Moving from a 2,300-square-foot house to a one-bedroom rental required Shannon Claire Smith and Nicholas Herman to rethink everything. Here are some tricks they used to think outside the “rental box” and make the most of their smaller living space.

1. Create zones: Breaking up a long space into smaller, separate areas makes your home seem bigger. Use furniture or rugs to define “rooms.” Carve out a designated entry area for keys and mail, a comfortable spot for seating and a functional work space.

2. Bring the focus up: Hang artwork and curtains tall and wide. Put curtain rods just below the ceiling. Install floor-to-ceiling shelves to maximize storage without taking up floor space. Stretching the surface area of the walls creates the illusion of height and space.

3. Paint, if you’re allowed: Painting an accent wall or hallway creates depth and dimension. Don’t be afraid of bold or dark colors; they give the illusion of depth. Can you believe this starburst mirror is on the hall ceiling?

4. Light it up: Avoid using overhead fluorescent lighting at all costs. Place lamps and mirrors strategically throughout your space to create mood lighting and bounce natural light around the room. Replace boring light fixtures with vintage finds.

5. Update your bathroom: Replace dated faucets and install a rain shower head; stash the originals to swap back when you move out. Consider building a screened radiator cover to hide the bulky unit as well as provide another surface. Smith and Herman painted a black stripe around the room to mimic tile.

More from Home & Garden:

From homeowners to renters: A young couple’s stylish approach to downsizing to a one-bedroom

Decorating small spaces

Chat Thursday at 11 a.m. Designer Shannon Claire Smith joins staff writer Jura Koncius for our weekly online Q&A on decorating and household advice.

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