Q: How can I use paint color to "lift" a low ceiling?
A: To give low ceilings the illusion of height, paint them white and any crown molding the same color as the wall; this will keep from interrupting your gaze upward.

Q: So should all ceilings be white?
A:In a word, yes. But rules are meant to be broken. A touch of color on the ceiling can warm things up and give a space a more finished look. "Treat the ceiling as a fifth wall by painting it cream or beige," says Behr's Mary Rice. Just keep in mind something Kathleen Jewell, a color consultant in Orange Park Acres, California, has learned: "Warm shades lose their yellow tones on a surface where no sun ever falls, turning bluer and grayer," aka dingy.

Q: We have an open plan on the first floor. Is it best to stick to a single paint color?
A: Continuity is important on the ground floor, but color can help "zone" a big open space, separating the dining area from the TV room, for instance. There's no need to stick to a single color or even a single color palette that is either all warm (reds, oranges, yellows) or all cool (blues, greens, bright whites). How­ever, "by using muted, dustier values, there's a better chance the colors you choose will flow into one another," says ­Tami Ridgeway, a color stylist for Valspar. She recommends leaning toward colors softened by a bit of gray; these are ­often found in historical palettes. Bright colors can be injected in small doses as accents—in furnishings, floor coverings, even flowers.

Q: How do I use color to make the most of a small space?
A: Generally, crisp whites can make a space feel bigger and more open, while warm colors create a sense of intimacy. At the most rudimentary level, large rooms generally can handle more color than small rooms. "Lighter hues can open up a small space, while darker colors give the perception that the surfaces are closer than they are," says Debbie Zimmer. Of course, some small spaces don't need to feel big: If you're aiming to create a welcoming or cozy atmosphere in a foyer, study, or library, for example, hunter green or rust may serve you better than pale peach or celery.

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