Colleen’s Paneled Den

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  June 21, 2013 — 10 Comments

I posted last week that I’m interested in doing more mood boards to gauge whether I’d like to offer them as a paid service in my shop, and was so excited to get this email from Colleen!

Hi Charlotte!

I came across your blog a while back and I’ve been following ever since. I think you are so creative! Anyway, if you are still looking to do some trial mood boards, I have a really ugly room in my house that I don’t know what to do with. It’s a small living room that was added on to the house by the original owners and it looks nothing like the rest of the house. There are quite a few challenges including a huge wall heater (only heat source in there & so ugly…trying to convince my husband to get rid of it), a big sliding glass door, some not so great built in shelves/cabinets with brick behind them (formally the exterior of the house), and everything else (ceiling included) is covered in knotty pine. It’s not pretty and I’m at a loss when it comes to fixing it up. We are looking to move in the next couple of years so we don’t want to put too much into it money wise but at the same time we aren’t afraid to take on a diy-type project.

Attached are just a couple of random shots I already had that show parts of the room but I can take some better pictures if you decide you are interested in brainstorming some ideas for me. If not, no worries! Thanks for looking!

Colleen from Buffalo, NY :)

Here are the pictures Colleen sent over after I said yes, yes, a million times yes!

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And a rough sketch of the layout:

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The first thing I would do is invest in a boatload of white paint to cover every square inch of that pine (including the ceiling and built-ins). I usually just grab the paint right off the shelf, but if you want to get it tinted to a particular shade you can’t go wrong with Ben Moore Decorator’s White (big hardware stores can match it to cheaper paint). I’d probably leave the brick as is for now.

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The Design Files | Lisa Madigan

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let me be inspired

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 (no source, sorry!)

But if Colleen really hates the brick, or if down the line it just isn’t working, she could always paint it to match the walls.

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Dwell | MADE

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Young House Love

Colleen isn’t so sure about the built-ins, but if it were up to me I’d wait on ripping them out. They might look really great after she’s made some changes to the rest of the room, and she can always take them down later if desired.

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Nest Decorating

As for that wall heater situation, I would actually hide it with curtains by treating that entire section of wall as one big window (as seen in my crudely illustrated rendition below). In the winter months you can just slide the curtains away from the heater when it’s in use. I’d go with simple white curtains made from muslin to cover all the windows in the room, including the sliding glass door behind the TV. This is what I have on all the windows in my house and they do a great job of creating privacy while still letting in plenty of light. You can see how I made them here, and I’d recommend an extendable curtain rod from Ikea as the cheapest option for spanning those two windows (they have one you can order online and it looks like even with shipping to Buffalo it’d be under $20). I’d hang them just below the ceiling and probably 6″-12″ wider than the windows on each side.

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Now that we’ve covered the walls and windows, let’s see what I’d actually put IN the room!

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sofa / ottoman / rug /chair / basket / striped throw / blue pillow / yellow pillow / chevron pillow / sconce

If a new sofa is in the budget, I’d go for an Expedit sofa from Ikea. The white slipcover is machine washable and the classic shape is sure to stand the test of time. If white is just not doable for you they have plenty of other colors available, it’s just that white is the only one that doesn’t have to be dry-cleaned. Colleen has a baby who spends lots of time in here, so a wipeable upholstered storage ottoman is a really practical choice for a coffee table while still looking totally grown-up. You can layer a large tray on top to have a place to set drinks and whatnot. The carpet in the room is not bad, but if it were me I’d layer a rug over it for added dimension and texture–this one from Overstock seems like it would be softer on little knees than most natural fiber rugs based on the reviews, but if it’s still too rough Colleen could either wait until her baby has moved into the toddler stage or skip it altogether.

That corner near the bathroom (right in front of where there appears to be a phone jack) would be the perfect spot for a little chair. I included a picture I found online above but I’d actually try to source this one secondhand. Just keep your eye out on craigslist and at thrift stores until you find something that strikes your fancy. Reupholstery can be a pain, but if you find something that’s all wood or metal you can either leave it as-is or paint it easily.

A large woven basket adds more texture and warmth while also corralling all those baby toys, and colorful pillows and accessories are an easy way to make it fun without committing to a color scheme. I used yellow and blue here but you could really do whatever colors you wanted, then change them out as your tastes evolve!

And last but not least, the sconce by the door to the rest of the house is the perfect opportunity to add a little charm. This outdoor sconce from Home Depot is under $20. If the zinc is not calling your name you can give it a little makeover with spray paint as seen here.

I had SO much fun pulling all this together. I wish it was my room! And the best part is that even if Colleen ran out and bought everything I suggested, sofa included, it would all be well under $1000. I hope you like it, Colleen! And if you move forward with it be sure to send me pictures. Thanks for giving me the chance to blog about your space!

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap


10 responses to Colleen’s Paneled Den

  1. We had the same issues when we bought our home. Ugly paneled wall (only one of the room but ugh) with a wood mantel over the fire place and built-in bookshelves that were NOWHERE NEAR level. Seriously. It almost made people feel dizzy looking at it because the warping was so bad. We considered removing the mantel and the bookshelves but Eric’s dad suggested we wait until they were all painted pure white. With a little bit of work, the bookshelves were leveled and now I LOVE the way the whole room looks. PLus, I was really glad that I was able to keep the shelves and a home for my books.

  2. Pretty! I love the painted paneling. I sort of wish I had paneling to paint.

  3. So. much. knotty. pine. Oy! Don’t forget to prime the be-Jesus out of it!

    I might leave the ceiling for last — it might end up making for a cool, rustic, cottage-y contrast. And if not, paint away. Love the inspiration photos and the blue and yellow scheme. Could be a really cute, cozy little den!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap June 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Oh, I do like that idea! And yes with the primer! Probably oil-based, too, as much as I hate the stuff.

  4. I love the white! We are considering it for our master and bath plus we just paint ed our laundry room bright white!

  5. Thank you for all of the great ideas!!! I’ll keep you updated! :)

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