The Power of Paint – Amazing Wood Paneling Makeover

My online home staging client, Jessica, was overwhelmed with getting her home ready to go on the market.  The dark wood paneling sucked out any light and made the space feel smaller than it was.  Her husband had resisted lightening up the house for several years, but when it came time to think about selling the house, they both knew they had to do something drastic to get top dollar so that they could build their dream home.

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paneled living room before


Although wood paneling can be cozy, it can also be dark and dreary. And that can be a real turn-off for buyers looking for a happy space to settle in.  In this house, the wood paneling ran though the living room, entry, dining room, and kitchen.  

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dark paneled entry before 


After an online staging and paint color consultation, I created a furniture floorplan and Inspiration Board for the living room  Jessica took it from there and got to work.  I was so happy when she sent me some “after” photographs of the house – I was BLOWN AWAY at the difference, and I feel certain you will be, too!  Are you ready for this? Here is the entry after a major paint transformation and a few minor decor changes:

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 painted paneling after


Can you believe how different the entry console and the mirror above it looks?  The light backdrop of the painted paneling make the wood come to life.  And the dark gray door is a fresh contrast against the white trim and new wall color.  Let’s take a look at the change in the entire living room:

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living room after


Jessica will take the new chairs, rug, lamps, and pillows with her on to her dream home when this house sells – in the meantime, she’ll get to enjoy her transformed space.  You may have noticed how the living room is open to the dining room.  Here’s a before of that space:

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wood paneling in dining room before


New colors, a fun pair of lamps, and a darling painted vintage dining room set will help buyers envision themselves sharing family meals together in this delightful home.

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dining room after


Everything is fresher, brighter, and man, does it look BIGGER.  Wait until you check out the kitchen.  Jessica wasn’t sure how to paint out this room in particular.  The bottom cabinets were already painted an almost black, but since it needed a fresh coat of paint we chose a different dark color to work with the new color palette.  Here’s the before:

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wood paneled kitchen before


I needed to choose color that worked with several fixed elements in this kitchen, including two different granite countertops and a tin backsplash.  By painting the soffit above the upper cabinets the same as the cabinets (rather than the wall), the cabinetry is visually elongated and the ceiling looks higher.  And here’s how it turned out:

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Again, notice how the wood sideboard looks transformed surrounded by these new colors. And the floor looks fabulous, too.  I feel pretty sure that some young family is going to walk into this listing and fall in love with its still-cozy charm.  Never doubt the power of just the right paint color and placement.  It can be one of the most powerful tools in staging a home to sell, as you can see!

This custom paint color palette (four colors total) is available for $25.  If you are interested, simply contact my assistant at and she’ll take care of you.

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  1. that is amazing! will definitely be pinning this today!


  2. Michelle L. says:

    Why move now?! Gorgeous!

  3. I have to say that this is one of my most amazing transformations I’ve seen you do – that looks fantastic! Just sent the link to the husband to prove that painting paneling is an awesome choice!!

  4. If I were her I would change my mind and not put it on the market! Doesn’t ben look like the same space! Another fab job Kristie!

  5. WOW!! What a deastic transformation! Amazing indeed!

  6. That should be: “drastic transformation.” I was so excited, I couldnt’t spell it correctly. LOL

  7. Eileen Beck says:

    I think you’re doing this poor woman such a disservice. After this, she’s going to be so conflicted–move or don’t move! It’s stunning.

  8. Chris Usher says:

    Incredible Transformation!!!

  9. What a transformation! From the pictures it looks like it’s okay to have some of your baseboard painted and some of it stained, even when it connects at a corner. My house was already done that way when we bought and it looks “off” to me. If you say it’s ok I’ll stop worrying about it.

  10. Awesome! My finished basement has this same dark and dreary paneling and I need to do this too!

  11. Natalie Reddell says:

    One of the biggest bang-for-the-buck projects for any level of DIY’ers. Looks a-mazing! Too bad it’s so hard to convince the hubby’s to paint stained wood. It’s a guy thing. There should be a separate planet to house all the recliners, wood-panelled dens and 80″ screen tvs! ;) I guess Mars ran out of room.

  12. I think I hear the Hallelujah chorus singing on this one. Fantastic job!

  13. What a shame that this kind of change typically gets put off UNTIL a move. It looks Amazing!

  14. Kristie, I agree, one of the best transformations I’ve seen! Fabulous job, it really doesn’t look like the same house!

