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.  

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.

knotty pine 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.  

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!

decorating 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.

decorating pine paneling

staging after 

 

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

DSC_2159

before 

 

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

7O3A4733

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

knotty pine den before

 

 

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

knotty pine bookcase library

knotty pine den after 

 

 

knotty pine bookcase

knotty pine bookcase

 

 

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

DSC_2161

knotty pine office before 

 

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

wood paneling office after

knotty pine office after

 

 

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

DSC_2162

before

 

 

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

wood paneling after

wood paneling office after 

 

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

 

 

0 0 vote
Article Rating

Get my special report "Child and Pet Proof Decorating"
Free when you subscribe to my email updates!


Share this Post

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

67 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cindy Hall
Cindy Hall
6 years ago

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.

Jeffrey Madden
Jeffrey Madden
5 years ago

I have to tell how much i enjoyed your article on your article. it was so funny and so true. I try to use my aol address on a lot of websites and they do not respond to it! I have been with them since the beginning and everyone else says “why” all the time! I guess I am a creature of habit. I really loved seeing your work, it just looked so comfortable and stylish. Being in NC for only 5 years now, you really captured a look that i wish I could. I hope we can touch base… Read more »

Jay
Jay
6 years ago

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.

LIsa Hassler
6 years ago

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.

eilidh
6 years ago

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. 🙂

Cathy
Cathy
6 years ago

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

Sherry
6 years ago

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

Kemerie Foss
6 years ago

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.… Read more »

Brittany
Brittany
9 months ago

Same here, Florida gal living in Northern MN. I have knotty pine throughout the house, I’m afraid that if I paint certain walls I’ll instantly hate it… I don’t mind the look of the wood walls, I just can’t figure out how to make it flow. I love a mid century modern style (the house was built 1950s), but sure as hello don’t want to go with the same “northwoods cabin” feel as every home or rental around here.

Michelle L.
Michelle L.
6 years ago

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.
Michelle L.
6 years ago
Reply to  Michelle L.

“be” a sale

Jennifer Collins
6 years ago

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!

Lisa
6 years ago

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,… Read more »

Lisa
6 years ago

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.

Lisa
6 years ago

This is the new pretty: http://thehouseofy.blogspot.com/2012/10/if-i-knew-then-what-i-know-now.html

Here’s the link to the old: http://thehouseofy.blogspot.com/2012/02/week-2.html
http://thehouseofy.blogspot.com/2012/04/old-kitchenan-in-depth-look-at-awful.html

All of the what happened in between old and new is chronicled on there. It was painful and challenging and expensive but I walk into it every single day and still can’t believe it’s mine. If I come across a picture of the ugly paneling, pre-turquoise paint, I’ll pass it along. It looked like someone had used a wood burning tool to draw in elk and pheasants and various other wildlife. It was truly hideous.

Nancy Stinson
Nancy Stinson
6 years ago

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… Read more »

Apple Hill Cottage
6 years ago

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????

Mary
Mary
6 years ago

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.

Susie
Susie
6 years ago

Kristie, You are a staging genius!

Jennifer
Jennifer
6 years ago

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,… Read more »

Jenny B.
6 years ago

Ugh. No way! Paint it!! 🙂

Jane Cederholm
Jane Cederholm
6 years ago

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!

Doreen
6 years ago

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

Paula Van Hoogen
Paula Van Hoogen
6 years ago

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!

MaryCC
MaryCC
6 years ago

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… Read more »

Joey
6 years ago

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,… Read more »

Melissa Anderson
Melissa Anderson
6 years ago

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?

Wendy
Wendy
6 years ago

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! 🙂

Melissa Allen
6 years ago

‘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!!!

Lindsay
Lindsay
6 years ago

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… Read more »

Lindsay
Lindsay
6 years ago

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

Beverly Carlson
Beverly Carlson
6 years ago

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!

trackback

[…] 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 […]

MarySue
MarySue
6 years ago

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

Emily S.
Emily S.
6 years ago

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… Read more »

Angie
Angie
6 years ago

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!

Cassie
Cassie
6 years ago

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?

Diane
Diane
6 years ago

If you think knotty pine is bad….try yellow orange logs, cabinets doors and stairs in a home. We just bought our home. My husband is one of those…that is solid wood…you can’t paint that! Well, I am in the process of painting the walls that are drywall (thank goodness the logs are only on the outers walls of our ranch house)! To make matters worse the floor tiles are beige/tan with some blue and brown. I either have to match the logs or the tiles. I tried to find colors to blend them both the tiles and the logs but… Read more »

Marena
Marena
5 years ago

I own a 1950’s split-ranch home in the mountains, sitting in the middle of a Ponderosa Pine forest and it is full of original pine paneling. I did grow up surrounded by paneling, nasty 70’s style in the house I grew up in and pine paneling in my grandparents house. I would never paint over this beautiful wood and am thankful no one before me had. Unfortunately they did remove the original pine cabinets in the kitchen there is only one left upstairs and a few downstairs in the house. Coastal decor…in a home actually on the coast (like where… Read more »

Danielle
Danielle
4 years ago

My husband and I just moved into a house with knotty pine wood walls in the entire home except for the kitchen. I’m still trying to figure out what colors and textures would be best in each room. I came across the article at the best time. You did an amazing job with this home. Great ideas! Thank you!

matt
matt
4 years ago

Interesting article, thanks. We are planning on re-doing our cabin & we have 70’s painted paneling on the walls now, anticipating replacing with knotty pine. Didnt realize that knotty pine is unliked! It’s a one room cabin, with a tiny kitchen which is also on the list – curious what color you would go with for cabinets. We love the look of barn wood, maybe that would be too busy?

