Living room storage ideas are essential to a successful design scheme in this multipurpose and truly versatile space in the home.
Living rooms take on myriad of guises: family zones, entertaining spaces, multi-media hubs, and some, also double up as dining rooms and at-home offices. Well-planned fittings are transformative in allowing this hard-working space to meet every need, regardless of whether you opt for a streamlined bank of built-in cabinetry or a bold piece of freestanding furniture.
We've assembled some inspiring living room ideas, looks and expert advice to kick-start your creativity for this space, allowing for to curate an inspiring design that is both beautiful and practical.
Living room storage ideas
These are the very best living room storage ideas to make your space feel neat, tidy and organized, but still cozy, smart and on-trend.
1. Plan in bespoke joinery
From living room shelving ideas to cabinets and grand media units, planning bespoke storage for your living room can establish a unique design perfectly tailored to the exact size and needs of your space.
Cabinetmaker Ed Keyser says, 'built-in cabinetry is not only an investment and will hopefully add value to your property, but is also personal to you as you will be living with it every day.'
Many of us opt for floor-to-ceiling cabinetry and shelving in the living room, creating a central storage and display platform for books, ornaments media accessories and much more.
As shown in this luxurious living room designed by Studio Ashby, the bespoke wooden unit creates a beautiful wall of storage and eye-catching display space, with the bespoke design further enhanced by a sliding painting that covers the TV, great for living room TV ideas.
Studio Ashby's founder and creative director Sophie Ashby say, 'the TV must never be on show; that’s one of our rules at Studio Ashby. In every project, we’ll commission joinery to conceal it, like in this project in London’s Mayfair, where we’ve used this beautiful Jack Penny artwork to hide the TV.'
2. Create a colorful and characterful look
Of course, you want your living room storage ideas to be functional and extremely practical, but you also want your chosen storage designs to feel united with your style and with the chosen color scheme for the space.
Interior designer Lucy Cunningham says, 'make a feature of built-in shelving or cupboards by painting them or backing them in wallpaper.'
Whether you use your storage to create a bold accent in a space, as shown beautifully above by Sarah Brown Interiors, with the striking blue shelving establishing a stunning design statement, or simply try your hand at painted furniture ideas, embracing a colorful and characterful design can transform the ordinary into something extraordinary.
3. Use a mix of open and closed storage
Steve Clinch, head architect at Echlin states, 'when creating storage, consider how it will be used, and make sure you think about shelves versus drawers to make sure it doesn't become a dumping ground for items you don't know what to do with'.
Often, when planning living room storage ideas, using a mix of open and closed storage is best. This allows for you to store away more unsightly items in cupboards and cabinets, and keep more decorative, aesthetically pleasing items on display on tables and shelving.
Decorating shelves can sometimes be quite a daunting prospect, with the pressure on to curate a beautiful display and arrangement that doesn't feel cluttered or messy, so for some inspiration and expert advice on where to start, explore our guide on styling a shelf.
4. Embrace more unique storage methods
When many of us think of living room storage ideas, we are instantly drawn to shelving units, sideboards, cabinets and bookcases, however, there are many other creative avenues to explore when styling your space.
Camilla Clarke of Albion Nord explains, 'don’t be afraid to use unusual furniture pieces: a bookshelf doesn’t have to be a bookshelf, you can stack books on a bar cart, on the fireplace mantel or on a windowsill.'
As shown in this living room, the sleek Lenox Bar Cart by OKA, not only serves as a glamorous drinks trolley, but the tiered design creates resting platforms ideal for lamps, books and accessories, a great, multipurpose option for small living room storage ideas.
5. Make the most out of your architecture
Camilla Clarke says, 'make awkward corners a point of interest,’ so if there are any nooks or niches in your living room, use them!
In large rooms with generous ceiling heights especially, it’s important to play with scale in order to make the space more relatable. Where there are natural recesses in the architecture, use them to create niches for bookcases or shelving – this will give a room a style focus as well as serve a useful function.
From window recesses featuring seating and cupboards to alcove shelving and under-stairs ideas, incorporating storage into these areas can not only help maximize on the space available in your living room, but is a great way to celebrate and make the most out of the architecture of your home.
6. Make living room storage the focal feature
One of the main challenges in a small living room is how to deal with the tech. This bespoke option hides all the wires and gives you super storage below and shelves for keepsakes on each side of the TV.
‘In this cozy sitting room, we wanted to maximize the storage without overwhelming the space. By removing the sides of the TV unit we managed to keep it light but retained the shelves and lower cabinets to maximize the storage,’ says Sara Cosgrove, co-founder of Sara Cosgrove Studio.
7. Build storage into seating in small living rooms
Storage couches, benches, and window seat ideas have come a long way, with many designs today certainly not compromising good looks for the sake of extra stowaway spots. They can be particularly useful for keeping throws close to hand, or a quick place to tidy toys away.
