Create a clutter free living room

Living room with open shelves made from wood crates.

The living room presents a unique set of organizational challenges. 

The living room is, after all, home to some of the biggest, bulkiest objects you own. 

You have your basic sofa, chair, end table, and coffee table. Note that none of these pieces usually has storage. 

Where do you put the remote? Magazines? Newspapers? Paperwork? Headsets, etc.? You get the drift.

Most families carry the stuff they need or are working on into the living room and then leave it there (of course!). This is precisely what you don't want.

Here are some easy ways to create more storage for a lively - and clutter free - living room. 

Creating a Clutter Free Living Room

Making order out of apparent chaos can involve little more than moving a few things around and adding a few well-chosen storage items. 

The main goal here is to create a clutter free room in which family members and guests feel comfortable.

Start retooling this family hub by taking a good look around the room. Are your shelves too jam-packed to do justice to the photos, book collections, and family heirlooms that vie for space there?

If so, begin by stripping the shelves bare of all objects. After a good dusting, put things back in a balanced assortment of large and small items so that the overall look and feel is clutter free..

Place books you rarely read on the shelf nearest the floor and a grouping of smaller, lighter items on the next shelf up.

Display items you'd like at center stage on chest-high shelves, and place the remaining items higher up, alternating between bulky pieces and delicate objects.

Look high and low for the objects that have strayed from other rooms and been haphazardly set atop the coffee table or end tables. Return them to their rightful homes, or move them into storage.

Next, if your couch, chairs, and other furnishings are flush against the wall, move them to the center of the room in seating clusters, or as a single grouping with items spaced 8 to 10 feet (2-3m) apart. This will create a more intimate seating area and, more important, it will free up a wall for new, clutter free, shelves or cabinets. 

Use the additional shelves to relieve clutter on existing shelves or to display some more important items that have been visually lost elsewhere in the room. The ceiling is the limit. Or, consider placing a decorative table or small cabinet behind the sofa and using it to show off large framed pictures or other bulky items. 

While you wouldn't want to cover every wall in your living room with shelves, more wall space does mean more storage possibilities.

Consider the walls a display gallery for your treasured items. Hang antique fireplace tools near the hearth, your flute from grade school amid a collection of music-inspired prints, or a child's framed drawing among family photos.

Create A Home For Everything

The solution for keeping your living room clutter free is giving the family a place to put their things so they can keep them where they use them.

That means you've got to get creative and figure out how to incorporate some storage areas into the room for the items you desire to keep there so that it will be both utilitarian and clutter free.

Consider bringing in a few creative additions where needed. Possibilities include:

  • Incorporate attractive baskets into your decor for a clutter free look.
  • Choose furniture with hidden storage, such as antique or wicker trunks, wooden storage chests, and benches with hinged seats and hollow compartments.
  • Invest in custom-designed storage units, or create your own DIY version with open crates that serve as shelves for clutter free storage and display.
  • Store the small stuff in Shaker-style boxes, decorative bowls, colorful cookie jars, and wicker baskets. 

Deciding What Goes Where

Once you've arranged some storage and the room is clutter-free, now you have to decide what goes where - and how to keep it there. These tips can help you create systems and places for just about everything.

Look at your room in terms of the activities you'll be doing there, write down what items you need for those activities, and then start planning where you'll put them.

Here are a few examples:

Reading: Store books, newspapers, or magazines in baskets, on shelves under the coffee table or end tables, on bookshelves, or in attractive magazine racks.

TV: The problem is not so much where to put the TV as where to keep the remote, games, and other accessories that go with it. If you watch TV a lot, just leave them on a tabletop.

But always put them in the same place, or you'll miss your favorite show while you're searching under couch cushions for the pesky things.

Sewing: Even if you don't sew, per se, you probably mend and stitch on buttons. If you keep your sewing kit handy in a cabinet in the entertainment center or hutch, you'll be much more likely actually to do those minor repairs. If you sew a lot, keep your basket right by your special chair. 

Toys and games:Many wooden toy chests are attractive enough to grace your living room. (Make sure, however, that any chest you use for toys has supports that will hold the hinged lid open in any position.)

Many children have been injured by tops crashing down on them. Benches with storage underneath are another option, and they can neatly camouflage an entire battalion of G.I. Joes.

Otherwise, group toys by type (LEGOs, Barbies, coloring, drawing) in plastic containers, and stack them neatly on shelves or in cabinets. Allow little ones to pull out only one box at a time.

Napping: The only accessories you need here can be stored in plain sight - afghans and pillows. 

In addition to these organizational groups, consider giving each member of your family a personal place to stash stuff. It's helpful to locate these personal places beside each person's favorite spot to relax. 

You know what I mean: People tend to gravitate to the same spots to sit. This territorial thing is natural; don't fight it (unless the kids are fighting over it). Instead, give each person some personal space. 

Now with places to do things and to put those things out of sight when done, your family can be an active part of your lively, clutter-free living room!

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