11 Things Everyone Should Have Somewhere in Their Living Room

published May 1, 2023
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

There are items that any living room needs — a sofa, a rug, a coffee table perhaps — and then there are nice-to-haves, like bold drapery, eye-catching art, and decorative objets d’art. But there’s also a third category: The items that aren’t quite necessities, but make your living space more efficient, more practical, and simply easier to live in. 

From quick, under-$10 items you can pick up on a whim to furniture that does double duty, these are the 11 items that help you store must-haves out of sight when not in use, corral your cords, or make lighting that favorite candle in the evening just a bit more convenient. 

1. Smart Bulbs

When you’re snuggled up on the sofa with your favorite show of the moment, the last thing you want to do is get up and turn the lights off or on. Smart light bulbs let you connect to WiFi so you can control the lights from your phone, saving yourself from moving (especially important when it means not disturbing that cozy cat or sleepy dog on your lap). 

2. A Lamp with Soft, Warm Light

Ambient light is the name of the game in creating the right mood for your living room. While the LED swap is energy-efficient, it does require a little bit more know-how to get the right type of light. Look for bulbs that are 2700 Kelvin for something that feels warm, cozy, soft, and perfect for an inviting space.

3. An Electric Lighter

A rechargeable electric lighter is the item you had no idea your candle collection needed. Do away with the butane lighters — these rechargeable lighters are easy to use and eliminate the waste that comes with disposable options.

Credit: Sylvie Li

4. A Drink Table

Whether you have end tables or not, nothing beats the convenience of a small drink table that you can easily move around throughout your living room. It’s perfect for when you have multiple guests and you don’t want them to have to reach over each other to find a flat surface for their drink. Even when you’re the only one home, it makes keeping a hot cup of tea nearby that much easier.

5. A Decorative Box 

Whether you have a wick trimmer, a letter opener, or another object you’d rather not have out in plain sight (and possibly within the grasp of little hands), a decorative box is a necessary place to store these items. Plus, it adds a moment for styling. Find one with a lock and key for even more protection.

6. A Trinket Dish

A larger trinket dish is the perfect spot to store both functional items like chargers, remotes, and that chapstick you always want by your side, as well as a few sentimental items like favorite matchbooks or polaroids. A vintage ashtray also does the trick, especially when it’s in thick, mid-century bubble glass.

7. A Cord Organizer

If seeing cords crawling across your walls and floors is a pet peeve, then these cord organizers will corral all the cords into one seamless white tube. It eliminates the eyesore and saves you from tripping over cords next time you have to find the plug.

8. A Throw Blanket

Whether it’s the middle of winter or a spring day with an open window and a light breeze, a throw blanket is a living room essential. It adds an extra layer of visual texture and coziness as well as serving the obvious function of keeping you warm. When the summer heats up and you can’t bear the sight of a chunky knit, the next item will come in handy.

9. A Storage Coffee Table

If you’re short on space — and even if you’re not — there’s nothing more useful than a storage coffee table for stashing board games, extra candles, holiday decor, off-season blankets, and more. It will become the hallway storage closet you wish you had.

10. A Tray

This is going to be divisive, but a tray with high sides is a must-have for those who like to tempt fate by balancing their coffee mug on the sofa while curled up, reading a book. If you do this, trust me, you’re not the only one. And, when you inevitably spill or a rogue pet disrupts the equilibrium, that tray will be there to mitigate the mess.

11. Something Sentimental

While all of these items are heavy on practical function, your living room should also be a place that makes you happy. Whether you hang a piece of art from one of your favorite trips or keep framed photos of your loved ones nearby, something sentimental always has a place in your home. Remember, it’s a living room, not a showroom.