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SPRING HOME AND GARDEN TAB For a little more pazazz, try a color change

'By Madeleine McDermott Hamm

Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON -- Need a boost? Some of the best mood magic around comes in a can at the paint store.

Think what a red room can do to lift your energy level or how a yellow space can brighten a gloomy morning. Cool and calm colors, such as blues and greens, can be just what you need at the end of a frantic day at work or a maddening trip home in the traffic.

Still stuck in neutral with boring off-white walls? Even a deeper shade of beige or taupe would feel cozier. If painting the whole living room seems a bit bold, start small. Add some color to the bathroom or kitchen. Then tackle the hall. A wine-red dining room would be deliciously inviting. Hey, it's only paint. You always can paint over it if you make a mistake.

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Need some advice? Apparently, lots of us do; there's a bevy of books on color and paint this year. Here's a sampling:

Choosing Colors: An Expert Choice of the Best Colors to Use in Your Home (Watson-Guptill, $35) by Kevin McCloud. If you're serious about selecting colors, investigate this book, crammed with color palettes, ideas, advice and photographs.

"Country Color Combinations" (Hearst Books/Sterling, $29.95) by Kate Butcher. Although this book is an offshoot of Country Living magazine and the interiors have that easygoing look, these are colors and styles just as at home inside the loop or in the 'burbs.

"Exterior Style: Inspiring Color Ideas and Expert Advice" (Bulfinch Press, $22.95). This handy book from the experts at Benjamin Moore Paints is about thinking outside the box (or painting the outside of your house). The first half talks colors, and the second half demystifies the painting process.

"Think Color: Rooms to Live In" (Chronicle Books, $40) by Tricia Guild. British designer Guild long has been the queen of color. Anything you do will look timid next to her creations.

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