Living Room Organization Ideas

Written by Neat Freak

a good dayCreative Commons License photo credit: tifotter

The living room or family room tends to be the center of family life and, therefore, it’s also the center of  family clutter.  This is where we go to unwind and just enjoy being a family together.  A lot of stuff ends up strewn all over the floor, tables, and any surface you can find that’s not already occupied.  The kids bring toys in, the grownups bring work in, and it piles up everywhere.  Your family wants to feel relaxed in the living room, after all it is for living, but no one is happy with the resulting mess.  So, where do you begin to make the change from chaos to clean?

Step One:  Decide How Your Living Room Will Function
In order to eliminate the mountain of  debris, we have to first decide how we want our family room to function.  What types of things do you do in the family room?  Do you watch movies, play video games, and music?  Does anyone pour through magazines while they’re sitting with the family?  Is someone always reading books and stacking them in a corner?  Is the family room your children’s only play area?  How about knitting, needlepoint, or sewing while listening to music?  Do you keep a treadmill in your living room and exercise while watching television?  Do you play board games or put together puzzles?  Is your family room also your school room, catching up on homework, and working on school projects?  Do you use the computer in your living room?  Be thoughtful about what you WANT to use your family room for, and not just what you are using it for now.  Get your entire family involved because you’re going to need their cooperation when it comes down to the execution of your plan.

Step Two:  Choose Furniture And Storage For Your Entertainment Pieces
If the majority of your family’s leisure time is spent in front of the television, watching shows and movies, playing video games, or listening to music, an entertainment center is a necessity.  You can find models that not only store your equipment, but also all the movies, games, and music the family enjoys.  However, these units can be expensive and they take up a lot of space.  If you have the room, and your budget allows, and you don’t plan on changing the layout of the room, these entertainment centers can be a good choice. But, if you can’t fit a large entertainment center in your living room, or your budget won’t allow such an expense, or your room’s arrangement isn’t permanent, some smaller, more modular pieces would be a better choice. An inexpensive option to consider for both equipment set-up and storage are dressers.  Taking a standard six or nine drawer dresser, place your audio/visual equipment on top, and store your media in the drawers.  This is a great temporary solution, too, until you decide what to do permanently.  There are many other options for storing the movies, games, and music outside of an entertainment center.  Do some research and you will find many different styles of storage racks, from simple wood cabinets or bookshelves, to modern metal units that have a sculpture look to them.  A closet with added shelves can make a great place to store the media out of harm’s way, especially with young children in the house.

Step Three:   Manage The Toys
Allowing your kids to have a few favorite toys in the living room can ease the stress of organizing.  I know you want to reclaim your living room, but your children will feel better if they are not excluded.  Give them each a container, in their favorite color, and write their names on it to personalize the bin.  Each child is allowed to keep only toys in the room that fit in that bin. Any toy that does not fit in the bin must be put in another room, or stored.   They can always change which toys are in their bin, but they still have to follow the rule that if it doesn’t fit, it can’t stay.  At the end of the day, their toys need to go back in their personal bins.

Step Four:  Manage The Reading Materials
Create a home for the newspapers,  magazines, and books that will invariably accumulate on any surface available by using cute baskets or decorative bins and boxes.  Place baskets or pretty boxes with covers next to the chairs and couches that your readers tend to lounge around on.  When they throw their current printed material on the floor, gently remind each of your readers that their  magazine or book now has a home. Shop the big clearance stores for good deals on covered baskets and boxes that stack.  This is an attractive way to store those magazines, catalogs and newspapers that you are done with but don’t want to recycle quite yet.  Another great storage idea, if your budget allows, is a storage coffee table.  But, even a little basket on top of your existing coffee table or end table will help in corralling all that miscellaneous stuff that clutters up your living room.  Also, if you can find it in your budget, purchasing a bookshelf will make all the difference in the world when it comes to organizing your reading materials.  It doesn’t have to be big or fancy.  Even a simple little three shelf unit will help.

Step Five:  Create A Work Space
If your family has agreed that puzzles, board games, and school work have a place in your living room, you’ll need to include a table and chairs.  Trying to find the space for something like a standard table with four chairs may be difficult, and possibly not feasible.  You may need to be very creative.  Of course, there is the old standby… a folding card table.  Although they’ve come a long way in comfort and looks, you still may not be too keen on them.  They are, however, easily folded and stored, but consider that you still need to have the room to store them.  A drop-leaf table is just what it sounds like.  It is a table that, when you drop the sides down, it becomes narrow enough to slip against a wall without taking up a lot of space. You pull the sides back up, lock them into place, and you have a full-size table for four.  If an extra table is not possible in your living room, you may want to consider a larger coffee table.  Some cleaver folks have even gone to rummage sales, found inexpensive wood dining room tables, and simply cut the legs down until it was coffee table height.  If you have the room in front of your couch for such a coffee table, it’s worth checking into, as it makes a very cozy place to gather.  Puzzles may be a bit more challenging.  In order to arrange a space where a puzzle can remain undisturbed is difficult, but there are actually puzzle mats that roll up with the puzzle inside, without disturbing the already completed portion.  If your family room doubles as your work area with your computer set-up, you’ll need to create a space that’s both convenient and attractive.  Your work space may best be suited by using a computer hutch with doors.  Being able to close your computer and equipment behind doors may be crucial if your entire family is gathering in the living room for fun.  You don’t want to get distracted by your computer’s presence, and you want it safely tucked away from prying eyes and fingers when the kids are playing in the living room.

Your living room’s function will change over the years, but one thing will remain constant.  Your family room or living room is for your Family and for Living.  You want a place to relax, have fun and enjoy your family.  Yes, you want your family room organized, but you don’t want to create a sterile environment that no one can enjoy.

And now that your living room is organized, it’s time to move on to the next room… check back here for more Home Organization Ideas.

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