makeover in a month | installing paneling in the office

by | Aug 6, 2020 | All Things Home, Decorating, My House, Office, Room Makeovers | 26 comments

If you follow me on Instagram, you know we were installing paneling in my office last week!  In case you haven’t caught on, we’re making a big push on home projects this summer.  There are a few things that have led to this project push – my shoulder is finally project-ready (it’s been doing so well), we’ve saved up for some of these bigger projects and finally pulled the trigger, my parents were able to visit for the first time in almost a year and they are here to help with the DIY stuff, and the main thing is that I have a one huge project coming up that all of these projects tie in to!  All of this to say, there is a method to the madness.  It’s not just that I have a bee in my bonnet!

So, when Leslie of My 100-Year-Old Home pitched the idea of working on room makeovers together, I told her I wouldn’t have trouble coming up with content to share!  I am working on several rooms right now, but decided I would share my home office for our Makeover in a Month series.  We’ve also been joined by the lovely and talented Melissa of The Inspired Room and KariAnne of Thistlewood Farms.

I recently did a small refresh in my office when I reclaimed it from Jeff.  He had been using it as his office when we were under Stay at Home orders in Minnesota.  That snowballed into ideas of customizing the space even further.  Initially, I thought about installing picture frame molding as I have in other rooms, but I spotted this MDF paneling when I was in Menards a couple of weeks ago and I immediately loved it.  Installing paneling in a home office just works.  It’s a nod to the days when offices and dens were clad in wood paneling and lined with built-in bookcases.  This is just a simpler, much less expensive version.

THIS is the specific paneling I purchased.  It’s called Honey Pine 164 by DPI (Decorative Panels International.)   At $20 for a 4×8 sheet, it cost only $160 to clad the entire office.  (Plus I can get an 11% mail-in rebate from Menards.)  I felt like that was a pretty good bang for the decorating buck!  Since our ceilings are 9′, I opted for a 2/3 height on the paneling, so it hits at about 78″ when it’s installed on top of the baseboard.

installing mdf paneling miss mustard seed

An advantage of working with MDF paneling is that it’s thin, easy to cut, and can be installed against most existing trim.  If you’re installing paneling that’s made of solid wood (and thicker), the baseboards should be removed and reinstalled over the paneling.  The downside is that mdf paneling is basically a step above cardboard, so you have to be gentle while working with it.  It’s also similar to painting laminate, which means the paint has nothing to grab or soak into.  It just sits on top, so you have to watch for drips like a hawk (and I still ended up with drips even after double and triple-checking.)  It also means it requires several coats of a good primer and paint.  I ended up applying two coats of an adhesion primer for slick surfaces and two coats of Benjamin Moore Advanced trim paint in satin.

installing mdf paneling miss mustard seed

The first couple of coats look terrible, but it will get there eventually!

installing mdf paneling miss mustard seed

I cut the trim at the top so that I could still hang my inspiration board.  I’ll keep the extra trim in case I ever want to complete that section.

installing mdf paneling miss mustard seed

About halfway through this project, I started to second-guess myself.  I wasn’t questioning the decision to put up the paneling, but the decision to paint it white.  I had considered painting it a color…perhaps a blue or a soft green.  I actually loved the idea of painting the paneling, trim, and everything one color, I envisioned a moody smokey blue, but I have these awesome white plantation shutters and spent so much time already painting the trim white that it just seemed like white was the best option.

So, I sat in the room with my paneling half-done, contemplating my choices and putting all sorts of pressure on myself to get it right and get it done.

installing mdf paneling miss mustard seed

I took my own advice and walked away.  My mom and I picked up some paint samples along with more primer and trim paint.  We also stopped by one of my favorite local consignment shops and scored a dresser that’s been on my shopping list for a while.  I painted out the paint samples when I got home and held them up to the paneling.  Nope.  I liked the white.  My curiosity was satisfied and the doubt was dealt with.

In the end, I decided to keep heading in the direction I started.  I finished installing the paneling and I painted it white.  I also ordered this beautiful Galerie paper that was in the running for the 1/2 bathroom to use above the paneling.  (You can see a sample of it tucked between the bookcase and the window frame.)  It’ll fill in the space above the windows nicely and be a nice finishing touch to the room.

installing mdf paneling miss mustard seed

With the paneling done, slipcovering this desk chair and hanging the wallpaper are next…


  1. Cheri Dietzman

    It’s coming along — and beautifully at that! It was a dreamy office before, now it is over the top dreamy!

    • Katie Hager

      I love it, especially the wallpaper. You always get the best looking paper!!!

