We’re into week 2 of the new year, and on our way to an entirely organized home! This month, we’re concentrating on the living room. If you missed the details on why we started with the living room and how to start getting it organized and de-cluttered, you can find those posts here (why) and here (how).
Today, I’m going to give you some pointers on conquering those different areas of clutter that can in our living rooms and how to create an environment that steers you clear of repeating past mistakes that helped you get and stay unorganized.
If you don’t currently have a Pinterest account, I encourage you to make one. It’s totally free, and you will find hoards upon hoards of great resources, ideas, and so much more. If you’re wanting great ideas for storage and organization, you’ll want to follow my Pinterest board for Operation Year of Organization. New ideas are added regularly, and there are a lot of super cool ways to store your stuff that I never would have thought of without Pinterest!
Okay, let’s get going on some of the most common problem areas of the living room!
While we don’t keep toys in ours, I know a lot of people do. It’s easy access for the kiddos, and makes for a warm, fuzzy, family vibe in your space. The problem is, the toys usually end up taking over and making that warm and fuzzy turn into a cluttered nightmare. That beautiful, clean room then turns into nothing more than another kid zone. Kid zones are great in their own element, but it can become very overwhelming when the kid zones take over your home and there’s no longer a space you can go to just be an adult and enjoy the atmosphere that space provides.
If you have toys taking over your living room space, follow my Day Three advice here to get it down to a more workable amount. Then, you’ll want to find a great way to store these items without it looking like it’s storage for kids.
Instead of thinking of them in the way of toys, think of them as though they were your own personal items. How would you want to display them? Store them? Organize them? Whatever you choose, you want to ensure the items are at kid-level and easily accessible for them. The last thing you want to do is store the toy items up high in a cabinet and have little miss Susie Q coming to you every fifteen seconds asking for you to get her toys.
I love this idea from Amy at Her Tool Belt! It’s functional without looking like it belongs in the playroom. Utilizing a coffee table with crate storage functions for the kids as well as the adults because it’s a great way to store and hide the toys when guests are over, but it also works well for having a beautiful piece in your room that can be utilized in so many ways (cups, plates, feet, etc). Plus, this beauty’s on casters, so moving it around your space is a cinch! She even has a FREE blue print so you can make it yourself! You can get that here.
If you’re not looking for a coffee table but still want functional storage for those toys, I love what Chelsea from Making Home Base did with her area of kid in the living room! She used a great cube organizer from Walmart to achieve this look. Utilizing a cube organizer and baskets definitely helps bring the room up a notch from kiddish to sophisticated. You still get the beauty of the space without giving up the functionality for the kids. This would be a great way to add toy storage inexpensively in your living room!
Remember, when it comes to storing toys in the living room, it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on design and sophistication. You can still have the living room looking like it should when you utilize great storage options for organizing those toys.
Have too many toys for your space? Click here to find out the best way to manage that mess.
Okay, how many of us are constantly looking for our keys? I know I’m raising my hand nice and tall over here! And you know what? My problem isn’t generally because I can’t remember where I put them. It’s because my two year old is currently in the key snatching phase, and where I keep them is in a drawer within his reach. But, I know a lot of us are continuously searching for ours on a regular, and sometimes daily, basis.
What about when it’s time to pay those bills? Nowadays, bills are generally paid online or automatically. But even with all of the automation there is today, there are still important pieces of mail we receive, and not all of those bills are taken care of automatically. If you’re like me and don’t take those mail pieces straight to your home office or are always losing track of them because you don’t have a designated space set up, you’ll want to make sure you create one while you’re organizing your living room.
I adore this wall organizer by etch. It’s simple, refreshing and functional. It’s not just a piece to hold your keys and mail. It’s a beautiful piece to add to your decor. If your budget isn’t quite enough to handle this organizer, you could easily make your own variation.
Another super cute idea to pull those keys and important paper items together is this DIY Chalkboard and Key Hooks project from Shanty 2 Chic. If you’re in the market for incredible DIY pieces, trust me when I say you will LOVE their blog! This organizer has a great farmhouse flair to it, and that chalkboard would be a perfect way to put important reminders up so that it’s fresh in the mind when someone heads out the door.
When it comes to dealing with your keys and mail, getting them off the surface and onto the wall can really help with keeping the cluttered feel and look at bay. It’s very easy to dump a couple of items onto a side table and then multiply it until your side table becomes a “catch all”. By storing those everyday items on the wall, you eliminate the start of that side table clutter.
TV Components/Gaming Systems/Etc
I don’t know about you, but all of the pieces that go into this category really make the steam blow out of my head. How many remotes can it take for a tv? If you have a gaming system in the house such as a Playstation or Xbox, I’m sure you can feel my pain when it comes to the amount of controllers lying around. And the cables! Ugh! They’re everywhere!
If you don’t have an entertainment cabinet already, trying to find a way to keep this area of your space can become overwhelming very quickly. Fortunately, there are some great solutions for this.
Home with Design lists 13 different variations on adding media storage in this article. Finding a piece that works well with your decor but provides ample storage is key. Look for a piece that you can store the media below and out of sight. If the back is solid, cut out a hole to run your cords through. Or better yet, store a power strip inside the cabinet, and cut out a hole just big enough to run the power strip cord through to eliminate the look of cables everywhere.
