Anne Sullivan wants to give the family room in her D. C. home a fresh look. The carpeting is new, but she'd like everything else to go...

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Anne Sullivan wants to give the family room in her D.C. home a fresh look. The carpeting is new, but she’d like everything else to go, including the wallpaper. The problem: The paper conceals wood paneling she doesn’t like. Should she repaper or paint? Rebecca Hubler of Designed Interiors in Annandale, Va., offers a solution.

Calm the walls. Even though it means stripping off all that wallpaper, paint will give the room a more finished, cohesive look. The busy overall wallpaper patterns and contrasting border at chair-rail height visually divide the room and call attention to its elongated, narrow shape.

A paint scheme using monochromatic tones will help make the room appear larger — a neutral canvas to showcase the outside view, the collage of family photos, the furnishings and television.

After the wallpaper is removed, a thick liner should be used to cover the paneling and provide a smooth surface for painting; ask your local paint store.

For colors, Hubler suggests a trio of soft tans to play off the new carpet: Sherwin-Williams’ Netsuke in a flat finish for the walls, Muslin for the trim and Pearl Onion for the ceiling. These colors will work well with the adjacent sage dining room.

If wallpaper is preferred over paint, Hubler recommends avoiding busy patterns and using a textured paper, such as a tweed, linen or boucle. Textured paper will add visual interest without taking away from the rest of the room.

Place furniture diagonally to make the room look wider and more open. The seating arrangement shown here eliminates the room’s boxy look and is conducive to conversation and watching TV. Furniture in a neutral, monochromatic color scheme will make the room appear larger. The Pottery Barn Basic sectional upholstered in Oat Everyday Suede would work well.

For more storage and display, place the Tanner half-round console table ($699) from Pottery Barn to the side of the sectional, and two File Storage Ottomans from Ballard Designs in front (, $299 each). Cover the ottomans in Ballard’s Natural Dot custom fabric (three yards needed for each ottoman: $75).

Place a couple of table lamps around the room.

And if privacy is not an issue, consider installing exterior landscape lighting to offer beautiful views of nature through the windows at night.

Side drapery panels that remain open will frame the windows while maximizing the view and natural daylight.

Red and ocher accessories will add visual energy against the neutral backdrop. Use these colors around the room on artwork, pillows, fabrics and lamp bases.