Many homes built in the 1970s still sport the original wood wall panels. The wood adds warmth to large rooms but can make small rooms dark and cramped. The look is not for all tastes, but you have options when it comes to living with wood panelling. You can choose to work with the panels or alter them, depending on your taste, style and budget.
Wood panelling can make a room feel cosy, but it can also make a room feel small and closed in. Painting wood panelling is an inexpensive way to brighten the walls and make the room appear larger. Use an oil-based primer on wood panelling before you apply the top coat of paint.
Take advantage of the warmth wood panelling provides by embellishing it with country-style accessories. Hang an heirloom quilt on one wall. Look for lodge-themed decorative items to play up the coziness the panelling provides. Wildlife pictures look right at home atop wood-panelled walls.
Instead of fighting the look of your 1970s-style wood panelling, embrace it by creating a retro 1970s room. Add a shag carpet in modern neutral colours to stay true to the style without overdoing it. Add a few pieces of pop art to the wall. Light fixtures in bold colours will brighten the room.
If you're renting your space, making elaborate changes to the walls may not be an option for you. Temporarily cover the panelled walls with thick fabric, just as you would with wallpaper. Simply tack the fabric to the wall and carefully remove any wrinkles before tacking the other side. It is painstaking work, but the result is beautiful. You could also run a track along the top of the wall and hang window panels along the width. This brightens and softens the walls at the same time.