Clearing up: 10 ideas for a tidier living room

Ulrich Safferling

The more life there is in a house, the more the living room becomes a playground for the whole family. That’s understandable, but can become quite uncomfortable in among all the junk that gradually piles up. Not to mention the fact that a tidy living room is more inviting for everyone. The basic rule “to put everything away again in the evening” often only fails because there isn’t a set place to keep many items. But storage space is easy to create, as these ten examples show.

A man and a woman are sitting on a sofa in the living room looking at a smartphone.
© Getty Images / Maskot

In this article

1. Sideboards – unobtrusive and multifunctional

A sideboard is a flat, wide dresser. As a smaller version of a wall unit, it is not a stopgap, but a multifunctional cupboard with a large capacity: it can act as a stand for a television or hold shelves for small items, as well as offering storage space for glasses, vases, snacks or magazines. The rule “anything that doesn’t fit in the sideboard doesn’t belong in the living room” can trigger a big clean-up in the living room.

Tip: above the sideboard there is still room for a nice picture, work of art or small wall shelf.

A woman sits in a lattice chair in the living room holding a tray in her hand, with her feet up on a pallet table.

A sideboard is a truly multifunctional piece of furniture that can provide both storage and shelf space. It can even be used as a TV bench.

2. A staircase cupboard – a place that often remains unused

The space under a free-floating staircase is often no more than an area for storing shoes and crates, clothes and shopping baskets. It can be perfectly exploited by installing a custom-made cupboard which fits flush with the uppermost steps. Drawers and compartments inside can accommodate everything that was previously placed randomly under the stairs – and much more. This makes things tidy and establishes a fixed place for many items, decluttering the living room while looking good at the same time. A staircase cupboard is an investment that pays off both visually and in terms of organization.

3. A container cupboard – eye-catching feature and storage space in one

Anyone who has ever turned simple tea chests into storage space will appreciate modern container cupboards. As well as being versatile and chic, they act as storage space and interior design objects in one. Whether as a room divider or cocktail island, a container can represent an eye-catching feature in a room depending on the space and design. How practical that this piece of furniture can also conceal a large number of items. You can even furnish an entire living room out of two or more – and do without a wall unit entirely.

4. Shelves – under the ceiling

Even if the living room is on the small side, there will still be space under the ceiling. Wall cupboards or shelves can easily be installed between two walls, leaving plenty of room for the couch or TV underneath. Don’t forget to allow enough headroom – the shelves should not be positioned too low. On the other hand, they are also impractical if they are too high, because then you need extremely long arms to lift items up or down.

Shelving in a niche above the couch with some picture frames and accessories.

Wall cupboards or shelves blend perfectly into a room and provide storage space for important items and accessories.

5. Boxes – for boxing up the odds and ends

It couldn’t be simpler: rattan or woven baskets can be used to collect all the oddments you constantly need in your living room – whether it’s knitting or a Lego collection. In the evening, just put everything back into the boxes and the room will be tidy again. Tip: the more rigid the baskets or boxes, the easier it is to stack them if necessary. If you want the room to look even tidier, you can buy a matching shelf with recesses that are the perfect size for each box. Everything will be neatly stowed away and the shelf can also be used as a spatial element – if the boxes are taken off the shelf during the day, the light will shine through, whereas in the evening the shelf, complete with boxes, will be opaque against the window.

6. Mobile furniture – easily transported wherever it’s needed

We’ve all seen the airline trolleys used by the cabin crew to bring tomato juice and other drinks to passengers. Discarded trolleys can be bought and used at home as a mobile bar. The space is of course limited. But there are alternatives: container cupboards or shelves, which also come on casters – if necessary, you can simply screw on some wheels yourself. The advantage is that they will give you storage space wherever you need it. This means that the children’s toys can be stowed away in a flash and easily transported back and forth between the bedroom and living room.

7. A coffee table – more than just for storage

As beautiful as a simple coffee table made of glass or wood may be, it wastes lot of potential storage space. Clever tables consist of several drawers underneath a top panel. Everything that would otherwise be placed in full view on and under the coffee table can be quickly tucked inside, and there is still room in the drawers for nibbles and party games. This way, you can also invite over guests on short notice.

A coffee table with storage space under the tabletop. A sofa, houseplants and a floor lamp can be seen behind it, and there are floor-to-ceiling windows in the background.

Coffee tables are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They can be used to put things on, but also as stylish furniture with storage space inside.

8. Built-in cupboards – tailor-made storage space

It is hard to imagine a more elegant solution – a custom-made built-in cupboard not only fits perfectly into any gap, but also creates storage space that would be difficult to fill with prefabricated standard furniture. If you hire a carpenter in the traditional way, you usually have a free choice of wood, design and dimensions. What’s more, the cupboard can be fitted out especially for the desired purpose, for example as a wardrobe for jackets, bags and shoes. Somewhat cheaper offers from carpenters who still work to measure, but only propose a limited selection of designs, can be found online.

9. Dressers – the general-purpose furniture for any situation

You can’t go wrong with a dresser. They are available in every imaginable style, color and shape. The more bulky your belongings, the more suitable a dresser with doors. Otherwise, drawers will keep the dresser itself nice and tidy. If you want to store away a lot of clutter, so-called pharmacy cabinets should be your first choice: they have many small drawers to sort and keep a thousand little objects. There are also dressers for special purposes, such as for CDs and DVDs. These dressers are usually higher than they are deep, and can easily be placed against the wall, even in a narrow passageway.

10. Couch furniture – helpers around the sofa

Accessories for the couch are the smallest way to keep things tidy. For example, organizers in the form of soft hanging bags can be placed over the armrest or the back of the couch to hold magazines or remote controls. Another solution is a couch butler, which is like a small table that can also be attached, inserted or hung on the armrest. The storage space in these mini-helpers is obviously very limited. But often, to make things look tidier, it is the little things that are constantly “lying around” on the coffee table that simply need a set storage space. And surely an empty coffee table will make you feel more like relaxing than one with a whole series of objects piled up on it?

Conclusion: a tidy environment is a relaxing environment!

Keeping things tidy is half the battle, as people used to say. Don’t overdo it though. Once you’ve tidied up your living room, you should only get out the things you need for work or leisure when you actually need them, then stow them away again as soon as you’ve finished. This will avoid a chaotic environment. Relaxing is also much easier this way. Because instead of just pondering about how to finally make the living room cozy again, thoughts can wander freely in a tidy home. This way, you can combine the useful with the pleasant.

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