This blog is month 4 in a 12 month organizing series. To sign up to receive this series, add your name to the “Join Our Blog” form on the right.
This month, we dive into the living room! Since this area is primarily used for relaxing at the end of a long day, it can easily become a clutter magnet over time. Items from other areas drift into the space and get stuck there, making it a perfect target for this organizing challenge. Below, we have outlined a four-step process for tackling the living room.
1. What is the Goal?
Before starting in the living room, you should first ask yourself “what is the goal for this space?” Often the living room becomes cluttered because it is trying to be too many things. Understanding what you want the room to be used for, and what it should NOT be for, will help define your space and give purpose to your organizing efforts. This is a really important step, so don’t skip it.
We recommend choosing three or four purposes for the room and not more. For example, you could designate it for TV, puzzles and games, reading and video games, while making the conscious choice to remove crafts, homework and office supplies from the area.
2. Gather Bits and Pieces
Since the living room is most often used for spending time as a family, it is common for small bits and pieces of clutter to gather here. Parts of board games, DVDs without a case, old remote controls and stray dog toys are just a few of the items we regularly find. Before you begin, grab a laundry basket and gather up all of the small “bits and pieces” that you see so that you can process through it more quickly. You may need more than one laundry basket!
3. Does it Belong Here?
Since you started by defining the goal of the space, you should know quickly whether an item belongs in the living room as you are processing through what you have. Kids toys, papers, clothes and other items that don’t belong in the space should be put into a temporary “go elsewhere” area during the organizing process. Putting these items away all at once will save you energy and time. You can also create separate “go elsewhere” bags with specific categories like “Amy’s Room”, “basement” or “kitchen.”
4. Create Homes
Once you have done the work of decluttering, you must create clear zones for items that deserve to stay. Board games, DVDs, remote controls, books and other living room items should each have a designated home. Make it clear to your family where things belong. If you find that there are always stray items coming in, create a permanent “go elsewhere” basket! If an item comes into the living room that doesn’t belong there, add it to the basket and make a point of emptying it every night before bed. If you have kids, create one for them and make sure that they are responsible for putting their basket away every night.
A final word on keeping the living room tidy: because this area is considered a high traffic “hub” in the home, more emphasis must be put on daily maintenance. Once you finish the work of organizing the living room, this will become much easier to do!