Choosing paint

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Mistake #1: Choosing Paint First

Reason why people do it: First-time home owners often make this mistake, in part, because paint provides (almost) instant gratification and a sense of accomplishment—you've picked a color from a bazillion chips, gotten it on the largest surface in the room and put the messiest task behind you.

Reason why it's a mistake: You might pick up a fabric featuring a gray background with a pink cast you don't even notice—until you put it against your gray wall and discover its own beige-y-ness.

What to do instead: Start with a game plan—not just a color palette, but specific materials and floor coverings.

One extra tip to keep in mind: After you've got your fabrics, shop for large wallpaper samples (called "memos") in the colors you're considering and tape them up, using blue painter tape on the reverse (it won't harm the walls). You can then have a paint store match that hue.