Big Changes In My Living Room

How I added the look of reclaimed barnwood wall paneling in my living room without spending hundred’s of dollars.

Over the weekend, Ed helped me make a big change in the living room. I have been letting the room evolve over the 4 years we have lived in the house, but have never been truly happy with the decor as a whole.

Small living room with natural seagrass area rug with chalk painted border trim

I like many parts of my living room, especially after adding the stone fireplace and getting the floor refinished, but it is the only room in my house that has never felt quite right.

Bloggers Fall home tour living room decorated in fall colors of orange and brown with a navy accent.

Recently though, after lots of time sitting in the room over the last few months, I figured out what would make the room come to life and more importantly coordinate with my White & Woodsy decorating scheme I am going for so the room flows with lake beyond the sliding glass doors.

I found it needed an added touch of warmth and texture to add interest that would work as a center point for the room making the open concept of the living room and kitchen feel balanced with each other.

A sheet of Fake barnwood paneling bought at Lowes

I found what it needed in the way of fake barnwood grey paneling.

Ed helped me to install it on the two walls in the corner of the living room.

Wait!!! Hold the phone… Stop the clocks!!! Say what?

Did Diane just write that she installed fake wood paneling to her living room?


Installing barnwood sheet paneling to a living room.

I just installed fake wood paneling to two walls in my living room and…. I LOVE IT!!

I am a little in disbelief myself! But came to realize that things come and go, the circle of trends is always spinning. Everything that goes around, comes around… again, although in a slightly different way.

If you live long enough you see it and can remember back when a trend in fashion, home decor, recipes and more were popular and how when it comes back decades later, has a new twist or varied look.

Back in the ’60s and ’70s faux-wood paneling was used all over living rooms, dens and basements on every surface including the ceiling. It was quite common budget friendly way to decorate.

4 of the 5 houses that Ed and I have owned, had it and we painted…. every… single… inch… white! I am a pro at painting paneling. I even painted it in our garage when we first moved to the lake house.

A collection of three homes using Barnwood planks and white rustic and interiors.

Photos: 1 | 2 | 3

Lately, though everywhere I look when out and about in hotel lobbies, restaurants and in more and more decorating magazines and decorating blogs, I have been noticing an emergence of a different kind of wood paneling — it’s a little rustic and a little modern that I find myself being drawn to.

Call it Modern Mountain or whatever you want. I wanted a little bit of this rustic modern look, but needed to find it on a budget. I found it at Lowes in the way of faux barnwood grey paneling.

So what changed for me about faux wall paneling…

  • I needed a budget-friendly way to get a vertical panel wood look for my living room to warm it up, but not over power it while keeping the color scheme neutral.
  • I looked into the cost of 8-foot reclaimed barnwood planks, but the cost was way beyond the budget I allotted for the room, like $1000+ more.
  • I also considered using wood flooring, but that comes in random lengths, I didn’t want to see any horizontal seams creating a pattern on the wall. I even considered painting the wall to look like barnwood.
  • Adding the grey barnwood paneling to only two short walls in the open concept space, creates visual warmth and interest while not overtaking the room like paneling was done in the 60’s and 70’s. A little bit is all that was needed.
Barnwood Grey 4 x 8 paneling in the sunlight.
  • Other changes that made me rethink wall paneling was the color of the paneling itself. It looks like barnwood. I found it at Lowes. The paneling is fiber board with a printed wood sheet overlay with a wash of grey stain over it. I like the way it has some light oak bands that pick up the color of the natural pine of the sofa table that is placed in front of it.
  • I also like to keep abreast of changes in the decorating world that happen with the passage of time. Right now I am seeing a shift from all white rooms to adding wood, more texture and warmer and darker colors on walls to create interest.
  • I read in one decorating magazine article that the shift to using darker colors and more wood in home decor could be coming from the feeling that the world feels a bit off and we want to create a place that feels warm, peaceful, safe and comfortable.
  • And lastly, I am not afraid to try things out, especially when they didn’t cost a lot. If over time I think the room needs to evolve again, I can paint the wall any color I want. I have lots of experience doing just that. :-)

Life Changes… Decor Follows

Decorating is more than creating a perfectly coordinated space or adopting the latest design trend. It is about creating a quality of life in a space that reflects how you want to live every single day.

