Learning how to declutter takes some serious discipline, but no space in your home is worthier of the effort than your living room. After all, this is where most people hang with their family and friends, so you’ve got to stay on top of the mess!
And help is here: Here’s some advice on how to organize your living room so it’s ready for prime time anytime.
Make it a no-drop zone
On its worst day, you know what it looks like: coats thrown on chairs, bags plopped on the couch, and shoes tossed every which way. Don’t let this happen to your living room!
“This space can quickly become a drop-off zone when you get home from work,” notes Jacquie Denny, co-founder of Everything but the House. Make sure there’s room in a nearby closet to hang jackets, or install a rack in the foyer or front hall, and then add a large basket to hold footwear. Get in the habit of placing your coat on the hook every single time you come in.
Manage your reading material
If you open the mail and then toss magazines and newspapers on the coffee table, this means clutter can happen after just a couple of days.
“If you haven’t finished an issue before the next one arrives, recycle it or donate it to a nursing home, church group, or Girl Scouts troop to read or reuse for crafts,” suggests Julie Coraccio, the home organizing voice at Reawaken Your Brilliance in Cary, NC.
Once you’ve sorted and tossed your paper pile, slot just a few magazines and today’s paper into a rack or basket.
Get multipurpose furniture
A great way to keep clutter at bay is to use furniture with a dual purpose, says Marty Basher, a home organization expert with Modular Closets. Consider ottomans or storage cubes that can hold a cozy blanket, side tables with drawers for cocktail napkins and coasters, or a two-level coffee table (you can stack books and magazines on the lower level).
Clear shelves and tables
Next up: bookshelves—which shouldn’t become a repository for every cheap paperback novel you’ve ever read (or plan to read).
“These should house groupings that decorate—artwork, vases, pretty picture frames—but don’t distract,” points out Denny.
Open shelving is a great choice in the living room if you have a combination of items to put on display as well as keep hidden away. “Remove books that aren’t sentimental and then add in a basket to hold family games,” adds Basher.
Stash that tech
“One of the most serious clutter offenders in the living room are electronics, including phones, chargers, and remotes,” states Basher. A smart way to organize them is with a large utensil caddy, which can be placed on the ottoman or even the floor, depending on its size, he adds.
Laptops and iPad devices can also be stored in a magazine rack or a specially configured drawer.
Remove unnecessary furniture
Two couches may be too much! If you’re constantly trying to shimmy sideways past your furniture in order to pull the drapes closed, it’s probably time to vote something off the island.
“Sell unwanted living room items like club chairs and lamps to people in your community on a site like OfferUp,” suggest Andrea Woroch, a money-saving expert. Simply post pictures and descriptions of your pieces, and wait for the offers to come in.
Curate the coffee table
A clutter-free living room is spare and neat—and this is especially true for the coffee table. Treat this focal point with care, and include only a handful of your favorite things like a couple of beautiful hardcover books, a vase or other colorful object, and perhaps a small box to hold reading glasses, pen, and paper. All of these items can be displayed on a pretty lacquer tray.
Find a place for kid (and pet) stuff
Are your kids playing here—or will they more often mess around in their bedroom, the den, or the basement? You can declare this a toy-free space, but if your tots are likely to be in the living room, make a plan to declutter and then organize their toys. Options include adding a rolling toy box or a set of baskets that can be hidden under the couch when playtime is over. Same rule applies to pets and their chew toys—which are best hidden when not in use.