ALL POSTS IN House Diaries

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I have a serious confession to make: I actually like paneling. Yep, It’s true. I know what people are saying behind paneling’s back (or maybe in front of its face): “It darkens a room” and “It dates the space” not to mention “It’s hideous.” I wasn’t always a fan. In fact, when I  first stepped inside the combination living room/dining room/kitchen of the home I fell in love with, I thought, “This paneling will be the first thing to go.”

Living room with knotty pine wood paneling

The living room paneling, pre-move in.

But after living with it for a few months, I’ve changed my tune a little. Maybe it’s the nature-lover in me. Maybe it’s in my genes (My dad makes live-edge furniture, so I’ve always loved to see wood in its natural state.) All I know is, I no longer shudder when I walk into the room. And since the huge windows give this space tons of light, it doesn’t seem too den-like. (Don’t worry, I’m still not a fan of this kind of paneling.)

Knotty pine paneling

Paneling, front and center.

While I don’t want to ditch it completely, I do want to modernize it a bit. Even adding colorful mod furniture and art, like Genifer Sohr did below in her home,  creates a “modern cabin” feel that I like.

Knotty pine modern office

Photo by Tec Petaja for Design Sponge

However, while I like the visible wood grain, I’m not as big of a fan of the color. I’d love to sand it down to its just-cut state and finish it with a UV-protecting finish to give it a more Scandinavian look, like Swedish architect Per Bornstein did in his knotty pine-happy home in Sweden.

Knotty pine living room paneling

Design by Swedish achitect Per Bornstein; photo by Pia Ulin for Dwell

Natural-hued knotty pine also lends itself well to both modern

Knotty pine paneled living room

Design by UNI Architects via Remodelista

…and more eclectic furnishings (I’d like to do a mix.)

Eclectic knotty pine living room

Design by Blackman Cruz; Photo by Timothy Street-Porter for Elle Decor

What would you do? Paint it, stain it, leave it natural or tear it out completely? Tell me your take.

Read Liz’s previous House Diaries posts here and follow her home inspiration board on Pinterest.

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I did it: I made The List. In an ambitious fervor that could have only been brought on by the combination of a new house, a new year and a long weekend, I galloped from room to room writing down everything I wanted to do, short term and long term, at my new home. (Believe me, there’s lots to be done.)

When I finished the double-sided, multi-columned list, I learned three things: 1) I really need to send more handwritten letters (it took my wrist several hours to un-cramp), 2) There’s a ridiculous amount I want to accomplish, and 3) I need a room-by-room, concrete plan.

Right now, I’m prioritizing The List (like many of you said I should), but I’m also doing something a little more fun: Scouring the web for inspiration. Here are some of my go-to renovation blogs and resources — check ‘em out, then tell me your faves!

Real Renovations at HGTVRemodels

Justine Rubin and Robin Finch's charcoal kitchen on HGTVRemodels

Real Renovations on HGTVRemodels
Okay, I’m a little biased since this is HGTV’s  newest sister site, but what I love are the amazing remodels from real homeowners — like this kitchen in Justine Rubin and Robin Finch’s airy home. (Plus, check out our blogger Bryan Patrick Flynn’s amazing basement remodel.)

Erin and Ken Loechner - Dining Room

Erin and Ken Loechner's finished dining room

Erin and Ken Loechner’s Scandinavian Reno
It’s been so inspiring to watch Erin and Ken’s Scandinavian-inspired reno unfold right here on Design Happens. Even though I’m planning to use quite a bit more color in my home, I love their DIY spirit and the way they transform ordinary objects into chic designer accessories — plywood stockings, anyone?

Young House Love

What a lovely living room! Photo via Young House Love

YoungHouseLove
It’s easy to see why this renovation blog is super-popular — homeowners Sherry and John write not only about their successes (like their blue-and-green living room) but also their not-so-successful projects (their greenish-yellow living room.) Plus, they’ve already remodeled one house — if they can do it, I can too!

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Every week, decorating and entertaining editor Liz Gray will write about the highs and lows of remodeling her first home. Read her first post for more details.

In many ways, buying a house is like starting a brand new relationship: You meet the house, fall for the house and spend hours thinking about how great it is. But a couple of months in, once the boxes are unpacked, you start to notice the little things — like the design equivalent of realizing that your shiny new significant other puts the toilet paper roll on upside down (for those wondering, the paper goes under.)

After living in my house for two months, I’ve realized certain things bother me more than others. (Surprisingly, the wall-to-wall paneling in the main living area didn’t make the list.) I’m counting down the  top 5 design crimes I’m itching to fix ASAP — which do you think is the worst offender?

#5: Grandma’s Wallpaper
We hated this so much that we started stripping it the second day we moved in. The equally ugly coordinating border is still up, but its days are numbered.

Floral Wallpaper

Buh-bye, floral wall and border!

#4: Stairway to Ugly
Okay, the entire second floor hallway is covered in burnt orange carpeting. Okay, it looks like it’s been hanging out here since the late ’70s. Not the worst part. My biggest pet peeve is this staircase:

Faded Orange 70s Carpeting

Orange carpeting, don't bother to write.

Sun from the picture windows has faded the rise of each step, leaving behind a seriously depressing yellow hue. On the other hand: It was ombre before it was cool, right?

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It’s still sinking in: In 2011, I bought a house.  My first house. A beautiful, 1957 tri-level home with lots of windows, an open floor plan and an amazing walk-in closet. But, it’s also a dated home with contact paper-covered cabinets and faded orange carpeting, not to mention a room full of paneling. In other words: In 2012, I’m going to be busy.

Liz Gray House From Road

Luckily, I have help. My boyfriend Josh shares my DIY spirit and love of all things mod. (We’re still figuring out how to get our hybrid corgie-bulldog-mystery puppy, Miles, to help us peel off wallpaper. Bacon grease? )

Josh and Liz at 60s Themed Party

Josh and I at a 1960s-themed party. Guest starring: my bouffant 'do. Photo by Jennifer Harper

Miles With Stick

Miles at play. Sticks > wallpaper.

Each week, I’ll share our progress, from room-by-room moodboards to finished projects to dramatic before-and-afters. I hope you’ll follow along! To keep it all in perspective, I’m making a few more promises, resolution-style. I pledge to…

Make Progress Every Week… I’ll do something to better my house every week, big or small.

But Don’t Expect It to Happen Overnight. As any homeowner probably knows and I’m about to find out…it’s a marathon, not a track meet. ‘Nuff said.

Appreciate the Good… I’ll remember every day, even when I’m covered in bits of popcorn ceiling and shreds of tiny floral wallpaper, what made me want this place. Things like waking up to this every morning:

New House Sunrise

Sunrise from master bedroom

And Tolerate the Bad. There’s plenty of design wrongs to be righted in this house (more on that later) but I can live with all of them…for now.  It will build character, right?

Get Input From You. Yes, you! I’ll need your help along the way to tell me if my color palettes look totally crazy and help me choose which lamp is the right one.  Right off the bat: Any tips on getting rid of those last few boxes?

‘Till next week…

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