We Painted Over 1980s Paneling

80s paneling Before
  • 80s paneling Before

To Paint 80s Paneling or Not to Paint 80s Paneling

I usually enjoy the challenge of a do-it-yourself project, but when it comes to 80s paneling, there is a huge amount of work to be done. My husband and I refinished and painted our kitchen cabinets, a project that took well over six months – during quarantine. We finished the project two weeks before our goal of Thanksgiving, working a little each day; sanding a cabinet here, painting a door handle there. After six months of quarantine, six months of sanding and priming and spackling and painting and drilling, I just needed a break. I think Americans in general are tired right now, of quarantine, of COVID, of masks.

There was never any doubt that the 80s paneling HAD TO BE PAINTED, but the question was, do we really want to take on this huge project?

I walked into the den, our room where the kids can snack on the couch and watch TV and not worry too much about crumbs. I knew I didn’t have it in me this year to do yet another giant home improvement project. That left us with two options: hire someone or wait until next year. Of course, we already have several Big Projects we are planning for next year.

Our dream home has great bones, but has not really been updated much since it was constructed in the early 1980s. After looking at what was left in our home-improvement budget, we decided to get some estimates. We ended up hiring a contractor to paint the paneling. I took the before pictures posted here, neglecting to even pick up the clutter that is usually spread over this room by kids and adults alike. Every house needs a room like that. As you can see from the photographs, I didn’t even straighten the rooms up before I took pictures. I’ve got three kids. What you see is what you get.

We Hired a Contractor

We used a contractor that had done work before on a colleague’s house, and paid seventy-five percent up front. As I wrote the check I thought of every single story I’ve heard about Texans getting ripped off by contractors that take money and never show up. I’m not used to taking a risk like this but the guy did show up the very next morning an hour early with a crew of two men and began to work. Over the next three days, contractors meandered all around the den, transforming a dark, outdated room into a light, open area better suited for a room with a wall of windows.

Our paint colors

We chose light neutral colors, with a very dark espresso color for the mantel, creating a beautiful contrast.

Fireplace Brick & Paneling Trip

Benjamin Moore

Gardenia AF-10


Benjamin Moore

Revere Pewter HC-172


Benjamin Moore

Espresso Bean CSP-30

The contractors turned out to be reliable, and they did excellent work. I’m not a fan of having strangers in my home, but they were professional and did a good job cleaning up when the job was done. The company owner even brought us a brisket for Thanksgiving! He is definitely getting a phone call from us when it is time to replace the flooring – next year.

I am glad we hired a contractor to transform our 80’s paneling, especially as the holiday season approaches. We will enjoy the next six weeks of decorating, giving and eating in our bright new room. Take a look at the slideshow to see the before and after pictures!

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2 thoughts on “We Painted Over 1980s Paneling

  1. Talk about ruining a perfectly good living room! I would have left it the way it was and enjoyed the rustic look.

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