Life & Beauty Weekly: Life & Love

By Elizabeth Hurchalla for Life & Beauty Weekly

Your family room or living room is the one place your whole clan comes together to hang out. And, as such, it’s probably the default dumping ground for everyone’s stuff. If your family is like most families, that means clutter and disorganization.

But you can transform this room from the messiest area in your home to the organized, relaxing family haven you desire. Here’s how:

1. Get rid of what doesn’t belong.
Think about the function of the room, suggests Kristie Demke, president of Professional Organizers in Canada. “A room that is being asked to serve too many purposes is a room that will soon be messy, cluttered and unappealing,” says Demke. “By only keeping the things you use in any particular room in that room, it defines the purpose and helps to ensure the room is properly set up for that purpose.”

Start by going through each item with your family room’s purpose in mind. Keep what fits and move out what doesn’t. That means board games, magazines and DVDs are in; backpacks, a briefcase, mail, keys, cold medicine and other miscellaneous items are out.

2. Sort your stuff.
Try sorting items in the family room by how often they are used, advises Demke. “If your family enjoys playing board games, keep them accessible on a shelf or in a cupboard or trunk so that you can reach for them easily — and, more importantly, return them to their ‘home,’” she says.

Likewise, “if you only look at the photo albums once in awhile, they can be tucked away on a high shelf or in a nearby closet rather than taking up space in the family room,” says Demke. “Make sure every item kept in a ‘prime’ area of the house has earned the right to be there.” Also gather anything you rarely need (holiday decorations, your grandmother’s tablecloth, old report cards) into storage bins and send them off to the garage, closet, attic or basement.

3. Ditch DVD and CD cases.
One of the quickest ways for a room to look and feel neater is to transfer discs to CD wallets or binders and get rid of the cases by either recycling them or donating them to charity. This way, you convert many shelves of storage or display space to just a few inches, and your CDs remain accessible. In fact, it’s even easier to find the CD you need.

4. Clear the coffee table.
Because of its prominent spot in the room, the coffee table can amass clutter and make an otherwise tidy room feel disorganized. Here’s how to deal with the messy inhabitants:

  • Move magazines. Magazines and catalogues can easily pile up on coffee tables. “Magazines in the process of being read can be kept in a basket or bin on the floor, stored inside a flip-top ottoman or trunk, or even on a good old magazine rack,” says Demke — not on top of the table.
  • Rein in remote controls. A universal remote is an extra expense, but what you spend to turn four remotes into one, you’ll earn back in sanity. And remember to give it a designated home: Try attaching the soft side of Velcro to the back of the remote and sticking the rough piece to the side of the sofa or another easy-to-reach, out-of-the-way spot.

5. Tidy up toys.
Some people think that all toys can be thrown into one place, but if you want to stay organized, that might not be the best strategy. “The problem with the big, deep, lidded toy box concept is that the kids can’t find what they are looking for without scrounging through the whole assortment of toys — or, worse yet, by dumping it out,” says Demke. And then what do you have? Clutter city! Instead, store toys in small containers by type — one bin for dolls, one for blocks, one for games and so on.

6. Corral your cords.
A mess of exposed electrical cords is just that — a mess. Fish cords through the back of furniture and use Velcro cable ties or even garbage-bag twist ties to bundle them. “It looks better than having a tangle of electrical cords in every corner, plus it helps to eliminate the possibility of tripping over them or having small, curious hands pull a lamp down on their head,” says Demke. Also attach label stickers on the ends of each cord so you can unplug one electronic without having to guess which device you’re killing.

7. Stay clutter-free.
Once the room is organized, keep it that way! Here’s how:

  • Stop collecting stuff. “Try to purchase things only intentionally to replace an item,” says Demke. Unsubscribe from magazines you rarely read, and buy music or movies online instead of getting them in discs. And, before you buy anything new, ask yourself, “Where am I going to store this?”
  • Think beyond the family room. If items like backpacks and mail keep showing up, give them a permanent home elsewhere by creating “destination stations.” “Otherwise you have turned perfectly useful items into clutter that is in the way and irritating,” says Demke. Hang hooks by the door for keys, put a basket in the hall for mail and give purses, backpacks and shoes space in your mud room or hall closet.
  • Straighten up on the spot. “It’s easier to do a little bit at a time rather than leaving a small task until it becomes a giant job that is going to take over your entire weekend,” says Demke. “Fifteen minutes of straightening up, putting away, hanging up and trash tossing will go a long way to having a livable, lovable home.” The rule: Put items away as soon as you finish with them, and find suitable homes for new things right away.
  • Enlist your family’s help. Talk to everyone about maintaining the order, then post a checklist reminding your kids that they have to put away toys, homework and other stuff before they can watch TV. Or set a policy that everyone spends five minutes before bed to get organized — folding blankets, putting back the remote, picking up socks and so on.

Elizabeth Hurchalla
is a Venice, Calif.-based freelance writer who has contributed to
InStyle and many other publications.

Loading Facebook Comments ...