Painting Wood Built-Ins in the Den

April 09, 2012
Our den is quite large, 16 1/2' x 22 1/2'. When I bought the house in 1989, the den was all paneled, had dark rust and brown shag carpet, dark drapes, and dark beams across the ceiling.

The redeeming features of the room were of course it's size, and a long built in combination counter desk with lots of storage, bookcase, and two closets on each end. But it was DARK!

The first thing to go was the carpeting. First, a neutral beige plush, and now a light golden, speckled, friese (new name for shag).

Next, I painted the paneling and beams. It was not the grooved paneling that I was familiar with from my parent's home. It was thin veneer sheets that overlapped slightly all around the room.

Paint lightened up the room, and I was happy for a while.

BUT, it seemed that the look of built-in was always the same.

My next change was to take most of the built-in cabinet/closet doors off and have custom curtains made to cover the cabinet openings and soften the look.

I was also happy with this look for awhile.

BUT, the built-ins still had the dated 1960's light wood finish.

This past weekend I took the transformation of the built-ins a step further and painted them white. I am spray painting the brass cafe curtain rods for the custom curtains white too.

This is not a project that my husband likes. Why? Because I painted over wood.

Why do men always want wood to stay wood colored? Maybe all men don't, but my husband does, and so do a good share of the men that shop in the furniture store that I work at four days a week. Most want "manly" oak. Oak is the preference of Northern Minnesota men.

I don't have any photos from the DARK AGES of the den, when everything was DARK, but I will show you what the built-in looked like before the weekend.


You are probably wondering why I didn't paint the countertop or the window trim. Well, I had a weathered wood look laminate put on the countertop a few years ago. I didn't want to paint the laminate, so I left the whole counter board unpainted. The window trim isn't painted either because my husband still hangs 3M shrink plastic on the inside of our windows attached to the trim by double sided tape. It really protects our windows and saves on heating during our Minnesota winters.

Of course I will show you the built ins after I get my stuff back up! Just excited about a painting project to share at Organized Clutter!

The Dark Ages of the den are almost over!

shabby creek cottage

Thanks for reading my blog, Carlene

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  1. Oh it looks amazing. The white is beautiful and I am sure it totally updated the whole look of the room. I know, my DH doesn't like painted wood either. Men are really strange. Some wood just isn't pretty. Hugs, Marty

  2. Carlene: It is really looking good. I'm with you about dark wood, although I do like some of it, but the Captain was also against painting any thing made out of wood but everyonce in awhile I threw in a cheaper piece of furniture painted and he liked it, so next time I took a finer piece and he liked it so now he is not so resistant to the whole thing of painting, but it is still a work in progress!..Happy Monday..Judy

  3. It looks brighter and updated already! I'm still dragging my feet about painting our 1921 woodwork in the living and dining room. I wish the previous owner had done it so I wouldn't have to feel guilty! I'm getting closer when I see everybody else's great before and afters.

  4. It looks so much better! And I totally agree with you. I just painted my awful 80s oak built ins and I couldn't be happier. My husband freaked out (he came home to find it done, I didn't tell him because I knew he wouldn't like it.) But if mama ain't happy.. nobody's happy. I think you totally did the right thing!

  5. Wow! It looks great! I feel if you're the one that cleans it (which you probably are) then you get to decide how to decorate it. I live alone so there's no question as to who makes the decorating decisions! LOL! Although, my girls (2 dogs) have tried to influence my decisions. I like the curtains too.

  6. My husband can't stand it if I say I want to paint over oak, they are just funny that way I suppose. I think it looks great, I love how it lightens it up.


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