Have you ever read, A Good House is Never Done by John Wheatman? It is one of my favorite decorating books. It is an older book, but the advise he shares is timeless about how to work with our homes as living spaces that evolve along with how our own lives do.

Change happens. The longer we live, we know this for sure. It is also true for a house. The more you live in it, you not only learn from it and its surroundings, but you start to know what it needs to make it become a space that reflects how to make the best of it and your current life in it.

Items to use for a White and Woodsy Decorating trends and style for a living room.

1. | 2. | 3. | 4. | 5. | 6. | 7. | 8. | 9. | 10. | 11.

After 4 years of living in my house that is surrounded by nature with expansive views of the lake and trees out every door and window, I have felt my decorating style shift, and I like the change.

It is more nature inspired with a hint of modern, but just a touch using larger accessories and less stuff overall. More importantly, I want the inside and the outside of my home to feel connected to each other.

A few weeks ago I gave you a hint about my plans for the living room and the name of the decorating style I came up with that best describes what I will building on as the room evolves more to my liking. I am calling it.

White & Woodsy – Not quite rustic, but with a nod to it. Casual, laid back, but clean-lined and a little bit polished.

Living on a lake with tall pines and cedars swaying in the breeze all around me every day, makes this White and Woodsy decor fit the house.

Here is Sneak Peek of the Barnwood Grey Paneling

The barnwood grey paneling is up, but I am not done with what will be on it yet. I have been experimenting with ideas and trying them out until I like what I see. It evolves a lot of trial and error.

Living room wall before adding barnwood grey vertical sheet paneling to accent wall.

Here are the bare white walls where the sofa goes with the large clock placed over it. Each of the two walls has a wide doorway, so they are not the full length or width of the room walls.

This made them a good place to create an accent wall area to balance the color of the stone fireplace on one end of the open space and my driftwood color kitchen chairs on the other side.

Stone fireplace and barnwood paneled accent wall

I took this photo with my phone after we had the paneling and crown molding up. You can see how the color of the wood works nicely with the stone fireplace. The room actually looks bigger now. I was not expecting that to happen, but am happy it did.

The barnwood color is also right across from the wall of glass doors where the bark from the trees is right in view. The room feels balanced not only inside, but with the outside now, too.

Barnwood Grey paneling added as an accent wall in a modern rustic white and woodsy decor

In the other direction, the barnwood grey coordinates nicely with the woven kitchen chairs. From this angle, the two rooms look more cohesive with each other now.

Barnwood Vertical Paneling on an accent wall in a living room

The rest of the space is still white and when in the kitchen, the walls are not seen so everything from that point looks the same. It is not until you enter the living room from the kitchen, that you see the accent walls.

I am having fun bringing different furniture and pieces into the room and trying them out to see what works. I would LOVE to bring all my white pitchers and pieces into the room somehow. Still playing around with ideas for that.

I brought the stripped cabinet down from the guest room. It matches the long table behind the sofa. I like it here, but the space is too narrow. I want to keep the rooms, open and airy, so it may not be staying.

Barnwood Grey paneling added as an accent wall in a modern rustic white and woodsy decor

Like I mentioned in my post about restyling what you already own. More playing and styling needed to get the full White & Woodsy look I am after. I may need to purchase something new, but for now I am playing with what I have.

I am having more fun doing this room than I thought I would. Goes to show you when you take a left turn where you always went right…. could be a good thing for your room, home and even your psyche. :-)

Since I added the faux barnwood paneling, I have added a photo gallery wall. You can read more about it in this post: Making My Living Room Look Larger

Where to buy faux barnwood grey paneling. It is for budget conscious home decorators.

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  1. Love it ! It make the white sofa and the big clock pop out, than before on the white wall ! Good job ! Big hi from France !!

