Blog by Beebe Cline

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How to Create a Joyful, Clutter-Free Living Room

Whether it’s cozy movie nights or cocktail parties, the living room is often the hub of the action when it comes to gathering with friends and loved ones. And because it’s such a well-used space, it also tends to accumulate its fair share of clutter. In this series, we’re approaching each room in the house from the perspective of identifying what sparks joy. Here we look at ways to clear the clutter and create a beautiful, comfortable living room space.

Daydream About What You Really Want From This Space

Beginning your space-clearing process with a positive mindset will help make your decisions about what to keep and what to let go of easier. Which activities do you imagine doing here? How do you want to feel when you enter the room? Come up with a list of three to five words that encompass the mood, look and feel you want to create.

Take action: With your vision for the space firmly in mind, walk through your living room and begin removing items that do not mesh with that vision.
What colors fill you with joy?
What sort of artwork, textures and shapes delight you?
And what is just taking up space because you haven’t fully admitted that it’s not something you really love or need?
Paring back is an ongoing process, and you may need to repeat this step several times before you reach a balance that feels good to you. Keep at it!

Calm the Visual Noise

Papers, magazines, movies, games and electronics can be helpful to have on hand in the living room, but that doesn’t mean you want to look at them all the time. By hiding away most of these items, you can create a more peaceful feeling in the space.

Take action: Cabinets are ideal for stashing media and electronics out of sight. Make room in your cabinets and shelving by sorting through your media, books and papers and choosing to keep only the items you truly love and use.

If you don’t have cabinetry in your living room, you can still hide those DVDs and Blu-ray discs inside attractive bins or baskets on shelving, or tucked beneath a console table. For the most streamlined look, choose containers that are all the same and that either fill the space completely or come with lids to hide the contents.

Make Sure Your Living Room Is Designed for Real Life

If you have young kids at home, is your living room an easy place to hang out as a family — or do you find yourself constantly watching out for easily tipped furniture and breakable decor? Design the room for your current life phase; your household will be the happier for it.

Take action: Realistically consider your needs right now and whether your space is meeting those needs.
If you have young children or pets, consider washable slipcovers and easy-care fabrics on upholstered pieces.
If you use your living room more for movies and lounging, choose a deep, cushy sofa. If you use it more for chatting and parties, upright chairs and sofas will be more comfortable.

If you have a baby or young child, furniture with soft edges and unbreakable materials — an acrylic versus glass coffee table, for example — may not be necessary but it can provide some parental peace of mind.
If you’re an empty-nester but your living room is still designed for a young family, consider how you can reclaim the space and put your own stamp on it.

Take action: Come up with a list of things you love — passions, interests, activities, hobbies — that you’d like to incorporate into your life more.
For book lovers, edit your book collection, letting go of those you didn’t love and choosing some favorites to spotlight on a shelf.
For crafters, select a bowl or basket where you can keep your current project close at hand.
For parents, consider which screen-free activities you’d like to encourage in this room and gather the necessary items in an appealing arrangement.
For entertainers, clear space on the coffee table for sharing small plates of food, or organize a drinks cart.

Cultivate Your Passions

Whether you’re a big reader, an art lover, a wine connoisseur or a board game aficionado, let your passions take center stage. Curate your book collection and pull up your coziest chair to create a reading nook beside the fire, frame a new art print or dust off a portrait from the attic. When you shine a light on the things that matter to you, you allow your living space to nourish and support you.

Bring in a Touch of Nature

Living plants clean the air, soften hard edges and bring a welcome organic touch to any room. Large potted plants can transform the look and feel of a room with their lush texture and vibrant color. If your room has very little natural light, you can display cut branches in a tall vessel for a similar effect.