The Tale of an Ugly Living Room

Sharing how the power of paint and new artwork can transform a dark and dated living room  (Spoiler alert: happy ending ahead!)

Do you love a great mystery? 

One with villains and plot twists? A dark tale with a happy ending?

I have such a tale to tell...

It's the tale of a house.

Built in the 80's and once dark and dated, most of the home had been updated when our heroine enters the story.

She is delighted with this house. The rooms are light and airy, filled with happy memories past and more to come.

Until she enters one dark and scary space...

(cue scary music)

...the living room.

Dark and ugly orangey-oak paneling lined the walls.

Thick dust coated the built in bookcases. 

Spiderwebs filled the corners and dark things lurked in the shadows!

But our heroine was both courageous and brave!

She fought off the darkness and introduced light into this damp and moldy space.

Oops, I'm writing a blog post, not a mystery novel! Reality alert!

The truth was this room was dark and dated (no cobwebs, dust or mold! I promise!). I shared my design plans for our dated living room awhile ago and today I'm happy to share the results.

The ugly living room is no more! It's been banished to the nether regions! 

I'm sure you're wondering just how bad it can be, right? I've got the proof right here and you're about to get all the dark and scary details! Everything we owned looked yuck against that fake paneling and dark oak wall of bookcases!

Nothing looked good in this dark room

No matter what accessories and furniture I brought into the space to try to change that feeling, it didn't work.

Darkness truly reigned in this living room!

It took me months to decide if I was going to attempt to paint the paneling and bookcases myself, but in the end I decided to hire the job out. It was a truly daunting task!

I'm happy to say that this tale of an ugly living room has such a happy ending!

The painted picture molding paneling is so pretty now that the dark orange-y fake wood is painted!

The paneling looks fresh and crisp and is a beautiful backdrop for a new sofa, an abundance of pillows and decorative accessories!

The paneled walls are hollow, so we couldn't go crazy with hanging stuff.

Most of my artwork is large and heavy so I was really at a loss as to what to hang up...until I found these antique baking racks at a flea market, and it all came together!

The racks and the clock ( an Ikea hack you can read about here), are fairly light so we were able to hang them on the paneling above our new sofa. I treated the racks like shutters and made some small magnolia wreaths to hang on them.

I also ordered some custom art from Minted. It's their semi-annual foil event, and I created this art in Picmonkey and had Minted print it onto their luxurious foil pressed paper and frame in their barn wood frame.

The texture and mix of metals on my mantle adds so much personality and farmhouse elegance to this formerly ugly living room!

This verse from Micah 6:8 is one of my favorites. It keeps me steady when it's so easy to get sidetracked and distracted by the chaos in the world! It kinda puts life into perspective...and slows my anxious thoughts!

Minted only discounts their foil pressed products twice a year, and the sale is on now! If you love mixing metals, you'll love all the styles available with their foil pressed products! They also have discounts on everything from wall art, to wedding invitations, graduation cards and gifts and birth announcements!

By the way, if you would enjoy having free printable versions of this verse for personal use only, please let me know in the comments and I will send you the downloads.

New paint in our living room definitely made the biggest WOW! And the decorative accessories are like the icing on the cake!

I did make a big mistake in this room and it has to do with painting the wall of bookcases. CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW TO AVOID MY BIG PAINTING MISTAKE!

Before and after of our ugly living room

Here are some before/afters images to show you how we banished the darkness from our ugly living room and introduced light.

The light that pours in from the sun room behind the double fireplace actually makes a difference in our living room now! 

The space was so dark before that it couldn't really penetrate the gloom...hence my scary, Masterpiece-classic-esque tale of doom. What do you think? Should I write mystery novels? 😏

I'm still debating whether the fireplace would look better with a light coat of whitewash. At the very least, I do need to give it a good scrub to remove all the soot.

Update: I started to clean the fireplace...and ended up painting it! Check it out here

The tale comes to a close...a happy ending all 'round.

And the moral of the story (because all good stories have one),,,

Never underestimate the power of paint!

I hope you enjoyed this tale! Please PIN THIS IMAGE! Have you ever painted paneling?


Disclosure: Minted provided free product for this post but as always my opinions are 100% my own and I only partner with companies that I'm proud to promote! View my full advertising disclosure  here.

bringing beauty to the ordinary,


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  1. I love everything about your living room. Looks amazing!
    I would love to have the download to print your verses. Thanks so much.

  2. wow! Awesome Cindy. Can't wait to visit and LOVE what you have done! You are soooo amazing.

    1. Thank you soooo much ;) I can't wait to have you over!!

  3. Cindy what a HUGE difference the paint made. First of all the room looks twice as big as before. And now we can actually see what beautiful furniture you have in it. I can also see a white wash for the fireplace if you're up to it. Enjoy your new room!

    1. Thanks Mary, I am so happy with the results! I'm waiting on the fireplace...I'm kinda liking the red. Once I paint it, it would be a big job to remove the paint if I don't end up liking it. So, still mulling it over :)

  4. What an amazing difference in your living room!! I love it! I would love the download for your verses. Thank you!

  5. Oh my goodness! The difference is night and day! This room is so fresh and inviting now. Perfect in so many ways.

    1. Thanks SO much Michele! I agree; we are truly enjoying the space now!

  6. Wow! That is amazing! Looks like a totally different room!I would sooooo have done the same thing. (I son's room was paneled in my old house)
    I was wondering why you didn't capitalize "god" in the verse.
    I just have a thing about making sure He gets His name capitalized so as not to lump Him in with other gods that people may have. No biggie. :-)

    1. Thank you so much! I totally agree that our God deserves all the honor! The choice I made was strictly a design one...I use the same font on my site (all lowercase) and wanted to stay consistent.

  7. Hey Roxie,I'm happy to send the, I just need an email please.

  8. Hey there! I love your paint results. We just purchased a home with horrible paneling but your room gives me hope! Can I ask what paint color/brand you used? To me it looks like a soft white. Thanks for any help!

    1. Thanks so much Veronica! The paint is Repose Gray by Sherwin Williams. It's a beautiful, pale gray.

  9. As a reasonably experienced DIYer, I can tell you that you made the right decision in hiring out the paint job. That would have been a bear to tackle yourself.

    1. Cindy, I wrote to you in Nov 2017 asking what paint color you chose. I ended up painting my paneling the same color and am really loving it with our coastal themed home. It was quite the job painting paneling, but so worth it. Thanks again!

  10. Thanks Veronica, I'm so glad you love your painted paneling as much as we love ours!

  11. What paint color is on your walls ?Gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Charlotte, I used Sherwin Williams Repose Gray.

  12. I know this post is very old but I'd love to have a copy of that printable. It too brings me peace and comfort. I'd love to frame it as a gift for my dear sister-in-law.

    You have done an amazing job on this room (I know it has since changed!) Painting those walls and bookcases did so very much for the space and made the walls look current and fashionable. Great work!


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