How to Paint a Room in 5 Easy Steps

The idea of painting a room can sometimes be intimidating, but with these 5 easy steps, you’ll see how simple it is to get great results.

 

The correct sequence of steps is the key to giving any room a quick and refreshing paint makeover. Tip: Start with the ceiling first and then paint the walls.

Step 1 — Clean Ceiling and Walls

Remove dust, dirt, and grease spots (which can ruin a smooth finish) with water, a little mild dishwashing detergent, and a cellulose sponge. Rinse ceiling and walls with clean water to remove the soap residue.

Step 2 — Cut in Around Edges

Beginning at the corner of the room, use a two-inch or 2.5-inch trim brush to “cut in,” applying a three-inch strip of coating along the perimeter where the wall and the ceiling meet.

Cut in a section at a time, alternating between cutting in and painting the ceiling to maintain a wet edge and prevent a visible line between the cut-in area and the rest of the ceiling.

Step 3 — Rolling the Ceiling

Before you begin painting the ceiling, remove excess paint on the roller by slowly rolling it back and forth over the ridges of the paint tray.

Start painting near the corner of the room, blending the coating into the ceiling line painted previously. Paint across the width of the ceiling, rather than the length, and make sure to roll in a motion across your body, rather than along your body, to avoid straining your neck and back.

Step 4 — Painting the Walls

Once your ceiling is dry, return to the spot where you began painting. Use a trim brush to carefully cut in along the wall-ceiling line. Extend out two to three inches from windows, doors, and moldings. Once you’ve cut in around an entire wall area, use a roller to fill in the field.

For efficiency, start in the corner of a wall and roll on a three-by-three-foot W pattern, then fill it in without lifting the roller. Continue in sections until you’re finished. Paint one wall at a time.

Step 5 — Painting the Trim

Once the walls are completely dry, place painter’s blue tape where the trim meets the wall. Paint the moldings, baseboard and the door and window frames with a two-inch angled brush. When painting your trim, paint the tops of the doors and windows first and work your way down so that you can remove any runs as you go. Paint your baseboards last..

 

How Important is Light in the Living Room?

If there were one word to describe the work of San Francisco interior designer Nicole Hollis, it would be drama. We sit down with her to discuss how to best light a modern living room. Her projects emphasize negative space, and she often anchors this with daring, glamorous modern lighting. For Hollis, the living room deserves the most attention, since it makes the biggest statement. Yet “more is not always better,” she says. Here, she explains why a restrained approach can be stunning and how a fixture can fill the need for furniture.

Designer Nichole Hollis | YLighting

The living room is such a focal point of a home. How do you develop an overall lighting plan for it?

Nicole Hollis: It’s important to have three levels of lighting: High, especially if the ceiling is vaulted or has a special material like wood or plaster; medium, which includes wall sconces; and low, which means floor lamps and other small lights. But remember, modern living rooms don’t need much lighting.

I like to up-light the living room ceiling with a continuous LED lighting strip to create an overall glow that can act as mood lighting. For directional lighting I prefer recessed lights such as WAC’s LED212E to light table surfaces, fireplaces, and art. In the mid-level range, I love wall sconces, since they add a “jewelry effect” to the room and are a chance to introduce another material such as metal, glass, or fabric. I also like wall-mounted art lights in bronze or brass for sparkle. Two favorites are Roll & Hill’s Odds & Ends Teardrop Wall Light and Castor’s Deadstock Jib Light.

Deadstock Jib Wall Light from Castor Design | YLighting

What is one of the biggest mistakes that people make when lighting a living room?

NH: Over-lighting. Nothing is worse than seeing a ceiling with a million holes in it; and too many recessed lights kill a space. It’s better to light specifically and rely more on one central pendant or chandelier and a few sconces. A chandelier in the middle of a room makes a big statement. It’s like wearing a fabulous piece of jewelry with a simple black dress. Typically I start with a jaw-dropping fixture like the Atlantis Suspension Light in Black Nickel and design the living room around it. And dimmers are always recommended.

What do you need to keep in mind about the scale of the lighting choices?

NH: I prefer to choose fixtures that are over-scaled for the room. The bold size makes a statement in itself—and a fixture that is too small for the room looks wrong. I love anything by Ingo Maurer. He is my go-to-guy, especially his Floatation Suspension Lamp; it has a nice glow through the paper.

Agnes Sconce - 4 Light from Roll and Hill | YLighting

How about positioning of fixtures?

NH: This is key. You don’t want recessed light throwing light on the top of someone’s head. Light the coffee table instead—not the sofas and chairs. Sconces should be in places that will not be in the way of traffic through the living room. I use the Agnes Sconce to flank the fireplace mantel or on walls where there is plenty of room to navigate around them.

Should lighting trace the shape of a room or anchor the room?

NH: Both. Trace a room’s perimeter by using sconces or fixtures, such as the Clothes Hanger Lamp or a continuous light strip such as the Straight Edge Light Strip where the ceiling meets the wall. If you wanted to anchor the room with a central element, my favorite pendant is Piet Boon’s Round Boon.

How much does the size of the space determine the lighting choices?

NH: I like to keep the amount of fixtures to a minimum so I would recommend a large chandelier such as the Paper Chandelier L for a small room paired with a few table or floor lamps like the Colibri Reading Floor Lamp and the Bedside Gun Table Lamp for task lighting.

How would you use modern lighting in a traditional space?

NH: I love mix of traditional and modern; that’s where the real alchemy takes place. The Rudi Single Loop Pendant would be a perfect fixture for this sort of setting.

Round Boon Pendant Light from Moooi | YLighting

Any final tricks of the trade?

NH: It is important to mock-up lighting fixtures for scale and proportion. We typically print a full-scale photo of the fixture and hold it up in the space to see if the scale is appropriate. But ultimately, there is no perfect way—it’s all experimentation and prototyping.

Become a master of backyard tiling

Proper lighting is essential for any home. It is important to maintain balance between personality and the functionality of the room when it comes to lighting the living room. One can transform the entire atmosphere of their living room within the proper use of lighting. One should remember that lighting not only has aesthetic and mood enhancing values, but play an important functional role in illuminating important task areas in the living room.

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