Walls that Sing - Page 2

How lively accent panels awaken whitewashed and damaged interiors with renewed personality
Walls that Sing
The three Eichler interiors above use different approaches to accent walls covered in white: one painted wall, and another covered with textured wood paneling (top); grooved wood paneling (middle); and grooved thin-line Eichler siding extending through the kitchen and into the backyard (bottom).

Options and preferences

MCM purists prefer to not disturb the Eichlers' original wood paneling. However, over the years, many of those panels have been whitewashed, ruined, or removed.

Unfortunately, the original lauan paneling installations also lacked insulation and posed a fire hazard. As a result, many homeowners chose to remove the paneling, install insulation batts behind the walls, and cover them with fireproof drywall.

Others just painted right over the panels. "By code, quite a few cities in California will have you install fire sprinklers if you open 50 percent or more of your walls, so some homeowners just tape and paint over them," Glessner says.

Depending on a homeowner's decorative preference, they can either replace walls that have missing or painted panels with new wood, or add Sheetrock and consider installing wood on the floors to regain some of the lost natural design aesthetic. Sometimes, even a single wall of wood will offer just the right amount of warmth and interest to a space.

"This really depends on the clients' aesthetics and overall condition of the home," Glessner says. "It also depends on whether we are trying to keep the original design or do a modern version of it."

If you have a wall or two of original paneling, restoring or replacing those accent panels with new ones, if matching is possible, are ways of bringing back some of the original look. "But the purists try to refinish or replace their original paneling, depending on how it looks," Glessner adds.