Our Faux-Lap Feature Wall

HGTV’s Fixer Upper premiered about the same time we moved out to Hawaii, and we’ve been fans ever since. Not just of the designs, but of Chip and Jo’s ability to see beyond bad paint, cheap paneling, and even awkward structure into what a house could really be – and their ability to get there reusing lots of the old house!

It’s a relief to see people recycling pieces and not just ripping everything out and putting in new. With Fixer Upper, you know that if they’re putting in new counters and cabinets, it’s because the old ones can’t be used.

Okay, so we also really like the designs. Bring on the shiplap!

But here, that’s a tricky thing to do. When you pull apart old houses in Hawaii, you’re not going to find a lot of shiplap. You’re going to find a lot of wood paneling, and that’s not real shiplap. But the good news is, a lot of the shiplap on Fixer Upper isn’t real shiplap either – it’s wood paneling made to have the same look. And you can find plenty of faux-lap around.

We found plenty, but a lot of it was expensive and didn’t have the aged look we were looking for. Then, in a stroke of luck, we found out the Villages was set to get a whole new fence along the jogging path behind us. We talked to the contractors and asked what they were going to do with the old fence. Toss it? Fine. Toss it in our yard, because we want it. Too easy.

I don’t have a really good “Before” picture of the wall, but this is pretty close, as we took down the TV and sound bar to get started on our soon-to-be feature wall.

There’s a lot of prep work that went into the wood that you don’t see here. We scrubbed each and every board with bleach to get rid of all the outer weathering, lichen, and God knows what else growing on them. Since they were coming in the house, we wanted them clean. But once they were clean, once we’d removed all the dirt and grime, they revealed the most beautiful blend of warm redwood and weathered silvering.

We started from the top with a single board, notched to fit the odd cutout space we have by the stairs, and started working down. We did think about closing that gap, but we figured it would make the living room too dark. We get a lot of light from that stair window.

The stair angled cuts were the easy ones. The hard part was working around the holes for hiding the TV cables Scott made.

Thankfully, he’s a handy kind of guy and we’ve stocked up well enough on the tools needed to get those cuts right, so we got it done!

It turned out beautifully!

We opted to not reinstall the white baseboard at the bottom, but instead, made a pseudo-baseboard out of another piece of the old fence wood to act as a baseboard. We almost didn’t use one at all, but we figured we would have to cover the expansion gap between floor and wall when we finally installed the bamboo flooring downstairs.

Everybody – including the cats, enjoys the finished product!

Speaking of the cats, we had one more little project to complete as far as they were concerned, and that was our spot to hide their litter box.

The Aloha House is too small for us to sacrifice space for a litter box out in the open, so we got creative. There’s a lot of storage space underneath the stairs that wasn’t being used and wasn’t really accessible before. It only made sense to cut off some of that space from the storage closet under the stairs and cut in an access hatch on the other side.

Scott made a hidden door using MDF and fence wood that closes with a magnet cabinet latch. In that door, he cut a small entrance door for the cats, and trimmed it in cedar for some extra odor protection! We also have an air freshener in there and use non-dusty cat litter just to ensure nothing makes its way out of there into the living space!

When it’s closed, you don’t even notice it’s there.

We’re proud of this project, and we’re really proud of how the whole wall came out.

We were a little concerned at the start that using this much wood on the walls, along with the wood floors, wood entertainment center, and so forth would be way too much wood. But looking at it now, we think it plays really well together!

We loved the look so much that we went on and included more of our faux-lap fence wood in the back of the room, where we turned an empty wall into the closest thing to a hall closet we could make.

In this shot, you can see how it goes with the bamboo flooring we put in.

What do you guys think? Are you fans of shiplap? Or faux-lap, as it might be?


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