Sara Peterson is the editor in chief of HGTV Magazine, a home and lifestyle magazine published by Hearst Magazines in partnership with HGTV Network. Peterson has been editor in chief of HGTV Magazine since its launch. Previously, she was editor in chief of Coastal Living and home editor of Southern Living.

Peterson joined staff writer Jura Koncius for a recent Washington Post Home Front online chat. Here is an edited excerpt.

Q: What's the first step in painting old furniture? Should you sand it, or is priming good enough?

A: You should absolutely sand it first, or at least smooth out the roughest spots. Give it one or two coats of primer, then paint. Two coats of paint is always best.

Q: I would love to paint our hardwood floors white, but I'm intimidated. Any tips you can share?

A: If your hardwood floors are in so-so shape, painting them a glossy white or gray can look terrific. Use a paint that's designated for porch floors.

Q: What's a soothing paint color for a bedroom?

A: I'm going to recommend colors that are soothing and flattering. Stay away from minty greens, because they can make you look washed out. Check out Cockleshell by Behr — a peachy shade; Serene Breeze by Benjamin Moore — a tranquil mossy green; and Veiled Violet by Sherwin-Williams — a dusty violet.

Q: I have a home filled with antique oak furniture, eucalyptus hardwood floors and a rock-faced fireplace. I also have lots of big windows for natural light. What paint colors do you recommend to complement all this wood but that will make things bright, without going for a plain white? I tend to like the Craftsman style.

A: One great idea that we're seeing a lot of designers and homeowners doing right now is to paint the molding the same color as the wall. The wall can be eggshell or matte finish. The molding should be semi-gloss or high-gloss. It's a seamless, chic look.

Q: Other than white or gray, how do you choose a paint color that will add some color to walls but will also be more of a neutral? I've read that blush is now considered a neutral.

A: Blush pink is a great neutral, because it does go with everything. I love it on walls and ceilings.

Q: What are some of your favorite basic white paints to paint an entire house?

A: Extra White by Sherwin-Williams, White Dove by Benjamin Moore, Polar Bear and Bit of Sugar by Behr, Slipper Satin and Lime White by Farrow & Ball, and Whipped by Clare.

Q: I'm turning my guest bedroom into an office. What colors should I use to keep the room inviting, but not so much that I'm tempted to fall asleep during work?

A: Gray-blues and buttery yellows are energetic but not too energetic. For blues, check out Parma Gray by Farrow & Ball and Jamestown Blue by Benjamin Moore. For a buttery yellow, try Behr's Buzz-In and Benjamin Moore's Golden Honey.