All the dark wood paneling is bright shiny white now. Looks a WHOLE lot lighter and more inviting than before. We also undid the lower shelf and put it up higher. It was pretty low to be functional. Ignore the warping in the boards. The "handyman" who lived in this house before us made them himself and like everything else he did, they're a little cockeyed. I'd rather use them then have to dispose of and replace them, so we'll live with the slight warp.
Next steps: Clear out things to be thrown out, move stuff around, and paint the blank wallboard walls. Also get my hands on some white wainscot to go on the walls.