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Let home decor reflect your true colors

Cornflower. Periwinkle. Azure. Cobalt. Sapphire Swirl? • If you're feeling blue about selecting a paint color, you're not alone. Anyone who has stared down a 6-foot-long wall of paint chips knows the feeling. • It's "decision paralysis," experts say, whose sufferers just leave things as they are because choosing something different is overwhelming. But you'll have to paint that bedroom eventually. • And what about sofa fabric? There's that encyclopedic sample book. Wood flooring, tile, linoleum and carpet present hundreds more options. What about window treatments, with a dozen versions of blinds alone? • Here are some expert tips to make decor decisions a bit easier.

Kim Cook, Associated Press

>> Look at yourself

Seattle author and interior designer Nikki Willhite advises paying attention to what you're drawn to in interior design and home decor magazines, other people's homes, TV programs. Think about the colors in your wardrobe, too — chances are those colors and styles will translate into rooms you'll love. If your closet is full of simple tones and clean lines, then neutral hues and tailored furnishings will appeal. If the drawers brim with pattern, let your home echo that exuberance.

. Test-drive it

Debra Kling, a color consultant in Larchmont, N.Y., recommends testing a large paint swath on all four walls.

"Observe the room over several days. You should especially like the color at the time of day, with the customary lighting, when you most often use the room," she says.

The quality of light, the room's orientation and the surrounding colors all have an effect on a paint shade.

As for furniture, some retailers will let you try a piece at home before committing.

Bring home samples of window treatments, wall and floor finishes, even cabinet doors. Live with them for a few days, moving them around to different vantage points.

>> Size it up

Take a tape measure to the store, make sure the piece will fit your space, and sit or sprawl on it as you would at home. Hop on that mattress and lie on it as you would if you were sleeping. Ignore the looks.

A tightly upholstered leather sectional might always look tidy, but nobody's going to enjoy sitting on it if it isn't comfy.

Nikki Willhite also recommends versatile pieces of furniture. "The more flexible the piece, the easier it is to place, and relocate," she says.

>> Get a second or third opinion

Always admired your neighbor's decorating style? For the price of coffee and dessert, design-savvy friends are usually happy to offer ideas.

But don't go overboard. "Too much advice leads to just as much confusion as too little," says Alina Tugend, author of Better by Mistake (Riverhead, 2011).

If you're more comfortable putting yourself in the hands of a pro, ask around for recommendations.

On Facebook, Benjamin Moore has launched an "Experts Exchange," where you can talk to a designer or color pro before you choose your paint.

Benjamin Moore, Behr, Pittsburgh and Sherwin-Williams among others offer online programs where you can overlay paint shades on different room styles.

Magazines such as House Beautiful and Better Homes and Gardens offer similar options.

>> Show your personality, and relax

It's your home. There are no design police. As many of TV's home design shows point out, modern home decor doesn't follow a playbook anymore.

"The only way to know something is to do it. And don't worry about making a mistake — you might fall in love with it," author Alina Tugend says.

She mentions a blond wood dining table purchased years ago that she had never been able to find matching chairs for. "I kept thinking our dark chairs looked wrong, but now I really like the combination," she says.

In a neighborhood filled with neutral-hued homes, author-designer Nikki Willhite painted her house yellow. "I was surprised and embarrassed at how bright it came out," she says. But time has toned it down, and, she says, "It's actually very pretty!"

Let home decor reflect your true colors 02/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 11, 2011 3:30am]
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