Organize the Living Room in 30 Minutes

TV unit in living room
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Keeping a living room organized is a challenge because the living room (or family room) has so many functions. You’re supposed to use the same space to relax, entertain, play, eat, and possibly exercise, all while keeping it tidy?

Given how many things they’re used for, it’s no wonder living rooms often end up full of clutter. Walking into any living room and you may see piles of mail, unread magazines, toys scattered about, and exercise equipment.

Remove Foreign Items

Grab a basket or bin and walk around the room. Pick up anything that doesn’t belong in your living room and is contributing to an obvious state of messiness and put it in the basket. Return items that belong in another room to their correct spots, then return living room items to their proper storage spaces. Pillows that have landed on the floor can go back on the couch; boots can go back by the front door or in the closet, and so on. Also, take this time to throw out those dying flowers in the vase on the mantel, or any other trash you find.

Create a Home for Lost Objects

If you come across something that belongs in the living room but has no proper place, create a spot for it. So, if there are several remote controls scattered about the room, pick a convenient spot to gather them every time: either the coffee table or TV stand, it doesn’t matter exactly where, as long as the location works for you. What matters is that from now on the remotes will have a consistent home.

Likewise, make sure that books, magazines, and throw pillows have a home, so they don't create piles of clutter. If you process your mail in the living room, have a container or file folder handy for that task.

Declutter the "Disaster Zone"

Most rooms have a corner or a piece of furniture that functions as the designated disaster zone even when most of the room is pretty well organized.

If you have any major centers of clutter in your living room—like a certain end table that always gets loaded up with random stray items—now is the time to not only declutter it but to find homes for the items that always seem to wind up in this area. This will make the entire room look cleaner and hopefully reduce the chances that this area will get cluttered all over again.

Face Your Things

A simple step in the organization of any room that takes no money, no products, and almost no time, is to simply straighten everything out and line it up. This is called “facing.” 

This goes for smaller items like books on your bookshelf, knick-knacks over the fireplace, and blankets folded on top of a chest, as well as chairs and tables. When everything’s askew, it can make a room look far messier than it actually is, and when your space looks out of control, you can start to feel that way too. Quickly straightening everything from the pencils on your desk to the throw pillows on the sofa can make a major impact.

Think About Function

Is there anything about being in the room that always bugs you? For instance, maybe every time you sit in the living room and watch TV, you remember something you need to buy at the drugstore and have to go to the kitchen to write it down before you forget. Fix this by placing a pad and pen on the coffee table within easy reach.

Make a Plan

If the problem is something you can’t fix now, make a note to fix it at another time. You might spot some issues like this while you’re organizing—maybe stacking up your magazines made you see that a magazine rack would be a convenient addition to the room. Or perhaps you realized that having a recycling bin for newspapers, or a basket for cat toys, would help in the long term. Take a few minutes now to make future organizing plans.

Get Rid of Something

Now that you’ve decluttered, faced, and straightened up your living room, it’s a good moment to pick something (such as an old broken chair you’re never going to have time to repair or a throw rug that wasn’t your style in the first place) and get rid of it. Let it go and free up some living room space. If you have children, a good place to start is with their toys. See if there are any toys they would be willing to donate.

With just a little attention paid to the living room, you can transform the most cluttered room in your home into what it is meant to be—a place to gather together as a family. An organized living room becomes a refuge for all family members.