Have knotty pine paneling in your home and not sure what to do with it? Before you paint over it or tear it out, try these knotty pine walls decorating ideas – it just might make you love that paneling after all.
As you know from my Ramblings post a few weeks ago, I had three makeover projects underway at the 70’s Landing Pad – the mudroom/laundry room, the guest room and the guest bathroom. The mudroom is finished, but the other two are still in progress and I have until Thursday night to finish them. That’s when the Man of Questionable Honor and his wife show up. As you might imagine, it is madness here.
At the same time, I’ve also been working on a few projects at the farm including the design plan / color scheme for the den and adding more color to the kitchen. So basically, I’m just asking for a mental breakdown.
For the most part though, with the exception of some damaged drywall on the ceiling which did cause a full-on “Screw it. I’m done for the day,” attack on Friday, the den is coming together pretty well. I’ve just been adding to the kitchen as I find different things, so it hasn’t really been all that stressful.
As you might remember, both the farmhouse den and kitchen are clad with knotty pine tongue and groove walls. Gasp!
While most people would be reaching for a can of paint or a sledgehammer, I absolutely refuse to do either. You see, I love that damn pine paneling. I can’t imagine that house without it. In fact, when we got the farmhouse house back from the previous tenants, my number one fear was that they had painted the paneling. When my uncle called me as he was walking through the house for the first time after the tenants had moved out, his words were, “It’s bad. Really bad. But the paneling is ok.” Everything else can be fixed, but that paneling, by God, you couldn’t just replace it with drywall. It’s got over 50 years of grease from fried chicken, cigarette smoke and memories in it. There are just some things that can’t be replaced.
Obviously, I could write a sonnet about this damn paneling.
So, in a nutshell, the paneling and I work together. Perhaps, I should have just said that in the beginning and spared you all my ode to the paneling.
So far, I’ve come up with three great ways, in my opinion, to make knotty pine paneling shine in a space.
Disclosure: Minted provided me with some of the art for these spaces. Bellacor provided me with the lighting for the den. All opinions are 100% mine. This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Knotty Pine Paneling: How to Decorate With It
Colors that Go with Knotty Pine
Obviously, knotty pine rooms are going to be very brown. Typically, you’re going to have a neutral flooring as well, whether it’s carpet or hardwood. In order to keep the space from just being a brown pit, add some color, but you want to balance it all out with a neutral.
I’ve found that blues and greens work really well with paneling. The den isn’t quite finished yet (I still have to get pillows and draperies made as well as a few other things), but so far I have added in these two green chairs and this rug and it’s made a huge difference.
I couldn’t afford new chairs, so I stalked Facebook marketplace for a while and found a set of chairs that I liked for only $50, then had them recovered in this material. Chattanooga folks, I used Don’s Trim Shop and they did an excellent job as well as having the best price! The only thing I would have done differently is used some thicker material for the upholstery. This one works, but it is thin. I didn’t realize that when I ordered it.
I layered in my beloved cowboy blanket on one of the chairs to add more pattern and color. I’m also going to have pillows made for these chairs in a floral print to soften them a bit.
I got super lucky and found the 8′ x 10′ area rug at Ross one day. I wasn’t even looking at rugs that day, but literally stumbled upon it while in the store. It was $50!
Now, I don’t plan on filling the entire space with navy and dark greens. That would make it too dark. Opposite these chairs, I’m going to put in a neutral loveseat in either beige or cream. I just haven’t found one that I like yet that also fits in my budget. The lighter upholstery on the loveseat will help to lighten up the space more too.
In the kitchen, I’ve been working on this wall and have pulled in lots of different colors here.
I’ve still got that green and navy going on with the barstools that help to anchor all the color, but I also added in bright pops of color with the art. I also balanced all of that color out by going with lots of white backgrounds and frames on the art.
So, pull in color, but balance it out with lighter neutrals.
Make the Knotty Pine Walls Sing
It is no secret around here that I love a great piece of art. I am picky about my art though. It always has to meet at least one of two conditions though: it has a special meaning to me or my family or it’s love at first sight.
