Friday, September 10, 2010

home sweet home (part 2: the "wreck" room)

*Disclaimer: Our house is a disaster. If you've ever moved cross-country with four small children that are experts at making a mess, you probably understand. Please send Xanax.


Whenever Charlie and I would talk about moving back to the east coast, we both agreed that ideally, our new house would have a big walk-out basement.


So when we saw that what would become our new home, actually had a big walk-out basement, it was just one more CHECK in the "why we must buy this house" box.

We really love our basement area and can see some great potential for a ping-pong table, an arts and crafts station, and an abundance of elbow room for Wii play-offs.


We also love that there is a big sliding glass door that walks out to the yard and a big bay window and huge fireplace (currently hidden behind lots of boxes). Additionally, we love that there is a nice sized bedroom AND bathroom on the lower level.


What we're not as crazy over is the orange shag carpeting and wood paneling.

Oh now, come on Henry! It's not THAT bad, is it?


Yes. It is.

The carpeting is old and musty and every time I walk down stairs, my eyes get itchy and I can't stop sneezing. And since we don't want to put in new carpet and then paint, we decided that it would be best to paint before the carpeting was replaced.


The orange shag carpet is easy enough to replace. The wood paneling, on the other hand, might be a bit more of a challenge because it would take a longer period of time and a larger chunk of money to rip it all out. And since saving time and saving money, are of the essence, we're painting. But since the wood paneling wraps around and ties in to the chair rail which ties in to the door jams and window sills we need to chose our paint color(s) very carefully.


We're thinking of painting the paneling white - with the top section something like sage.

Or wheat.

Or ... I don't even know.

So, I present to you two questions.

Please, look closely ...


And then tell me:

One, what color would you paint the walls / paneling? I think I'd like the door frames and jams white (we'll soon be replacing the actual doors with a solid, white core.) Do you think it would be too much to paint the paneling white, too? Or, would it give it a cool wainscoting look?

Two, what color carpet would you select?



Elizabeth has suggested that we put in hot PINK carpeting.

But I'm not sure that we want to go for the Pepto look.


  1. I would go with either a light tan paint of a sage green. The carpet...don't go to light and don't go to dark. We have this awful blue in our living room and the draker the carpet the more little fuzzies and other stuff it shows. We have a tan berber in one bedroom and a gray berber in another and they are both PERFECT b/c it is not one solid color so it doesn't show anything. Good luck and LOVE all the new space you have!

  2. Paint the trim, doors and accents atrium white by Ben Moore. Paint the paneling Manchester Tan by Ben Moore. It is a great neutral which isn't overwhelming. Pick a medium to light berber with lots of flecks to hide the dirt. Should work out just fine!

  3. I would paint the paneling white with the door jams, windowsills and frames, and baseboards. I like wheat/khaki color for the walls. It is much more neutral then sage. For the carpet do the first set of carpet samples (Shaw brand) where it has a small simple pattern and do it in the cream/khaki tone. We just did this in our house and LOVE it. Keep in mind the amount of light in the room when choosing carpet color as that affects the look of the color too. I love remodeling/redecorating. I do it all the time and on the side for others selling their homes.

  4. Oh I love decorating - especially when it's someone else's money. :) I think the white paneling would look great & yes, it would look like wainscotting. If it went all the way up, it would be too much. Use a really good primer, I just painted a lot of stained wood & it took 2 coats. I first used a bonding primer, but there was some bleed-through of the stain, so then I put one that said it was the best for water stains on top of that. It did the trick, but took a long time. I prefer the carpet samples on the right side of both boards, but they might be too light for a house with 4 little ones. Are you replacing those lights? Have fun, we are in the middle of major renovations also, and the decorating decisions are my favorite part.

  5. You have children - so the carpeting is easy. Go with something that hides dirt and stains - that means a brownish color. As for the walls - go with a white or even a cream. I've seen some paneling painted & it turned out really well. Good luck!

  6. RIP the panelling off! Mark ripped an entire room's worth off in an hour. Seriously, it's not that hard. Our panels were installed in 1953 and were real wood. Just make sure you don't pull too much of the drywall out with the panel nails. Oh and hopefully, there's drywall behind the panelling... Oh one more thing... resident ghosts don't like it when the in-movers remodel.

