• Let your art lead you. This is a decorator fail safe. Have you tried it? It feels like cheating. Line up all the art you'd like to hang in your room, pick out a color, and find a paint swatch to match. Bam, done. You'll feel like a pro. The same principal can be applied to rugs and accent textiles. Choosing one of the more subtle accent colors in the rug will bring a fresh dimension to whole space.
• Coordinate with your upholstery. Like your floor, a large sofa will throw off a room if it clashes with the walls. If you try to compensate for a sofa that you're not crazy about by picking a wall color that you love but that doesn't go with it, you'll be disappointed. Don't add wrong to wrong. Pick a color that compliments what you have, and both the overall room and the upholstered piece in question will look better for it.
• Make up for a lack of architectural character with saturated colors. A typical dark, low ceilinged, wall-to-wall carpeted basement apartment will look infinitely more chic and cheerful painted something dramatic, like charcoal gray, than it will a pale sunny yellow...which will only add to the gloom because it's out of place. If you have a space with great bones and great light, it will be difficult to go wrong with any color, and light colors will let those details shine. However, when you have the opposite, go dark. It's counter-intuitive, but it lends a blah space a strong presence. You can always lighten the mood with bright accent pieces and good lighting.
(Images: Leah Moss)