Dianne Brown
Dianne Brown
3 years ago

I love your ideas for simplicity and de- cluttering. Remodeling my 50-year old home place and just love the knotty pine–orange look and all the brown knots. Mother did a great job decorating with the ‘orange’ when we moved in using brown, rust, gold. But I am ready for something else. The trim has been painted in a tan and I was puzzled about what color to paint over it. My husband said ‘white’, but I did not want that much of a contrast. I saw some of the rooms you had and they did have white trim. I believe… Read more »

Ed Self
Ed Self
3 years ago

Good article. I have knotty pine paneling in my den. I need to replace an old linoleum floor covering. I want something light, but what else do I need to be concerned about?

BJ Doerr
BJ Doerr
3 years ago

Have to weigh in here in total disagreement. When I moved from Florida to a log cabin in NC I was horrified by the vintage knotty pine in the living and dining rooms and the dark feel of the interior. The office has what I learned to be rare wormy chestnut paneling that’s even darker. But after many moves in my life, I knew to live in the space before I made radical changes. After a year, the cabin felt just right with its original ambiance. It would have been a crime to paint that chestnut paneling. We have a… Read more »

trackback

[…] People tend to feel one of two ways about knotty pine. They either love its character and warmth or they can’t wait to rip it out and install something modern. It’s a dark and strong personality that commands attention. Check out the knotty pine gallery at Decorologist. […]

Linda
Linda
2 years ago

We have a front room of knotty pine. I have a love hate relationship with it…. I love the cozy feel, yet all the new decorating trends are lighter….and on HGTV everyone that sees it in a house gives a very negative reaction! EWW! THAT HAS GOT TO GO! On the other hand, my wonderful husband LOVES it so it is staying. My biggest issue now is that we are getting rid of the carpet – we had a nice cranberry that was lovely, but it is worn and I really hate the vacuuming, every spec shows. Now for a… Read more »

Emily
Emily
2 years ago

Great tips. Renting a home with a basement of knotty pine halfway up walls and diagonally on one wall. If anyone is in need of the perfect paint color: Etheral Mood by Sherwin Williams. Paint is SO hard to pick in the first place! Try pairing it with knotty pine! This color is the perfect blend of medium-tone warm gray with a slight green undertone. I totally lucked out on this color. The walls were a light beige prior; an awful combination.

Dana
Dana
1 year ago

I feel the only wood that should ever be painted is cheap poplar or yellow pine. knotty and heart pine actually have value . there are things you can do, other than painting, to lighten it . you can hit it with a wire brush and pickle it, that will give it a unique more modern rustic appeal.

Dawn
Dawn
1 year ago

I just bought a house with a knotty pine kitchen and am debating what to do next…paint, rip it out, leave it. I’ll be honest I am a light, bright, airy and open kinda kitchen person but this kitchen does have a warm cozy feel and it has a lot of brick. I’ve seen some articles where natural wood, including knotty pine are coming back in style. I’d be curious on your thoughts on that.

Dixie
Dixie
7 months ago

We have knotty pine paneling (referred to here as “ lawyer’s paneling” because lawyer’s were the only ones that could afford the 1-inch thick solid wood paneling) in our 1950’s vacation cabin family room in Mississippi. I actually love it. It brings warmth & authenticity to our rustic getaway. Everyone that stays here gets to hang their family photo on the walls, and since it’s all family, everyone enjoys looking back on the years of family visitors. No other wall decor needed. A big leather sectional and a big flat screen tv for viewing NOLA Saints football is all that… Read more »

Sue
Sue
5 months ago

Hey Kristie!
Just found this article and need advice on ceiling tile. In short: 70’s basement, knotty pine on walls put on at angles so need to keep it simple. Drop ceiling and the ceiling tiles cannot be found! So… White ceiling tiles seem so “white ” and bright but sand seems yellow to me and latte too dark. What do you suggest? Found a company where I can use grid tape on the brown grid to match the color of the tile I choose. Do you think white is too bright?

MaryP
MaryP
3 months ago
MaryP
MaryP
3 months ago

I am horrified to read so many people dispise this paneling!. My father put this up in our old house for the livingroom. It was warm and comfy. I want those memories back. I’m a senior now and looking back that room was really special. Having my contractor do my sunroom in this for an Adirondack room. My view is looking across to those mountains. Painting this is a crime. This silly nonsense of painting everything white. No soul. This is solid and screams family and coziness and love. So sorry to see so many hate it. Guess a cookie… Read more »

MaryP
MaryP
28 days ago

People who don’t like knotty pine should buy a house without it. Sickens me to keep seeing how it” offends” some. Knotty pine brings back a slower, cozy time. My father put this in the livingroom long ago. It aged to that gloden honey over the years. My husband and I built our farmhouse with wide pine. My new sunroom is entirely knotty pine. Now on to the livingroom…

67
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x