DON'T BRING A PIANO. AND YET... Of all the things I stored away during our recent two-year stint in Stanford student housing, I missed most my piano. Yet the cost and effort of hauling it across the country and installing it into such small quarters was unrealistic. Plus who wants to hear your thin-walled neighbor banging away at Beethoven at 9:30am? A nice alternative (and fun party prop for singing funny ballads) is a weighted keyboard, which takes up only a small portion of space but is sensitive to finger pressure like a piano.
DO BRING A FAVORITE READING CHAIR. When temporarily leaving behind some beloved living room furniture, take along a beautiful and/or functional reading chair. You'll be surprised at how pleasing of a personal space you can carve out of even the most . . . aesthetically questionable of dwellings.
DO BRING YOUR MATTRESS AND FABULOUS BEDDING. As simple as you choose to adorn the bedroom for your small dwelling, don't sell the place short with bedding. No matter how small or temporary your living conditions, settling into and rising from your finest linens and quality mattress can compensate for much of the place's faults. You can leave your irreplaceable head and baseboards in storage and go for a pillows-strewn-around Paris salon kind of feel, or create your own headboard, as shown here.
IF YOU LIKE TO ENTERTAIN, DO BRING FINE SERVING DISHES--BUT DON'T BRING THE CHINA. In small quarters, it's hard to situate everyone as calmly as in a grand dining room, and plates and glasses can get broken more easily. If your servingware is classy enough and you set candles and perhaps wine about the room, the regular (or, yes, even paper) plates will be seen as whim not sparsity.
DO BRING YOUR FAVORITE ART. Art takes up absolutely no living space, and adds invaluable character and familiarity to your dwelling. If this small setting is temporary for you, take the opportunity to go bold, to experiment with what you might not normally consider. Your place will feel fresh and new (sometimes needed in such settings) and you may fall more in love with such pieces than any other.
DO USE A PORTABLE COFFEE TABLE. Although coffee tables can obstruct and become a nuisance in an intimately-spaced living room, they still provide good use. Make a coffee table from a low and rolling cart such as chrome kitchen shelving, or such as this one. Set out wooden crates that can be moved aside. Use the ottoman. You'll be glad for the versatility.
DON'T BRING THE STUFF. Although the small touches and acquisitions for your home are what make your space uniquely yours, pare down on what smaller things you bring. Though you might miss some of it, such items can become clutter when you have to maneuver around them. Bring a handful of the favorites. It's an opportunity to start from scratch, to evaluate your style and things from a distance, and leave open the opportunity to come across new beloved pieces. Taking a step back allows you to be very French in your dwelling--to slow down, value authenticity, and accumulate meaningful pieces over time.
DO BRING LIGHTING. Not only is it a bummer to live under overhead florescents, but, conversely, putting thought into lighting can revolutionize the feel of a room. Whether you position the furniture to take advantage of natural lighting, as seen here, or you position lamps evenly throughout the room (focusing on places to sit and work), get the light right.
DO BRING A CHANDELIER. Speaking of lighting. Often you can easily install a chandelier or add it creatively into your space. Like rugs and wall art, this is a unique and nonintrusive way to add to your place.
DO BRING YOUR WILD SIDE. Let loose. Whether you're downsizing into a studio for simplicity's sake, or swapping internationally through your company, or experiencing university life, you're out there in the world, living. Looking for abundance. Looking for the risk that will bring you joy. Express that in your dwelling with adventurous and creative expressions of yourself.