At left - My eye is pulled to see both the U.S. flag and the framed oil painting portrait. They're inseparable. I see that when the portrait is hung with the flag as a background, the intent is one big, oversized artwork. The horizontal stripes, in the portrait, and the color in the woman's jacket, and in the chair she's sitting in, serve to reinforce the flag. The quirky table lamp doesn't get in my way, I am still able to enjoy the vignette and rather the lines of the lamp highlight the woman's face. The lines of the table base add to the whimsical feeling of the room.
Photo at right - Mantles are perfect settings for displays of art and decor items. It is suggested that the width of the art piece or grouping equal the width of the hearth. I like here that a white floral has been placed in front of the hearth opening because without it the opening would seem to have a big gap, like a missing tooth in a pretty smile. The floral arrangement also serves to guide the eye, causing us to see the art work and then we are drawn to go down and around and then back up.
Below Left - Author, Cosmetics Mogul and Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee Georgette Mosbacher draws attention to her library ceiling with an antique map affixed to the ceiling. It may help in your decorating to consider that ceilings are actually just fifth walls of a room - don't overlook your ceilings. You can decorate ceilings with art (as Mosbacher has done), paint it a contrasting paint color or paint something more elaborate such as cloud-filled skies, or other theme trompe l'oiel. By working the ceilings into your design scheme it pulls the eye up; and if you have especially high ceilings (as does Georgette Mosbacher, who's Fifth Avenue apartment is directly across from the Metropolitan Museum Of Art), decorating them is a good way to help keep the ceiling in scale to the rest of the room. (Photo of Georgette Mosbacher's apartment is from Breaking the Rules: Home Style for the Way We Live Today ) A note for fun: notice in this photo, Mosbacher has a fur throw that appears to be casually laid on one of the two upholstered chairs. This is probably the fun type of decorating one does when their windows open up the the Metropolitan Museum of Art and attendees to functions look like small figures milling about the esteemed Museum of Art. (This photo is from "Decorating With Pictures," by Stephanie Hoppen.)
Don't just fill your shelves. Consider that a wall covered with bookshelves continues to be a verticle place to hang pictures. Color your bookshelves. Decoratively arrange your items on the bookshelves. Decorate & dress them - personalize them. The books you store on your shelves are just the beginning. Just as any verticle surface, the final dressing can be hung framed artwork. From Elizabeth Mayhew as published in House Beautiful. You can read more decorating ideas by Elizabeth Mayhew in her new book, Flip! for Decorating: A Page-by-Page, Piece-by-Piece, Room-by-Room Guide to Transforming Your Home .
Below Photo - The homeowner here was very tricky. By hanging these artworks on the back of the door, the closed door looks like any other wall.
Be brave with displaying art and objects d'art. Browse magazines, tear out sheets of 'looks' that you like. Over time you will enjoy creating beautiful things, especially things that are beautiful to you.