Free Up Sight Lines
Choose furniture that doesn't block your view from one area to another. Try open-sided bookcases, glass or acrylic tables, and chairs with slender profiles, which will fill your room with comfort and utility without making it seem congested.
Keep It Skinny
Furniture that is trim and fit will suit your small spaces best. In choosing a sofa, for example, one with fat rolled arms and a multicushion back will seem too inflated. Pick one with skinny arms and a tight, upholstered back instead. Elsewhere, look for slender legs on dining tables, and stick to beds with simple headboards.
Take It to the Edges
Whenever possible, tuck furniture around the perimeter of the room to avoid taking up precious floor space. Attach bookshelves to the wall, build a bench under the window, and mount the television. Some pieces even hover off the ground (or appear to), which creates open space that visually expands a room.
Consider Off-Label Uses
Just because a furniture item is considered a dining room piece doesn't mean it can't perform and look nice in other rooms of your home. Using a dining room sideboard in the living room, for example, gives you cupboard storage as well as surfaces to display books and collectibles. A garden bench can be extra seating at the dinner table, and a vanity table makes a compact laptop desk.
Add Secondary Storage
Typically, small homes are short on places to stash things. That's why it's so valuable to find furniture with storage included. Look for tables with drawers or shelves and ottomans with hidden compartments. Trunks make excellent coffee tables. And you can tuck a lot of stuff—even luggage—under extra-tall beds.
Find furniture that does double duty. This daybed is a cozy couch during the day, but turns into a pullout bed when company comes. Look for other ways to swap in hardworking furniture, like using a dresser as a nightstand or a storage cart as a kitchen island.
Add an All-Purpose Piece
Invest in a small, light piece that can be easily moved wherever you need it. A small double-decker cart, for example, acts as an extra kitchen prep area that can be moved into the living room to serve as a bar cart or appetizer station when company comes.
Divide + Conquer
Although it might seem counterproductive, segmenting a space helps to make the whole room seem larger. If you live in a studio apartment, fake extra rooms with the help of curtains or a fold-up panel. Place a divider adjacent to a corner to create a makeshift office, or in the kitchen for an impromptu dining room.