Anyone else’s living room feeling like a post-apocalyptic nightmare right about now? If it looks anything like ours, piles of laundry, stacks of unread magazines from last year, and even the Secret Santa gift you received from your co-worker (the one you’re still deciding whether to keep) are probably majorly clogging things up.
And that’s not OK! Our living rooms should be spaces where we can unwind from the stress of the day—not feel like magnetic fields for mountains of crap.
That’s why we’re dedicating this edition of our “New Year, Clean House” series to making that happen. Ready to reclaim your living room? Keep reading for the four most essential things to focus on for a decluttered space in the new year.
1. Conquer your coffee table
“When you sit down at the end of a long day, the last thing you want to look at are your bills,” she says. “Create a spot for important mail elsewhere in the home where you tend to get things done, then stage remotes, a candle, and a small plant on a serving tray—so you can truly relax at the end of the day.”
When it comes to what to do with all that mail, Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving,” has a few ideas.
“For old mail, make two piles: recycle or scan,” Wenzke says. “As you go through the mail, toss any envelopes or additional junk mail, then scan the documents you want to keep or take a photo of them, and toss whatever you don’t need.”
How about old magazines? Nonnahs Driskill, owner of Get Organized Already!, has some solid advice: Throw them away.
“This can feel wasteful because you may not have read the magazine, but life keeps moving forward and having an old magazine on the coffee table is more likely to make you feel guilty or late, than accomplished and on top of things,” she says. “Try it. Throw away all the old magazines. What’s the worst that could happen?”
2. Banish all the things that belong elsewhere
We know you know what we’re talking about, but we’ll say it anyway: slippers, bathrobes, sweaters, kids toys, abandoned projects—and the list goes on.
So what should you do with all this crap coming between you and your chill living room vibes? Amy Bloomer, owner of Let Your Space Bloom, fills us in.
“A well-placed bin can help to contain items so they don’t take over,” she says. “For example, I encourage clients to keep a basket at the bottom of their stairs. This becomes the catchall for things that have migrated out of place. Once a day, preferably in the evening, make it a habit to put back everything you’ve accumulated in the basket. It won’t take long, and it will help to maintain clear, calm spaces before retiring for the night.”
3. Edit out excess blankets and pillows
Having a lot of blankets and pillows on your couch makes it cozy, but having every single throw pillow and blanket you’ve ever owned (including the ones that are falling apart) strewed across the living room? Let’s just say it’s a bit much.
“Anything that’s showing signs of wear, has holes, or doesn’t match your current aesthetic should be decluttered,” Groff says. “Items in good shape can be donated, and the rest should be trashed.”
4. Make over your (out-of-control) media center
Once upon a time, having a huge collection of DVDs and CDs was a thing to be proud of. But now? It sort of just makes you a hoarder.
“If you find yourself bingeing on Netflix every weekend, then you can say goodbye to that old DVD collection,” Wenzke says. “Keep up to 10 DVDs for sentimental reasons, but allow yourself to part with the rest. Donate the unwanted ones to your local library.”
And since we’re on the topic of unruly media centers, let’s not forget about the rat’s nest of cords behind the TV or in the junk drawer.
“The key to this space is your cords,” says Emma J. Carter of It’s a Lifestyle. “Once you have cords tucked away, this piece of furniture starts serving its specific purpose.”
To tackle cord overload, Carter recommends unplugging everything, untangling them, and investing in some velcro ties to keep things organized. Have some extra unwanted cords? Donate them to your nearest Goodwill.