One of the main benefits of having a self-hosted WordPress blog is complete control over your design. The fastest way to seriously stylize your WordPress blog is by activating a premium theme.
WordPress has a great selection of free themes. The theme I use for this blog is free, but I have invested several hours tweaking fonts, images, and the layout to ensure that my design is 100% unique.
Some of my favorite free Themes are Mystique and Titan, but if you end up using one of these themes you should keep in mind that you will be joining the likes of tens of thousands of other bloggers with near identical themes.
If you have a couple bucks to invest I recommend you check out the paid themes from WooThemes and Elegant Themes.
WooThemes are a bit more pricey, but they have more features.
The nice thing about WooThemes is that they have done extensive WordPress development that makes customizing your theme and colors easy. By installing a WooTheme you get many features in the back-end of WordPress that allow you to make these customizations in a very user friendly way.
WooThemes also have some pretty decent free themes worth checking out.
Elegant Themes offer great value. Just $39 gives you access to over 40 great looking themes.
If you are going to be doing any Theme customization at all the best way to do so is by creating a child theme.
Making a child theme is very simple. Create a directory, put a properly formatted style.css file in it, and you have a child theme! With a little understanding of HTML and CSS, you can make that very basic child theme modify the styling and layout of a parent theme to any extent without editing the files of the parent theme itself. That way, when the parent theme is updated, your modifications are preserved.
Customizing your WordPress Theme
If you want to customize a WordPress theme the best way to do this is to preview your changes before you modify the file. An excellent tool for doing this is the Firefox add-on firebug.
With firebug you can inspect any element on a web page and tweak it so that it looks the way you want, before you update your file and implement this change.
If you buy an Elegant Themes through any of my affiliate links on this page and you have any basic questions about how to customize it simply contact me and I will be happy to answer your question as best as I can.
What WordPress theme do you use? Let me know in the comments below.