  2. Everything looks wonderful. I especially love the big clock on the wall!

  3. I love it! It looks great!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Lori – I am really liking it. Can’t wait to add one more decorative piece to the room.

  4. elizabeth phillips says:

    Beautifully done! I agree adding the faux wood paneling does bring balance.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Elizabeth – I was OK for the last few years with the white, but the added color balance makes such a big difference – a positive one for the room.

  5. Carole Larsen says:

    I really like the way the paneling brought everything together; the fireplace surround, chairs in the kitchen and the floors. Everything looks like it should be where it is.

    I have been following you for a very long time, in fact you were my very first blogger.

    Your trip was amazing and can’t wait to see the rest of your pictures.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carole – Thanks – I was a bit on the fence at first about adding the paneling, but now that it is up. I am so happy I followed my gut. Thanks for reading all these years. That is the best thing a blogger could ever hear. :-) Did you see my two posts on the Viking River Cruise part of my trip to France. I posted it it two parts?

  6. It looks fantastic! It really brings the space together.

  7. Laraine Larkin says:

    I absolutely love this! you have such a great eye. your home is beautiful!

  8. That looks really great, and it adds so much texture! Thanks for sharing it…it makes the room so warm and inviting!

  9. I like it but I would like horizontal better. Great job you two!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patty – Thanks. I did think about using horizontal panels, but I have that in a few other areas of my house. I wanted to mix things up a bit. :-)

  10. This looks great! are the panels smooth or is there a bit of texture to them? And how did you do the outside end corner? Trim? Or just let it end? You are right about rends cycling back, I grew up in a house with paneling on a wall in the living room! and bell bottoms and platform shoes were popular along with “rec rooms” and built in aquariums. What goes around, come around

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Crystal – Your comment put a smile on my face. :-) Bell bottoms, rec rooms and platform shoes. Hello 1970’s :-) Lived through it in style. I had two toned striped platforms when I was in 7th grade. To answer your question about the paneling, it is smooth, except for the horizontal ridges. I thought a lot about how to end the panels. I didn’t want to use molding, so I used caulk. It worked very well and finishes the edges.

  11. It’s beautiful! We were at Lowes just this past weekend looking for some inexpensive shiplap style paneling for our cabin’s kitchen and I commented to my husband that I loved the look of that paneling you chose when I saw it on the shelf. So fun to see it in your home!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Courtney – It is fun when coincidences like that happen. Like they were meant to be. Did you find shiplap for your kitchen?

  12. Love this SO much!! Please tell me it really does have some blue in it as it looks like in the pictures!! If so, then I think hubby and I will head to LOWE’S!! Just what we have been looking for to add that extra touch in our family room! Another great job, Diane!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Judy – Sorry I didn’t get this reply to you sooner. As far as the blue, there is a little bit swirled into the tan, brown and grey. When I saw the paneling in Lowes I was so surprised to see how real it looked. Next time you are near a Lowes, take a spin inside to see if it has the coloring you want. I only found it at one Lowes near me. The two others two Lowes in my area didn’t carry it.

  13. So beautiful I love it. Keep it up. Thank you for sharing

  14. Carolyn W. says:

    This ain’t my momma’s paneled family room! It looks gorgeous! Adds so much texture and interest. I applaud your choice.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carolyn – Thanks – I think technology has improved upon it and the fact that I only added it as an accent to the room.

  15. Wow, Diane! I love it! It really is such a good fit with your lifestyle now and your house. I think adding in more plants would be amazing too. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Bettsi – Yes – to more green plants. Now I need a green thumb. :-)

  16. Genius, utter genius

  17. I love it. I love how it picks up the texture of your dining room chairs too. It’s just the right amount, not too much, but enough to relate to the outdoors like you say, and to bring that element indoors as well. I know what you mean about a room not feeling right. It feels so much better when you finally figure it out. I’m not sure how long we will stay in our house, but I‘d like to think that we’ll leave the home much nicer than before. To bring out the beauty of a house makes me happy.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Holly – Thanks. I agree with you…to bring out the beauty of a house… makes me happy, too. Making it the best it can be for the way we want to live.

