We had to tape everything off and sand the walls, then wipe with a wet cloth first to get any slick varnish off of the walls and make sure the paint would stick. It was a messy, dusty process.
We bought something called "bonding primer" which is special primer for wood paneling or cabinets. It is suppossed to stick the wood surfaces better than regular primer. We painted two coats of primer and two coats of paint. We also painted the ceiling while we were at it because it was dingy (hence why there are garbage bags around the ceiling fan).
One of the hardest parts of this process for me was picking out the right paint color. I knew I wanted a cream/off white/ light taupe which sounds easy until you go to the store and look at hundreds of colors that fall into that category. We probably bought a dozen samples before we picked a color. It's funny how colors tend to change from the way they looked in the store to the way they look on the wall in your home, and then the way they look in daylight vs. at night. It will make you want to pull your hair out, or maybe thats just me. We finally decided on Woodrow Wilson's Putty by Valspar and I still like the color over a year later which is good because I never want to have to repaint our living room again!
Then once the walls and ceiling were painted we decided that the trim needed a makeover as well. We wanted to paint the baseboards and window trim white and stain the top piece of trim darker to better match our ceiling beams. Instead of taping the walls and risking ruining our nice new paint job we thought it would be easier to just take each piece of trim off of the wall and then put it back on. I know, we are crazy, but that's what we did. We carefully took each piece of trim off, painted or stained it and put it back on. We cracked one or two pieces of the baseboard and since we couldn't find the exact matching baseboard at Lowes, we ripped two pieces of baseboard out of our bathroom. Sidenote: Our bathroom is a horrific mess that we will have to do a complete remodel eventually so it really didn't matter. Once the painted trim was back on the room felt much more complete and updated.Here is a picture after we stained the top trim to match the ceiling beams and the rest of the trim has been removed.
And here with all the trim painted and finished.
Then of course once the painting was done it was time to decorate. I took this beautiful oak coffee table that my mother-in-law found at a garage sale and gave to us (thank you!) and painted the legs white and stained the top a dark walnut color. It turned out really nice.
The decore in this room is continually changing, and I still haven't hung much on the walls yet...one day I'll get around to that. But this is what the room looks like now: