Knotty Pine and Tea, Childhood Memories

I’m in a nostaligic mood and ask your forgiveness for my need to share memories today.  Decades ago, I was born in Mobile, Alabama.  We moved to Tennessee before my 6th birthday so most of my memories in Mobile are from my toddler to pre-school years.  I’m retired so we’re talking about flashes of life back around 1950 or so. I actually remember sitting in the kitchen sink while my mother bathed me. I remember Saturday mornings sitting at the table and listening to the radio while my mother made waffles.  I remember my mother buying our first TV (without telling my dad) and standing in front of it watching my first cartoon.  Yes, I have lots of vague memories from a world that no longer exists.


Me in Mobile front yard dressed for church about 70 years ago – faded with age


No matter when you were born, you have childhood memories. I’m praying you all have good memories.  One sweet memory I have is visiting Mrs. Gillam.  She was an elderly lady who owned the house behind ours and lived in the mother-in-law apartment on the side of it. My friend Carol lived with her family in the rest of the house.  My dad had built little wooden steps over the low wire fence so Carol and I could go from one yard to another to play.




Cinnamon Toast



One morning I was playing in the backyard in the dewy early hours while my mother did dishes. Of course, I was told to never leave the yard.  Then Mrs. Gillam with her solid white hair came to the fence calling me.  Despite the rule, I came to her over the fence. It was Mrs. Gillam; I instinctively knew she was safe and sweet.  She was even older than my grandmother; I am now guessing she was in her late 80’s. Thinking back I know she was just happy to have a little child to talk to and didn’t think about frightening my mother. She took me in her little tiny home with knotty pine walls and served me hot tea and cinnamon toast. I loved the cinnamon toast and tea. She told me stories of her late husband, and I was snug and content until I heard my mother’s voice. Oh, no! I did it again!  Mama was angry and I went home.  Today I am 73 years old and I still remember sitting with Mrs. Gillam and listening to her stories.



Photo by Judy Cook Interiors, LLC


Knotty Pine


I know it is old-fashioned but I love knotty pine paneling.  I see a room with knotty pine paneling and I feel comfy and cozy.  You probably have something from childhood you love even when it’s not in vogue. In 1989 I bought a 1940’s house with a knotty pine basement. The basement was one of the things I loved about the house.  Did you know shiplap is knotty pine painted white?   Back in 2018, Pure Wow had a great article on 3 gorgeous home trends from the 1950’s that were going to make a comeback:


Breeze Blocks


Breeze blocks provide a screen and privacy. I’ve always liked them and they should be considered a classic.



breezeblocks 728

Photo, Pure Wow


Sunken Living Rooms


I was never a big fan of this old design trend and will not embrace it if buying a new home.  When it goes out of style no one wants to buy your home!  Think about it.



modern sunken living room

Photo, Pure Wow



Knotty Pine


Yup, knotty pine is scheduled to make a comeback.  I’m sure it will be in a new interpretation to make it 21st Century. Below the panels run horizontal not vertical like the 1950’s.  I love the look!



knotty pine shiplap

Photo, Pure Wow



If you have a home with a large feature like vintage paneling, you can pay to remove it and replace the walls with drywall.



decorating wood paneling

Photo, The Decorologist



Instead of tearing it out – paint it white or whitewash it.



White washed wood walls

Photo, House Beautiful




Be bold and go black on paneling!  Painting panels black even in a small room opens it up.




Bathroom, Room, Property, Interior design, Tile, Blue, Floor, Architecture, Building, House,

Photo, House Beautiful



If you cannot afford to paint knotty pine, traditionally the best finish for light fixtures and hardware is black or wrought iron. That’s why you will typically find black strap hinges on the cabinets of original knotty pine kitchens.  Because knotty pine is so inherently busy, it’s important to keep other things in the space simple and clean. Clutter becomes visual chaos very quickly. Knotty pine rooms often require ruthless editing. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Then you can let the knotty pine shine. White and bright lights work below. Instead of the black, the room has lots of white on the windows, lights, etc.



Photo by Judy Cook Interiors, LLC 




Life is change


Just like home design, life is really about change you know.  Life comes in stages and cycles and each generation brings its ideas.  Some things like knotty pine are straight from my early childhood.  I have some things I treasure and will keep my whole life.  I occasionally add a new treasure to my basic core group.  Other items are more trendy additions and are changed more frequently. We can take an object and add a meaning to it. It then becomes more a symbol of something bigger: love, family, faith, friends.




Paint Colors that Go with Knotty Pine - Navy and Greens in the Kitchen - Rain on a Tin Roof

Photo, Rain on a Tin Roof




Give yourself permission to cherish your memories but always keep your heart open for life today.  Thanks for the visit!  Wishing you many more happy memories!













I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

7 thoughts to “Knotty Pine and Tea, Childhood Memories”

    1. thanks Martha – I don’t write this kind of post often but I’ve been thinking about childhood memories a lot lately

  1. Memories are fun to share — absolutely no need to apologize, they help us get to know each other. I remember interacting with elderly neighbors too. And now that I “am* an 80-year old lady, maybe I should look for a youong neighbor to tempt with tea and cookies — only sadly that is impossible these days for so many reasons. Another example of how times change. (You definitely do have the right idea though — a combination of remembering and looking forward and accepting change )…. I don’t remember exactly when it was popular but the decorating trend I loved and (unsuccessfully) wished we could use was paneling or accents using old barn wood . I don’t think that will ever come back — and I wouldn’t be tempted even if it did — just another bygone fantasy!!

    1. there are shows on HGTV where the builders love to add vintage wood to homes – I love the look too – old barn wood is very very expensive

  2. I love hearing your memories, Carol! And that photo is a gem. I’m with you all the way on knotty pine. I live with knotty pine all summer in the cottage (every room except the bathroom!) and probably the main reason I bought my house was the knotty pine family room by the kitchen — it reminds me of the cottage all winter long.

    1. I think I’d live in the family room in the winter to feel comfy and cozy. You are a kindred spirit my friend!

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