Bad news: In another "Einstein of the Year" moment, the previous homeowners got the idea to cut gouges out of structural beams in the wall to make room for the crappo entertainment center. Yes, you heard that right. What in the hell were they thinking? Luckily they're minor support beams, and we will reinforce them, but still...that chafes my ass on principle. It's like they never expected that anyone would want to remove their lovely handiwork. Also, I want to track down whoever designed the fireplace and beat them with a rubber hose. The fireplace is on the left half of the wall, but it has a hearth that extends all the way to the right into the adjacent wall. We want to put our TV next to the fireplace, but that will be problematic because the hearth is in the way, and it would probably be expensive to have the superfluous right half removed. So it's either win a free LCD TV or figure out some way to build a platform over the hearth...or build an oddly shaped TV stand or something. Again. What in the hell were they thinking? "Hey! Let's build this monstrosity that isn't required by fire codes, would be a righteous pain in the ass to remove, and makes it impossible to place any furniture on the floor next to the fireplace! Where's that Nobel Prize of Home Decor application, Mabel?"
Random thoughts: I think I like textured faux paint finishes better than wood paneling. Good wood paneling is nifty and all, but I took a look at the faux finishing page on lowes.com and went ZOMG w00t. A mottled taupe/sage wall (perhaps with a bit of metallic sheen) would be interesting in an inobtrusive way, and it would be easy to redo in the future if we redecorated or sold the house. Anyway, here's an example of the texture I like. It helps that the technique looks fun and easy, too.