Start with what you love: Let's say you no one ever came over to your house and you could do EXACTLY what you wanted, how would your house look? What would you have in it? I know that whereever Laure lives, her blue lamp will follow; Gregory's home will always find space for his toy collection. Whether it's a collection or just one striking thing, incorporate it. Your home will, and should, be unique, just like you.
Break it down: When a friend of ours got divorced and moved into his own place, he made a list of everything he needed. The list was long and he freaked out. Just then, his mother called. She imparted some motherly wisdom. "What do you need today?," she asked. What he needed that day was a bed. So he went out and bought a bed. You do not live in a decorating show. You will not decorate your entire home, even your entire room this weekend. Start with one thing and build from there. Today, you'll find a couch. Then you'll look for some lamps so you can lie on the couch and read. See, not so hard.
Find a Jedi Master: After my same friend took his mother's advice and bought a bed, he called me. We took shopping trips together, he bounced ideas off of me, he asked my opinion. And, slowly, his home took shape. Great, you're thinking, I don't have any decorator friends. Ah, but you have us. Next week, starts our bi-annual Apartment Therapy Home Cure (Read about the Spring Cure here.) Give us 8 weeks and we promise, your home will go from sick to slick. Get the book now and start your reading.
Check your bottom line: We're serious here. Before you start, figure out what you want to do (the whole house, one room, even one piece of a room) and decide how much you want to spend. It'll keep you from bringing your wallet into a store that you've just gone into to get some inspiration and coming out with a new sofa in a colour you'd never wear, let alone sit on. BTW, until you get a handle on this decorating thing, if you're going to plunk down a chunk of change on a sofa, make sure you get one in a neutral colour. You can always reupholster it later.
To read more about my friend's decorating experience, click here
[Image from Karen T's Flickr, with a Creative Commons License]