  7. Well, pink would certainly be a change.

    Unless you simply can't stand the paneling, consider leaving it for now and putting that time, effort, and money into something else more pressing. With a fresh coat of paint above the paneling and a lovely new carpet below it, you can get that wainscoating feel. Craftsman houses typically go for natural colors like golden yellows, with maroon and/or forest greens and/or slate blues as accents, to create an ambiance with paneling. Do you remember the wainscoating in my loft? We used those colors and I'm happy with the results. (But then, we intentionally put the wainscoating in.) You already have wooden tables and chairs, just go with wooden shelving and picture frames to make the whole thing look intentional.

    Here's a craftsman style home that uses those color tones:

    So much on your plate. Good luck deciding!


  8. My mom used to say she picked the color of our basement carpet to match the color of spilled Coke.

    I think she was only partially kidding.

    I'm not advocating THAT dark, necessarily, but I think something in a darker brown (marbled, even) is easier to keep clean (and keep your sanity). For the record, I like the top set look. Good luck!!

  9. My choice is a rich brown -- Top photo, top row, 3rd from right.

  10. I, too, had paneling in my den. I would go for a wheat look with a dark enough "wheat" that white trim is a good contrast. I don't think you can ever go wrong with white trim if there is enough of a contrast between the wall color. I would choose almost a wheat berber carpet. SO easy to clean - spills just bubble up on top and are super easy to get up. Love berber for high traffic areas!

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  12. I initially was thinking white as well, but then thought about how dinged up it will get in the near future. Toys banging it, balls tossed to it, dolls thrown near by, etc.
    Maybe go for the darker of your color (wheat would still be neutral enough to put in the other areas and trim) on the bottom and the other color on top.

  13. Not that you need my input, but here's my two cents worth. Love the excitement of making it your own! What a great room/s!
    I'd go darker on the carpet than you think. Especially if you're going light on the walls it will still be so much lighter. Think of all the stains it could hide. Something with a multi color fleck really hides the dirt. Think about all the traffic between the outside door and the stairs. You might consider an easy laminate for that small area. I've seen on many HGTV shows how successful painting over the wainscoat is. Ask at a paint shop if you need to prime first...agghh! I've had a hard time finding a green that doesn't lean towards grey. So I chose a wheat color for our interior and it felt so much better. Also, I'd consider an antique white. It isn't as stark.

    I'm laughing because I'm excited for you and that I really have no business giving you my opinion! :)

  14. Many (myself incl) have long believed that earth colors should go underfoot and tree & sky colors above the midline: any shade of brown/tan/olive would work for the floor and above wainscoting perhaps sage or a nice sky blue. I saw a chalkboard paint used with amazing results in a rec room below the chair rail while the kids were little. It came across at that time as Inspired.

    You all are doing Great !~! Henry must miss the trips all day, poor bubby. Kudos for your sense of adventure and loving familial relationships.

  15. Paint the paneling white. Paint the wall a light mocha color. Buy the color carpet in the bottom, right hand corner.

    It will look perfect.

  16. I think painting the panelling and architraves/trim white will look really nice, a warm beige/taupe colour will look great on the walls.

    A tip with the carpet choose a darker colour especially with the kids and messes.And very important(if it bugs you like me)choose a carpet that dosent mark too much when you step on it or leave 'lines' when you vacuum it makes life so much easier. Good Luck


  17. Amazing room and the garden outside looks fantastic.

    As far as paint is concerned - if you are going to have a creative corner down here, which I think is a brilliant plan, by the way, are you sure that white is the best colour to have down at short person with painty hands level?

    Your other option could be to choose the wipe clean type paints but I'm not sure if they are revoltingly full of chemicals that you might not want in your house. You could use a normal paint but put an organic sealant over the top. For colour, how about the sage/wheat whatever you choose (make it a warm colour!) down below and the white colour on the top section. We had that in our hall for many years and it looked good.

    For colour I would go for a carpet that is going to hide some of the dirt that will be trodden into the room. You don't want to set yourself up for shouting "WIPE YOUR FEET" every 3 seconds because you know the kids will be in and out and that's what you want them to do!

