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Interior painting: How to pick color and finish

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In the spring, many a homeowner's fancy turns to thoughts of fresh paint, because what else renews a room as quickly? That doesn't mean interior painting is a breeze. There are defined steps to a quality job, and they start with picking the right color and paint finish.

To avoid becoming overwhelmed by the thousands of color options, follow advice that highly rated decorators and painters gave our team and start by considering the mood you want to create. For example, bold, bright colors work well in high-activity rooms, such as a kitchen, while softer colors are best for rooms where you relax, such as a bedroom.

For a cozy mood, such as for a family room, choose deep colors. For an airy, open mood, select lighter colors. In a dining room, achieve a formal mood with warm neutrals, deep tones and dark shades. For a spirited feel in a playroom, combine bright, high-energy colors.

The next step is to match the paint finish to the room's purpose. Here are expert guidelines:

Flat: Often used by painting pros because it doesn't reflect light and hides imperfections well. However, it doesn't wash easily; cleaning reduces paint saturation.

Eggshell: Features an understated shine and is somewhat easier to clean than flat, while hiding imperfections less well.

Satin: Has a medium gloss and smooth finish that can work well in bathrooms and kitchens. Won't hide imperfections but is washable and withstands humidity.

Semi-gloss and high-gloss: Good for kitchens, bathrooms, high-traffic areas, baseboards and other trim because they can handle high humidity and frequent washing. Won't hide wall imperfections.

To get an idea of what painting will cost, consider that an average bedroom will require two or three gallons of paint, which can cost $30 or more each. A full set of materials - including paint, brushes and wall-prep materials - can cost around $200.

— Angie Hicks via MCT Information Services

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