Before and After: The Secret to Taking Wood-Paneled Walls Down a Notch

Warm, earthy wood is such a beautiful material to have in your home…until it’s not. There are no rules about how much wood a home can handle, but you know it when you see it. When Carina Romano bought this cabin in the Catskills with two friends, Amanda Jaffe and Kate McCann, the location won them over, but the amount of ’80s-era wood-paneled walls was overwhelming. Thankfully, these creative women were able to transform what could have been a lumber-induced nightmare into a modern, cozy retreat. And best of all, it didn’t take much to tip the timber scales from hardwood horror show to fabulously forest-inspired.

Hyperbolic descriptions aside, the “before” of this ’80s-era cabin wasn’t that bad, but it did lack a certain subtly and softness that the women were looking for in their mountain retreat.

In the large great room, a simple paint solution helped tone the timber down while still embracing — perhaps even highlighting — the home’s wooden architectural features. The two side walls of the living room were sanded down and painted a clean, fresh white.

The all-white paint job both hides the wood panels’ knots and lets the diagonal layout of the planks standout. The more modern-looking white walls not only reflect more light—bringing a much-needed brightness to the space—but they also direct the eye to the fireplace wall and up to the ceiling’s impressive rafters. Before, all the wood just kind of blends together. After? Your eyes can actually make sense of the wooden elements of the space…and enjoy them.

Other design choices the women made helped support their great room’s subtle but modern transition. The switch from a brown leather sofa (that was in the same color family as all the wood) to a black leather sofa (that complements and boosts the dark fireplace surround better) was a smart choice. A too-small, heavy coffee table trunk was replaced with a modern, airy, leggy black coffee table. And gone is the iron chandelier with hunting lodge vibes.

This is before the tile, but after they pulled up old carpet from the stair landing.

(Image credit: Carina Romano)

While not immediately visible from the great room, another sleek design choice in the vicinity helps take the focus on wood away: the Moroccan-style tiles that were added to the plywood stairs landing (after old carpet was pulled up).

More than anything, this modern makeover is a great example of how a few small design tweaks can have a big impact on the look and feel of a space, while still embracing the spirit of the architecture.

→ See all of this cozy Catskills mountain dream house


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One thought on “Before and After: The Secret to Taking Wood-Paneled Walls Down a Notch

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