  18. I think white and sage would look great. Or white and air force blue (that's the colour of RAF uniforms) perhaps. Then I'd tie in with one of the carpets from the top board. There was a sort of moss green in the second column and a nice deep but dusky blue somewhere else. Or you could just go with the hot pink carpet idea and team it with black walls with white decals of bunny girls. Just a thought!

  19. on carpet: I vote for the first photo; 3rd column, 2nd or 3rd down. Darkish to hide stains (it IS a play area of a yard) but not too dark.:)

  20. Yes, I would paint all of the paneling/trim/doors white. Not sure of the top section of wall, it depends on furnishings, but I would go with a light color to keep the basement from looking like an dungeon. As far as flooring, I personally would not put in carpeting. I would go laminate (fake wood) or even just paint or stain the concrete and use a few area rugs where you want a soft place to sit/play. I think carpet + four kids = stained carpet!


  21. okay now the orange carpet is not that bad! lol course I'm not stepping on it either! What we did with our 70's style wood paneling... primed it well, especially with those darker stripes. And then used a wall paper liner and papered it (as I recall the liner was especially made for such a beast), then you have nice smooth walls (the wallpaper just kind of fills in the little indentations) then paint away, you will never know the paneling is there! My opinion (btw, you are nuts to listen to me, I don't even know you!) stay very neutral with your paint-- ivory or white. And go darker with the carpet when you do get it replaced. You will regret lighter tans- they show dirt too well! Good thought to paint before recarpeting! Not all those brain cells have left you! I know you crave order and crave everything in its place RIGHT NOW... Relax, enjoy the fall weather with the kids, too soon the snow will be there and another season will have begun for you!

  22. GREAT input - thanks for the feedback, everyone!!

    Re: the paneling, there is no drywall behind it, so to take it down - we'd have a gap until we repaired the walls. Big time effort. Big expense effort. Big too many other things to do and limited resources to spend, so the paneling stays effort.

    Re: the flooring, I agree, darker is better. We definitely need to put down carpet or hardwood (as opposed to painting the floor beneath it) because those tiles that you can see in the closet are ASBESTOS containing. And since we don't want to tackle that beast, we're going to "abandon them in place" by putting a thick padding and carpet over them. The asbestos isn't harmful, so long as it's not disturbed.

    We LOVE wood floors, but we're opting for carpet as opposed to hardwood because we want the room to be warm. And since it's not even the middle of September and our children are already getting cold, we want something that will be comfortable for them to roll around on. Also, the cost of hardwood as opposed to carpet ... ching! ching! ching!

    It's about 5X as expensive.

    Keep the suggestions coming. I love the ideas. Wallpapering OVER the paneling and filling in the voids? I never even considered that.


  23. Opinion: Rip the paneling out first.

    Ok, if you don't do that, paint it, and the doors and jambs white (actually just slightly off white, bright white is jarring)

    I like the idea of a wheat color for the top. I think Whole Wheat is the Sherwin Williams color I used in my house. It has a teency bit of yellow - olive tone in it. Goes with everything.

    With four kids - dirt color - not too dark, not too light - with some speckles of some sort. You can thank me later. I think the third row down from the top, third over from the left looks interesting, but hard to say from a computer screen. I wish I would have paid more attention, the new carpet I put in my basement shows vacuum marks, I've always had berbers, and forgot about this trait. I hate it. Looks horrible in such a large expanse of room. Actually wish I would have stuck with a berber again, but my options were limited for a "green" carpet. You can go lighter with a speckled berber too.

    Good luck - lots of potential in your new house!

  24. **Edited and reposted with the proper link to the picture I mentioned. Sorry!**

    It's amazing. Seriously--what a perfect lower level.

    We finished our basement a few years ago, and I originally picked out a berber type carpet (quite similar to your samples) in the oatmeal family.

    My sister-in-law, with four kids ten years+ older than I came over, took one look at the sample cards and recommended going one shade darker. It's more on the caramel/tan side with more flecks and specks. ( You can see it in a random shot I took here:

    I have NEVER regretted going the darker. It hides everything and goes with everything. My sister-in-law was absolutely right and we loved it right away. It is so stressful picking something that covers so much!!! Good luck.

