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Decorating & Furniture/Updating an older house on a budget


Jenny - I just bought a ranch contemporary style home built in the 1950's.  The house would have been extremely stylish in that time.  The living room is wall to wall paneling (not my favorite), its in very good condition and per my friends and family is very high quality.  I love the feel of the room, but I have an updated style...for example, I have a red couch and chairs with black iron lamps.  Do you have any ideas for merging these two styles without spending a fortune?  Is there a way to make it look contempory and stylish with keeping the homey feel that the paneling gives?  Thanks for your time!

Hi Jennifer,

If you choose to keep the paneling, you have a couple of choices.  You can accentuate it's warmth by adding a coat or two of non-yellowing (says so on the can) polyeurthane.  The more coats you put on the richer the look.  If it's high quality as your friends say, it may well intensify the wood grain.  This will also give you a more contemporary look if you use a glossy poly.

Another option is to paint the paneling in a wonderful neutral, i.e., taupe or a warmer camel.  I would not do anything other than lightly sand (to give the panels tooth to hold the paint), wipe clean, prime and paint.

Hope this helps.  Either of the above colors will coordinate very well with your color scheme.  


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Jennifer Taylor Wojcik


Visit my web site at: Decor: I've written about it, planned it, designed it and colored it, and I've never stopped loving it. It's not what you spend, or who made it, it's how it makes you feel.


College, advertising, public relations, marketing, free-lance writing and a plethora of creative endeavors have led me here. As an entrepreneur in decorative product design, I learned the hard way how tough it can be to be in business for yourself. A stint at a law firm taught me humility too. Some three thousand questions ago, I wondered if I could really help. Obviously, I'm still here and still taking your questions. God Bless You!

"From Day One" and "Day After Day" available nationwide via bookstores and HTTP:// (HomeStyle articles beginning in 1998) Visit me at

BA, Psychology

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