  2. Mika

    I love your office and a lot of work ! What is the name of wall color? I love to use it too. Thank you.

  3. amy Joanne Mogish

    beautiful work space. Love watching all the DIY projects going on!

  4. Babs

    Phew, girl, you are on a tear! Loving all your projects and how they are turning out. Think how beautiful your home will be when it’s completed. Will you be content or will you start thinking of redoing some rooms or projects?

    • Marian Parsons

      I think that’s a good question! Based on my experience with my last house, I felt like I got to the point where it was done. I made little tweaks here and there, but we had tackled all of the big projects on our wish list and were happy with it. I think it’ll be the same with this house.

      All of these projects are ones we’ve had planned for a long time and aren’t redoing spaces that were already done, but we’re working untouched rooms (like the sewing room and master bathroom) and adding new layers to rooms we’ve already done some work on (the office, living room, 1/2 bathroom, etc.)

  5. beverlee b lyons

    I just want to know what’s next!

  6. MaryLisa

    I follow all their blogs and you have great team members. It really is moving along! So glad you are stick g with the white. It will let the wallpaper trim shine!

  7. Julie

    I’m curious if you like paneling better than the board and batton. I was thinking of doing b&b in my entryway. Thanks for the info on the paneling. That maybe another option.

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      I have done both and I like both! I think it depends on the desired look and what kind of trim is in the current space. In our last house, the baseboards and trim were simple 1 x 6 and 1 x 4 pine boards, so board and batten made sense. In our new house, the trim has more details, so the paneling and picture frame molding was a better fit.

  8. Cindy Coghill

    Your rooms always turn out so beautiful Marian. Even when I not sure I like what you picked, it always looks so nice and perfectly put together. You really have a good eye and touch for decorating!

  9. Shirley Graham

    Really like the paneling & love the wallpaper. Also love the bookcase!

  10. Lynn

    Wow! It is just gorgeous. Congrats on the progress on all the projects! Where did the baskets come from that are on the top of the bookcase in the last picture?

  11. Sherry

    What is with all the ads?? Is it my phone or just how the site will be now? Sorry, it just gets super annoying when I’m trying to read through your post.
    Still like seeing the end results of your projects though. 😁

  12. Lana Waller

    Did you change out the office chair? I was reading your post about your desk in the office and you had a new chair with a tufted back. I was considering the same chair, but see you are recovering a different chair. Did the other chair not work out or not comfortable?

    • Marian Parsons

      The cream one with the tufted back is in my studio (I was working out of there primarily when Jeff was home and using my office) and I got a new desk chair for my office. It is gray with arms and a tufted back. I’ve now slipcovered both of them.

  13. Katie

    What about the boys rooms are they going to get some decorating treatments?? Not much is mentioned about their bedrooms….

  14. Miss Mustard Seed

    Yep, their rooms are being painted later this month. I don’t share a lot about their rooms because neither of them is really into decorating or having mom decorate! I’ve told them they can be my client and I will work with them to make an awesome room they love, but neither is really into it. In my youngest son’s room, we did get him a new headboard and a mid-century dresser from craigslist, both which he picked out. I let them pick their wall color (they both picked a dark blue.) So, we’re making some progress!

    And, we are building them a climbing wall in the basement!

  15. JC

    Love this and the varied widths of the paneling! It really adds so much to your already great space!

  16. Jj

    I am curious as to why you didn’t have the paneling even with the top of the windows ?

    • Karen

      Love it! Paneling is the perfect heighth. Adds dimension and interest. Wallpaper is gonna make it ‘wow’.. You have such great ideas. I was skeptical about the paneling being white.. But I did not see the vision. It’s lovely…

  17. Roberta

    I love this look! I have it in the dining area of my little beach cottage! It’s original knotty pine but of course I painted it white and have a narrow shelf for my beach bottle collection! Adds detail and interest to your office!!

  18. Debbie V.

    I was skeptic about the wallpaper but after seeing it hung, I love it!!!

  19. Judy Miller

    Love it all!!! The wallpaper looks almost like a stencil but I’d rather deal with wallpaper! You do beautiful work no matter what it is. The paneling looks awesome.

  20. Rita

    We removed a builtin gas fireplace in our bedroom. Rather than having someone come in to replace all the drywall on the one wall, we used paneling very similar to that also from Home Depot. It was a cheaper fix and added interest. I recommend it.

  21. Donna Marie

    You are so lucky to have your mom help you. More hands make it easier!!! Especially 4 coats of paint. Lol


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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