Painting a room is the quickest, most affordable way to change or improve a room  in your house.

With our world surrounded in swirls of snowy white this winter, a fresh splash of color is a welcome respite sure to cure cabin fever.

 Whether you’re a seasoned professional or novice painter, you can transform your home’s look and your own winter-weary attitude with just a paint brush (or roller) in hand.

 Don’t let painting scare you. Even if you haven’t picked up a paint brush before, you can successfully paint a room, if you take your time and learn how to do it right. Make friends with your neighborhood paint store, hardware or decorating center and let them guide you through the process. Start with a small project without much prep work needed, and get comfortable with a paint brush and roller. For more difficult jobs with high, open ceilings requiring scaffolding/ladders, you may want to consider hiring a professional. Here’s how to get started.

Pick a color

 This just might be the most challenging, yet exciting part of your home improvement project. You can use your smartphone or tablet to match or visualize colors. Use Sherwin Williams ColorSnap Studio to create a color palette from any photo, or use their Color Visualizer to virtually paint a room with more than 1,500 colors. You can even upload a photo of your own room to paint.

 For a more hands-on approach, pick up a color sampler at the store and try it out on your own wall, or a large piece of cardboard. View it in your own natural light at home and see how the color changes from the lighting of the early morning hours through the evening. To simulate different lighting, Sherwin Williams has an Accu Color machine right near the paint chips.

 For a look at 2014’s trendiest colors, take a look at the sidebar for this year’s Color Lineups.

 Supplies needed: paint chips, sample paint jars (keep for touch-ups later), cardboard.

Prep your surfaces

 This is, by far, the most time-consuming part of painting, but it will provide you with the best end-result. From sanding to patching and spackling, washing/cleaning to proper priming, each of the steps is important for a quality finish.

 “Surface prep is critical for the end result to look nice,” said Don Niles, owner of Accent Decorating & Design in Flint for 40 years.

 Here’s a list of steps for prepping a simple surface:

Wash the surface with an appropriate cleaner to remove any oil, grease or contamination. Rinse thoroughly.

Patch holes and cracks with spackling or patching compound. Allow to dry, then sand smooth.

For glossy or nonporous surfaces, lightly sand to a dull finish or use an abrasive cleaner.

Remove sanding dust or cleanser residue.

Prime all bare areas prior to applying topcoat of paint. You may skip this step if applying paint over a very light color, or if your paint contains primer.

 Supplies needed: Spackling/putty, putty knife, painter’s tape, sandpaper or block, cleaning solution, drop cloths, primer.

To tape or not to tape?

 This is totally an individual decision, based on one’s confidence and steadiness with a paint brush. “If you have a nice steady hand and the confidence to do it, you may not need to tape,” said Glenda Cornfoot, in-store designer at Sherwin Williams in Fenton.

 If you prefer to tape the surfaces you don’t want to paint, use a delicate-surface tape that sticks tight but removes easily to protect the fresh paint underneath.

 Supplies needed: painter’s tape, razor blades.

Paint in this order

 Painting a room in the correct order will prevent unnecessary spills or drips in areas you’ve already completed.

 #1 Ceiling – paint a 2-inch strip along the ceiling where it meets the wall. Using a roller with an extension pole, start in a corner and work across the short side to maintain a wet edge.

 #2 Walls – paint a two-inch strip along the ceiling, floor and woodwork with a brush. Using a roller, come as close to the edges as possible to create a clean, uniform appearance.

 #3 Trim – Paint all trim around doors, windows, ceilings and floor.

 Supplies needed: Paint, brush, roller frame, roller cover (use 3/8-inch or 1/2 –inch for most surfaces, advises Cornfoot. Anything with a larger nap will put a texture on the surface), paint tray/liner, extension pole, rags/paper towels, paint thinner for cleanup.

One coat or two?

 Sherwin Williams recommends always painting two coats for a more quality finish, but you may be able to get away with one coat if you are covering a light color and using a high quality paint with maximum coverage.

What’s new in paints?

 The new odor-absorbing Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paints are gaining in popularity, especially for baby’s/children’s/bathrooms or those who don’t want the indoor odor of paint. An anti-microbial agent inhibits the growth of mold and mildew on the paint surface.

 Now all you need is the time and motivation to get started, or make that phone call to a painting professional. “Call us if you’re not confident about the task you’re about to try,” said Niles, of Accent Decorating Design.

2014 Color Lineups

Look for these new colors at your local paint store:

The newest trends in paint colors this year are soothing seascape colors, with blues ever-present. Grays, whether layered tone-on-tone or paired with color, have replaced brown as the go-to neutral. Vivid colors are also uptrending, inspired by multicultural influences, according to DurabilityandDesign.com

Pratt & Lambert

(McKay Hardware in Holly)

• 2014 theme: Anew

• Nature’s Bounty

• Common Ground

• Uncharted

• Grace BehrPro (Home Depot)

• Seaside Harmony

• Urban Alternative

• Grand Reign

• Natural Avocation Benjamin Moore

• The “New” Neutral Palette

• Color of the Year: Breath of Fresh Air (blue)

Sherwin Willams (Sherwin Williams in Fenton)

• Reasoned

• Diaphanous

• Curiosity

• Intrinsic

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