  25. Takes some time, but spackle the cracks in the wood paneling ... then paint. It makes it look less like paneling that was painted, and more like a regular wall. Primer is your friend! The area I did was way smaller though so it may not be worth your time and effort.

  26. Hi Jen,

    Definately paint the mouldings -baseboards white. They don't have to be stark white, but that will immediately brighten up your space. I would go with a dark carpet. It is very grounding and will not show the wear and tear {we still have a dark brown carpet in our house that was installed 33 years ago. Beleive it or not, it still looks pretty good.} The walls then could be painted just about any mid/light neurtal color that could be easily changed.

    Have fun with the reno and good luck!

  27. We had paneling in the LR of our last home and because we were fearful of what we'd find behind the paneling when it was ripped off the walls, we painted it. It was a little bit of a beating, what with all the sanding and dust everywhere, but I cannot explain to you how much of a difference it made in that house!! We also replaced the carpet after we painted and the room was immediately transported out of 1972 straight into this century. Go into it knowing that it won't be fun, but also knowing that it will! be! worth! it!! Oh, as for colors - we went with a slightly grey off-white for the paneling and pure white for the trim. But that room had little to no natural light, so we were trying to really brighten it up (thus, the grey/white). GOOD LUCK!!!

  28. Sara in Mass.9/11/10, 10:53 AM

    Another idea for the paneling is to fill in the grooves with drywall compound. You can even do a skim coat of the entire wall to make it look like a "real" wall. I just did this in a bedroom of my recently purchased 110 year old house and it looks great! In my case, the paneling covers old, cracked, horsehair plaster. And seriously, if I can do it, you guys can do it too. I have no opinions on color, however. I am not color coordinated.

  29. I'm not great at design, and everyone's taste in colors are completely different. That said, I would definitely do a dark or darkish carpet for a floor that the kids will be on a lot. Dark tan or darker. It will wear better. I would not paint the walls white, think of how quickly it would be covered in little fingerprints. That doesn't mean it has to be dark, just something with a little color. Perhaps a light tan or something. White trim always looks nice and it's a bit easier to clean than a whole wall. ;)

  30. Jen, the house and neighborhood look awesome.

    We had paneling in our old basement (did I mention that we moved from NY to NC this summer? Yes, I feel your pain).

    Anyway - we had always planned to paint the paneling but never got around to it. BUT - friends of ours did paint the paneling in their basement, they painted it white, and it did give it an awesome beadboard/wainscoting look. I recommend white. You need a special primer first since the paneling is probably glossy. Just ask at the paint dept of the local big box store or better yet find your locally owned Ace Hardware franchise. Trim should ALWAYS be white. Do not stop, do not pass go. WHITE, and nothing else.

    Second - the carpet. If you plan on using this mainly for the kids, don't go with the lighter color, even if your instinct will be to go that route to lighten up the basement. You have windows so you don't have to worry about that too much. Your first comment from Tabatha sounds non-committal but it's the best advice - not too light and not too dark. Use a berber with flecks like anonymous said. We had new carpet put down before we put the house on the market and darker is definitely better. Make sure you put padding underneath, don't just glue it to the concrete.

    Make sure you remediate any moisure issues before you do anything. Get a dehumidifier ASAP. Basements are ALWAYS damp, even if you don't feel it right away.

    Good luck! We reno'ed our house in NY 5 years ago - gutted it completely and went from there, it's fun but exhausting.

  31. I would go with an off white or perhaps something like oat straw by Behr paint on the walls and a medium-dark warm coloured low pile super heavy duty carpeting to compliment the walls. Walls are easily and inexpensively repainted when they look dingy and tired but carpets are a more expensive matter so get something that will hide the signs of everyday traffic.
    Perhaps Elizabeth's room could be pink. The space looks great and I'm sure you will make many happy family memories there.

