Decorating Ideas for Rooms With Knotty Pine Paneling

When living in older homes, make the most of what you have -- decades-old fixtures such as a wall-mounted ironing board and wall treatments such as knotty pine paneling. Decorating with knotty pine dates back to the 1950s when it was used for basement rec rooms and upstairs dens, and the wood is known for its vertical grain speckled with tiny knots. The paneling lends a cabin feel to the most urban of spaces and is something with which to work, not just live.

Young man waking up in bunk bed
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Use the warmth of knotty pine in the room's built-in furniture.

It's Knot All Bad

Decorating rooms with knotty pine paneling is feasible and doesn't have to incorporate 1950s decorating trends. Knotty pine paneling lends a coziness that works with shabby-chic style, French country, Scandinavian cabin, cottage and other decorating trends that appreciate both natural elements and materials that have stood the test of time. Paneled walls offer authenticity to rooms with hunting or fishing cabin themes while paneled ceilings deliver handcrafted beauty to bedrooms with country, rustic and primitive themes. Simple decorating styles blend with knotty pine because they don't compete with the paneling for attention. Invest in mid-century pieces such as Heywood-Wakefield end tables or bedroom set to set a subtle scene.

Room by Room

Knotty pine paneling is no longer just for basement rec rooms. Think of this feature as the decorative element that ties a room together. A country bedroom with flea-market finds such as a wrought-iron bed and mismatched nightstands made out of vintage suitcases on top of simple wooden tables looks complete in a paneled room. A rustic cabin living room that features a wood-frame mission-style couch with kilim-print pillows looks at ease among the paneled walls. Resist the urge to remodel a kitchen that has knotty pine cabinets. Instead, update any dated appliances with energy efficient ones and switch out cabinet hardware for that which complements the new appliances.

In Your Decorative Element

Make the most of your knotty pine paneling with key accessories and other decorative elements. Think of the theme or idea you want the room to evoke. For relaxed styles such as shabby chic, rustic or French country, use furniture and end tables in shades of beige and creamy white. Add pops of color with pink floral pillows for shabby chic and nubby grain sack pillows with red or navy stripes for rustic or French country. For hunting cabins or rooms inspired by cabins in the Adirondacks, amplify the look with key accessories. Display landscape paintings alongside antlers on the knotty pine walls and drape wicker furniture with camp blankets.

Floors and More

Embrace the beauty of knotty pine walls with simple flooring and window treatments. Colors that work with knotty pine, especially with orange undertones, are blue and green. Warm shades of red and yellow will work -- but should be used in small doses. Rooms with both knotty pine walls and floors should be decorated simply so the wood may shine. Rooms that feature wide pine plank floors in good condition should be kept clean of area rugs, but cover with rugs those floors that feature thin planks flecked with visible wear and tear. Use solid-color curtains that complement the room's largest pieces of furniture; additional patterns will clash against the walls' vertical or horizontal panels.