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FIX IT UP with... Paint!

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WHAT COLOR IS YOUR CABINET? Between 30,000-10,000 B.C.E., Paleolithic humans fingerpainted mud and rock cave walls using animal fat; yellow, brown, and red clay; bone, and charcoal. No one wanted to have a plain cave wall. It was just so... boring. Some cave painters in the Lascaux area of France and Altamira, Spain, were so creatively jazzed they invented the first airbrush: a hollow reed used to blow the pigment on cave walls. (From there, it was just a quick leap to airbrushing wizards and sunsets on the sides of vans.)

So what are you doing living in a white-walled hovel, when your ancestors were moving heaven and earth so they might have one small bit of charcoal with which to spice up their living environment?

I know. I know. You're frightened. But don't you see? You're falling right into white's hands! Go buy a quart of paint, slap it up on your wall and just wait for the sparks to fly. It's cheap. It's easy. But first, there are some things you should know.

Red--What it says about you: You have high self-esteem, take risks, and are well informed and competitive. You can also be a little bit of an asshole. (Random fact: In feng shui, red is often recommended as a color for front doors in order to invite prosperity and happiness into the house.)

DIY tip: Paint the inside of your cabinets red.

Pink--What it says about you: You're sweet natured and romantic. You did not see Kill Bill: Vol. 1, but if you had, you wouldn't have liked it. You probably have some sexual issues.

DIY tip: Pair pink with a blue-red.

Yellow--What it says about you: You're optimistic, imaginative, and intuitive. You tend to be a perfectionist. (Random fact: Greek and Roman brides wore yellow.)

DIY tip: Use yellow in north-facing rooms or rooms without windows. Also try gold leaf on a ceiling or trim.

Orange--What it says about you: You work and play hard and are effusive and adventurous. You could be successful in business, if you tried. You tend to fail at relationships, due to your innate fickleness. (Random fact: Orange is an appetite stimulant, which is why it's used in so many fast food logos.)

DIY tip: Paint an accent wall or alcove a deep tangerine.

Blue--What it says about you: You are both trusting and trustworthy, and are not as confident as you seem. You are, in many ways, average.

DIY Tip: Skip the pale blues and go with a dramatic cobalt.

Green--What it says about you: You are a concerned citizen, active in the community, and an enjoyable dinner companion. You are also overweight. (Random fact: It is considered the most calming color to the eye, which is why it, along with blue, is often used in psych wards and prisons.)

DIY Tip: Of all the colors, green is the one the human eye detects in the most number of shades. Paint the ceiling, walls and floor of a room each a different shade of green. Call it your "conservatory."

Purple--What it says about you: You are highly creative, spiritual, and unconventional. You can be charming. But it wears off. (Random fact: Purple has long been considered to have healing properties.)

DIY Tip: Pair a deep plum with a bright white trim.

Brown--What it says about you: You're reliable, loyal, and understanding. Your life is centered around your family. (Random fact: In India, brown is the color of mourning because it is the color of dying leaves.)

DIY Tip: Four words--distressed leather faux finish.

Grey--What it says about you: You're practical, hard-working and do not like to attract attention. You shop at The Pottery Barn.

DIY Tip: Grey can help mask decorating mistakes. If you've painted the floor a bad red, gray walls can help tone down the color.

Black--What it says about you: You are enigmatic, sophisticated and artistic. Or really, really depressed.

DIY Tip: On floors, black shows every piece of dust. Black works best in a contemporary or Victorian setting. It can be really cool in a bathroom. After committing suicide. CHELSEA CAIN

Color, and Playing with Matches "Color is the cheapest, fastest, and easiest way to transform a space," explains Virginia Young. Along with Janie Lowe, Young owns Yolo, an interior design firm. The duo provides a few quick ideas about how to start the interior design process and transform your drab hovel into a spread fit for the pages of Architectural Digest.

* First, decide what feeling you want in your space. Cozy and dark? Springy and light? Sleek and modern? Choose paint, furniture, and drapes that will evoke that feeling.

* Make sure that the colors you choose are easy to live with. Think about what you like to wear, and what you look good in.

* Important! The color on your tiny paint chip is going to look a lot more intense when it's on your walls--so choose a more muted version of the color you love best.

* Don't use too many colors. A slightly eclectic style is best, but that doesn't mean your house should look like a rainbow.

* Don't try too hard, and don't do "matchy-match." A blend of textures, patterns and colors is much more interesting than the paint-by-numbers stiffness. Your potholders DO NOT have to match the fabric on your window-seat cushions!

* Don't match your art to anything. Please do not choose art based on your sofa color and vice-versa. Art is not supposed to "match" anything. ERIN ERGENBRIGHT

(How To) Paint Your Wagon Great! You've chosen what color to paint your dingy walls. Now, how in the hell do you get the paint from the bucket to the ceiling? Bruce Coffey at Rodda Paint offers a few expert tips.

* Don't use cheap brushes or cheap paint. The money you "save" will actually cost you in terms of energy and labor. Cheap paint doesn't cover as well, so you'll have to use more. Cheap brushes don't hold paint as well and will take more time. As with most things, you get what you pay for.

* Do wipe walls down with a damp cloth before painting. On a shiny surface, use TSP (cleaner) to degrease and degloss. And though it seems like a lot of work, do put a dropcloth or newspaper down before you start. It's a lot less work than scraping little paint dots off the floor with your fingernail.

* Do tape around windows and doors, but where the walls meet the ceiling, it's better to use a good quality brush and a steady hand.

* Do get your paint and materials at a paint store (rather than a generalized store like Home Depot). The help and knowledge available to you could save a lot of time and money--especially if semi-gloss and matte are words you only use when buying lipstick.

* Do paint your ceiling first. On an old popcorn ceiling, use a broom to loosen cobwebs and dirt, then get an extension handle so you don't wreck your neck. Paint the walls second and your moldings third. This helps to keep touch-ups to a minimum. ERIN ERGENBRIGHT

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