The Organized Life

Organization Tips for a Clutter-Free Living Room

We all want our living room to be an open and inviting space that is guest-ready for the holidays, but often they look more like they have a little too much LIVING in them. You know the ones: overcrowded with furniture, stacked with rarely-used items, feeling more cramped than comfortable. We can help with tips on how to organize your living room.

We checked in with interior designer Janene Ferrara of Dalehead Designs for her expert cleanup and redesign ideas for creating an open, clutter-free living room space.

She says when she come across a client with a disorganized home, the first thing she does is recommend they do a clean sweep. “Move all removable items (e.g., clothing, pillows, candles, lamps, decorative items and small pieces of furniture) temporarily into a nearby room.  Once the “swept” room is empty you should then assess the furniture layout in the empty space and determine the perfect floor plan.”

She says the key to being able to keep the things you love in the space without becoming cluttered is thoughtful layering. “Start with the smaller pieces of furniture and only if a) you need it b) it looks good when added back into the room.  Consider each item as if you were deciding to purchase it in a store.  Ask yourself, ‘if given the choice, would you purchase this item again to fit into this room and does it add to the overall look?’  If not, set it aside to be packed up.”

 This method will also help you determine if something new is needed for the space, she added.

With the big items laid out, it’s then time to drill down to the smaller items and personal mementos.  Living rooms are often home to entertainment systems and there can be lots of remote controls and cords to contend with.

“Decorative trays and large low bowls placed on ottomans and coffee tables remind people to keep the remotes in one place so that they’re always accessible and look a lot neater,” offers Janene. “For cords and cable boxes, put a power strip inside a square basket or decorative box and insert all of the cords in the basket.  Then, place the cable box on top so you can still aim the remote at it to change channels.”

For many, a living room can become memento madness, with picture frames that start to take over every inch of table and shelf space. While it’s hard to let go of the idea of putting everything on display, Janene suggests thinking of other ways to keep these items organized.

living room photo shelves from Dalehead Designs

“When you have an overflow of pictures, none of them gets noticed and all you see is clutter.  I recommend my clients use scrapbooks to house their favorite pictures and select just a few photographs to display.  I like when the photographs are in antique tones (e.g., sepia or black and white) so that when grouped together on a picture ledge or featured on a gallery-style wall, they appear deliberately curated and pleasing to the eye.”

For parents, keeping a living space clear of kids’ toys is often a hard-won battle. But Janene has a solution for that too! “Baskets with covers are my number one suggestion for keeping toys under wraps. One of the challenges with toys is their ever-growing volume.  Baskets are ideal because they are lightweight so you can easily carry a filled basket over to the toy box and put things away when the volume starts to get out of hand.”

Remember, you don’t have to get rid of your beloved furniture or knick-knacks that have built up over the years. Put them in storage so your living room can have some breathing room again!