Living rooms take on myriad of guises: family zones, entertaining spaces, multi-media hubs. Some also double as dining rooms or at-home offices. Well-planned fittings are transformative in allowing this hard-working room 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.
Living room storage ideas
These are the very best living room storage ideas. They will make your space feel neat, tidy and organized, but still cozy, smart and on-trend.
1. 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, 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 maximise the storage,’ says Sara Cosgrove, co-founder of Sara Cosgrove Studio.
2. Build storage into seating in small living rooms
Storage couches and benches 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 into.
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.
3. Invest in practical furniture
Make living room furniture and living room seating work harder by choosing items that include storage. 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.
4. 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 unsightly mess and act as a feature of your room.
5. 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 with 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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, for example, will make that buy 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.
9. Keep clutter hidden behind closed doors
The ultimate fuss-free option, a wall of concealed small living room 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.
10. Line the walls with books – but color coordinate them
Bookshelves are a must in any home, but using them for storage in small apartment living rooms can make the space feel more enclosed and busy. There are two tricks to getting over this: the first is to put the larger, heavier books at the bottom, leaving upper shelves for smaller tomes and for display; the other is to color coordinate the books to create a pleasing display just like a painting would.
Of course, putting the bookshelves on the wall of the doorway into the room will mean that they are not visible as you enter the room – this is a useful way to store books without making them the focal feature.
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 be carefully considered'
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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