With the pine walls, I knew that adding gorgeous art would really make the walls sing. Minted is one of my go-to places for great art. I love that you can choose to buy just the art prints or you can choose to have it framed – and the selection of frames is great.
In the den, the star of the show is, as you’ve already seen, the cow.
Faze Wall Art Vertical / Faze Wall Art Horizontal
This piece of art was both one of those instant loves and also meaningful. Originally, I thought I would fill the den with lots of different floral prints to soften the walls, but then I saw this little guy and the deal was sealed. I come from a long line of cattle farmers, so this one also has special meaning. This one is called Faze. The vertical version is sold out, but you can still get this print in a horizontal version here.
I went with the French Farmhouse frame for this one. It has pretty corner details and a whitewashed finish, which looks good against the paneling.
Along one wall in the den, we have a closet and two doors open against this wall on either side. There’s no place for furniture along this wall, so we opted to put in more art and meaningful objects here.
The wooden yoke above the closet was my great-grandfather’s that my Pap had put in the shed years and years ago. We brought it in, cleaned it up and mounted it on the wall. On either side of the closet doors, I mixed art and little mementos from both my Pap and Grunt’s grandfather.
When we cleaned out Grunt’s grandparent’s house back in the fall, we brought home two of his grandfather’s military hats and a mounted bayonet that had been given to him while he was stationed in Okinawa in the 60’s. When I saw this America print, I knew it would be the perfect compliment to these pieces.
On the other side, there’s a nod to my Pap.
Grunt actually picked out this piece of art, Open Gate, it just happened to fit perfectly beneath my Pap’s belt and a couple of pieces from his old truck.
Folks, if you ever want to hang a belt on the wall, just know it will take lots of zip ties and patience.
I had pulled a few pieces off my Pap’s old truck a couple of years ago and finally found the perfect place for them. I mounted one of the Cheyenne tags and the center of the steering wheel in a shadow box and hung them above the belt.
The kitchen wall has a variety of different pieces of art and objects. This is the one full wall in that space where I can really add color in. The rest of the kitchen is cabinetry, counters and appliances.
The orange print was one of the first pieces I got for this space. I knew the bright colors would be the perfect punch of color for the kitchen. I’ve also mixed in a couple of family photos on this wall.
The strawberry plaque was my Grannie’s that she used to have hanging in here, as was the Board of Education. The back of it is actually signed by many of her former students. The chair print, called Family Reunion (Uncle James), is a new addition. I knew it was coming to my house as soon as I saw it. My grandparents had a couple of those kinds of chairs at one point and I remember them sitting on the hill in them.
On the other side, I have a picture of me and Grannie and two more of her things that she had hanging in the kitchen – the Peggy’s Kitchen and the Some Visitors Bring Happiness sign – that sign has always cracked me up. The little hummingbird is a new addition. Grunt’s grandmother liked hummingbirds, so I got it and put it in here as a nod to her.
Add a Touch of Shine to Knotty Pine Paneling
And finally, my last tip for decorating with knotty pine walls – give it some shine.
I think that every room looks better with a touch of sparkle. In the den, I added a bit of this with a new lighting fixture from Bellacor.
Jaxon Polished Nickel Four Light Chandelier
This is called a chandelier light, but I feel like it’s more of a pendant light. Either way, the sparkle of the polished nickel was exactly what this room needed. It lightens up the space and gives it a polished feel. Who says knotty pine can’t be a little fancy?
The lines of this fixture are pretty traditional though, so I feel like it will stand the test of time in terms of decorating trends – just like I’m making the knotty pine paneling stand the test of time.
What side are you on when it comes to knotty pine paneling – yay or nay?
Need more decorating tips?
Got faux wood paneling from the 70’s? Read these 5 Ways to Decorate a Room with 70’s Wood Paneling.
Need help plotting out your room design? Use this post to learn how to make a moodboard for your space.
Low budget? Here are five ways to decorate your home on a small budget.
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You make that pine work girl! I especially love those green chairs! ?
