SF Gate recommends an inside-out approach to choosing paint colors. This involves picking a central item and building a room’s color scheme around it. The article also repeats an age-old bit of painting wisdom: Test your colors on small sections of wall before going all out. There are even tips for homeowners planning to sell: Light colors make rooms look bigger, and white acts as a “blank canvas” that lets potential buyers imagine things their way.

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A good contractor doesn’t just do quality work, of course. Workers should be courteous, pleasant, and capable of clear communication. Ideally, the people altering your home’s look will be enthusiastic about the task rather than jaded and burnt out. Find out from your references what kind of attitude the company’s workers displayed, and whether they behaved professionally. Also ask whether the crew stayed on schedule, and whether they arrived early each day, did their work, and got out of there.

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