Living rooms are one of the most used areas in the home, it’s where we go to relax and spend time with friends and family. Therefore, the last thing we want is for them to feel cluttered as this can easily start to feel overwhelming and unsettling.
Professional organizers insist that there are certain things we should all get rid of and that have no place in our living rooms but what are they? We spoke to the experts who broke down the dos and dont’s of what needs to stay and more importantly what needs to go when it comes to how to declutter your home's most demanding room.
1. Unused furniture
The design of a living room should suit you and your family's individual needs for that particular space. It’s all too easy to accumulate pieces of furniture that we don’t need or that is no longer serving us. Ben Soreff, professional organizer at H2H Organizing says ‘typically, most living rooms have way too much furniture. Over the years, they tend to build up from house clean outs of relatives and friends. Most people feel like more is preferred to less and they live in the future. What if we have a party? Where will people sit? Really focus on who uses the living room or its true function’.
Ben goes on to say ’in theory, furniture is not sentimental or a keepsake. Because of the size of most furniture, it is not that homeowners want to keep it but they just don't know what to do with it’.
2. Dead houseplants
Plants have become a staple for most interior enthusiasts. They not only look great but they have substantial health benefits too, whether that be air purification or reduced stress levels. They are popular for living room shelving as more often than not, this will be one of the more spacious rooms in the house with the most natural light available.
Shara Kay from SK Organizing explains that ‘one of the things people don’t want to get rid of in living rooms is dead or wilting houseplants’. If it looks like a plant has no hope of coming back to life, you have to part ways with it as it will end up looking unsightly and will make your living room look cluttered.
3. Old magazines
Magazines are a great styling tool. They can be stacked on top of one another to add some height and interest to a side table or as coffee table decor. However, there’s definitely a limit on how many you should keep. Shara recommends ‘keeping 2-4 back issues of each publication as a maximum’, this way they won’t keep piling up.
Additionally, ‘items like magazines or newspaper holders tend to overflow and collect clutter in a living room’ says Ben. So perhaps it might be a good idea to get rid of yours if this keeps happening.
4. Stray coasters
We shouldn’t just focus on the big and bulky things that we can get rid of in our living rooms such as furniture, smaller details are just as important. Shara says we should eagerly chuck away ‘stained or chipped coasters that clutter our side tables and replace them with new ones’.
It’s the smaller pieces of decor like this that often go unnoticed but that can make a space feel unkept or cluttered. Choose some new designer coasters that you love for side table decor that are going to stand the test of time.
5. Worn throws and pillows
Soft furnishings play a big part in the overall look and design of a living room. They can act as a color or pattern contrast and can change the feel of an entire space. As the years go by we collect pillows and throws and can be guilty of ‘keeping them as spares’. But, according to Shara this isn’t a good thing to do. ‘Stained or torn throws and pillows should be thrown away and never seen again,' she says.
It’s important to be decisive on what’s allowed to take up space in our homes, especially in a room that’s occupied a lot of the time and worn out throws and cushions shouldn’t be one of them.
What's the one thing organizers will never throw out from a living room?
The process of decluttering can become quite exhilarating when you can see a visible difference between what once felt cluttered to a space that now feels calm and serene. However, there’s one thing that professional organizers agree on that should not be thrown out and that’s family photos and albums.
‘Family photos and memories that have not yet been digitized must not be thrown in the bin’ says Shara, they are joyous moments in time that have been lovingly captured. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t better ways to store them. Get tech savvy and digitize all of your photos so you still have them to hand but they aren’t taking up vital space in your living room.
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Becca Cullum-Green is a freelance interiors content creator and stylist. She fell in love with interiors when she landed her first job as an editorial assistant at a leading UK homes magazine fresh out of university. You can find her renovating her 19th-century cottage in the Suffolk countryside, consciously trying not to paint every wall with Farrow and Ball’s ‘Pitch Black’. Her signature style is a mix of modern design with traditional characteristics. She has previously worked for House Beautiful, Grand Designs, Good Housekeeping, Red, Good Homes and more.
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