  32. Definitely paint the paneling white, it will look a lot like wainscoting with the trim on top. Just choose an easily cleanable paint type to wipe off all the little handprints. I think a sage would be nice but I agree with what a couple of others mentioned about a blue. I nice grayish blue will go really well with the white and a medium colored flecked carpeting (we have a tan colored carpet with lots of darker flecks and it really does mask stains well.
    Maybe something like this color combo

  33. wow. i fall out of the blogging world for a bit and find you have moved, bought a house and sent those babies of yours off to kindergarten.

    wow. just... wow

  34. I will add my 2 cents. First, definitely paint the panelling for a wainscoting effect. I really like clean white but, as others have mentioned, that may not be the most efficient when it comes to concealing dirt and handprints. But you seem like a fairly tidy person (I seem to remember a LOT of cleaning posts from your SD house) and it would brighten the room up a lot.

    As for wall color, I do like sage, but since the room will be primarily used as a family room/playroom/kids' area, maybe something like a buttery yellow would be nice? We used a Benjamin Moore color called Macadamia Nut that is really warm and another called Barley in my son's bedroom. Cheerful colors and they go with everything.

    Carpet -- I agree that carpet is much warmer and softer than wood. I love hardwood but not in bedrooms or playrooms. I like the bottom samples better in terms of texture. Maybe something in a light (but not too light) brown? I wouldn't go too, too dark but I like to keep things light, especially for winter months when light is at a premium.

    The house looks great -- so much space! The kids must be happy to have their stuff back :)


  35. Painting the paneling, doors & trims white is a great idea.

    I would say, keep the paint color for the top part very light. this will make the room seem larger. a sage green or some pale blue paint will work nicely.

    as for the carpet...i was thinking a tan color could work, but with children...hmm...i guess your right. the slighter darker color would be better.

    hgtv's rate my space has a lot of pictures you could browse through for inspiration. have fun!!!

  36. The restaurant I work at has a wonderful combination of two colors by Sherwinn Williams- Worldly Gray for the larger, Alabaster for the trim. And I have no idea about what to do for the carpet. I'm attached to light shades, but I don't have kids.

    Also, no joke my word verification word is "cooti".

  37. You weren't kidding when you said this house needs updating! How are you going to decide where to start? As for the basement, I love the idea of the white paneling. You're lucky that it isn't all wide planks, and I think it will look a lot like wainscoting after you paint it. I like the idea of green above it--it will add liveliness to the room.
    I've heard that berber carpet traps dirt worse than regular carpet, but that could be old info. I also briefly wondered when I first read this last night if you really want carpet down there, but then I realized where you live now and that it would be really cold down there with tile or wood. So I place my vote for a darker carpet as well.
    Would it look funny to have a tile/linoleum area in front of the door to the outside? I'm thinking somewhere for the kids to take off their muddy/snowy shoes and boots.
    Someone else mentioned creativity center and that got me thinking, too. I'm sure you know about chalkboard paint, but there's magnetic paint now, too, I've heard. Not only for numbers and letters, but as your kids learn to read, word magnets. Also, magnets are pretty cheap souvenirs that you could have fun collecting from the places you visit.
    I saw a really cool idea once where they framed the chalkboard-painted area with scraps of wood they had around the house, then painted to look uniform. You could do that with the magnet "board", too.
    Ok, I think I'm done. Sorry this is so long, but you asked! :)

  38. Maybe once you've lightened the walls i would see if you could live with the carpet, maybe even add some rugs as you wouldn't be so worried about the children ruining it over the next 5 years, then replace once they are a bit older and less likely to ruin it.

  39. Aunt Kathy (HGTV Addict)9/11/10, 2:41 PM

    Start with the carpet. It's more expensive than paint so choose that color first. Pick a color that is the closest to the dirt you have outside. I know you keep a wonderfully clean house BUT kids will track dirt in. Second, don't paint the walls white!!! The doors and trim are fine in white but the walls AND ceiling should have color. If the room is dark, pick a color with some white in it. The color can contrast the carpet or compliment the carpet. Think color wheel. If you want to compliment the carpet choose colors from either side of the carpet color on the wheel. I wouldn't do a chair rail unless you have chairs up against the wall. A chair rail might cut the wall in half and make the ceiling look lower. The ceiling should be painted the same color as the walls OR one shade lighter so that it lifts the ceiling and makes the room look larger. When you've chosen 3-4 colors, buy small amounts and paint them in large (4-5') swatches on all walls of the room. Then spend two days looking at the colors and seeing how they work with the amount of light by day and the lack of light at night. You have to live with it a bit to really know if you like it. Good luck! You will do fine. Kisses to the kids!

