Does any room get quite as cluttered as the living room?
This much-used, much-loved multipurpose room seems to have a clutter problem that’s in a class of its own. Somehow the discarded socks, abandoned toys, half-read books, crumpled magazines, forgotten phone chargers and more collect in this shared space, and cleaning it all up seems like a never-ending chore.
Preventing the living room from becoming a drop zone is its own challenge, but the problem can be made to feel less pressing if the items that actually belong in the living room are already organized. If there is less in the room already, those mysterious add-ons that always seem to pile up won’t seem so overwhelming.
Toss these unnecessary things for a living room that feels decluttered, at least some of the time:
Hopefully those old VHS tapes are long gone, but if not, get rid of them, immediately. VHS tapes take up a huge chunk of space, and if they’re not being watched, there’s no point keeping them. Family videos can easily be digitized, either through an app or a service, and everything else can be found online, on DVD or on Blu-ray. Also toss any other DVDs, CDs or anything else that isn’t watched or listened to every year or so.
Attempts at corralling clutter are great, unless they end up half-working, leaving stacks of unused (but hopeful) storage containers tucked around the room. An empty basket is less helpful than no basket, and having all kinds of near-empty storage containers around the room just calls for the purchasing of more clutter with which to fill them. Consolidate baskets and get rid of those that aren’t needed, or move them to another room where they will be used.
Ratty throw blankets
Whether it’s a decorative throw or the fuzzy blanket the whole family curls up under on movie night, once that blanket starts to look ragged (or, worse, carry a mysterious odor), it may be time to say goodbye. Also consider how often the blanket is washed — if it gets used every time someone is sick or the pets lie on it often, it could carry just as much dirt, dust and more as unwashed bedsheets. Give it a good washing, or it’s time to give it the boot.
Slumped throw pillows
Throw pillows can do wonders for bringing a bit of color and personality into a living room, but they can also bring the atmosphere down if they start looking a little rough around the edges. Some issues, such as stains, can be fixed, but once some pillows are unable to hold their shapes, it’s probably time to get rid of them. Keep the cover and just replace the filler, or swap up the look completely; either way, the room will look the better for it.
Old DVD players, VHS players, out-of-date streaming devices, speakers — these can take up a lot of space, and if they’re not used, it’s a waste of space. Trade in large, clunky items for smaller, sleeker ones, and throw away or donate anything that doesn’t get used enough. Once they’re gone, there will be more room in the entertainment center or on shelves for items that do get used, such as books, games and picture frames.
Games with missing pieces
Clue isn’t much fun when there’s no Colonel Mustard, the candlestick has gone missing and somehow one of the dice has also vanished. Bite the bullet, and toss any board or card games that are missing vital pieces; they can easily be replaced, and a new game may be exactly what family game night needs.
The do’s and don’ts of affordable family room upgrades:
DO: Create a furniture configuration around a focal point in the room.
Often this is a television or fireplace.
DO: Add cozy elements such as toss pillows and throws.
The goal is to create a space your family will feel as comfortable in as possible.
DO: Try to use commercial or hospitality grade fabric on upholstery pieces.
This is a common tip used by interior designers. Commercial and hospitality grade fabrics are designed to undergo heavy use and stand the test of time and often come in the same fun colors as those intended for normal residential use. Incorporate color through the use of art and accessories.
DO: Anchor a space with a large area rug.
Ideally the rug should be large enough to accommodate the entire furniture configuration for the space.
DON’T: Fill a family room with too many special or breakable pieces.
A family room should be kid-friendly.
DON’T: Just select dark and drab fabric colors.
While colors like brown and black can hide stains better than light colors, consider darker shades of brighter colors such as blue, red or green.
DON’T: Forget lighting.
Often family rooms are poorly lit. When possible incorporate recessed lighting placed on dimmers.
DON’T: Use your family room as a discarded space or storage area.
Family rooms should be a relaxation space and family oasis.
DON’T: Forget to create a multipurpose space.
The goal is to create a space for the whole family. It can be divided into various zones for lounging, gaming and study.
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