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Guest post: How to Paint Your Own Walls Without Being Frightened of Them, by Lenore Mizrachi

Here's another fabulous guest post about frugal home improvement by artist and do-it-yourselfer, Lenore Mizrachi:

You might wonder at the strange title I've chosen for this article.  Let me explain; I've come across many people who are afraid of a little paint. Whether it's for fine arts or a craft project, many are so frightened of "making a mistake" or "messing it up" that they never pick up the brush and try. What they don't realize is- it's just paint! If you make a mistake, so what? Wait for it to dry, and paint something else right over. New paint will completely obscure any older color, so really, unless you give up, there's no way to end up with a color mistake.
That said, painting one's walls is probably the most frightening job of all. Another piece of advice from me: don't be afraid of color, either. A statement wall in a bright shade of your favorite hue goes a long way toward making a room cheerful, stylish and fun. Like the master of color, Jonathan Adler, once said, "Nobody looks back with fond memories of their beige couch." You'd be surprised what injecting a little color can do for your living space. It's also easier and cheaper to do than you think, provided you're willing to get your hands dirty. Painting my own apartment saved me $4,000. 
Have I helped assuage some of your fears? Read on for tips on how to paint your own walls, complete with pictures of how I did it for my entire new apartment. Not quite cured of your paint phobia? Read on anyway; my apartment is pretty.
  1. Choosing color - There are several things to keep in mind here. I'm a big advocate of splashy statement colors, but they need to be tempered down and balanced within the room or all you'll end up with is a migraine. Try making the colored wall a small one, or one that's obscured partly by furniture and broken up with window space. It's easier on the eyes. In my case, I chose a light gray color to cover most of my walls that contrasts nicely with both the bright blue and deep purple I chose for the others.
  2.  Confirming color - Don't get all excited looking at your Benjamin Moore swatches in the store and come home with twelve gallons of paint. Bring those swatches home and look at them together in the room they'll be painted in first. This is important because the lighting is different in your home than in the store, and light affects color in a big way. The deep red in Home Depot could end up looking brown in your living room, which would be a disappointing waste of effort. This is an especially important step if you've already got carpeting and furniture in the room because---guess what? The colors near a color affect it too. A bright color in dark surroundings will look even more vivid, and duller if it's surrounded by other brights. You want to make sure every element  of the room jives nicely together before you start.
  3. Getting started - Most walls already have paint on them, so you won't need a primer. If you're working with a fresh wall and you want to save time, you can buy paint with the primer mixed in. In any case, you'll first want to move furniture out of the way and dropcloth the floor. Use a plastic dropcloth rather than fabric, as paint can seep through fabrics and stain your floors. You'll also need to tape off sections that you don't want painted, such as the window moldings or doorknobs. I also recommend laying out a double-thick layer of tape around the ceiling. Your roller will hit it later. This is the one step where you don't want to get lazy. If you don't dropcloth the entire floor of your house, make sure to check the bottom of your shoes before stepping off the drop cloth area. Otherwise you'll get tracks all over the place.
  4. Painting - keep a screwdriver on hand to help open those stubborn paint cans and always hammer them tightly closed when you're done to avoid spills. ALWAYS buy more paint than you think you'll need. Remember, you'll be coating the walls multiple times and it's a lot less annoying to go return extra paint at the end of a job than to stop in the middle of painting to go get more. Have several rollers on hand for different colors (it's nice not to stop, wash the roller and wait for it to dry in between colors) as well as some small sponges to coat the areas a roller won't reach, like corners. Pour your paint into the pan and just get started- once you start painting you'll have more confidence to finish. Don't worry about making coats even; you need only step back and view the wall as a whole in order to immediately identify where more paint should be added. Furthermore, don't be worried if the paint in the can doesn't EXACTLY match your swatches, or if you notice a difference in color when you come back to an area to add more paint. Acrylic based paints actually darken in color once they're dry; just keep going an be assured that everything will match when it's dry.
  5. Cleanup - Make sure to squeeze all the paint out of your roller before attempting to wash it; you'd be surprised at how much it's holding in there, like a sponge. If you're absolutely done painting, remove all the tape quickly since once the paint dries this will be much harder to do. Save all of your paint cans, even if there's just a bit left, in case something should happen to the wall later on and you need a quick touch-up. At  the very least, save the names of the colors you chose so you can re-buy them later on need be. 

It really is that simple- if you feel you've made a mistake, just wait for it to dry and try a different color. Otherwise, enjoy your new room!

You can see previous  posts by Lenore here and here. To view Lenore's artwork, please visit her new website at LenoreCohen.com and be sure to follow her on twitter at Twitter.com/thatartistgirl for the latest updates on new work and shows.

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