  18. Looks great! We’re remodeling an old 1894 house and besides the floors there’s NOTHING of the original (wasn’t anything to save). We did find what someone on HGTV calls “shiplap” under the plaster and I salvaged a huge pile of that. I am denailing and cleaning it up (and maybe a little staining) and going to put it up on the wall where the TV is going and on the coffered ceiling of my bedroom. I love the idea of some natural wood with my white walls and it’s nice to have one more little piece of the original house being re-used. I have one question, how did you finish the edge of the paneling where it ends on the wall between the living room and the kitchen? Are there trim pieces?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary – Wow! Sounds like you are in the midst of a major house transformation. Being able to reuse one part of the house in a new way will make the house extra-special when it is all done. To finish off the edges of the paneling took some thinking. I looked into molding, but didn’t want the ends to looked framed. I wanted to keep it simple and modern. What I ended up doing was using white caulk to finish the edges. Since my walls are white, it looks seamless where the panel meets the white painted walls now.

  19. Sheryll $ Critters. says:

    I love your new paneling.

    Wish mine was that color/style. Mostly I wish mine had sheet rock under it! And only on one of the very long walls. Ha ha! It’s a mess to have it on four walls!

    And your room is perfect!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sheryll – Thanks. Have you ever thought about painting yours? It will make a huge difference in a room where it is on all 4 walls.

      1. Sheryll $ Critters. says:

        Yes! Yes! Yes!!! I must paint a couple of my walls.

  20. This is gorgeous!! I didn’t know that this product existed….thanks for filling us in.
    Can’t wait to see what happens next ?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Lynn – I didn’t know it existed either. I found it by chance, which makes me believe that it is good to browse the aisles at the home improvement store even when we are not really looking for anything. :-)

  21. Deanna Rabe says:

    I think it looks wonderful!

    I love the idea that a good house is never finished. I’ve seen that over the years as our family grew, then as the kids began to leave home. Needs, uses of rooms etc all change. I like that very much.

  22. Lisa Marie says:

    You are really going for a rustic, cabin by the lake feel. I have to admit that when you said “fake wood paneling” my thoughts immediately raced to the hideous fake wood paneling that was all over interior design in the ’70’s. You nailed it as usual Diane!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Lisa Marie – I wasn’t sure at first if I should go for it, but then said to myself…why not? I am so happy I went for it. The paneling brings everything in the space together.

  23. Diane, you continue to amaze and inspire me — that paneling adds just the right amount of warmth and texture to the room just like you said. I love it.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Pam – The paneling added just what the room needed. I am so happy I walked down the paneling aisle at Lowes and saw it. Normally I wouldn’t have been in that aisle

  24. I never thought I would say this, but….I like paneling! After whitewashing my Mom’s paneling to make it lighter and more modern, I never wanted to see paneling again. But the new products are so much better than the old stuff. Can’t wait to see the full reveal! I always get good ideas from you. Thanks for the wonderful project.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Laura – You are so right. The products today are so much better in style and design than years ago. :-) I am excited to get a few more things added to the room to really make it all come together.

  25. Your room looks beautiful!

  26. Marie Kenyon says:

    I think we used that same paneling from Lowe’s to do a wall in a bedroom. It was either that, or redo the drywall to fix badly repaired holes. I was back and forth going the paneling route, but, finally decided on the gray panels, once I picked a black headboard. We were turning the room into a guest bedroom and wanted to do it budget friendly. The wall redo cost about $100, much cheaper than hiring someone to do drywall repair. And, my husband did it in a day.
    It turned out great! When I shared photos, the wall got the most compliments.
    I like how it looks in your living room!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Marie – Isn’t it funny what we sometimes hesitate to use or do, turns out far better than we would have ever thought? Your guest bedroom with the paneling and black headboard – what a great combo. :-)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Debbie – Adding the paneling has made such a big difference. My next addition to the room is going to include a lot of Zoe. Just waiting for a delivery from Amazon to start the project.

