When I first saw our house-to-be, the "sunroom" was definitely my least favorite, with its low ceilings, wood paneling, orange shag carpet, and poor taxidermied beasts. I knew we could get rid of the carpet and the creatures, but I was stuck hating the walls. And then I spent 4 hours tending to them...
First, I swept them down to remove built-up dust, and then wiped them down with a barely-damp towel for good measure. I then spent the rest of the afternoon wiping each board down with Minwax with one hand and quickly wiping it off with the other. In this way I was able to disguise the countless scratches and gouges, while nourishing the damaged wood. The room that had felt so dark and dingy positively glowed by the time I was done, and my whole relationship to it had changed.
The simple act of caring for the wood bonded us together, the panels and I, and I felt affectionate and protective towards them. Sure, they weren't at all what I would have chosen, but they were mine now. We've replaced the flooring and ceiling fan with affordable alternatives that I love, the deer head and fish are long gone, and the sunroom is now the room I'm most excited about spending time in.
Have you ever made your peace with a formerly-hated feature of your home? How did the change-of-heart come about?
[Note: I do NOT recommend using Minwax on wood panelling, as every type of panelling is completely different. I just kind of dove in and it ended up working well, but please consult experts before wiping anything on precious wood!]