  40. I always laughed at my mom's green shag carpet but I liked her was like having a basis of green grass to work with! not that i want that green shag in my house but some plush dark sage carpets are nice and go with most color palettes and don't show stains especially with children

    PS - I am "sorbet27" on Twitter following you.

  41. LOVE the room!!!! What a great space for your family!
    I agree with the comment about using a wall liner over the panels. Check this site out:

    For painting the trim and chair rail, I would recommend Home Depot's Behr premium plus in Swiss Coffee (a soft antique white). Not sure whether the white on the lower wall would be practical with kids playing. Maybe the darker color (sand, tan, sage?) on the bottom?

    For the carpet, I would choose any of the colors in the second pic, vertical rows 2 & 3. I would also get a really good, large mat to put on the rug by the door. We love these (with a pad under):

    I'm loving the before pics!

  42. I would definitely paint all the paneling, door and window frames a glossy white. If you need a paneling painting tutorial, check out:

    As for the wall color, I like the wheat or a soft gold color. Carpet: 2nd pic, 1st row, 2nd from left.

    I am so so excited to watch you renovate your new house!

  43. Is this the house that needed a new septic system? I would for sure do that first if so. You wouldn't want any septic backup on the new carpet. I would also make sure that all of the gutter system and yard drainage are in good shape. Our neighbors basement flooded due to old gutters.

    The Shaw carpet is very stain resistant so I wouldn't go too dark because it shows lint. A medium shade with a bit of fleck is great for kids.

  44. 5 years ago we purchased a home built in 1962, it was all original and we have updated most of it. Our family room was covered with the paneling which we decided to leave and paint rather than remove and have to do the whole drywall repair. we painted it a color called "raffia cream" in flat by frazee and we love it, it looks good in all lights and really warms up the place. We used a white gloss on the baseboards and trim, we have a medium brown carpet, I think you will like the pattern/texture of the carpet samples, they really help to hide the dirt. I can't believe how much your "new" house looks like ours when we moved in, we have only updated our bathrooms a little (new paint and faucets, but still have the pink tub), most of our $$ went to flooring, paint, windows and a new kitchen, so we'll wait another 5 (ok, probably 15) years to finish the place. we love our old house and I hope you love yours too!

  45. My mother painted the paneling in her family room and I can honestly say it looks great. She also went with light carpeting ... big mistake with animals and men that are more like kids!! Berber is the best I think for family rooms and kids. Good luck and here's to a great new home and many fun memories in the makings.

  46. I am going to love following the renovation!! So much fun.

    I would suggest not doing carpet with children in and out and possibly that dog you have talked about. Have you thought about laminate wood covering? It looks like hardwood, but very durable for a young family. You could use some area rugs that would sort of "anchor" each area. These rugs could be a different color (but same color family)....with the laminate, easy to clean!!!!

  47. My vote is, leave it alone! :O I LOVE the way it looks!!! :D

    ~Retro Cindy! :D

  48. Do medium to dark brown carpeting. I would paint the paneling/trim white and do a color on top - like sage or whatever you like. If you do too many browns, it will look dull. If you do go with a tan/wheat color paint, make sure you put pops of color elsewhere (pillows, blankets, etc.). I wouldn't go with too dark of a color on top though, it will look like a dungeon (I grew up in a walkout). Get creative!

  49. we painted over our paneling in the basement too. (although the wallpaper suggestion sounds like it would work wonders) we just used a primer, hubby rolled and i followed with a brush and filled in all the 'voids' and did the trim, and one coat of paint did the trick. i'm all for the least amount of work that gets the job done!
    p.s. i'm having so much fun with all these home renovation updates! i fall asleep every night to hgtv...which might explain why i'm more of a 'dreamer' than a 'do'er'!! We just bought paint for our bedroom and bathroom that *might* make it on the wall by the time the trips go to kindergarten (they're 17 months now!)...but we did get a rebate on the paint! all about saving money, right??

