Paint, furniture, decor & storage. That's it... ready, go! Noooo, kidding! First, if you haven't read The Not So Big House by Susan Susanka, you should (especially if you find yourself "hating" living in a small home). I for one am a HUGE fan of not having more space than what you realistically need, but everyone is different! I also want to preface this one by saying I don't believe we should be striving for bigger... bigger anything really. BUT making your home FEEL bigger can actually make you feel like you have more space like there's room to roam and be free, and even dream bigger. You'll find that creating space in your home (even if it's an optical illusion) will open up your world outside of your home. These aren't just useful for people with small homes, but small rooms, a tiny pantry, an office, whatever it is almost everyone can take advantage of these.
First, let's talk about paint. There are a few tricks here that you can use to "expand" your space. I'm sure you've heard bright colors make your home feel bigger, well it's true. They're more reflective than darker colors making the light reflective off the walls and thus bigger. But there are some secret paint tricks that will do wonders for your tiny space.
Your trim (baseboard, crown molding, window trim, etc), keep it lighter than your walls! That means if you paint your walls white, paint your trim whiter (I actually usually use ceiling white paint on my trim). The vice versa is true as well, if you don't want to go around painting ALL your trim, just paint your walls a shade lighter. If they are a darker wood, don't paint your walls navy blue and expect them to feel bigger! This will give off the illusion that your walls are further back, it's a magic trick.
Paint your ceiling and walls the same color. If you're going with Simply White on your walls, do it on the ceiling too. If you're painting your walls Sage Green, think about painting your ceiling the same color too. I know, I know it sounds CRAZY, but in a small room it sends out the illusion that the walls are continuing on, they keep going and that makes you feel like it's bigger (which is what we're going for... feeling)!
The last trick with paint is the finger edge. Yes, this is a Heather Hamel Design coined term, haha. The finger edge is just the look, there are tools that will help you do this, but the idea is to make the meeting point between your wall and your ceiling look curved (like you went around the whole length of the ceiling and indented it with a finger). You can get the same effect with a piece of molding. It's the same continuous feel that we talked about above, there's no "end" (corner between wall and ceiling), it just keeps going.
Furniture, oof, this one can be hard! But there's nothing worse than big heavy looking furniture in a teensy apartment. Here are some furniture shoulds and should not for your small home:
Other things to think about, keep your furniture low to the ground (with legs!) if possible. This will make the eye see more walls! Try not to block pathways or eye lines into other rooms. If you can see into your living room through a kitchen doorway don't put a couch blocking the view. It'll make it feel like there's an end when you want it to feel like it keeps going and going. Last tip with furniture, what's the longest corner-to-corner line in a room? The diagonal. If possible put your furniture out on an angle, it'll lead the eye long the longest line.
Decor and storage, this I kind of the "general" category. I almost always put floating sinks or vanities in half baths, and I almost always get the "well, what am I supposed to put toilet paper and cleaning supplies," then the, "oh that's okay I'll just put a big basket on the ground." NOOOO! That completely defeats the purpose, say the little me in my head. The point here with any kind of storage is to get it off the floors and on the walls. You are lacking. in floor space, NOT wall space. There are beautiful ways to store cleaning supplies and toilet paper on the ways! This goes for every room in your small home, go up not out! And lastly, decor - make things seem longer. For instance, curtains; if you have ANY space at all above your curtains use it. Hang your curtain rod 3-6" above the actual window and get curtains that go to the ground (remember to keep them light). It will give the illusion of longer lines, bigger windows aka bigger walls.
Creating space is not just a singular term. Creating space in your home or even the illusion of it (the feeling of it) WILL create space in your life. Space to breathe, space to see, space to live more purposeful, and more present.