Thanks, Amy!! Girl, those green chairs – so glad I did those!
I have the exact same knotty pine in my family room/den and I was really considering painting it, since I really don’t like the look. DH doesn’t want to paint the wood. The floors are hardwood and the whole room looks like a big orange box. I will take your suggestions and try blues, greens and multi’s and look for a throw rug, since I love your photos. Our fireplace is also orange-y brick, which I was going to paint or tile over, but the mason that came to give an estimate told me the brick is some fancy unique brick that I “shouldn’t” cover. I’m hoping that a nice light colored mantel and a pretty fireplace screen will break up the mono colors.
I would definitely try pulling in some colors before painting it, Cindy. Painting it would be such a big task anyway. That’s a bummer about your fireplace – I would have had the same idea to paint the brick too. I think doing a light colored mantel and the screen is a good idea. Maybe a good piece of art above the mantel too – that might help distract from the fireplace as well?
Jenny German says
Re : ode to paneling Please don’t stop!, thats why we love you!
hahaha!! Thanks, Jenny! I do tend to ramble about things such as that! haha!
Hi Jenna…it all looks so pretty! I have the knotty pine walls too and love them. My dad built the house over 60 years ago and like you I will never paint them. I do have a question regarding how nice and light yours is in comparison to mine which have darkened with age. They are in their natural state without any type of finish on them. I noticed yours looks like some type of finish is on them and wondered what you used to get that gorgeous shine? It just brightens the pine up beautifully. Thank you. Love your projects and now that I have seen the emerald green against the pine I will be shopping for new drapes LOL.
I do love that emerald green against the wood! Of course, I love emerald green just about anywhere! haha! So, our knotty pine has definitely darkened over the years too. I found a photo of the kitchen from back in the 60’s and it was unreal to me how light the paneling looked – almost more blonde than brown. Ours does have some sort of finish/topcoat on it. I’m sure its the original topcoat that was put on it and in a few spots it is starting to flake a bit, so I’ll have to address that at some point. I can’t be certain what topcoat was used, but I would venture to say it would have been a polyurethane or a varnish of some type. All that being said, when we did get the house back, about a year ago, my aunt helped me wash down all the knotty pine walls with Murphy’s Wood Oil Soap. We were trying to get rid of a smell that was lingering in the house, but I do think it also added a little bit more shine to the walls as well. I hope that helps!
I love reading about the reason/history behind the art you display. I, too, try to hang only what is meaningful to me and the hubs.
Thanks, Elaine! I love art in general, but if I can find something with meaning for us, then there’s a darn good chance it’s coming home with me!
Marty Oravetz says
I love that you are keeping it and decorating it to look update and amazing.
Thanks so much, Marty! Hope everything went well with your surgery!
Bonnie Schulte says
I really really like the knotty pine. At first I was thinking Knotty pine “cheap” panels. (which we had at one time, and it wasn’t pretty). Never did look like the real thing.. Your rooms look beautiful. Love everything you have done, and the rug is AWESOME!! For $50.00??? Wow, what a deal…The light fixture, the chairs, your picture arrangement on the walls, everything!!!!!! Have a great week, Bonnie in WI where it’s cooled down to 78. Gonna sit outside in the shade, and have a beer.
Thanks, Bonnie! Yea, if it were the cheap panels, I’d probably be painting it. So glad you like how it’s looking right now though! And 78 degrees?! Wow!! I am SO jealous! It’s in the 90’s here and with the humidity feels like the 100s most days!
Pam S says
OMG! This has got to be your finest hour!! I typically -dare I say, hate knotty pine. These pics make me wish I had some O’ that!! And you tell me….was that cow print, from it’s very inception, done for that wall?? Good job, girlfriend!
Oh Pam, I love you and your comments so much! My finest hour?! Well, let me go get myself a beer!! haha!! Thanks, girl! That cow print – right?! It was definitely meant for this space whether the artist who did it knew it or not!