  27. Nan, Odessa, DE says:

    You are just noticing how cold white is without texture. You were missing he true with all the white. Designers want use to tire of what we h a be and make changes. BIG improvement to your home!!!! Enjoy.

  28. Gotta be honest, this is my least favorite thing you’ve done. I hope that wasn’t too harsh?. But what I think doesn’t matter one bit, just throwing in my two cents. I’m happy that you and Ed like it though. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Debbie – That is the best thing about decorating, doing it on our own style. :-) I am waiting on a delivery that will complete my vision for the accent wall. I hope it arrives this week. Once I get it completed I will post.

  29. Sue Bauman says:

    I love the definition the paneling gives to the room and the overall toning down of the rest of the white walls, ceilings, furnishings, etc. Good move! It’s nice the way decor trends come around again, reborn for another go-round!

  30. It looks amazing. Love it.

  31. Integrates your recliners too,

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nadine – Good eye. I am going to do a post all about the recliners and how I am trying to make them look integral to the room and not eyesores. They are so comfy, I have come to like them.

  32. Connie McGhee says:

    Fandamntastic! You never cease to amaze me. Enjoy!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Connie – Love your wording! I’m going to remember to use it from now on. It is a great word…. Fandamntastic

  33. It looks more complete now and complements the setting. . But why not do something to soften the prominent white light switch? It jumped out at me.

    I enjoy seeing how you and Ed have made this into your special home.


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nancy – I posted about the paneling a day after we hung it up. I haven’t had a chance yet to get a new switchplate, but will be replacing the white one when I find one I like.

  34. Love it! I too am surrounded by woods and like bringing it inside with finesse. The panel coloring is great! What made the horizontal vs vertical decision for you? I love vertical–gives a lift.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Michele – I decided to use vertical panels for two reasons. One was that I have horizontal shiplap in a few rooms. I wanted to do something different for added interest. I also have been seeing more horizontal paneling in decorating magazines and like the look, so I went for it.

  35. Susan Freeman says:

    This may just be the ticket for our basement family room. I have been thinking about it and reviewing pics for a year or more. This may be my “left, right turn “too! Thank you, Diane!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      You are welcome Susan – I am so happy to know my post has inspired you to turn left. You just never know until you try something out.

  36. Incredible difference! I need to add texture to my living room wall and was going to use tongue and groove but this looks amazing. You guys did a great job on the install too. How did you handle the outside edge please?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Suzanne – I need to add to the post how I trimmed the edge of the panels. I thought a lot about different ways to finish the edges – from molding strips to leaving alone. But since the walls the meet the paneling are white, I simply used white caulk and smoothed it with my finger as you do when you apply it along wood molding around ceilings, baseboards, doors and windows. It sealed the gap and looks seamless with the white walls.

  37. The new walls warm the entire space so much. I love white and wood together – the best of both worlds. It’s a wonderful improvement and you’ve given me inspiration for the wall in my bathroom behind my toilet, vanity and mirror. It definitely needs warmth.

  38. I can’t believe I actually like it! Good choice, Diane!

    1. Lorraine O says:

      Very cozy and inviting.
      I have a silly question…. how do you decide what to do next? Time? Size of project? I get overwhelmed at times because of time and want to finish in a day! So instead, I usually just watch and see what you’re doing next :)
      Thanks for the inspiration.

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Lorraine – Believe me when I say I get tired and overwhelmed at times, but I do have one motivator. Doing projects around my house is my job. It is how I make my living. There are some days that I just want to sit back and relax.

        When deciding on what projects to do, I try to have a few in the works at all times. This way when the paint is drying on one project, I can be sewing or creating something else for another project. Right now I have 4 projects in the works and am planning for what I need to do outside once spring arrives.

        Having a dedicated work space in my house does make working on multiple projects at once a little easier. I can make a mess while I work and then close the door behind me. I don’t have to clean up all the time.

    2. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Barbara – You sound like me, I was a bit shocked that I actually liked it too. :-)