By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon

Lisa spent a recent Christmas holiday up to her ears in paint. She had a few days off work, and she decided to use it for a little home improvement. Truly there is no better winter home renovation project than a few cans of paint.

Lisa was looking to spruce up her kitchen. She had chosen a nice cheery orange combination, picked from the suggestion cards at her local home improvement store. She bought the paint and the supplies, donned her best grubby clothes and got painting.

To her horror, the orange combination was awful — really, really awful. The colors did not complement each other, and they made her oak cabinets look sickly yellow. It was a paint catastrophe of major proportions.

But the beauty of paint is that it’s completely fixable. She marched back to the home improvement store, bought gallons of primer and gallons of a much more neutral color. She spent the second half of her holiday replacing the orange explosion with a lovely mellow taupe that looked fantastic with her cabinets and floor. The catastrophe was averted, and she ended up with a successful home renovation project.

DNEWS renovation solutions

Paint is one of the quickest ways to freshen your home. From bright colors to cozy neutrals, paint can change the mood of a room. Choose a color combination that works for the room and for you.

Paint is great that way. It can make a huge difference in a space; it is relatively inexpensive (even if you have to buy it twice); it can be completely do-it-yourself; and it isn’t a commitment you have to live with for decades (or even hours) to come.

Half of all homeowners repaint soon after moving into a new home. Even after you have lived in a home for years, putting a new coat of paint on the walls leaves a fresh feeling and an updated look.

When it comes to painting your home, you have several options. One of the first options is color. It is important to get the right color for your home and for you. A balance must be struck between colors you love and the other colors in the room. To choose the right paint color, consider your carpet or flooring, your cabinets and other walls that may be in the same line of sight.

You can start with paint chips available at most home improvement stores. They are usually free, so collect a wide range of samples to take home and study. You can also match paint to something else you may have, like fabric, paintings, photographs or even stone or soil. Most stores have spectrometers that bounce light off an object and interpret the colors. This enables them to make color matches accurately and quickly.

Once you’ve narrowed down your color choices, we highly recommend getting a small amount of the paint and trying it out — something that would have saved Lisa time and money! Some companies sell sample sizes (about 4 ounces), or you can buy a quart of paint. Paint a section of your wall to see how the color looks in its true setting. Be sure to let it dry completely because paint is darker when it dries. And consider the lighting of the room throughout the day. The light will vary, and therefore so will the paint color.

Color is, of course, just the beginning. Next week we will look at the types of paints available, your choices of sheen, and some specialty options. But in the meantime, start collecting those swatches for a great winter pick-me-up home project. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

Spruce up home with paint