You don’t have to spend a fortune when it comes to finding the perfect cabinet for your media area. Places like Craigslist and local Buy/Sell/Trade pages on Facebook are great avenues to check. I scored this vintage record cabinet for FREE (wahoo!) on Facebook, and after a little cleaning, paint and some elbow grease, I now have a gorgeous piece to hide all of our media equipment in without costing us a dime!
When looking for the perfect cabinet to use for your media components, try to keep it on a smaller scale, storage wise. If all you’ll be using it for is to hide your various remotes and receivers, you don’t need a ton of storage space. If you get a piece that will hold loads more, you’ll end up filling it with loads more, and essentially cluttering your room back up!
Also, when meeting people for items listed on Craigslist and Facebook or any other forum, always use safety precautions. Meet in a public, well-lit area, check over the item thoroughly before paying, and always let someone know who you’re meeting, where you’re meeting and when so that if anything should come up, someone knows where you were supposed to be. These places can be great tools for scoring awesome deals on things, but like anything else can become dangerous if dealing with someone of ill-intent. Whenever possible, I like to take my husband with me so that I’m never alone dealing with a stranger.
I know this category can easily be listed in the Mud Room section of this organization challenge. However, I know a lot of us (including myself) don’t have a designated Mud Room.Typically, the living room is the first place you walk into when entering a home. Because of that, I’ve listed this category here.
We have a coat closet next to the front door in the living room. But guess what? We don’t use it regularly! Sure, we have items hanging in their, but they aren’t the things we wear on a regular basis. Usually what ends up happening is my and my husbands coats get laid over the back of the couch or the banister to the stairs. And our shoes get left in the living room in random places. Out in the open. Completely adding to the cluttered look. The kids are pretty great about hanging their own coats in their closets and putting their shoes away, but it really would be convenient for everyone to just drop their things right when they get in the door.
I could’ve avoided this section all together by saying I’d use the coat closet. But, I know that isn’t realistic. We haven’t used it for 2 years since we remodeled, so I don’t see us starting to now. In every house we’ve been in, there’s always been a coat closet, and we’ve never really used it. So, I decided to hit this section head on and add some storage for these items in my living room.
This easy and simple idea for entry organizing was found at One Good Thing by Jillee and would be super quick and relatively inexpensive to do. Those crates can be found at any craft store, and the hooks and lumber can be found at your local hardware store. Stain, stack, nail, and you’re done! Sometimes the best ideas don’t have to be over-complicated.
This image is a little fuzzy, but I just loved the idea so much I couldn’t resist putting it up here. The link is broken, and I searched everywhere to find the original, but it isn’t even shown on the Anna Bananas site anymore.
A hall tree like this would be so much fun to walk into everyday when you came home. This one was made using two doors, and I love the way it turned out! I’ll be doing a variation of a hall tree myself to make room for coats, bags, and shoes to be stored.
Keep in mind when trying to find storage for your outerwear items that you want to keep them off the floor. Everything looks so much nicer and cleaner when things are hung up and tucked away!
Blankets & Books
We always keep blankets in the living room because I’m forever cold with this thyroid problem I have, and the kids love to get all cuddled up in them for family movie night. Currently, I have our blankets stored in the drawers of a buffet cabinet we keep behind the couch. The buffet has become more of a “stuff it in there” kind of place than it first began. Again, just like with the media cabinet, keeping it small enough for your needs is key. I have 5 drawers and two cabinets in my buffet, and I’ve come to fill them all to the brim! I should mention that was never the plan, and it’s currently filled with random junk and completely unorganized. Because of that problem, I decided the buffet needed to go because it allowed for too much potential in making things unorganized and cluttered again.
Since I’m getting rid of the buffet, I need a different way to store my blankets, and this blanket ladder is absolutely going to be the way I go! It adds to the decor of the room, lets guests know where they can easily access the blankets, and is super cheap to make. You can find the FREE plans here to make this same ladder for $10!
If you’re a big reader like I am and are always looking for better ways to store your books other than random spot you happen to set them down, look no further than a floating shelf. I wasn’t kidding when I said you’d want to check out the blog at Shanty 2 Chic! They have so many incredible plans and pieces, and these floating shelves are just stunning!
Keeping your books neatly displayed on shelves is so much better than having them scattered about! Worried about how to properly style those bookshelves? Check out this post from Megan Brooke Handmade for some great tips.
All-in-all, when organizing your living room, keep this in mind: if it isn’t furniture or a rug, keep it off the floor. Find baskets, cabinets, shelves and the like to organize, store and display your items. Make sure the space you have is no more than what you need. And always, always, ALWAYS, be realistic about your needs. Don’t forget I’m building an entire hall tree for shoes and coats simply because I know we won’t utilize the coat closet for those items. If you’re realistic about your needs, you’ll succeed in keeping yourself organized now and twelve months from now. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
I’ll be back here next Monday with my “Before” and “After” pictures along with all the details of what and why I did what I did. And don’t forget: starting January 25th, you’ll be able to link up your own living room “After” photo for a chance to win a gift card to The Home Depot courtesy of store #2205!
In the meantime, you can find all of these ideas and more on my Pinterest board, so follow along and get to finding those perfect pieces for organizing your living room space! We’re down to two weeks until reveal time for y’all. Focus on one area of organization at a time, and you’ll be able to finish in time to move on to next month’s space!