living-roomThe biggest challenge with organizing a living room is to get clear on its purpose.  Unlike a bathroom which has fairly limited purposes, a living room can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  It’s important to limit its purposes, because an ALL purpose room can quickly become a NO purpose room, buried in clutter.

If you are having a hard time keeping your living room organized, the best place to start is to rethink it’s purpose by asking yourself a series of questions about your lifestyle.

A place of work or a place of leisure?

A living room is typically a shared space so it’s important to consider the noise level.  If the kids need to focus on their homework in the living room then having the TV and video games in the same space hardly makes sense.  If, on the other hand, the music from your entertainment unit contributes to your relaxation then it does make sense in the same room you do your reading.

Formal or informal?

The living room is a more modern adaptation of the 19th century parlour and in many 21st century homes I still see living rooms with a more formal, almost museum-like, treatment.  These homes may also have a separate home theater for watching the flat screen and maybe a family room for the kids to play in.  That’s fine, but be sure to make clear distinctions between the formal zones and informal zones, whether your home is large or small.  Glass heirlooms and Wii games should not share the same space.

What’s the cleaning budget?

Keeping a formal space dust-free and polished takes a lot of either time or money.  The same is true for a heavily-cluttered INformal space.   If you’re a busy person doing your own cleaning, the less stuff you have in the living room the better. To reduce the clutter, reduce the purposes.  Also, if you like to have kids, pets, and food in your living room it’s a good idea to go with simple, easy-to-clean furniture.

By the way, I have never been asked to organize a bathroom.  Bathrooms have clearly defined, LIMITED purposes and are therefore inherently organized.  When your living room has limited purposes, it will also be much easier to keep organized.