be ready to get on the market.

  21. You have quite a legion of followers who have their own take on knotty pine paneling ! I agree with you Kristie, it is true if you grew up and were exposed to those styles, your take on it is much different than the younger millenials or Gen-X’ers. You did a great job on this project with what you had ! The 1911 beachhouse we are remodeling in Newport was entirely built on the inside with knotty pine and paneling but it was more of a beadboard style. My husbands parents owned the home and were 2nd generation in the lumber industry. So you can guess how much they loved that wood. Don’t get me wrong we love wood too, but not that much of it in one little house ! So when it was passed down to my husband we tried painting it to no avail. We had no choice but to remove it so we could renovate and update the insulation ,wiring and plumbing correctly. Everything is now drywalled with mouldings and it hasn’t lost any of its beachy charm. We did save some nice pieces and I am trying to think of a way to incorporate them into the house.

  22. I once had a knotty pine kitchen with knotty pine cabinets, and I loved it! It was a galley kitchen, and all of the appliances were white, as well as the floor, fixtures, and countertops. That kitchen was a cinch to keep clean, and always looked cheerful and quaint.
    I recently visited a home where the powder room had knotty pine walls & ceiling with skylight, while the floors were a dark gray slate. It had a good vibe, that powder room, but it’s obvious no women live there.
    I don’t think I could stand rooms and rooms of it, but a space here or there, I don’t mind.

  23. Melissa Anderson says:

    Knotty pine isn’t for me, but I could see someone who loves mid century modern decor rocking it with some furniture from West Elm, etc.

    Kristie, do you have any clients who have added a gel stain or tint to the finish to deorange it?

    • No Melissa, I haven’t heard of that. There is typically a heavy varnish over the good knotty pine paneling, so I don’t think a stain or finish would adhere to it without stripping that varnish off first. And yes, some West Elm might look pretty awesome in a knotty pine den!

  24. You did an excellent job under the circumstances. I would have loved to see the rooms if you were allowed to paint the walls for inspiration.

    I stained the knotty pine paneling in the first floor powder room with a white stain 7 years ago. You can barely tell it was stained. Hated it then and still hate it now. Going to paint it after we finish remodeling our living room.

    Maybe the new owners will have you consult with them on a new paint color! :-)

  25. ‘STAGING ‘AROUND KNOTTY PINE WOOD PANELING

    This home received a FULL price offer, FIRST day on market!!!! Wood paneling and all…

    Five words: PRICE, LOCATION, CONDITION and THE DECOROLOGIST!!!

  26. We move into a colonial style split level from the 50s 3 years ago. The small office, lower level family room, and powder room are knotty pine, and I had thought that I would for sure paint it, but the more time that passed, the more I have made my peace. Granted, only three walls of the family room is paneled with the third a wall of windows, and this keeps the space from feeling so dark. But honestly, as a mother of 5 boys, it is so much lower maintenance than paint! I started a Pinterst board collecting pretty knotty pine images, and it has really helped me make the space livable for us. It can be done well. But there are not a lot of inspiration pictures out there to go on. We still toy with the idea of painting, but so many other projects take precidence, it will be many years befor that would happen. Thank you for gritting your teeth and showing it at its best!

  27. Here is a link to my Pinterest board I keep for knotty pine inspiration. http://www.pinterest.com/mysymphony/making-peace-with-my-knotty-pine

  28. Beverly Carlson says:

    The first house I ever owned had knotty pine. The first house I staged as a real estate broker had knotty pine. Each time I worked with it. At least knotty pine is real wood!

  29. It always amazes me what a little paint and staging can do, Kristie! This home looks fabulous! You have got some mad skilz!

  30. We bought a house with a basement full of knotty pine paneling. Not only did we have the knotty pine, we had red plaid carpet! We called it our lumberjack basement. It was kind of fun in a quirky way – but just soooo not us. The previous homeowner was a big hunter, so he had it all man-caved out with deer heads everywhere. I was at a complete loss to even begin to try decorating the space. How can you compete with red plaid carpet? We did trials of painting the pine, but ultimately decided to rip it out and re-drywall everything. We plan on being in the house forever, so the extra time and effort was worth it to make it ours.

  31. Our dining room has almost exactly that type of paneling. We have gone back and forth on whether to paint or not. Still not sure, but these are some excellent design ideas for working with it. Paneling can sometimes feel old fashioned in a non-chic sort of way, but these ideas make it far more appealing. Decisions, decisions!

  32. I have a knotty pine room that needs to become a nursery. The furniture is dark walnut and I’m not sure how to go about decorating this room to make it look decent without painting?

Trackbacks

  1. […] did I mention, this is the same house with the wood paneling that we didn’t paint? Here’s a question for you:  how difficult do you think it might […]

  2. Bought A Wall Paneling Pine Pine Unfinished

    [...] a of painting, but so many other projects take precidence, it will be many years [...]

Speak Your Mind

*