In college I took a seminar on interior decorating. I have personally decorated my restaurant and sometimes do odd decorating jobs for friends or neighbors. While I may not be quite a professional decorator, I do know a few things about the business. It can be fun if you know what you are doing and have some idea of what you want. However if you do not, it can be hell. Here are a few tips to make your life easier.
I like to start with colors. Try contrasting your paint with either a darker shade of the same color or black or white trim. This creates a sophisticated elegant look that really makes you notice the paint. Personally i like to do things like cream and black, or tan and brown. For greens and blues try just using a darker shade of the color.
Next, what rooms to paint what colors? Try painting hallways and living room the same color. This provides a sense of continuity throughout the house. However unless you really like the color you may want to try something different for the other rooms. Green, white or blue tend to work best for bathrooms. I like to have bedrooms in warm browns or subtle reds. It gives a comfortable, warm and even romantic feel which is great for any room.
Depending on the colors you chose you should try to lightly or vastly contrast the paint. Trying to match the color of the furniture to the walls tends to turn out badly so i would advise against it. Matching the trim however works great. For light colors try choosing either Victorian style furniture in creams and whites, or choose something heavy and leather to contrast the room and make it more friendly. For darker rooms just try to choose furniture that does not blend in with the walls.
Furniture style is also important. For lighter colors i like thinner smaller furniture and the opposite for dark colors. Though if you choose something like a rusty red for the walls, a delicate cream colored furniture will look great.
Many people take decoration to far and stick nick-nacks and paintings on every available surface. Unless this is a priceless collection that you just HAVE to display please try to avoid this. Remember in the world of decorating less is more.
Try having one or two paintings on each wall. This simple style will draw attention to the individual painting rather then your poor visitors staring at the wall for hours just trying to decide what to look at. Its elegant and even stylish. For figurines or decorative collectibles i like having corner shelves, hutches or stands. You can also place them on bookshelves to accent the look of the books or in some cases, to draw the eye away from the subject of the books. Just Kidding.
Try not to clutter. Even if it is in your personal room. If there are to many objects on display you do not actually see any of them to their full benefit. If you have a great deal of decorative objects try switching them out every few months to change up your house and make the look more fresh.