The State of the Living Room: Painted Paneling & Built-ins Makeover

March 2, 2017

Our living room is one of our favorite spaces in our house. The cathedral ceilings and the floor to ceiling fireplace won us over the first time we saw the house. We were able to look past the worn carpet and the gray-ish, purple-ish paneling an knew it had a lot of potential to be the the living room we’d been dreaming of.

One of the first projects we tackled after moving into our house last May was painting the paneling in the living room. It made a huge impact on the look and feel of the living room.

All of the paneling required 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint. We went with Simply White by Benjamin Moore in the Advance line. We really love this paint, especially for trim and the paneling. The part of the room we did not paint initially were the built-in shelves and wet-bar, these had a very 80s vibe. The reason we did not paint them at first was because we a) weren’t sure whether we were going to keep or get rid of the built-ins/wet-bar and b) we didn’t know what color we would paint them if we kept them. So they stayed just like this for about 7 months.

A few months after we painted the living room paneling we finally decided on flooring for our main level (everything except the kitchen). This warrants a post all by itself so I won’t get into much detail, but suffice it to say we could not decide between laminate, engineered hardwoods, or solid hardwoods. It took us months to decide, probably because the idea of shelling out so much $$ for real hardwoods was daunting, even though we knew that was what we ultimately wanted. In the end we chose solid hardwoods and proceeded to rip out all of the carpet in our main level and have gorgeous new hardwoods installed. What a huge difference. Our house finally started to feel like ours.

We waited until the floors were installed to paint the built-ins and I am so glad we did. I originally wanted to paint them a darker color, but Nathan thought we should paint them white, the same color as the paneling. Seeing our darker floors next to the built-ins helped us decide that white was in fact the right choice, it brightens up this little corner so much and if we had gone with a darker color I think the built-ins would have made this corner feel way too dark.

We painted the inside of the cabinets too and I am so happy we did. Everything feels so much cleaner and brighter! I actually want to store pretty things in here now, instead of just letting the shelves collect dust. We kept the original hinges and shelf brackets, but replaced the door and drawer pulls with these pulls.

You can see peeks of the soon to be ripped out carpet and railings on our stairs. We cannot escape the carpet in this house.

I intentionally did not take pictures of the “process” of painting these built-ins, but it took about 2.5 full days of prep, priming, and painting to complete this project. My mom even spent an entire Saturday helping me thank goodness. I would have gone crazy without her. I used this project as a test run before we paint our kitchen cabinets, which is happening so soon!!! I plan to do a detailed post of painting our kitchen cabinets, including things I learned while painting these built-ins for anyone out there who is thinking about painting any cabinets.

I try to keep it real on this blog so here is shot of what our living room looks like today.

It is by no means “done” and we have big plans for new furniture, artwork, and potentially re-staining the beams on the ceiling. Hopefully in a few months this big ol’ living room will have a much different feel than it does now. Think more traditional and modern pieces, with a little less rustic. I would also love to replace the fan with a chandelier of some sort even though we JUST replaced the original fan with this fan shortly after we moved in. Nathan is probably cringing as he’s reading this because of how much of a pain it was to just replace this fan – 3 guys and scaffolding were needed because these ceilings are so tall! We might have to hire someone to do that if I convince myself (and him) that it’s necessary. I’m getting ahead of myself, but one can dream, right?

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