Stephanie S. says
I really like the knotty pine at farmhouse. It is so hard and boy does baby calf look great in there. That rug is what I love. Need for my house. What a steal. I am looking at paint for living room. Cannot decide yet. Adding some new color into it. Have to send pictures of the horses to you. They are great. I know it’s summer fewer blogging but had missed the happenings. Cannot wait for guestroom.
Thanks, Stephanie! That rug was definitely a steal! Yes, send me pictures of the horse prints – I would love to see how you decorated with them!
Kim M. says
We just bought a 1947 Sierra mountain cabin with knotty pine on all walls and ceilings. I just love the wood. It will be fun to decorate, thanks for the ideas 🙂
Oh wow, Kim!! I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it on a ceiling – that’s so neat! You’re going to have so much fun decorating! Enjoy!
Lu Beeman says
What do you have on the floor? My cabin has knotty pine on every wall. I just don’t want it to look like a dark wooden box.
I grew up with knotty pine walls in our family’s tiny kitchen. My mother would sew new gingham curtains every year for that kitchen, sometimes red gingham, sometimes yellow gingham. Nothing was allowed to hang on the walls because Dad didn’t want to damage the wood. That wood was varnished every two years. (Three rambunctious kids took its toll.) Mom finally had too much knotty pine and painted the cabinets white but left the walls alone. We celebrated all our holiday dinners in that kitchen, pulling in a vanity stool and step stool when the chairs ran out. I marvel today when I think how small that room was yet how much it contained.
Thanks for the memories.
Loved hearing your memories from your childhood kitchen, Deb! That’s exactly how I feel about the kitchen at the farmhouse – it’s small, but it is packed with memories!
Brigitte Baker says
Deb, reminds me of my grandmother’s farmhouse kitchen, too. We ate many holiday dinners around her table in just that same manner, step stools and all.
Susan the Farm Quilter says
I’ll trade you my wood paneling for your knotty pine!!! You have done a fabulous job of decorating your rooms with “naughty” pine *grin*. I love how you have mixed old with the new and made it so personal as well as pretty! Love your pendant light…I need that in my kitchen over the table. I would recommend an extra case of cheap beer to get yourself through this week…that’s a prescription from Dr. Mom, don’t you know!
You’re a hoot, Susan! I love that pendant light too!! I would love to get a smaller version for our hallway. Thanks for the prescription – I’m definitely going to need it! ?
Cathy T says
Love this! I never really thought highly of knotty pine paneling but you showed its beauty. And, I have to say I need that cow print. My granddad was a cattle rancher (but drove a Ford). And those chairs are amazing. I took an upholstery class and really want to get a used living room set to reupholster and make my own. Thank you for the inspiration!
Thank you so much, Cathy! I’m hoping to show people that knotty pine can indeed be worked with and not against. 🙂 Isn’t that cow print just amazing – I love it! And hey, nothing wrong with Fords – that’s what I have now!
Brigitte Baker says
A HOME RUN, Jenna! I love it! I’ve never been a huge fine of knotty pine….I feel like it’s too much wood (like that’s a thing, I know…. 🙁 ), but you made it absolutely beautiful! I LOVE the little mementos hanging on the wall, so cool. I keep that kind of stuff, too….I have a foot locker (an actual Army one that belonged to my mom, which she ‘re-appropriated’ when she left the Army, lol) full of photos, stuff that belonged to my grandparents, Army memorabilia, you name it. One of these days I need to sort through it.
I second everyone’s opinion re: wood paneling. Lawd, that stuff was ugly. My mom had it in her house and would never paint it. I used to just sigh every time I saw it, ha!
That calf print is ADORABLE. I heart his face!
Thank you, Brigitte!! I’m so glad you like it! I am a keeper of small mementos like that – can’t get enough of them! Handed down furniture is great, but those small things just steal my heart!
I grew up with knotty pine faintest in our kitchen. Momma made muslin curtains for the kitchen and dining room. I sure miss those days.
Such good memories! ❤️
GROOVY is what I say. I adore the paneling and I love that you left it. You worked with it and it is wonderful!!! Happy Summer, Kippi
Thanks so much, Kippi!
These are some great tips! We’d love for you to come link up at Wall to Wall DIY Wednesday over at R&R at home!
