Well, Christmas came, and the elves brought me multiple gift cards to Lowe's and this:
a 10-inch laser-guided miter saw!
The elves explained to me it could be used to do lots of things, like cut chair rails and molding, butcher exotic cuts of dinosaur meat, or install hardwood flooring. "Just look at those Lowe's gift cards!" the elves chittered, "think of the possibilities!"
The Ms. declared we would repaint the living room. We would install chair rail. We would hang drapes. It would be a glorious new era of post-beige domesticity. More than anything else, it would be blue. Let the amateur carpentry begin!
One thing to consider when picking a paint color is photons. Photons are factually awesome. Lighter colored surfaces bounce back more photons into a room, creating more light, while darker colored surfaces absorb the photons, leaving a darker room.
Since the living room already has limited natural light, and the dark walls sucked out even more light, we decided on a two-tone blue scheme. "Sea Mist"on top of the chair rail, and "Grassy Lake" below.
this joint looks crooked, but it isn't
After a lot of tape masking, priming, painting, touching up, cutting molding, measuring, coping joints, mitering joints, finish nailing, puttying of mistakes, caulking, even more painting, and the rearranging of furniture, I think we've got a much brighter, more open, and colorful room.
Now we just need to replace the carpet... (that's what literary folk call foreshadowing).