Life and living: Make your living room clutter-free

The holidays can be stressful on many levels: decorating for the season, preparing for holiday guests, planning menus, and keeping track of end-of-year festivities around work, school and your community. What’s the worst thing for stress? Clutter. 

In the final installment of our home organization series, we have a plan to take your cluttered and chaotic living room to calm and clutter-free. In just a few days, you’ll be ready to invite your guests into your tranquil and tidy home. 

Assemble a plan 

Before you dive in and start throwing clutter in drawers to get it out of sight, assemble a plan on how you’ll tackle the living room. Walk through the room with a fresh set of eyes to look for any imperfections a guest may notice. A teetering mountain of mail on a table? The spiderwebs under the TV console? Dead leaves scattering the floor from a houseplant? Knickknacks covered in dust and overcrowding your bookshelves? 

Take note of these items and make a plan for taking care of these imperfections. Does it look like you’ll have items to donate, such as furniture, books or decor? Go ahead and schedule a pickup (or determine where you can drop off donations) so you’ll have the motivation you need to follow through. Include your family in the decluttering process, assign cleaning chores and gather your supplies (e.g., dust cloths, broom, storage bins, etc.) so you’re ready to get started. 

Create piles with a purpose

As you start to sift through your bookshelves, consoles, cabinets, drawers, magazine racks or storage ottomans, you’ll need a place for everything you touch. Create four piles:


These are the items that you want to keep and that have a purpose.


These are the items that have served you well, but you no longer need. They’re still in good shape, so you can pass them along for someone else to enjoy.


This pile includes all the broken things, items that can’t be donated or recycled, or are just plain trash.


These are the items you’re not sure you can part with. Revisit this pile after you’ve gone through everything else and re-evaluate whether you need them.

Take the time to go through that stack of mail; donate books you’ll never read again; place items in storage that are seasonal or that you’re just not ready to part with. Be ruthless with items that are broken or no longer serve a purpose for your family. Take pictures of items that have sentimental value but that you don’t necessarily want to keep, and then donate those items to someone in need.

Bonus tip: While your shelves and cabinets are free of all items, give them a good scrubbing so they’re clean and ready to go when you start reorganizing. 

Determine a place for everything

As the old saying goes, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” This is where clutter-free truly starts. If you run across items that don’t belong in the living room, grab a laundry basket to hold those items. (Don’t forget to take that basket and put the items in their proper places around your home once you’ve finished organizing the living room.)

Dedicate cabinet space to items that aren’t used as often, such as DVDs or gaming systems. Use open shelving to display books and sentimental trinkets or photos. Use cloth or wicker baskets to store children’s toys, so they’re easily hidden but also easily accessible. Take advantage of storage ottomans or large baskets for blankets or throws. 

Thoughtfully hide necessary clutter

Routers are unsightly and usually come with a mess of wires. Hide items like this within decorative storage baskets. They’re still accessible but more pleasing to the eye. Still using three separate remotes for the TV? Place them in a basket on an end table or coffee table for easy access. Remember that clutter on surfaces can lead to a cluttered mind, so hide these types of items to create a peaceful environment. 

Tackle the heavy cleaning

Get the heavy cleaning out of the way first, so you can focus on the smaller tasks later. Wash windows and vacuum blinds or draperies; dust the walls and baseboards; spot-clean stains in the rug or carpet; dust the ceiling fan; vacuum under sofa cushions. Then, dust all shelves and cabinets. Always vacuum and mop last so you can make sure to get all the dust and dirt that has accumulated during the rest of your cleaning. 

Keep it clutter-free

Now that you’ve decluttered your living room, set a timer for five to 10 minutes at the end of each day to run through the space and tidy up any messes made throughout the day. This will help keep the chaos of clutter at bay, so you can maintain the calming and welcoming atmosphere you’ve worked hard to create. 

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