The living room means different things to different people. For some its the most common room in the house, where everything happens. Others have it tucked away and congregate predominantly in the kitchen. For apartment renters and condo/townhouse owners it is often the largest functional room. Whatever yours might be, it's an important room to make fit into your needs, style and taste.
There are two ways to approach the living room -- keep it minimal and simple, or amply decorated with furniture pieces, decorative objects, plants, etc. Generally, the smaller the space the less you'll want to fill it up with big pieces. But that doesn't mean you can't make it ornate. Keep the look to the walls and in the objects, using only 1-2 main furniture items. You can get really creative with what you work with -- two lounge chairs can be a cool alternative to a couch or sofa, or you can skip having a coffee table.
For minimalist, the same base rules apply -- a few good furniture items. Just keep decorative objects and other decor items to a minimum. When shopping, set your budget by need not just financial. If you're renting and will be for a while, it's not the best time to buy investment furniture. Even the best quality furniture items are not made to be moved repeatedly in and out of houses, trucks, cars, etc. You'll want to be pretty sure you'll be staying put before you buy the pieces you'll have for life.
Fortunately, there are plenty of stores that meet needs just like this and have great, nice enough quality furniture that may not be with you for life. Set what you want to spend here first. It's not to say you shouldn't buy quality -- look for good construction, materials, etc. regardless of whether you're saving or splurging.