Let's use a little visual inspiration, shall we?
1. Furniture placement is essential: When living in a tiny place, you may need to play around with furniture layout to find the best use of your space. Here, I like that a chaise lounge is used in front of the TV--gives you another place to put your feet up, but the shape lets you have an unobstructed view of the TV, and the chaise fits where a traditional sofa would have perhaps blocked valuable light.
2. Use multi-purpose furniture: The TV stand doubles as a dresser. Small spaces tend to be short on storage, so anywhere you can fit in extra drawers is great!
3. Balance heavy and light pieces: Although storage is very necessary, too many storage pieces can weigh a small space down and make it appear heavy and even smaller than it is. I like that the above room incorporates a glass-top side table and a leggy coffee table--both are tricks to make the room seem airier.
4. Style your possessions like art: Here, open storage of clothing puts your loveliest frocks on display.
5. Create zones in your living space: This furniture placement is very clever--by facing the sofa away from the bed, two separate living spaces are created from one room. This room also shows a great way to use furniture for multiple functions--behind the couch is what I'm assuming is a dresser for the bed, but it doubles as a console table for the sofa.
6. Utilize scale to your best advantage: The chesterfield sofa pictured here is genius. Although this particular sofa is diminutive in size, chesterfields are usually very large pieces. The smaller scale of this sofa imparts the idea that the room is larger than it is, simply because our brains are used to large chesterfields!
7. Don't be afraid to go bold: This is a tiny tiny little hall, but it has a big presence due to the splashy wallpaper, multiple framed art pieces, and an appropriately-scaled entry table.
8. Think about form and function: Here, two small trunks serve as a coffee table. This option is much better than a traditional coffee table, as the trunks provide storage, are size-appropriate, and can be pulled apart to use as side tables. Understanding what you need from a space helps determine which pieces to fill that space with.
9. Use focal points to turn negatives into positives: In the above photo, I barely notice the small dimensions of the room because my attention is immediately drawn to the bed canopy. Although this is probably in a purchased home, not a rental, I don't see why you couldn't get creative with some PVC pipe as the frame around which the fabric hangs, plus some removable hooks. By creating a dramatic focal point, other less-appreciated aspects of the room can be easily overlooked.
10. Make storage pretty: This bookcase could hold a surprising amount of the junk that everyone has but no one wants to see. By using a variety of baskets, boxes, and vessels, this bookcase looks tidy, has visual interest, yet still provide tons of much-needed storage.
11. Consider color palette: This room obviously gets great light, which is emphasized by the use of light colors and a fairly monochromatic palette. This room is another example, like #4 above, of how to display your possessions like art--the shoes shown here add to the design rather than detract.
12. A place for everything, and everything in its place: In small homes, there is no room for something you just bought on a whim. Make sure before buying something that you have the room to do so! Here, the room design features a gallery-style wall filled to the brim with art, which was obviously well-planned before being put up. Although small, this room looks tidy and cozy. Bonus tip--mount multiple frames to a single canvas--this way, you only have one nail putting a hole in your wall! (see the light canvas with black frame to the left of the TV? Genius!)
All you small-space dwellers, any other tips and tricks I've forgotten?