Thanks so much, Rebecca!
Marilyn Pyle says
I have knotty pine in the dining area. My kitchen cabinets are also knotty pine. I have tried putting off white mirrors in the dining room but it looks blah. My husband loves the knotty pine and will not agree to painting. What to do ?
Lauren R says
This is beautiful! I have a 1957 home with tons of knotty pine and loved it as soon as soon as I first laid eyes on it. I’m learning to decorate with color and patterns to break up the brown – Your home is a great example.
Question: Can you tell me more about how you hung the art? Did you use nails or something damage-free?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Lauren! Happy to have another knotty pine lover around here! 🙂 I just used nails to hang everything. This was my grandparent’s home and they had always used nails as well. I do think command strips would be a great option if the finish on your pine is still in good shape. Unfortunately, there are a few places where my finish is peeling off (I’ll have to get that fixed at some point in the future), so I knew command strips might make it peel more when I went to take them off and I didn’t want that to happen.
I love those green stools with the blue and white seat. Where did you get those?! I can’t seem to find any like them. Thanks!
Thanks, Beth! I made them! Well, not the actual stools, but I painted them and reupholstered them. Tutorial for them is here: https://rainonatinroof.com/ralph-lauren-inspired-barstools/
Patricia Laffan says
I found your blog this winter & it was a great resource.as I just completed a living room & bedroom @a beach cottage @ coastal Massachusetts. I needed to have ceiling work in living room. & bedroom & painted white including wood beams & made a decision to paint the 6 wood window frames & sills white . Boy ..did that brighten up the original knotty pine walls in living room & adding traditional crown molding & eliminating a sliding door closet that blocked a window ..I also removed curtain shears & had white shutter – blinds . I also laughed @ you meltdowns & decision making re paint colors etc but I knew I wasn’t painting the 50”s vintage “ Knotty Pine “ PS . I need a couple years to start on the kitchen !
So happy to have helped out a little, Patricia! I would love to see pictures of what all you’ve done!
I agree that bright blues and greens look great with knotty pine walls, and they are beautiful in your room. I have found that just about any bright color works swimmingly well with these walls. In my almost identical room, I have used bright aqua/turquoise, orange, and chartreuse accents all around. I think the woody walls allow you to go nuts with color on other things, or just a few of them. The woody walls allow other items to be more intense without looking circus-like.
I love this room. May I ask- what color and fabric are your curtains?
My husband and I live in a 60’s ranch with knotty pine that we inherited from his dad, wgo inherited it from his dad. We are making some updates but want to keep the character of the home since our children are the fourth generation living in this house and your color palette has really inspired me!
Thank you, Candice! I love my knotty pine! I haven’t yet got curtains hung in my den with knotty pine, but I do have a navy and white patterned print in mind. For the kitchen, I have hung curtains and those are just a classic navy and white stripe. Hope that helps!
What color would you paint kitchen cabinets? My walls are in great shape, but the cabinets are horrible.
If the cabinets will be against knotty pine walls, I think a navy or deep green would look great.
I have black leather sofas and moved into a house with the same knotty pine panelling …on all the walls and the ceiling! The ceiling is super high though. Any suggestions for flooring? Do those stretchy couch covers actually look good?
I would definitely go with a lighter color flooring to lighten it all up. Some of the stretchy covers look good, some not so much. It just depends on the cover and the pieces it’s going over.
Rozanna Herrera says
Thank you feeling newly inspired
Great Job! At the time of the post I know it was still a work in progress…do you have any more photos now that the project is complete? It’s soooooo inspiring, I was hoping to see the whole room finished 🙂
ANITA A TARLTON says
My grandfather was a timber man, and my earliest memories include knotty pine paneling. I absolutely love it!
I like your ideas! Our hone has an open Floorplan with knotty pine paneling. It has shabby tan carpeting that I want to replace with….???? Any suggestions? I’m not overly fond of carpeting. Should I go with dark flooring, like LVP?
Hi there what is on the floor in the living room where the green chairs are?