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It’s kind of sad that the world of home decor sometimes comes with so many apparent rules because I think it prevents people from really exploring different colors and ideas.

In this Breaking Rules series, we’re trying to empower you to think outside the so-called rule-book, because we think your home should be a reflection of you, not just a carbon copy of some Better Homes & Gardens photo spread.

We’re talking about painting today.

Dollar-for-dollar, there is absolutely nothing you can do to change your home that has more impact than slapping on a coat of paint. Unfortunately, most people thinking painting’s harder than it is, and it seems to come with the same level of commitment terror as getting married. “But, Ted, that blue’s actually, you know, blue.”

Let’s not get into a “how to pick a color” posting today. That’s a really personal choice, and a lot of things come into play — lighting, space size, paint location, room purpose, and more.

But here’s the thing: Most of the stuff you hear about “omigod, you can’t do that!” with painting is kind of silly. Let’s tackle some of the rules you should consider breaking.

“Don’t make your favorite color the main color.”

Why? Because you might like it too much? God forbid you surround yourself with a color you always know you love.

That just makes no sense. If you want to, go ahead. My favourite color’s green and using it has been great on a number of occasions. From soft green to bold lime green, I’ve never regretted it. In fact, I loved my kitchen’s lime green even after 10 years of the same paint!

What’s the risk? It’s not marriage. You can paint again when you’re tired of it. That’s why there are paint stores. Crazy, I know.

“Don’t paint the ceiling.”

Seriously? Every ceiling ever: White. It’s the only sensible solution, Bob! God help us all if someone gets crazy and thinks a ceiling can be blue like the sky! Stop those crazy fools. Next thing you know, people will be painting floors.

Are you kidding me?

In fact, going reverse and keeping the walls white and ceiling a neat color like red or green or blue can be not only dramatic and fun, but super-practical if you have kids. Imagine being able to easily touch up all the walls of scuff-marks but still having great drama with pops of color on ceilings? Yeah, low-maintenance-with-style doesn’t sound too bad to me, either.

One thing to note is, it can feel a little claustrophobic if the whole room is painted the same dark color, but that can work for some people, and it definitely can give a cozy feeling in a bedroom.

“Don’t choose paint from a chip.”

Yeah, because that’s never worked in the history of the world. That’s just nutty, getting a sense of color from a paint chip.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but those little $5 sample cans of paint must’ve been the best moneymaking idea ever in the paint industry.

Now, they’re correct when they say never to choose from a paint chip in lousy lighting. I say get multiple paint chips of the same color and tape them up in several areas so you can see how they respond in different lighting. It’s obviously not a complete picture, but if you simply know a larger area of said color will seem a couple shades darker, that’s really all you need.

Some folks need to use the paint-an-area approach before committing, but it’s not the law. Go ahead, live a little.

“Don’t paint first.”

When paint’s the most dramatic thing you’re gonna do, then why not? You can always accessorize down the line. If you guess a little off and the color goes up darker than you imagined, you can temper it with lighter accessories after the fact, but if you blow your wad on accessories before the paint goes up, and then color-match to your purchases, you’ve less wiggle-room for balancing the final look.

But there are rules worth following, too

This is never more true than of painting, because a lot of rules should be followed. Like, never assume walls are clean, always tape up areas beforehand, always buy good-quality paint, and stuff like that. The fact is, the more time you spend doing prep with painting, the better quality it’ll have for the long-term.

You can’t go wrong using the trusty old Google for reading painting tips, and the more the better. Just don’t be scared to pick colors you have a gut feeling on, and don’t feel like it can only go on walls.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.