5 Cheap Ways to Brighten up a Room

The right color can change your whole world.
The right color can change your whole world.

This is a popular suggestion because it works every time (as long as you pick the right color). As room refreshers go, a new paint job can brighten your walls, cover those dings and scratches, and give you a great opportunity to use color to your best advantage. The right wall paint can coordinate your room d├ęcor and even showcase special elements like a fireplace when you incorporate two or more paint colors in a single room. Taking advantage of color psychology in your choices can also help encourage a mellow, cheerful or energetic mood. You don't have to be a perfectionist to paint well, but it does take some prep:

  • Vacuum the ceiling, walls, baseboards and floors before you begin.
  • Repair cracks, nail holes, dings and dents. Usually you can do this in a couple of hours with a tub of spackle, a putty knife and a couple of sheets of sandpaper.
  • Use painter's tape (the blue stuff) to tape off windows, doors, built-ins and any fixtures you can't remove.
  • Cover your furnishings and flooring with tarps (old sheets work, too).
  • Provide good ventilation, either by opening the windows or using a fan to vent paint fumes from a windowless room.
  • If you're applying paint to a spot that hasn't been painted before, use a primer first or purchase a paint-and-primer-in-one product.
  • Follow the recommendations on the paint can. If the manufacturer suggests painting in three-foot sections with up and down strokes, do it. It's important.
  • Leave plenty of time between coats -- overnight may seem like overkill, but it will give you the best results.