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Don't Move - Paint!

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With remodeling costs on the rise, homeowners have another option to perk up their surroundings. Several coats of paint can make a room or house look fresher and more appealing. In fact, most designers and architects say paint is still the least expensive way to give a house a new, improved look without remodeling.

But before you grab your paint rollers or drop cloths, know that you have numerous decisions to make. Some are the same you’ve always had to consider: what color and whether to make walls, moldings and ceiling the same hue; whether to select latex (water) or oil-based paint; how much gloss to use – flat, eggshell, semi-gloss or high-gloss.

Whatever you decide, always try out a color on a wall or ceiling first since it varies from what’s in a can to how it looks in a room – and at different times of the day, advises New York designer Robin Baron. These days, many manufacturers offer online tools to help you envision your newly painted rooms without actually painting.

In addition, if hiring a painting contractor, be sure to get several bids, check workmanship in person, ask about prep work and priming, how many coats they’ll apply and what type of paint they’ll use, says Frank Fontana, host of HGTV’s “Design on a Dime.”

Due to environmental and house-selling concerns, homeowners also are now wise to factor in additional decisions, such as whether to use green materials, since more manufacturers are bringing out quality eco-lines and whether to heed many salespeople’s advice to make rooms neutral when selling rather than have a highly personalized palette. Here are more tips from paint pros – all can be quickly changed again, with paint:

Think Green

Within a few years, many designers expect all paints to be green, but in the meantime a number of manufactures have debuted low- or no-VOC paints. These don’t contain volatile organic compounds that adversely affect air quality, says Los Angeles designer Lisa LaPorta, host of HGTV’s “Designed to Sell.” In addition to more manufacturers debuting eco-paint lines, they’re offering a wider spectrum of color. And for those who resist the category because of the fear of higher costs, LaPorta advises thinking of long-term benefits, which outweigh up-front expenses.

Paint Architectural Details

To save funds, you don’t have to remodel with wood trim. Fontana suggests painting picture frames measuring about 2’ by 2’ below a chair railing and a few feet off the ground. Use a lively palette, he says, such as sage green, chocolate and white. Ceilings – the fifth wall – should also never be ruled out for a special color or paint effect, since they can add drama and visually raise a ceiling’s height of the ceiling, says Baron.

Go Faux, But Do It Gently

To add more visual interest, designers like Fontana still recommend faux finishes, which became very popular in the 1970s, but he suggests subtlety. “Dilute the color with glaze and water, and don’t use a faux finish in every room. Be selective,” he says. LaPorta agrees, having seen many “badly painted faux walls,” she says. “Some try to make you think you’re in the middle of Tuscany 500 years ago, but they overdo it. You want faux painting to add some texture, depth and color, but be tasteful.” Current popular finishes include simulated pebbles, suede, chalkboards. The key is to have sufficient light to reflect whatever you’re trying to imitate, says Joel Robare, an interior architect and principal with JR Studio, with locations in San Francisco and New York. One exception is paint that resembles glow-in-the-dark materials and needs a dark environment.

Add Shimmer

Hot in fashion, metallic colors have become chic in home design, too, but Fontana suggests using them judiciously – in an entry, on a dining room ceiling, in a powder room – and again being sure they’re sufficiently illuminated to reflect the shimmer. Fontana also recommends using a flat coat of the same color for a base so the top metallic coat shows off better. Using metallics sparingly will also help your decorating budget since these paints often run on the pricier side, LaPorta says. 

Be Daring with Your Paint Palette

Many homeowners remain intimidated about using anything bolder than white or beige in general and in particular when selling, since those colors are thought to attract the largest buyer pool. But the mantra of many paint experts is to point out advantages of bolder hues. “Colorful paint can add drama, help alter an occupant’s mood and make furniture and other surfaces pop,” says Fontana, who likes to use black, often with a crisp white contrast. Robare agrees and thinks that even when selling at least one room should offer some color personality. “A house should be a fun place to live and not just a commodity,” he says. Angelo Surmelis, a Los Angeles-based designer, also concurs and says that color can help buyers differentiate one house form another. LaPorta takes a middle-of-the-road stance and thinks that homeowners should opt for neutrals with oomph when selling. “I’m not for white or beige, which may not create interest, but there are warm beiges, golden tans and deep tans that still are neutral yet add warmth,” she says. “And they’re gender-friendly.”

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