  50. go with white. magic eraser will work wonders on scuffs from the kids, plus it would be easy to repaint.

    think about the chalk board paint in one area. I also just saw something about dry erase board paint. how cool is that??? they even make magnetic paint.

    I liked top right and bottom right for carpet.

    also, don't be afraid to try a fun color in the basement. it will brighten it up in the winter, plus it is a fun/multipurpose space. think a fun blue or more of an apple green.

    that is an AWESOME basement. so fun!

  51. I agree on the white trim and I think a taupe on the walls (PS - love the look of painted panelling - we actually have it in our basement and it looks really nice for little cost vs. re-drywalling). On the carpet, I would actually go with a frise (not sure of the spelling) instead of burber and get one that is a nuetral with flecks of a darker color in it. The wear is much better than berber and it is much more comfortable.

  52. I like the idea of white for the paneling, good way to hide it. Also the sage or wheat for the walls. And the chalk board wall is a great idea.

    For the carpet, none of those. Trust me we live in the country you want a nice blend of color because a single color will show the dirt like neon. We put a lovely combo, blue, green, tan and copper in our rec room and I love it. Image all the muddy little feet that will inevitably be trooping through that room.

  53. I would find a speckled dark beige carpet - ESP with little kids!!

  54. Chalkboard paint?! Magnetic paint?! I never even thought of that!

    Those are AWESOME ideas and would be great in a corner of the room!!!

  55. Chalkboard paint is really fun, but keep in mind chalk dust: it goes better where there are floors that can be wiped/mopped, or at lease where it does not go all the way to the floor. I've not tried magnetic paint, but you could see about installing big white-board panels on top of the paneling and have a huge dry-erase area for the kids to write on the wall.

    I'm not good with colors - But I wanted to add that you need to get some cheap translucent curtains to hang from ceiling and make a performance stage area where you have that step. I can see buzz light year busting through a lecture on paleontology....

  56. Jill, I am totally cracking up at your comment. You have NO idea how ACCURATE that scenario would be. William's up on stage pretending he's a lecturer giving a presentation on the Giganosauraus and out comes his little brother, wearing a filthy Buzz costume and screaming, "To infinity and beyond!!"

    Henry is such a pill.

    Or so says William... :)

  57. Amanda in MS9/12/10, 6:54 PM

    I agree with choosing a dark colored carpet for the kids. I'm thinking dark brown carpets with light yellow walls and creme trim. I can imagine dark colored carpets show up fuzzies, but light colored carpets show up stains and dirt real bad. You just gotta decided which demon you will invite into your house, lol. But whatever you decide, be sure to let the kids have fun with the walls before you paint. Good luck~ remodeling is so much fun!

  58. You have my respect - I could never imagine moving with 4 small kids. Considering that, your house is NOT such a huge mess, seriously. As for the questions, I don't think it would be too much to paint the paneling white, but I would suggest a more lively color (red, orange, etc.). And the carpet - it depends on the furniture and accessories, I guess. But looking at the room, brownish could be fine.

  59. I just can't choose colors over the internet, because in my mind, the colors always look slightly different in real life. But I can't wait to read all about the changes you are going to make in your house. I love this kind of thing!

  60. We're Southern and paneling is standard around here!! The very best look I've seen is a pale yellow with white trim. Looks bigger but hides stains better. A good speckled berber carpet is great for stains too.

    One thing we've been considering for our play room is new shag. Check it out - it's SO soft. Perfect for little kids!

    If you just cannot stand the paneling and want to get rid of it, you might consider filling it and sanding it down. It will take a lot less time and be much cheaper than peeling it down and sheet rocking.

    Can't wait to see what you come up with.

  61. You guys did a great job picking out your home. I've seen the backyard photos on Twitter and I am in LOVE. How utterly gorgeous.
    You can do all kinds of things to a house but you can find a lot like that just anywhere.

  62. I still say leave it alone, I like it. But suppose it was unfinished? What would I do? I would put a beige carpet down, and beige walls, I guess. The reason for beige is why I bought a beige car - it doesn't show the dirt! :D It's also a pleasing, restful color.

