Paint the Town Etruscan AF-355

Photographer: GS/Gallery Stock

You know how it goes. You choose your color. You put down a drop cloth. You sacrifice a T-shirt to the gods of home improvement. You lay on a couple coats. And instead of Lamp Room Gray you get Crushing Disappointment.

Where did you go wrong?

You skimped on the cost of paint.

House paints are one of the few examples of interior decoration where you get what you pay for. "There certainly is a difference," says Miles Redd , the interior decorator known for his vivid colors. "The more expensive paint generally has more pigment in it, so it's richer and thicker."

Redd says the quality matters most when you're dealing with a high-gloss surface. "Top of the line is Fine Paints of Europe ," Redd says. "The Brooks Brothers of paints isBenjamin Moore ." But Fine Paints of Europe can run well over $100 a gallon, and so can paint from its peer, Farrow & Ball . Maybe it makes more sense to wallpaper your living room in dollar bills?

Redd acknowledges that not all situations demand a small fortune. "If you're working with matte paint," he says, "you can slap anything up there. If you're working with high-gloss, it's a different story -- finish is the driving factor."

OK, don't slap anything up there.

But the next time you pull back the furniture and take out your brushes, ask yourself if the extra hundred dollars is worth it. Most of the time it comes down to which aesthetic you prefer, Good Enough or Empty Checking Account.

James Tarmy reports on arts and culture for Bloomberg Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News.

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