DON'T FEAR BEING ECLECTIC. Whether the flea market menage style suits you or not, assembling unexpected items into one cohesive look can create a unique style of your own in minimal space. Some things will work for that one dwelling alone, and other items you'll unexpectedly love and keep forever.
HANG A UNIQUE MIRROR. Known to create the illusion of more space in a room, mirrors are a clean way to add visual interest to a plain wall. In tight dressing quarters, a mirror outside of the bathroom comes in quite handy.
THINK VERTICALLY. While the floor space may not impress, remember to take advantage of the vertical space in your apartment. Tall, thin bookshelves are always classy, and small touches hung higher than expected can change the entire feel of a room.
ADD ONE UNIQUE THING. Whether it's that headless sculpture you grabbed in Florence that one time, or an abbreviated version of this wine rack for on-hand liquor for when friends drop by, add one conversation piece to your space. When in Palo Alto, I hung my collection of vintage E letters in our living room and was surprised at how many people I barely knew heard of and mentioned the collection--case in point that small efforts to distinguish your dwelling can be appreciated and remembered.
ADD A RUG. A seemingly small addition, a rug not only sections small rooms into comprehensible areas, it provides cushion for kids and lounging friends, and can cover some really horrible carpet.
CREATE A HOSPITABLE ENVIRONMENT. Whether it's the living room or kitchen table for guests, or a bedroom just for you, make the most use of such a small space by making it inviting. Creating a logical, organized, and comfortable dwelling can occur regardless of square footage. Create good lighting, comfortable places to sit, and keep it free of space-cramping clutter.
CREATE VERSATILE SPACES. Make the surface of your large kitchen table double as an oversized desk. Turn your living room, the cozy weekend space for curling up and watching a movie after Indian take-out, into a think-tank. This room is not only gorgeous, but shows how so much can go on in a small room while keeping to a distinct and organized aesthetic.
PAINT OR FINISH A WALL. A room can be revolutionized with a little paint, and landlords can be surprisingly lenient with a simple wall of paint that can be whitewashed over again at the end. Paint one wall with black chalkboard paint. Did you know that you can dip fabric into liquid starch and smooth it onto a wall--which will stay there until you remove it without a trace?
DRAPE. Though this room is beautiful and obviously not student housing, it shows how a simple draping over a table can create a simple elegance--perfect for covering a questionable piece of furniture, creating elegance for small apartment parties--and providing an appealing alternative to (shutter briefly with me:) mini blinds.