These Are the 7 Things Designers Say Clutter a Small Space Living Room the Most

published Dec 13, 2022
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Today’s living rooms serve quite a lot of purposes. They may function as lounge spaces, makeshift dining areas, and even home offices. While the days of the super-formal living rooms may be in the past, it’s still important to treat this essential space within your home with some care — and that means cutting any unnecessary clutter — that is, at least, if you ask interior designers. Wondering exactly what should go? Here, nine pros weighed in on the living room items that they just don’t think are necessary and you can feel confident ditching in 2023. Hello, more streamlined space!

Part with that bulky recliner

Sure, your living room should include plenty of seating to accommodate family members and guests, but pieces that are just plain bulky can go. “Recliners take up much more space than they offer for seating,” notes designer Charmaine Wynter. “By that I mean recliners typically only seat one person; however, a recliner requires square footage for clearance behind and in front of the actual chair. They [also] often have high backs — blocking the view to anything in its path line.” In smaller spaces, it’s often best to consider pieces that deliver a little more seating for the square footage they take up, such as small swivel accent chairs, convertible chairs, or even a fabric ottoman or wire metal chair like what you see above.

Corral those cords

If your living room is full of lamps and electronics, cord clutter could be wreaking havoc on the look and feel of your space. “The cords are just messy and can be hidden by either coming up with a good A/V or electrical plan and or by installing some floor outlets,” shares designer Elana Mendelson of Elana Designs. Designer Beth Martin, who runs an eponymous interiors firm, agrees.”Chargers, cords, extra remotes, and outdated technology often find their way into living rooms, but ditch these immediately,” says Martin. “Cables add to the visual mess of your space, and chances are you don’t need that third remote.”

Part with furniture you’re not using

If your living room features a piece that you don’t use — or just don’t love — it may be time to say goodbye for good. “Most people don’t realize it, but our eyes crave the appropriate amounts of negative space,” says designer Arianne Bellizaire. “This means that rooms jam packed with furniture might feel overwhelming.” The good news? Donating or selling a few chairs or a side table can make all the difference. For best results, “assess your room layout to try to identify pieces of furniture that get little-to-no use,” Bellizaire suggests. “Remove them, and reposition the remaining pieces so that they have some breathing room. You’ll be surprised and how fresh and orderly your space starts to feel!”

Credit: Marie Rivera

Stop displaying excess picture frames

Designer Amal Kapen is a proponent of cutting back on — and streamlining — one’s collection of picture frames. “Coordinated accessories go a long way to cut the clutter and create a harmonious space,” she says. “Consider pairing down your photo on display and rotating images.” Majorly mismatched frames can be visually distracting, Kapen adds. While frames don’t have to be matchy-matchy, Kapen suggests going for a complementary, understated look. “Mix together woods, and for modern spaces, consider frameless lucite frames,” she suggests.

Invest in some closed storage

Open shelving isn’t always the best solution, says designer Julia Newman of Julia Adele Design. “Everyone has mess, you just need to find ways to hide it,” she notes. “While I love a bookcase styling moment, there are many things we need access to that might not be so aesthetically pleasing.” This is where organizational tools like closed cabinetry, baskets, and decorative storage come into play, Newman adds. In other words: Ditch the clutter that’s on full display!

Cut down on your throw pillow collection

The more throw pillows, the merrier? According to some designers, maybe not! “If someone has throw pillows lining the entire length of the sofa, they’ve overdone it,” explains designer Brandi Wilkins of Three Luxe Nine Interiors. Wilkins says placing two to four pillows on a sofa is more than enough in most cases. “Also, not every piece of furniture in your living room needs a throw pillow,” she adds. “If you have pillows on your sofa, perhaps your accent chairs can go without.” Paring down on pillows can make a room seem less visually cluttered. Designer Whitney Jones of Whitney J Decor expresses similar sentiments. “I love beautiful pillows, but I don’t think every chair and sofa needs to have a bunch of them on top,” she says. Too many blankets can have a similar effect on a space. “Display one nice comfy throw, and tuck the others away inside an ottoman, cabinet, or decorative basket to be used as needed,” Jones advises.

Skimp on end tables

Do you really need two end tables in your living room? Most likely, no, says designer Maryline Damour of Damour Drake. “Arranging tables on either side of a sofa is something we do almost without thinking,” she explains. “However, sometimes a lovely, sculptural floor lamp may be a more interesting choice.” This can be particularly true if your space is on the smaller side.