This Is the First Step to a Better-Looking (and Tidier!) Living Room

published Jan 13, 2021
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Credit: Chloe Berk

Apartment Therapy’s January Cure is a free 20-day program all about loving on your home and preparing yourself and your space for the new year. Sign up now to get daily lessons sent straight to your inbox!

If you feel like your main living area is never quite tidy enough, it’s easy to focus your energy in the wrong places. Yes, of course, it’s important to encourage yourself and the people you live with to start clean habits like carrying cups away from the coffee table, taking off shoes and socks by the entryway instead of the sofa, and watching out for crumbs and spills. But it’s also important to remember that cups and socks and crumbs are just an inevitable part of life sometimes.

When it comes to keeping things looking neat and tidy, something that’s often more effective in the long-term is keeping the decorative pieces in your living space pared back. Think about it: The last time you got annoyed that the coffee table was covered in stuff—wasn’t half of it decorative stuff you leave out there on purpose?

Taryn's Tips

Not all clutter is made up of things that are out of place. Your intentional decorative touches can contribute to how messy and busy your room feels, too.

So if you want to keep your living room streamlined and neat, I suggest trying out a room reset exercise, where you cull the space back to just the essentials for a while (that’s step one) before bringing everything back later, with more clarity about what amount of decoration feels like enough.

The things you’re picking up and stashing are going to be things you use and love, but that collectively take up space in the room and in your view. We’re going to give all of them a new home, temporarily, while we reassess the space for ourselves. So it’s OK (good, even!) if the room feels bare when you’re done with phase one.

Let’s do it…

Credit: Minette Hand

Day 8: Kick off a living room reset.

Give your living room a reset by removing a few things for a while. We want to see what this room looks and feels like when we’re starting fresh. (If you don’t have or use a living room, you can choose any other room where you spend the most time.)

Grab a big bag or box (this should be separate from your outbox), and walk around the room, clearing off decorations and other objects from your surfaces and placing them inside. Take away things like like coffee table books, magazines, candles, picture frames, and other decorative objects. And streamline things like throw blankets and pillows to only what’s essential. (If you’re a maximalist and this feels overwhelming, you don’t have to remove everything from the space, but try to adhere to the goal of giving yourself a bit of a blank slate to live with for a little while.)

Take that living room reset box and move it to a temporary storage spot where you can easily retrieve your things later, after giving them a break.

We’ll live like this until near the end of the month, when I’ll give you a cue to put the room back together. For now, just live with your newly naked space.

More Ways to Participate in the January Cure: