This tip comes from years of studio experience it's about using a white background. There are problems white as a background if it is near the subject it is difficult to light and also it tends to "bleed" round objects making edges less clearly defined. My best advice is to keep the backround as far away as possible and I do mean far. The further the better. Light it as evenly as you can but dont make the brightness too much or it will bleed. In the studio when shooting fashion the model is frequently on a raised "stage" ( a sheet of chipboard on beer crates) this can be covered in background material and the subject of the picture is lit separately. If you are shooting small objects then it still applies. Background as far as possible (within reason).
Lighting is all important but it is down to personal taste (or lack of) how you go about it. If you have nice clean, white ceilings then it is good to use the ceiling to reflect diffused light down. This produces the most natural light. Small objects can be livened up with bits of mirror or aluminium foil stuck to pieces of card etc. If you can-use flash off camera. I have experimented with using on-camera flash to set off seperate flash units couple to slave cells and very effectively. One of the good things with digital cameras, however, is that you can change to a tungsten light setting- thus making room light vey useable. It doesnt work with low energy bulbs vey often though.
Further to my comments about shooting on white backgrounds. If you need to cut the image out to put onto a different background then it is better to use a light grey. Pure white produces edges that are very difficult to see when masking them out in Adobe Photoshop (for example).