Organizing the living room is an important part of feeling relaxed at home. Yes, there are rooms you probably spend more time in than your living room. But in most homes, the main activity in the living room is relaxing. Hanging out. Streaming shows and playing games, or even reading (which is old-fashioned, but still one of my favorite living room activities.) Maybe our parents had a living room set up to host the neighbors on Sundays after church, but most people don’t use formal living rooms any more. Our modern spaces can reflect the more casual evolution of the room.
Your first step to organize the living room is to declutter it.
Bring a hamper or basket with you for items that belong in other rooms of the house. This will keep you from roaming around the house, noticing a million other chores you could do instead.
Bring a trash can or recycle bin as well.
Work your way around the room systematically, or go willy-nilly if that’s more your style. You could put on some music, but not a show because that is a recipe for distraction.
Flat surfaces, baskets, and piles
Once you have gathered all of the things that live in other rooms and thrown away all of your obvious trash, look at your flat surfaces. The goal is to keep those mostly clear.
Do you have decorative baskets holding blankets, games, magazines, papers? Instead of filling those baskets up as you declutter, consider getting rid of what’s in them and then letting go of a basket or two. This will free up more space and space feels good.
If you have a pile (or piles) of paper in the living room, it’s time to go through that. There will never be a time when you want to do it. So, do it now and get it over with already!
Use the recycle bin liberally. Most of the paper you have will never be referenced again.
Put any truly relevant information into your phone. Schedule things right on your calendar, add chores to your digital to do list or note-taking apps, and enter phone numbers or personal notes right into your contacts.
Let go of these things:
Here are other things you can declutter from the living room pretty quickly once you decide space is more important to you.
- Out-of-date magazines, anything other than the current edition is out-of-date. This can feel wasteful because you may not have read the magazine. But life keeps moving forward and having an old magazine on the coffee table is more likely to make you feel guilty or late than accomplished and on top of things. Try it. Throw away all the old magazines. What’s the worst that could happen?
- Extra blankets and pillows. Hang your favorite blanket (or two) on the back of the couch.
- Out-dated media. CDs, DVDs, manuals to appliances which can be found online if needed, VHS tapes, Laser discs, cassette tapes, you get the idea. All of these are obsolete and can be released today without repercussions. Anyone who tells you differently is holding on to something else. If you want to keep them for sentimental reasons, put them on display or store them in a box. Don’t kid yourself that you will watch or listen to them if you have Spotify and Apple TV. And forget about selling this old media. They aren’t worth enough money to be worth the time it takes to sell them. I promise!
- Books you don’t plan to read. I know it’s hard, so I won’t fight with you about this. Be honest with yourself and let as many go as you can. Organize the rest by the color of their spine. So pretty! Or organize them however makes it easy for you to find the one you are looking for.
- Extra picture frames. Take the photos out of the frames you don’t love. Keep the photos, donate the frames. Consider moving your small photos (with or without frames) to other places like your closet, inside your drawers or cabinets. I know you love those photos! This is just an idea we use to minimize visual clutter around the house.
- Small pieces of furniture. Can you empty an entire bookshelf? Can you live without a coffee table (especially if you have small kids who prefer to roll around on the floor)? What if you got rid of a basket full of magazines and then donated the basket itself? WOW! You are going to have so much space in the living room!
Organize the living room
What are you left with? Do you love each thing? Can you do the activities you want to do comfortably?
Store things near where you will use them. Click To Tweet
Don’t push all your furniture against the walls. Most homes need to bring the couch closer to their TV. Seating distance from the screen should be 1.5 times the diagonal measurement of the screen. More handy measurement guides for furniture spacing here.
Make sure you have adequate lighting. Try smart lights if you are feeling adventurous! “Google, turn the living room lights on.”
If you exercise in the living room, that is wonderful! It’s okay to have your gear out in the open to make it easier to work out. It’s not okay to be tripping over your gear when you’re trying to walk to the kitchen for a snack. Find a happy compromise in the living room for your hobbies.
Set yourself up to succeed
Speaking of hobbies and exercise, if you’d like to spend more time knitting or reading or having tea; if you’d like to have friends over more often or start doing Yoga with Adriene on YouTube; use these desires as motivation to get your living room ready for those activities. Use your goals as motivation to let go of some nostalgic things and make room for what you’d really love to have in your life going forward.
Tidy your organized living room each day. Do it for your future self!
Thanks so much for reading. What are your thoughts about organizing the living room? Is there anything you keep in there that’s different from how your parents did it?
Do tell me in the comments!
Also published on Medium.