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Even ceilings offer opportunities for creative, colorful decorating

Looking for a way to add color to your living room? Don't forget to look up. A painted ceiling is a refreshing way to perk up an architecturally dull room and reinforce a particular decorating theme using colors and motifs found in the room.

One possibility is enamel paint. A high-gloss surface will add a shine to any room and will help reflect light in rooms that receive little or no natural light.

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In addition to enamel paints, a variety of other decorating techniques make a ceiling a welcome design asset in any room. Stenciling an uncomplicated pattern around the ceiling border is one way to pick up the colors in the sofa and chair fabric.

Another popular ceiling design idea is the addition of several closely spaced painted bands of color. Echoing colors found in the room, two or three bands will make any room look polished.

To give a small room the feeling of space, paint the ceiling in an off-white color, or, in a room with colored walls, try a lighter shade of the wall color on the ceiling.

Whatever design technique you select, the following tips will help your next overhead project look even better.

* Using a paint roller for the body of the ceiling will save time and eliminate a need for standing on a ladder for long periods of time. Use brushes for hard-to-reach corners and tricky angles.

* When using an alkyd paint, work across the narrow area of the ceiling. Doing so will eliminate lap marks that may appear with alkyd paint. Start in a corner and paint a narrow strip two or three feet wide against the wall. Then roll on a strip of paint of the same width, working from the unpainted area into the still wet area.

* When you get to areas near the wall, a brush and a paint guard will make a smooth finish to the painted surface.

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* Be sure to wash all surfaces before painting, using a mild detergent and water. If old enamel paint is still shiny, degloss it with steel wool before painting.

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