We just moved into a new house. So, I've been busy arranging and decorating so that it looks like "our home". I still have lots to do -- make curtains, make a wall hanging, find some way to organize the toys, find a furniture arrangement for the "living room" that works with the fireplace/TV/bookshelf and still leaves the walk way accessible... But here are the basics steps I took (and that I'm still taking!):
1. Begin by choosing a "neutral" color as your main color. It doesn't have to be a "traditionally" neutral color (brown, white, gray, black) but a color that you really love and that you want to live with for a long time. I really like the warmth of chocolate brown but obviously I can't paint all my walls chocolate brown, so I found the color I really liked on a paint card and choose one several shades lighter. This is my base color -- my walls and furniture are one of the shades of this color on the paint card. Now, if I left it like this it would all match but would be a bit boring, because I like color! I chose colors I loved as accent colors for things like curtains, throw blankets, pillows, etc. that are inexpensive to replace should I want a new look or simply to change looks by season or by holiday.
2. Save bold paint colors for bathrooms and bedrooms. Non-public areas are the best for bold paint colors because if you tire of them they can be changed without the expense of having to change multiple rooms also.
3. Incorporate live plants into your rooms. Plants bring warmth and life to rooms. Choose ones that are easy to grow needing minimal care (unless you really enjoy taking care of house plants, then choose whatever you want!).
4. Choose furniture that is comfortable and durable for daily use. We have young children, so everything has to be washable, cleanable, and durable. We also don't have much money to spend so we have found most of our furniture at yard sales and thrift stores. Choose pieces you love -- it doesn't have to match perfectly and it can be painted/refinished/recovered to create a unified look.
5. Consider how you use a room to determine how to decorate it. Furnish and decorate a room according to how you use it -- not according to how the architect designed the room to be use (not what it is "called"). During my teenage years I spent quite a bit of time at one of my youth leader's homes. Her kitchen had an area designed to be used as a dining area and her home had a separate dining room. Her family used the separate dining room or the kitchen island to eat at and rarely used the table in the "eat-in" area of the kitchen. So, she got rid of that table and moved in a couple of comfy chairs -- a new family hang-out area! It became a favorite place in the home for the family (and the youth students) to hang out in...something about being near/in the kitchen...
6. Provide plenty of storage for the things you want to keep handy. Things like bookshelves, baskets, small dressers, tables with drawers, coffee tables with storage, trunks, etc. work great for providing storage and as well as places to display photos and mementos.
7. Choose accessories carefully. I hate "dust-ables" -- things that sit around as decoration with no useful purpose besides needing to be dusted. So, I choose things I really love to display -- things that I love enough to dust! Mostly this is pictures of my family, quilts made by my mother-in-law, plants, etc. Remember: too many accessories leave a cluttered look. You need free space on table tops and level surfaces to achieve an uncluttered look.