The living room is one of the most heavily used, multifunctional spaces in a house. It’s commonly used for movie nights, playdates, arts & crafts, book clubs, homework, naps and more. This makes it a difficult room to keep organized and clutter free.
When tackling an organizing project you need to prioritize storage for the activity of highest need. You may consider all that takes place in your living room as high priority. To keep from getting overwhelmed, focus on creating systems that will be easy for you and your family to follow and maintain.
What to Do Before You Start
Remove items that don’t belong in your living room and return them to their proper place in the house. Then take some time to decide what will remain and what you may want to declutter.
Determine where things will go. Most organizing projects start with planning how you want to use your space and then continue with decluttering items you don’t want or need. Consider the activities that will take place in this room. As you clean up, you’ll discover what will fit and where to store it.
Consider storing certain categories of items in another part of the house if your space is limited. For example, kids’ art supplies can take up a lot of room but are often easily corralled in containers. Perhaps these containers can live in the garage or a side closet and be pulled out as needed.
Reduce visual and physical clutter. As a general guideline to paring down, assess what you have, determine what you need or use, dispose of the excess, donate, recycle or trash and then decide on a storage method and home for each category.
You may come across items you don’t use but can’t part with, categorize these items as “sentimental” and store them away from your main space. If they’re not items you use regularly.
Managing Common Living Room Items
Blankets And Throws
If you like to keep extra blankets handy for friends and family, store them in a lidded container in another location to be retrieved as needed. This will not only keep your entertaining blankets clean but also free up space in your living room.
Children’s Toys And Art Supplies
Children’s toys and art supplies accumulate quickly, and young children change quickly. Get rid of the items they’ve outgrown.
Consider What Your Child Uses Now
If you have more than you need for the foreseeable future, you may want to donate the extras to someone in need. To keep your living room clutter-free, try categorizing and sorting the remaining toys and art supplies into bins, keeping only a few accessible at a time and rotating in other boxes as necessary.
Be sure the decor in your living room brings you visual joy. If you have too much, you may not be able to appreciate or even remember what you have displayed. Aim to give each piece its own personal space. Remove the items you no longer love. If you still have more than you prefer, consider storing some to be switched out throughout the year.
Books And Magazines
It can be hard to let go of reading material. However, your space is too valuable to store books that you may or may not get around to reading. Similarly, if you can’t keep up with the influx of magazines, you may want to keep only the two or three most recent issues to prevent old ones from piling up.
Plants can give a space color, personality and life. The opposite can be true if your houseplants aren’t thriving or well taken care of. Make sure your living room offers the right growing environment for the plants you want to keep there. Relocate plants that aren’t doing well to a more suitable location.
Storage bins come in a variety of materials — bamboo, plastic, cardboard — and may work well for items you’ve decided to rotate in. If you have storage consoles or built-in cabinets, the bins can be hidden out of sight until ready for use. If you don’t have much storage space and don’t rotate items in too often, consider storing these containers in a different location.
Storage solutions can also serve as room decor. A large woven basket adds function as well as a warm, welcoming feel to the room.
Arranging your framed photos in a gallery wall or on shelves can help keep surfaces clear and create less clutter. Using frames in the same material and color will give the wall a sleek, cohesive look, while an eclectic variety of frames will feel casual and fun.
Sometimes temporary additional storage may be advantageous. If necessary, you may want to consider adding a small bookshelf, toy chest or toy organizer to keep your systems manageable and easy for your family members to maintain.
Consider investment furniture pieces if you need permanent additional storage. A storage cabinet, armoire or media console can provide a lot of extra space. To make the most of any piece you purchase, adjust the shelves, if that’s an option, to suit your needs. Also measure the interior and using storage containers or bins that fit well. While a console or cabinet will offer extra storage space, careful space planning can ensure it doesn’t become a hidden dumping ground for miscellaneous items.
Multipurpose furniture can be a great compromise between form and function. Blankets might stow away nicely in a storage ottoman instead of in a large basket. Remotes and chargers could find a home in a coffee table with drawers. A lift-top coffee table can hide magazines and children’s art supplies.
Installing a modular shelf system in an unused or repurposed closet may help keep your living room clutter-free. If you decide to go this route, be sure to set up the closet so that returning each item to its place is fast and easy. Try to avoid stacking bins, as the extra step of moving the top bin to access the bottom bin may be a deterrent to putting things away.
A living room overhaul is an opportune time to address your storage needs. For custom-built furniture, have specific containers or baskets in mind or on hand to build around, instead of vice versa. The baskets’ contents can change over time as the family’s needs evolve.
Built-in window seats can increase living room storage. Before selecting the type of storage for a window seat, consider what you generally plan to store there and determine which method of storage — cabinets with doors, drawers or lift-top — would work best for you.
Work with a professional to see if there are any spaces around your living room that could be opened up for more storage, such as underneath a staircase.
If your plans include built-in bookshelves, consider if you want to cover part of the shelves with cabinet doors, as you may have some storage items you don’t want to be visible.
With a little creativity and planning, you can achieve a functional and beautifully organized living room on nearly any budget.