Drywall paint & texture
Ceilings are better to do first because they are more difficult to work on. (Do the hard part using the easiest method.) If you use a sprayer, you can get a large sheet-metal spray guard which measures about 1 foot by three feet with a big handle on it. Hold it at the corner and slide it as you go. Actually, you should use the sheet metal guard even if you texture with a brush because it provides quicker, better, and easier protection than masking tape.
Popcorn finish should be banned for aesthetic reasons: it is just ugly. There are too many texture finishes available to go over here. For instance, you can brush joint compound in many different ways: circles, seashells semi-circles, random-abstract brush strokes.... Consult a home decor book.
However, I tend to prefer a nice, flat ceiling that creates sharp, crisp lines. It takes only a bit more effort than texturing, but it is really worth it.
[This message has been edited by rpxlpx (edited January 26, 2001).]
Thanks, your reply is very helpful. I've never used drywall compound before. What do you mean by starting with tapered edges? Help!! I now have more questions: Do I need to thin the drywall compound with water before applying to the walls? I think not. I have primed them with Kilz. Do I reprime them after the drywall compound is applied before painting?