Family Room After

Design Tricks to Transform a Family Room with Wood Paneling

By Charlene Storozuk, guest contributor

As a home stager, sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got.

Family Room Before

Photo credit: Charlene Storozuk,DEZIGNER DIGZ

I was given free rein in this family room with one exception: The husband insisted that the wood paneling stay. What is it about men and wood paneling? There, I said it.  Maybe I’m stereotyping, but I come across this quite often. Men seem to really like wood paneling; women not so much. This was, however, a very good quality of paneling and it was a redesign project and not a staging job so I agreed to do it. After all, I love a good challenge.

I should add at this point that this family room happens to be in our home. Yes, the stubborn husband mentioned above is all mine. I’m totally OK with him wanting to keep the paneling though. It’s the only thing in the house that he has insisted on. I was able to do pretty much anything else I wanted to in our home, so it’s only fair that he got his way on this one.

The above photo shows what the family room looked like when we bought our home.  The first thing to go was the dated and tired furniture. With that out of the way, next on the list was to replace the orange carpet with a taupe berber.

Next, we had black wooden blinds installed to add drama. (I’ll never forget the look on the sales rep’s face when I told him that I wanted black. That’s OK, I’m sure he’s over it by now.)

Next was to bring in some “newish” furniture. I say that because we bought the sofa, loveseat and chair from a staging client after their home sold.

Then came my favorite part: styling.

Bringing in black accessories helped to add richness and depth to the paneling. I don’t usually place an area rug on carpet, but in this case I made an exception. I think the black rug pulls together the look I was going for. It draws the eye away from the paneling and makes it more of a subtle backdrop.

Installing several pieces of Northwest Coast native art gave the room added character and an organic feel to tie in with the paneling.

A couple of throw blankets and a sheepskin rug were then added to soften up the room and add texture.

Family Room After

Photo credit: Charlene Storozuk,DEZIGNER DIGZ


The family room is still a work in progress. There are still three more things left on the ‘to do list’:

(1) Reface the fireplace with floor-to-ceiling black granite;

(2) Paint the baseboards and window trim black and

(3) Build black window box valances for above the blinds.

By the time this room is completely finished, it’s really going to make a statement.

I wanted to share this post with my REALTOR® friends to show you that with the help of a professional home stager there’s hope – even with your most dated and challenging listings.

When we’re eventually ready to sell our home, who knows, I may just leave this room as is. I didn’t think I’d ever consider keeping that darn paneling, but I just might now.  Maybe that’s a bit of a risk, but it’s one that I’ll consider taking. Love it or hate it, it is what it is.

What are your thoughts?  What WOOD you do?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charlene Storozuk is the owner of DEZIGNER DIGZ, a professional home staging, interior decorating and redesign firm based in Burlington, Ontario Canada. She is certified as an International Staging Professional, International Design & Decorating Professional, Professional Colour Consultant, and Feng Shui Design Professional. Her work is published in the book “FabJob Guide to Become a Home Stager,” 2009 edition. Storozuk is recognized as a local leader in the home staging industry. She founded the Halton & Hamilton-Wentworth Real Estate Staging Association Chapter and served on the association’s Executive Committee for two years as Regional Vice-President, Canada. Storozuk is a past recipient of RESA North American Leadership Awards for Chapter President of the Year (2007) and Regional Vice-President of the Year (2011).

Blog Contributor

This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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  1. Val

    The lighting really adds to the drama too. I wish I’d seen this before selling my last house. Very nice transformation.

  2. Bill Magnus

    If you are going to sell this home soon I think you will be ok but if time goes by I suspect you will find that the contrast is too great. It looks but a more lasting color would, in my opinion, be a mahogany brown, adding crown molding of the same color and toning down the while ceiling to something a little softer. I would not continue the accents any further, no valance, or other touches. I think you have the great amount now. I like the furnishings, but I like color so would add more green, maybe even red.
    I have to ask, is this tongue and groove pine? or 4×8 panels? It looks t&g, a good thing. I like wood. I’m a man.

  3. Thanks Val!

  4. I think you’re probably right Bill. Over time it may not work so well for selling. Time will tell, I guess. It’s t&g. So you like wood too huh? Thanks for making me smile. Have a great day!

  5. Charlene I really like your transformation. The use of black to distract from the paneling works for this room. I would however, disagree with a black fire place, right now looking at the photo, the fireplace stone helps balance the colors in the room. Nice work.

  6. Kim

    Sorry, I am just not crazy about the old 70′s paneling look. My first house had a family room that was paneled dark walnut. I painted it light beige to neutralize the walls. The finished look was very nice, the lines in the paneling gave the room some interest and it was a softer look overall. I got many compliments on it.