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PANELING IS A SIMPLE PROJECT WITH BIG RETURNS

SHARE PANELING IS A SIMPLE PROJECT WITH BIG RETURNS

Rather than moving, homeowners today often are improving on what they have. They're puttering around, fixing up and undertaking exciting new redecorating projects that go from very simple to astonishingly complex in nature.

What's more, today's families are not only doing it themselves, they're doing it together. It's more fun two-by-two, and the payoff in personal satisfaction (as well as potential resale value) is often highest with projects that are most easily handled as a team.An interior facelift is the project with the most payback at time of resale, according to a recent survey by Practical Homeowner magazine. It's the kind of teamwork project that is easily mastered by the estimated 60 percent of female home-center shoppers who consider themselves do-it-yourselfers alongside their partners. Do-it-yourself makeovers of walls, ceilings and floors netted an astounding average return of 195 percent over the cost of the materials used.

What makes this approach even more enticing is that bare, whitewashed walls are no longer in fashion. Texture and color are in; individualism and style are surfacing on both walls and ceilings.

Because it adds that visual interest, updating a home with prefinished plywood wall paneling is becoming one of the most appealing do-it-yourself projects. Pattern selections include both wallpaper designs and classic woodgrains that are always appealing. Handsome beaded planking effects are ideal for wainscoting treatments, and are perfect mates for the stripes, textured looks and floral decorator panels.

It is relatively easy to achieve a paneled look. Three panels cover an entire wall of 12 running feet for almost instant gratification. Tools needed are usually already available at home. In fact, many new plywood paneling styles can be cut with a utility knife and simply installed with paneling adhesive.

Since the material goes up quickly and easily in full 4-by-8-foot panels, homeowners can complete an average-size room in a weekend and more easily than with wallpaper. The cost of paneling for the room ranges from about $200 to $500, which is equivalent to average wallcovering costs.

The best teamwork begins with agreement on the results that you want. Consequently, it's wise to start with these points suggested by the Plywood Paneling Council before you select the paneling for each room. Make sure everyone agrees on the points from the beginning and that your ideas are tandem.

1. Decide upon the room's temperament. Do you want it to be lively and energizing or tranquil and relaxing?

2. Take the room's temperature. Do you want to warm the room up by using a cozy woodgrain, or make it appear spacious by using light and airy decorator patterns? North-facing rooms often need visual warming; southern exposures can afford to be cooled down.

3. Determine hours of use. Night or day, when will you use the room most, and does that suggest decorating for romantic candlelight or sun-splashed, airy openness?

4. Make lifestyle choices. Casual or correct, what's the style that appeals to you most? Who will use the room most often? Paneling can look like formal Victorian parlor wallpaper, elegant European library rooms, or expansive and rustic outdoors-style woodgrains and barnboards.

5. Coordinate with furniture. Select colors that flatter the furniture you plan to use. Keep walls subdued if you plan to use forceful window treatments, upholstery or floorcovering. Woodgrains are nature's harmonizers; they work well with almost any patterns and colors.

6. Check the big picture. You rarely stand closer than three to four feet from a wall, so back up that distance to view your paneling selection.

7. Consider maintenance. Paneling is one of the real bargains when it comes to upkeep. Wiping with a damp cloth for wallpaper or an occasional furniture polish treatment for wood veneers is all that's needed to keep paneling looking fresh.

For more decorating ideas, visit your local building supply, home center or lumber outlet, or send a self-addressed, stamped #10 envelope for the booklet "New Wall Styles" Dept. FF, Plywood Paneling Council, 1633 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.