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Camouflage that dated '70s wood panelling in your basement with paint

VICTORIA - The '70s may be alive and well in homes with wood panelled interior walls, but home owners who want to update the once trendy treatment may find the task daunting.

Kyla Bidgood, a Victoria registered interior designer, says a coat of paint can modernize wood walls.

"Even crisp white camouflages wood panelling nicely, and adds a bit of texture to the space," says Bidgood.

"Layering things on top of it like art and wall pieces is another great way to minimize the impact of bad wood panelling," she says.

"I think the thing that became overwhelming in the old spaces was all the dramatic vertical wood grain and if you paint the wood panelling out then you lose that pattern but you keep the texture."

When wood panelling was at its most popular it seemed as if everyone's basement featured it, and Bidgood says because of its overuse homeowners associate it with a particular style from a previous era.

Rob Everitt, principal and owner of Winnipeg's Everitt Design Associates, says modern design trends favour cleaner and minimal looks.

"We just don't like the vertical lines," he says. "It is really distracting and it takes away from art on the wall and all kinds of things.

"People can't stand the darkness of the wood because it closes in the room, and then people start painting it and it takes on a beachy look, which can look quite nice. But you aren't going to get a sophisticated look when you paint wood panelling."

Like Bidgood, Everitt says paint is an effective way to tackle a dated panelled wall, and says there are ways to use the vertical lines of the panelling to create an interesting wall feature.

"If you want to have some fun with it you could paint some stripes with it," he says. "You could follow the lines and paint every second or third one, so it's not candy striped, doing something subtle."

Homeowners can eliminate the grooves and reveals of the panelling by filling them or, alternatively, create more pronounced lines.

"Homeowners could take what is called a baton, which is a small piece of wood, and cover over the reveals and the little seams and make it more exaggerated, which can become a special detail," says Everitt.

Bidgood says she is now using wood to add texture.

"It is coming back in a major but different way now and we're seeing it all over the place, from restaurants to tech offices and residences, but it's more of a reclaimed wood panelling, not the typical kind of wood panelling like we remember from grandma's basement," she says.

According to Bidgood, the wood being used in modern homes is often painted, which reduces the impact of the wood grain but maintains the texture of the wood or minimal grain.

Bidgood has used wood in a variety of her recent projects. In one home she used a wood-grained wallpaper.

"We wanted to add some subtle pattern and texture to the walls," she says. "We were using a lot of vintage accents, so I thought it would be a fun throwback to the old wood panelling to incorporate some wallpaper that was all wood grain, and it looks really cool.

"It's not using wood, but it is an ode to the old '70s wood panelling but done using wallpaper."

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