If your living room is cluttered and chaotic, it can be tough to relax and spend time with your family or entertain guests. Your living room can become even more challenging to use if you have a large family or an abundance of belongings. But by taking a few simple steps to organize your space, you can turn your living room into a haven of peace and relaxation.
However, before spending an entire day rummaging through an unused pile of blankets or trying to find that one book you need to return, consider these living room organization ideas to help get you started. Whether you live in an apartment in San Francisco, CA, or a house in Nashville, TN, read on to take control of your home.
1. Take photos for a fresh perspective on your space
Many early steps in a decluttering project don’t actually involve decluttering. The process often starts with redefining the space in your mind to create a vision of what you want it to look like when you’re done.
Nonnahs Driskill, Founder of Get Organized Already, suggests getting a fresh perspective is all to help reinvent your space. “Take four wide photos, one of each wall of your living room,” she says. “Then, go into another room and take an objective look at the photos.”
Then, ask yourself if any areas need extra attention or if you notice a spot that could use some cleaning.
2. Try the ‘fresh eyes’ exercise
Another way to establish a new perspective on a space is to walk in and pretend you’ve never been there before. Regina Leeds, author of One Year to an Organized Life, suggests asking yourself, “what do you notice? This tactic allows you to see items that are out of place or areas that need additional decluttering.”
Seeing your living room with a fresh perspective enables you to start decluttering from a more objective place. You can also see what your room will look like without clutter.
3. Establish a purpose for your living room
The next step is considering how you want to use your living room. Start by listing all the different ways you currently use the space and how you want to use it in the future. “This way, you can set up storage space for the items you use for each activity,” says Kate Bosch, Certified Professional Organizer. “For example, situate your favorite reading chair next to a small bookcase.”
Elaine Fernando, Owner of Organized Transitions and member of NASMM and NAPO, notes that many living rooms often serve more than one purpose. “Sometimes they’re a TV room, office, and playroom all in one. Before decluttering, decide how you want to use the space and create zones to accommodate your vision.”
Once you determine the room’s purpose, you can organize it to fit your needs. It is also much easier to declutter with a vision in mind. “Then,” notes Keli Jakel from Organized by Keli & Co, “you can make the best use of the space.”
4. Remodeling your living room? Think about how you use the space
Many people choose to declutter before a remodel. It’s a perfect time to assess what you have, what you need, and what you can get rid of. If you are planning on remodeling, consider how you use your space. “If you like to entertain, consider a large sitting area or multiple smaller areas,” notes Jon Wade from The Steamboat Group. “Your living room should match and meet your lifestyle; it’s your space to showcase how you live and who you are.”
5. Focus on what’s important
Decluttering starts and ends within yourself. It often involves removing physical excess and mentally letting go of these items and what they represent. Decluttering expert Mia Danielle elaborates: “Ideally, your living room should be holistic and supportive. To achieve this, focus on creating a space that highlights eight important qualities: movement, community, comfort, creativity, productivity, clarity, energy, and connection. Optimize your living room in these areas, and you’ll have a perfect space free of unnecessary attachment.”
6. Keep your living space simple
Many living rooms are the home for many different activities. This leads to excess clutter and stress. “Your living room shouldn’t be a catch-all for many different activities,” says Katherine Lawrence with Space Matters. “The more you do, the more cluttered it will be. For example, if you craft, work, game, and play music in your living area, it will be much harder to organize. To help, keep activities confined to specific areas of your house.”
7. Let your living room breathe
Once you’ve narrowed your vision and begun creating a supportive, clutter-free space, you can focus on more detailed work. An essential part of living room organization is noticing where your eyes go when you enter the room. A feeling of open space is important, even in small living areas.
8. Simple designs go a long way
When it comes to living rooms, less is more. “Because people gravitate toward living rooms, items often naturally find their way in,” note Alex and Jen, owners of The Living Collective. “By keeping décor and furniture simple and cozy, you can get back to clean and organized in a snap.”
9. Create space by organizing adjacent rooms
Ideally, you want your living room to be as open as possible. If you have trouble finding room for excess clutter, try doing some prep work in nearby rooms. Consider organizing your dining room or sitting room to create storage space.
