Part 1 – A De-cluttered Living-room

Over coffee this snowy morning, I picked up the January 2013 Good Housekeeping magazine that was lying around. I know the reason I bought it was the cover title: “Clutter Free! Have the whole house organized in a month.”

I think of myself as an “expert” in de-cluttering. That’s because I create the clutter in the first place so over the years I have also become an expert in getting rid of it as well.

Like you, I lead a busy life and when I am in a hurry I don’t take the time to put things away as they should be. The result – that horrible mess we have named “clutter” – defined in dictionary.com: n: a disordered heap or mass of objects. There is no point in beating ourselves up about it because it happens – just find solutions that work.

So I looked at their list over my coffee cup and then rated myself on them (I used their headings below). There were no surprises and I scored well:

  1. Dare to be Spare – The article suggests only the basics in furniture: sofa, bookshelf, comfy chair, coffee table and end chair. That’s all I have and it is a very comfortable space for watching TV, listening to stereo, reading a book and/or visiting with a friend. My fav is the comfy chair. And if you also use your room a lot for entertaining as I do, you might want to add an extra chair or an ottoman (see #7 below) that can double as one in a pinch.
  2. Prune the Pile-up – It says: “Be ruthless. Save only the last two issues of magazines. Tear out articles and keep in a binder you’ll refer to later.” While I totally agree and for years have been making a practice of tearing my mags apart for filing or later reading, I failed on this one today because I currently have a pile of several dozen magazines. However, I did learn to put them in a nice basket – so the clutter is minimized.
  3. Keep it Clean – “The top of the coffee table should be 75% clear”. I like that stat. Besides making the room look neater, it makes the surface functional as a space for the cuppa coffee, the remote or the book you need to put down when the phone rings. Their suggestion of drawers or shelved coffee tables make sense, but if you currently have one without – then think about stacking coffee table books on the floor underneath or on a shelf nearby where they are still visible/accessible.
  4. Easy Come, Easy Go – To help keep the surface clear they suggest putting smaller items on a tray which can be moved if you need the surface or want a tidier appearance. This is a great way to show-off trays that normally get stuffed in top shelves of pantries and rarely used. Or maybe you only have one (like I do) and using it this way means it is always handy to be commandeered to carry coffee cups for guests.
  5. Remotes - easy to findControl Remotes – “Group them all together in a lidded box or a chic decorativebowl” or a basket (my suggestion). I love this idea and have always hidden my remotes (as my TV and stereo are in my LR and I didn’t like them lying around where I couldn’t find them or they looked messy). One of my favourites was a box my son designed to look like a book, but currently I have them in a Chinese pillow to match the oriental stereo cabinet.
  6. Pare-down Pillows – They suggest a trio, and I would agree. If you are a pillow fanatic, you could get a basket for the corner and store them in there, and rotate them out. Or pile them on the floor. Too many pillows create a visual sense of disorganization, no matter how beautiful or decorative they are. They draw your eye from the otherwise tidy but comfortable space.
  7. Double-up – “Maximize storage and get extra seating with a hide-stuff-inside ottoman”. This is probably one of the best de-clutter suggestions. My ottoman holds videos and puzzles since my LR doubles as my entertainment / family space and those items are super-clutterers. So whether you use an ottoman as permanent storage or a grab-and-hide box when guests arrive, these pieces of furniture are a perfect addition to a living space.
  8. Floor Show – “Having too may area rugs can visually chop up a room”. Area rugs should always be a visual highlight rather than a distraction. The fewer the better. And remember they are also dust collectors for people with allergies. So if you can decorate without them, your room will have simpler lines. I am fortunate that I can live with just plain hardwood floors reducing clutter and cleaning time (i.e. no vacuum required – just a quick swiffer or broom).

Well after the coffee was done, I patted myself on the back as I scored myself 7 (well maybe 7.25 as mags are in a basket) out of 8 on the LR.

One of my favourite times is Sunday morning in the window with a croissant, a coffee and a magazine. So maybe this weekend I will attack the magazine pile in the basket, and then I can give myself a score of 8 out of 8 – on this room anyway! Trust me there are other areas to tackle after that…

How did you score on the GH-8 for your LR? What is your favorite way to de-clutter your living room?

Do you use drawers, boxes, baskets or ottomans for storage? What do you store in them?

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About Judi B

Writer & Photographer
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