21 Smart Ways to Keep Your Living Room Clean, Forever

published Sep 22, 2019
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The kitchen is often called the heart of the home, but the living room tends to be the place where we do our relaxing and connecting. That’s hard to do, though, when you’re surrounded by things that are out of place and screaming at you to be done. True restoration happens in a setting that is itself restful.

Since no one wants to go on a cleaning spree just to be able to relax, the key to a restorative living space is keeping your living room clean. Here are some creative and attractive ways to set up your living room so it looks clean just about all the time.

1. Go vertical

Especially if what you need to store is more for display than daily use. Going up not only draws the eye pleasingly around the room, but helps minimize clutter on lower surfaces free and gives an overall impression of order.

2. Contain small decor in a tray

This gives the look of a cleared surface without actually requiring that everything be off of it. Even if you aren’t able to put everything in its place right away, stashing things temporarily on a tray gives a put-together appearance.

Credit: Lana Kenney

3. Get acquainted with knolling

If you leave things out on top of surfaces, grouping them on trays isn’t the only solution that looks neat and tidy. Try your hand at knolling, also colloquially known as flatlays. Here, photography equipment and other special knick knacks are out but don’t look messy.

4. Hide your busier things inside baskets and bins

Here, this bookshelf is saved from looking cluttered with white fabric boxes corralling things inside and filling the shelves.

Credit: Liz Calka

5. Make your stack of books a feature rather than a messy pile

There are even “invisible” bookshelves that keep such stacks of books from toppling over.

6. Be realistic about the amount of storage you need

Rather than trying to cram things into storage that’s insufficient, set up your storage so that you can fill it with a little room to breathe. These bookshelves are full, but a few cubbies with forward-facing items keeps them from looking cramped. Baskets on top and felt bins on the bottom maximize storage and help visually anchor the shelves.

7. Use color

A big part of making things look like they’re in order is moving the eye around so you experience a space dynamically. This occurs when things are arranged purposefully, and one of the easiest ways to do this is with color. Notice how the bright teals and deeper blues lead your gaze from object to object and the entire effect is harmonious.

8. Group like with like

Scattered collections run the risk of looking unkempt, but grouping similar objects is, again, purposeful and therefore looks orderly. The globes and the bottles displayed as a collection almost make each grouping look like one thing, like the sum of its parts, rather than several disparate objects taking up space.

Credit: Lula Poggi

9. Use furniture placement to clearly define a space

Defining your living room with well-placed furniture and a rug gives your room—even in an open-concept plan—parameters, and keeps other rooms’ clutter from seeping inside.

10. Use symmetry

Balance and symmetry are pleasing to the eye and inserting them into your decor goes a long way in instantly making your living room feel organized. This doesn’t mean that everything on either side of a median has to be exactly the same, but when items on either side of a center echo each other, you can achieve a symmetrical result.

Credit: Ana Kamin

11. Get things off the floor

If the bike were leaning against the wall, this living room wouldn’t look nearly as clean as it does with the bike hanging on the wall on a hook. It is decidedly “in its place”.

12. Don’t be afraid to use “bedroom” furniture in the living room

A dresser with all its drawers is the perfect storage solution and will keep your things separated and accessible, but nicely out of sight.

13. Keep desk surfaces clear if your living room is also a workspace

A cleaned-off desk instantly gives the impression of cleanliness, order, and being on top of it. Clean desktops are especially key in a multi-use room, such as if your desk shared space with your living area.

Credit: Alexis Buryk

14. Double up on function

To the left of the couch, the side table is also a storage cart. Multi-function furniture that includes storage keeps furniture to a minimum and clutter contained.

15. Place things neatly

This can make the difference between “put away” and not. Even if you store your shoes on the living room floor, they can look like they’re put away simply by putting them right next to each other, aligned, and in a designated spot. And if they don’t belong there but you’re doing a quick straightening up that doesn’t involve actually putting them away, the effect is the same.

16. Get a coffee table with storage

A storage trunk coffee table allows you to store even bulky things right in the living room without having to look at them.

17. Have a basket handy

Storage doesn’t have to be big, rainbowtized, or even particularly organized. Getting hung up on any of those things could keep you from a clean living room because it’s too hard to maintain. Instead, a basket you (and the kids!) can toss toys into can keep your living room space ship-shape.

18. Get creative with your coffee table

This unique unit with drawers allows for the storage of small things without the need for boxes or bins. I imagine remotes, sketch books, and even a puzzle stashed in those sizable, stylish drawers.

19. Try out a projector, instead of a TV

Say goodbye to TV stand condundrums and unruly cord tangles forever by opting for a projector setup instead. When it’s not in use, it’s not in sight.

20. Choose fewer throw pillows

Fewer pillows on the couch means fewer pillows that end up on the floor and everywhere else and fewer pillows that need to be placed and fluffed. The look of just enough to be soft also lends a clean, airy feel.

21. And be thoughtful in your coffee table book display

A two-tiered coffee table provides double the surface space for displaying coffee table books and treasures. Putting a few deliberately placed items on top of your books makes the whole arrangement look curated and put-together.