I talked to interior designer Sheila Bridges today -- she hosts Designer Living on the Fine Living Network. Her book Furnishing Forward: A Practical Guide to Furnishing for a Lifetime is just out in paperback.
I'll be featuring her in the Home Decor section of the next issue of the magazine.
She basically encourages people to buy less, but better quality. Approach your furniture the way you would your wardrobe or a vacation: splurge (invest) in the big pieces (beds, sofas, etc) that you love and that are timeless. Scrimp on fun, new accessories -- everything from candles to dishes -- to keep it fresh.
She also wants us all to channel our inner designer & go for it. Don't be cowed by things like color. Instead, start small (baby steps!) with a room you don't use much like a closet & see how you like it, & then go from there.
As long as you do it confidently, it's all good.