Tips for Maintaining an Organized Living Room

1. Welcome the Wastebasket

If trash tends to accumulate in the family room, adding a wastebasket might cut down on clutter. Few family rooms actually have a wastebasket in them; they’re not attractive and they can smell. Counteract this by choosing a can that fits your room’s decor. If you know food will be thrown away here, get one with a lid and some deodorizing trash bags.

2. Keep Flat Surfaces Clutter-free

Papers, books, brochures and magazines tend to accumulate on flat surfaces all around the house, and the family room is no different. “You need a household information center, and the family room may be where that happens,” says Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out. In fact, the family room is often more cluttered because it’s a central gathering place in the house. A two drawer lateral file is Morgenstern’s ideal recommendation – on average she says that’s really how much paper it takes to run a home. If you don’t have the floor space, a stackable file cart will do.
Make a quick sweep of all flat surfaces by piling papers in a bin, then sorting and purging as necessary. Take a vow, and get your family to follow it, to put papers in files rather than on the coffee table.

Design by Fernandez and True Interiors; Photo by Sherwood Cox

3. Control Out-of-Control Cords

Until the world goes wireless, we’ll forever be stuck with tangled cables behind our entertainment centers. Fortunately, there are several options for taming cords in the family room. The most attractive is the slim Cableyoyo. It neatly coils up to six feet of cord and comes with an adhesive backing that sticks onto nearly any surface. A cable caddy usually sticks onto a desktop (or behind the TV console) and has a space for several cables to clamp into. Your cords will still dangle freely, however, so a cable zipper, which encloses all the cables in a tube, might be the best bet.

4. Create a Play Zone

If toys are taking over your family room, it’s time to put them in timeout. Unused corners of a family room transform into great play areas because the walls serve to block encroaching clutter. Corners are also good areas to put a small bookcase or children’s table. Add rolling bins for toy storage so your child doesn’t have to feel confined, but is encouraged to pick up after he or she is done playing.

5. Coffee Table Functionality

If you have a coffee table (or forgot you had one due to the clutter) it’s time to reassess its organizational capacity. Coffee tables that look great but don’t have any storage for magazines, remote controls or even drink coasters, are probably making life more difficult. If you don’t have the budget for a new one, consider adding low storage cubes, rolling baskets or bins to stick under the table.