Puzzled on painting? Turn to these pages

It may be true that painting is an easy, inexpensive way to improve a room. But here's how it becomes less easy and more expensive: when you repaint the same wall four times because you can't decide if the living room should be green to match the rug, or blue to match the sofa, or yellow to match the adjoining rooms, or tan to match anything.

Who among us has not stood frozen in front of a wall of paint chips at the hardware store and finally walked away blurry and defeated? Here are some new books that make an earnest effort to help us narrow the choices.

"Color at Home" (pictured at left) by Meg and Steven Roberts (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $29.95) is a vibrant photo gallery of exteriors and rooms. Some are safe and familiar, but the best are unexpected, including a bright orange pantry, a bubble-gum-pink rowhouse with black trim, a grass-green garage wall and a black upright piano against a startling aqua wall. There is very little to read here, and who needs it? The photos are so clear and crisp that the reader becomes an instant expert in the differences between moss and mint green or Wedgwood and powder blue.

There is more text in "Farrow & Ball: The Art of Color" by Brian D. Coleman (Gibbs Smith, $60). But most readers will put up with a few more words because the photographs are so big and lush. The shots might remind you of your favorite bed-and-breakfast, or elaborate movie sets reeking of Old Money.

A warning: Farrow and Ball is a British paint and wallpaper company, so make no mistake that this book is, unabashedly, product promotion. And the paint is at the high end in price. But the captions carefully identify the paint and names in each photo, and dreaming is free.

"Paint Style" by Lesley Riva (Firefly, $26.95) is also a promotional book, this one from the makers of Benjamin Moore Paints. But it's more about painting techniques than actual color, making it a resource for the DIY painter interested in stencils, glazes, stippling, color rippling, painting floors and faux finishes. Benjamin Moore purists will also like this book because it categorizes many of its most popular colors by shade and labels the paint color and number on each page.

Share This Story