Our house was originally just two big rooms, one upstairs and one down. When it was divided into rooms later they just used paneling, the kind that is one 4 x 8 sheet with grooves. Nothing could look less like real wood. But here's what we doing with it. We're taking the paneling down and sawing it into 6" strips and putting it back up going across the wall, with the back side out, and painting it. It looks just like old board walls that you see in farmhouses.Any nail holes or imperfections just make it look authentic. Here's a picture of the stairwell - you can not tell that it's not old boards.
I just wanted to share this in case there is anyone else out there faced with a lot of ugly paneled walls they'd like to do something with.
We're doing the same in the bedroom. Every year we say we are going to get the house finished by Christmas but so far the living room and bathroom are the only rooms that come close to being finished. But it's a new year so we're trying again. This time for sure. So in January we moved everything out of our bedroom, thinking it would only take about a week, two at the most, to varnish the floor (they've been stripped for about two years now), fix the walls and paint. So we painted the ceiling (painting beadboard is a project), varnished the floors, took the paneling down - and then we both got whatever bug is going around. The mattress is in the living room, the bed and other furniture is scattered around the house and it looks like it will stay that way for a while. I never get sick, why now?