  15. Stephanie R. says:

    WOW Kristie!!! It’s hard to believe this is the same house. I am going to show this post to my parents. They have had the same paneling for 40+ years. My Dad has wanted to paint, but my Mom has been resistant. Maybe this will change her mind. Great Transformation!

  16. Beautiful! Paint does wonders!

  17. Veronica Tostado-Domurat says:

    Great job Kristie, keep going!!
    And in another note, about the color of the year I guess you and me nailed it a little saying that maybe purple or lavender could it be the new Pantone color of the year. I found our conversation haha:

  18. Well because of YOU! My husband has a new project added to his Spring/Summer to do list. Painting the wood paneling in our living room Memphis home!! Thank you & great job!!!

  19. All I can say is WOW!!!!! What an amazing difference! In addition to the paint, the on-trend pillows, lampshades, and rug really make it sing.

    I need to think about the rug situation in my house. I have some Karastan oriental-style rugs that I thought were so classic that I would use them forever at the time I bought them. But when I see spaces like this where a geometric is used, I do see that it really updates a space so much.

    • Unfortunately, I believe that many, many people have been sold a bill of goods about the importance of purchasing very expensive rugs. I’ve heard people say that they considered them “investment pieces.” Well, the truth is: it’s very difficult or impossible to sell older oriental rugs because color combinations do date themselves. And many of them seem so dark by today’s trends. Changing out a $300 rug every 7 years doesn’t hurt so much and gives you the opportunity for something that can instantly update a space. Maybe you could store one of your rugs for a season and try something lighter and fresher for awhile?

  20. Kristie, this is an amazing transformation and an inspiration! We moved into an older home with darker wood paneling. I knew it had to change and spent a lot of time brushing it (shaggy rustic wood), vacuuming it and then priming it- 3 coats! I have been flummoxed trying to decide what to do with it these past four months. But now that I see the light grey paired with the white trim, I think I now know in which direction I will be going. Thank you- it is always a pleasure to read your posts!

  21. WOW! What a major transformation.

    One of my favorite things to do = paint paneling or wood walls.

  22. Beth Lester says:

    I’ll bet they are just kicking themselves that they didn’t do this much sooner.

    Question: Did you send a professional photographer in after the work was done?

  23. Hi I am confused by living room before and after/ Was a wall taken down?

  24. Fantastic transformation! The only minus for me is the microwave on top of the wooden cabinet. Why not in the kitchen area? Maybe I’m missing something about this area.

  25. Great before and after pictures. I love the eclectic style you bring in here. Such a great and refreshing transformation.

  26. TKraft Art & Interiors says:

    Crazy beautiful, this makeover is a great example of what the magic of paint and sweat equity can do. Good job!

  27. Just found your site today – beautiful make-over. I’m linking to this article…very inspiring!

  28. Absolutely Stellar!!!! Kristie you did it again!!!! Thank you for sharing your vast talents and vast knowledge!!!! You are an inspiration on making our homes a special place for our family!!!! Wishing you and your family as well as your followers of your blog, the joy of Christ and the peace of a Savior as we celebrate the birth of a special baby!!!! “For unto us a cold is born, unto us a Son is given…”

  29. This is a GORGEOUS reveal, Kristie! There’s so much to love about it but I especially love the tip about painting the kitchen soffit to elongate the look of the cabinets. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Bravo, Kristie – and kudos to your lovely client for trusting your advice and putting it into action! I love how the wood floor and wooden furniture pieces have so much presence now that they have some colour to help them stand out. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Completely spectacular!! Great job Kristi! x Maria

  32. Client must be over the moon happy about this. I love that you are charging for the paint colour palette. Brilliant.

  33. Amazing girlfriend! Unbelievable difference in the before and afters. They must be so thrilled with it! I also would have suggested to paint the paneling, such a huge difference. Great job Kristie!

  34. OMG! This is amazing. I never would have imagined how beautiful painting over paneling could be. Excellent job!

  35. Amazing transformation Kristine! I have seen and tackled similar probems but this one topped my list. What a great transformation, owners prob was blown away on how this turn out! Exellent job! As ussual!

  36. I have never painted knotty pine. I need ideas on how to paint it. I was told it was very difficult. PLEASE HELP!!!!


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