10. Avoid blocking natural light
Once you’re finished clearing space, “you can focus on your living room,” advises Ben Soreff from House to Home Organizing. “Above all, remove anything blocking the light, as natural light helps a space feel bigger and more welcoming. New curtains and a light area rug can make a room seem bigger, while dark items contribute to the cave feeling.”
11. Open up your space with functional furniture
One of the most stylish ways to add storage space is by investing in functional pieces of furniture. Cris Sgrott, Certified Professional Organizer with Organizing Maniacs, suggests incorporating “coffee tables and ottomans into your space. These can be great additions for storing larger items like blankets and pillows.”
Also, think about unique storage solutions if you have a small space. For example, “your ottoman can double as a coffee table and storage bin,” says Lauren West from Next Highest Good. This way, you save space without sacrificing functionality.
12. Use stylish bins and baskets to create zones
Sometimes, all you need is some extra space for storage. If you’re having trouble finding space for a few items, try using bins or baskets. “For example, use one for toys, one for blankets, one for remotes, etc.,” says Elizabeth Harrison from Sarasota Home Organizer. Additionally, you can create zones within your living room using bins. Elizabeth goes on, “This can be as simple as a bin that holds your chargers, a notebook, and a pen.”
13. Repurpose and upscale to your heart’s content
If you don’t have room for additional furniture or bins and baskets, consider repurposing your current furniture. “Take a look around and notice where you currently store things,” says Audrey Tesora, Owner of Right Touch Organizing Services. “Next, look for extra space like bookshelves and built-ins. You can repurpose and upcycle these for better functionality.”
Repurposing saves money and helps the environment. Even if you have room for new items, consider using what you already have.
14. Get thrifty with it
Living room organization doesn’t have to break the bank. Start by thinking about the little things that cause clutter, like electronics, books, and cups. “Organize these items by repurposing old containers or magazine holders,” suggests Tami Doling-Thatcher from Silver Lining Organizers. “Be sure to declutter daily and limit knickknacks, only keeping what you love.”
Additionally, consider making your own hanging shelves or adding an extra shelf to your built-in.
15. Be thoughtful about where you leave belongings
Now that your vision, storage solutions, and large furniture are taken care of, it’s time to build clean habits and dig into the active clutter. Tracy McCubbin, Founder of dClutterfly, notes that the first rule of organizing is “don’t put it down, put it away.” After returning everything to their homes, “look at the leftover items and decide if you really need or want it,” she says. “Once you get rid of everything you don’t need, you can focus on cleaning.”
16. Get your large furniture items in order
When beginning your organizing journey, “the first thing that needs to become a habit is making sure your couch is neat,” says Brenna Peyton and Devin Thompson from One Organized Girl. “Make sure cushions and pillows are where they belong, fluffed and tidy.”
Next, focus on your chairs, ottomans, and other large pieces of furniture, which your eyes are naturally drawn to.
17. Keep wiring in check
Electrical wire can ruin the appearance of your living room and cause a lot of stress. Sharon Lowenheim from Organizing Goddess suggests organizing them by grouping your wires and hiding them inside cord covers. “Next,” she says, “camouflage power strips inside cable management boxes and run excess wires behind furniture.”
Another living room organization idea is to use cordless items. Classic analog clocks and battery-powered appliances are good options.
18. Stay on top of your media console
Media consoles often become a catch-all for clutter. When organizing your family room, “pay special attention to the media console,” advises Sam Lund, Owner of Simply Sam Organization. “This is often where clutter builds up,” she says.
Media consoles can be a great way to hide cords and store movies, books, and games. If you have the space and budget, consider adding one to your living room.
19. Get your family involved
There’s no shame in asking for help, especially if you have a large home. Erin Neumann from Sacred Space Organizing suggests getting the whole family involved. “Encourage the whole family to participate, so the responsibility doesn’t fall on one person,” she says. This way, everyone feels responsible and can take pride in the final product.
Because everyone uses it, cleaning and decluttering a living room should be a family affair. “Additionally, everyone should know exactly what is expected of them,” states Jonda Beattie from Time Space Organization. “Daily decluttering should become as routine as brushing your teeth at night. If your family has a good week of decluttering, plan a family reward on the weekend.”
