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"I live in the smallest house in Arlington. It has less than 500 square feet," says Kathy Dodd. She and her gray tabby moved into this Arlinton, Va., rental this fall, and she has had trouble arranging furniture to make the most of the 10-by-12-foot living room. Dodd wants to use the room primarily to watch TV from her couch and work at an oversize desk her dad built (though she's open to buying new furniture). She wants to keep the room light and airy. Because she's renting, she's limited to repainting and redecorating.
Designer Dolly Howarth of Howarth Designs in Arlington, Va., says: Draw inspiration from elements in the room that cannot be altered, such as the warm wood floors and the brick fireplace. Stick to furnishings that fit the small scale and add color through accessories that can be changed easily. Pick scratch-resistant fabrics that won't show pet hair. And if you can get permission from the landlord, you could camouflage the awkward heating unit above the fireplace by painting the walls a light, neutral color so the unit will blend in.
ILLUSTRATION: Julius Goyanko - For The Washington Post; PHOTOS: Courtesy; EDITED BY: Kathleen Hom - The Washington Post; WEB PRODUCER: Andrea Browne - washingtonpost.com; INTERACTIVE: washingtonpost.com