    ~Cindy, again! :D

  63. Oh, yeah, and about the ghost, if he is still there. Many people wrote you that they lived in houses with ghosts. I would find it interesting, myself. They just live there too. They cause no harm, and they have no mailice. Of course, your ghost may have passed on to the next world, and you're worrien for nothin, but if he didn't, just be friendly toward him. After all, he was there first! :D

    ~Cindy, for the thrid time! :)

  64. Ooooh, I love the idea of pale yellow panelling w/white trim. Just think how sunny and warm that would be all winter long! We have long Colorado winters, and I love hanging out in our sunshiney yellow nursery by the time February rolls around.

    I guess my best advice, for what it's worth, is to figure out what you want to use the space for first. If you are going to use it for entertaining, you might want to go more neutral, like most people here have mentioned - sage/khaki on the walls w/white trim. However, if this is really going to be a family/play room, I would consider a little lighter, a little more fun. Maybe choose one of the smaller walls and paint it a lovely accent color.

    Cheers, and have fun with the remodel!

  65. Here are my thoughts. Painting wood panels is a horrific job that must be done in order to not feel like you are living in 1975. I would go for the white doors, white trim and paint the panels a tan with a darker tan treatment effect (like sponge or rags that little hands would be happy to help with) that would help disguise the lines on the panels. I would paint the upper portion a shade or 2 lighter and then decorate with framed artwork by the kids. For the carpet I would go with berber in a basement and a dark tan/ lighter to mid brown carpet. Something that won't show a lot of dirt. If you are thinking of going even cheaper, leave the natural wood look on your trim and doors and use a brown with a tinge of red on the walls to compliment the wood instead of detract. Either way, that carpet has to go, cause even though the wood look might come back some day, I don't think there will ever be a market for orange shag again.

  66. I didn't get to read all of this but you definitely have TONS of suggestions. I thought of you today though when I went to my eye doctor's new office. She has all white trim and a white chair rail with sage paint on the top and a light brown / coco sort of color on the bottom. Looks fantastic and would be easier to paint on the paneling without have to do mutliple coats to put white paint on there (although the white would look great too!).

    Good luck!

  67. Don't be afraid to choose a dark enough brown carpet that will hide dirt, especially since it's a walk-out basement. The current rust color isn't exactly light and it doesn't look too dark. We have dark green carpet in our basement (came with the house) and it's not cavelike at all with light walls.

    The half-wall paneling really doesn't bother me. Is it just one wall with it al the way up? Can you use a lot of artwork on that wall to make it less noticeable?

    If the carpet is musty, get it out ASAP. It's nice to paint when you're pulling up the carpet, but it's really not that bad to paint and protect the carpet. Just get that mold out of your house. You can live with old paneling for a bit if needed.

  68. You've gotten some great advice already on colors. And I agree it looks like a fantastic space. Have fun decorating.

    But about that dehumidifier someone mentioned in comments - I agree definitely get one. Mold growth promoted by damp basement is very likely a reason for your eyes to itch when you are in that room. Replacing the ancient carpet with a new one will only improve the air quality for a while unless you address the humidity issue first, otherwise your new carpet will start harboring a colony as well. You might want to look into a waterproof membrane liner too, if it is just concrete under the carpet. Oh, and set the dehumidifier where you can include a hose to drain it either to outside or to an appropriate floor drain, unless you want to deal with emptying it every 2-3 days. And make sure it the dehumidifier is sized appropriately for the space, excess capacity is better than not enough capacity.

  69. Carpet color suggestion...bottom picture, bottom row, all the way to the left.

  70. I had gross paneling in one of my rooms when I moved in. I primed it then taped it off for stripes and used several shades of soft yellow (Ben Moore) and white (Ben Moore 'Sail Cloth' as I recall ) I mixed in some medium for texture and dragged a wood grain tool through the stripes of paint. I came out awesome. I surprised myself at how great it looked. I hardly recognize the paneling underneath. The eye catches either the stripes or wood grain affect. A soft yellow will brighten up the lower level and stripes create a cheery atmosphere.

    Good luck with the renovations.