Asked on Apr 11, 2013

Small Cabin leave it wood or go with paint and beadboard?

Marion NesbittCynthia Clayton CarpenterHeartbeat


This 300 sq ft cabin is on a wooded lot across from a lake in Michigan. Would you leave the warm wood paneling or would you brighten the interior up even more by going for more of a cottage by the lake look and paint the walls a lighter color and add white beadboard? Because the wood paneling already has grooves in it that are pretty wide, do you think that would look weird with beadboard? If you suggested leaving the walls alone as you see them in these pictures, would you just go with soft, yet lighter colors for the furniture , bed coverings, etc.,?
Our 300 sq ft cabin on wooded lot by the lake.
Little cabin kitchen and eating area.
Little cabin living area and peek into the sleeping area.
22 answers
  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 11, 2013

    I think the wood paneling is what makes it look like a cottage by the lake. IMHO, it's the kitchen cabinets that bring the space down. I'd paint them like that great table across from them.

  • Kelle Arvay
    on Apr 11, 2013

    Douglas, thank you! Someone else who saw that photo also suggested to me to paint the kitchen cabinets white. Good idea.

  • It would look so much brighter with painted panelling and cabinetry - I know, I know, DON'T paint the wood. But sometimes brightening things up will give it a whole new look. IMHO

  • Jennifer
    on Apr 11, 2013

    What is the cottage used for? Paneling for a cabin or hunting lodge, ok. If the cottage is used as a summer retreat, I would lighten it up completely. Give it an airy feeling like a cool summer day.

  • Kelle Arvay
    on Apr 11, 2013

    Jennifer, it's a summer get-a-way cabin (it also has a bunk house) that is on a 1 acre wooded lot with a 242 acre all sports lake across the road. Here are a few more pictures that may help give you an idea.

    q small cabin leave it wood or go with paint and beadboard, home decor, paint colors, painted furniture, wall decor, Bunkhouseq small cabin leave it wood or go with paint and beadboard, home decor, paint colors, painted furniture, wall decor, The lake directly across the roadq small cabin leave it wood or go with paint and beadboard, home decor, paint colors, painted furniture, wall decor, Bunkhouse and cabinq small cabin leave it wood or go with paint and beadboard, home decor, paint colors, painted furniture, wall decor, Drivewayq small cabin leave it wood or go with paint and beadboard, home decor, paint colors, painted furniture, wall decor, This is the bunk house
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  • 2ms2
    on Apr 11, 2013

    Yes, you can paint over wood paneling. This article explains the process.

  • I would spend my time enjoying the lake and not get involved in painting anything. Once painted it needs to be freshened up every few years, If the cottage is vacant in the winter and has no heat the expanding and shrinking of the wood will effect the finish on the paneling requiring more maintenance then you perhaps want. You can brighten up the inside with brighter lights, Light color window decorations, and some bright color paintings. My vote is do nothing to the paneling. Unless you want to work when you visit.

  • Kelle Arvay
    on Apr 11, 2013

    Woodbridge Environmental, I think you are on to something. While I'm not a huge fan of paneling, this particular wood paneling isn't super dark. It has more of a warm look to it. In saying that I think I like your idea best of leaving it and using light colors for window treatments, furnishings, bedding, etc., At least that will give us a chance to just enjoy it this first summer and if later I decide to change it up then we can. Thank you for your input.

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Apr 11, 2013

    The paneling is "classic" in a retro kind of way. It may be a bit dated but is serving its job well. I'm in the process of completing my cabin, but instead of sheet paneling I'm used blue stained pine in a T & G configuration.

  • Z
    on Apr 12, 2013

    I agree that the walls are what gives it the cozy cabin feel, yet the cabinets bring it down a few notches. It doesn't look as though they are all real wood. At the most I would paint them (though not necessarily white) and bring in other painted furniture and light colored fabrics.

  • Kelle Arvay
    on Apr 15, 2013

    Thank you so much you guys! I think I'll definitely leave the walls alone for now and try and use lighter furniture and accent pieces and see how that works.

  • Z
    on Apr 15, 2013

    Please make sure to share photos when you are finished.

  • Cindy
    on Apr 16, 2013

    I like the wood but I would paint the cabinets and maybe the wall where the couch is just to brighten it a little bit and like eveyone else, use fabric etc to add all over brightening.

  • Jan Mardis
    on Aug 26, 2013

    With it white and gray on the outside, I would go with that inside too. And add some colorful abstract art!!!

  • Marielle Cano
    on Jan 9, 2014

    would really like to see the bathroom set up.

  • Kelle Arvay
    on Jan 9, 2014
  • Jackie Prim
    on Jan 9, 2014

    I think I would paint the entire interior light and bright poss. put in one more window in the front to open it up alittle.Good luck cant wait to see what you decided.

  • Mars
    on Aug 11, 2014

    Love the wood. Leave the ceiling & floor paint free. However the kitchen cabinets you could brighten up. But adding bright color furniture(or painting your table the T.V. is sitting on) or accent pieces would also pop it with some more color. You might even want to paint one wall in the kitchen to start. good luck.

  • Polly Zieper
    on Dec 14, 2014

    It looks like a dove gray from the photo, which is lovely.I think I'd leave it-it doesn't compete with the colors of the trees or water.What did it cost to build?And do you have to pay taxes on it as you would on your primary residence?

  • Heartbeat
    on Aug 17, 2015

    Kelly, I would leave the paneling as is. But as someone said use all light colors for curtains, accessories and add a window on the wall by the door. It'd mean more light and look great from the outside.

  • Cynthia Clayton Carpenter
    on Oct 24, 2016

    I suggest painting the ceiling white at the very least. That will give you a more open feel

  • Marion Nesbitt
    on Oct 24, 2016

    While cozy, my first impression is that there are too many wood surfaces. I'd paint the walls and the kitchen cupboards.

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