Try making a game out of the decluttering process to help turn it into a fun habit. “Whether you’re a family of one or ten, daily decluttering is essential to keep a quiet living room and home,” notes Kristin Roser from Kristin + Co Organizing. “Get the whole family involved by setting a five-minute timer each night, turning it into a fast-paced game.”
20. Nightly cleaning is essential
An easy way to build decluttering into your life is by spending five minutes every night picking up any obvious clutter throughout your home. “Take a laundry basket around your home before heading to bed for the night, returning items to their proper places,” suggests Alexandra Kozak from Living Simply Pittsburgh. “Setting this routine at night helps reset your house and ensures your living areas remain in check.”
This process isn’t supposed to be stressful. Set a timer and only work until it goes off.
21. Work methodically
Moving sporadically throughout your space makes you more likely to miss items. Slow down and “declutter one step at a time, moving from one end of the room to the other,” advises Jennifer Barnes, Professional Organizer and Owner/Founder of JB Organizing. “This approach is great if you’re short on time – it helps you see progress and lets you know where you left off so you can do more when time allows.”
If you’re short on time, start at one end and set a goal to reach for that session. Continue this process until you’ve organized your entire room.
22. Don’t forget about your upholstery
Couches, chairs, and cushions often pick up years’ worth of dirt and grime, especially in a cluttered home. As part of your organization process, consider cleaning them. Kevin Krasney, Owner of Cole’s Appliance & Furniture Co., suggests using a bucket to mix mild dish soap with water. “Next,” he says, “use a slightly damp sponge to scoop out the soap suds and apply them to the fabric in a circular motion. You can wipe any excess suds with a soft cloth.”
Harish Kumawat from Sierra Living Concepts has additional tips for cleaning your upholstery. “For a quick clean-up, use a steam cleaner or vacuum,” he says. “To remove stains, use a spray cleaner or create your own by combining equal parts vinegar and water.”
Make it a habit to clean your upholstery at least once per month.
23. Keep the process light
It’s easy to get bogged down in the details when you spend hours on end decluttering. Lori Peniston, owner of Disaster 2 Design reminds you to “have fun while designing and decluttering our space. Choose art and accessories that make you happy and keep your home light and joyful.”
If rummaging through your belongings gets to be too much, spend some time thinking about what your room will look like when it’s done. Work decluttering into your day, and don’t push yourself too hard.
24. Consistency is key
To keep the living room organized, perform daily or weekly maintenance sweeps to get things back to square one. Linda Samuels from Oh, So Organized! suggests using a large bin or basket to collect items that belong in other rooms. As you notice them, place items that belong elsewhere into the container, emptying it at the end of the day. “Next, do another scan to identify things that are out of place and return them to their homes,” she says.
Keeping your living room clean and decluttered doesn’t have to be a long or complicated process. “The most important thing is that you’re consistent,” says Rashelle Isip, Owner of The Order Expert. “Take a few minutes at the end of each day to gather and store items where they belong,” she says. “Regular maintenance will help keep your living space in tip-top shape.”
25. Maintain your organized living space by establishing routines
“Staying organized is the hardest part of the process,” says Vickie Dellaquila, Certified Professional Organizer with Organization Rules. “To help, start by establishing routines. Every night, take 5-10 minutes to put things back where they belong and throw anything unnecessary away.” Make sure everyone in the household participates in order to speed the process up.
Additionally, Dr. Regina F. Lark, Ph.D., Certified Professional Organizer and Founder of A Clear Path, has four essential tips to help you maintain your clean living room:
- Set a nightly reminder that goes off right before bed.
- When the timer goes off, grab a basket or box and move from one end of the room to the other, picking up anything that doesn’t belong.
- Begin re-distributing items from the basket or box and putting them where they belong.
- Repeat nightly.
Establishing a routine is the most critical part of the entire decluttering process. Without changing your lifestyle, it may be challenging to create a lasting change in your home.
Final thoughts on living room organization
Decluttering your living room is a big step toward a clean, stress-free home. Remember, start with a vision, keep your room simple, and enlist help, splitting cleaning and organizing into manageable chunks. Lastly, take time every day to maintain your clean room. Building a decluttering habit is the key to a peaceful home.