If you’re not in the market for a new sofa but your current model has legs, consider placing some low storage boxes underneath it in the same color or material, for a close-to-seamless look.
8. Invest in practical furniture
A coffee table with a shelf beneath will create an extra surface for stashing newspapers and remote controls out of the way. You can also create extra space on your coffee table for hot mugs of tea by relocating books and magazines to a shelf or cabinet.
9. Keep clutter at bay with a trunk
With your living room acting as the heart of your home, it’s no wonder it can quickly become full of everyone’s possessions.
If you’re looking for a clever storage solution without compromising on style, consider choosing a trunk-style coffee table for the best of both worlds. Perfect for hiding everything from throws and blankets to magazines and books, this multi-tasking table can hide away the unsightly mess and act as a feature of your room.
10. Use storage to add interest to an unused corner
A bookcase or storage unit can now come in an assortment of sizes, materials and colors or even be customized to fit your own decoration. It is an invaluable piece of furniture and it can be used in any room of the house.
To create a little more interest on your wall look for asymmetrical designs. For trickier spaces, there are many narrower options available, perfect for popping between two windows. Don’t feel compelled to just use them for books; they make the perfect display cabinet too.
The same goes for a wall storage cabinet, which offers the perfect solution to carrying clutter and doubling up on storage, without taking up any floor space.
11. Mix and match for an eclectic feel
Matching storage isn’t for us all, and different pieces that each tell a story can be equally as beautiful in a living room. Slim console tables are great for small living room alcoves and for placing lamps and vases on, whilst heavier, larger items like ottomans can deal with the seasonal throws, board games and books.
But you can still make it work visually by having a common living room color scheme – in this room, blue follows through from the patterned lampshade to the patterned ottoman and trays.
12. Put it on display
Shallow shelves, painted in the same shade as the walls appear to recede into the background so are ideal for exhibiting art. ‘Floating shelves have a contemporary look,’ says designer, Emma Sims Hilditch, which creates fitted living room storage.
‘Lighting concealed in the shelving can add focus, drawing attention to the treasures on display.’
Place small items in storage baskets or boxes that will fit on the shelves. This replaces clutter with points of calm on the shelves to give the eye a place to rest.
13. Look out for one-off finds
Sourcing the perfect couch for a small living room and other stunning pieces can be a joy. Investing in a chest of drawers that has a wonderful history or an antique bookcase, for example, will make your purchases even more meaningful.
Or repurpose furniture that you’ve already got – move the unit from the bedroom that never quite worked to the living room instead – it might fit that alcove perfectly and create extra storage space that’s much needed.
14. Keep clutter hidden behind closed doors
The ultimate fuss-free option, a wall of concealed storage is the perfect solution for those who don’t like clutter. Including an area of open shelving will prevent cupboards from overpowering a room.
The space between the upper and lower sections of the cabinetry also makes an excellent spot for displaying occasional objects or framed photographs. Make the most of the ceiling height by fitting extra-tall cupboards and storing rarely-needed items at the top.
15. Line the walls with books
Bookshelf ideas are a must for most homes, and one of the most popular options to turn to for living room storage ideas – often displaying and storing more than just books!
When organizing a bookshelf, after you have edited and categorized your collection, put the larger, heavier books at the bottom, leaving upper shelves for smaller items. For a super neat look, coordinate your books by color, this will create a pleasing display, just like a painting would.
For more guidance and inspiration, see our top tips when exploring how to style a bookcase.
How do you add storage to a living room?
'Take stock of what you need to accommodate, covering things such as where you wish to keep music systems, books – and whether you want them on display or concealed,' says Barbara Genda, founder & principal designer, Barbara Genda Bespoke Furniture.
'The single most forgotten issue is coats and shoe storage; if you have an open-plan space, this needs serious consideration. Re-arranging a room will be difficult once fitted furniture is in place, so dimensions and positioning must always be carefully considered.'
How do I organize my living room nicely?
When organizing a living room, some of the key factors to consider are: a functional layout, plenty of storage, multipurpose furniture pieces (think ottomans and adaptable shelving) and regular decluttering and sorting (everything must have a home!)
The best place to start is looking at everything you own, and working out if all your items have a purpose – both practically and decoratively. Which items are display pieces? Which do you need close to hand? Which needs to be hidden out of sight? Which no longer sparks joy?
Your chosen pieces of furniture and storage solutions should then not only reflect your style and fit in with the size and layout of your living room, but they should cater to your collection of belongings, helping to ensure everything has a place in the space.
Keeping a living room organized requires frequent tidying and sorting, but by choosing practical furniture and thinking long and hard about how you will use the room on a daily basis, you can create a more organized and calming space that perfectly caters to your lifestyle.
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Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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