5 items pro organizers say are must-haves for small family rooms

Small family room? These are the fundamentals for a space that’s relaxed, kid-friendly and well ordered, too

small family room organization
(Image credit: Future)

The family room might be a more casual space than the living room, but that definitely doesn’t mean it should be cluttered or untidy. Small family room? Then it’s even more crucial that this gathering place should be well organized.

Clever family room ideas can make a room that’s small both functional and fun for all ages, perfect for watching TV, playing, and simply relaxing together.

The key to success? Choosing the right family room furniture along with the other must-haves for a small space, and these are the buys to look for according to professional organizers. 

5 must-haves for small family rooms

Typically a less formal space, a family room still benefits from living room organization ideas that create a place for everything. And when the family room is small it’s vital that the space works hard. Here, organizing experts share the must-haves that create a well-ordered small family room. 

1. Lidded baskets

living room with alcove bookcase, built in sofa, wall light, wallpaper

(Image credit: Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop/Chad Mellon)

It’s not a formal space, but you still don’t want a family room to be cluttered and therefore storage that provides a home for all the necessary stuff in the room but conceals it is a must.  

‘Lidded baskets are essential for family rooms,’ says Caroline Roberts, professional home organizer and Homes & Gardens’ contributing expert, suggesting these Baskets with Hinged Lid from the Container Store.

‘They can hold all kinds of little things and have a lid to keep the clutter out of sight. They are great for TV remotes, crossword puzzle books, coasters, or extra chargers.’

Barker Wicker Baskets, Set of 2 | $179,95 at Anthropologie

Barker Wicker Baskets, Set of 2 | $179,95 at Anthropologie

These baskets are beautifully handcrafted of natural seagrass and wicker, featuring smooth leather as the finishing touch.

decluttering and organizing expert caroline roberts
Caroline Roberts

Caroline Roberts is a KonMari consultant and founder of the home organization company The Simplified Island. She and her team help clients declutter their belongings. Then they find the best places for your items so that their family members can find things and put them away. She is also a contributing expert at Homes & Gardens.

2. Tall shelving

Green small living room with l-shape sofa and tv on the wall

(Image credit: Paul Raeside / Future)

Take shelving up high in a small family room. ‘Tall shelving is my top choice for a whole lot of reasons,’ says H&G’s Solved editor, Millie Hurst. ‘It can be custom made for the space or off-the-shelf, but if you go for the latter, fit the room’s height the best you can.

‘Shelving like this helps you organize the room’s contents and adds a great decorative twist, too,’ she says. ‘It will maximize floor space especially if you fit it along one wall, and it can also add character to a small family room.

‘And while you might worry that it will prove over dominant, it can actually help create a cozy feeling that’s perfect for the family’s shared space.’

millie hurst news writer
Millie Hurst

Millie Hurst is Section Editor at Homes & Gardens, overseeing the Solved section, which provides readers with practical advice for their homes. Millie has written about and tried out countless cleaning and DIY hacks in the six years since she became a journalist, and has worked in both London and New York. 

3. Stackable bins and drawer units

The furniture that’s already in a small family room sometimes requires a little refinement to maximize its usefulness.

‘If your living space has large cabinets with little structure, then these Container Store drawer units are a lifesaver,’ says Caroline Roberts. ‘They create organization in an open space, and you can stack open bins on top. We use these in our living space to hold games, art supplies, and craft supplies that we use together as a family.’

4. Storage ottoman

Family room painted green, large cream corner sofa with colorful cushions, light green ottoman with tray, dark wood flooring, painted white chimney breast with wall mounted tv and fireplace, built in shelving and low cabinets on either side, decorated with books and ornaments, large green pendant light, colorful artwork on walls, window bench seating with cream seat cushions and curtains

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Like lidded baskets, above, a storage ottoman can be a clutter swallower – but this time on a grand scale. ‘I always recommend a sizeable storage ottoman in place of a coffee table for a family room, and it’s definitely a swap worth making in a small room,’ says H&G’s Millie Hurst.

‘It’s one of those pieces you can just sweep a whole lot of things into to tidy the room in a flash, which is always a boon in a busy family home. But it also has the benefit of adding another soft and tactile finish to the room that helps make it a fabulously welcoming space in which to chill.’

5. Cable storage solutions

An open drawer full of organized cables

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A small family room can end up being home to an astonishing amount of cables which can end up in a knot that fills a drawer. Cable storage solutions are essential to prevent space-hogging and annoyance. For finer cables, we like a cable management box like this one from Amazon.

As for longer cords, tame them with cable ties so they take up less space and won’t get intertwined with each other.


What should be in a family room?

Every family room is individual, of course, but as it’s often a media room, a well organized space will accommodate all the screens, consoles, and accessories that come with that use. Think closed storage and drawers to tidy away the items that don’t need to be on show all the time but the family will want ready to hand. If kids are young, make tidying away toys easy with storage ottomans that do double duty and make a place for throw blankets and pillows for getting cozy on movie nights.   

The TV is typically a major feature of any family room and if that’s the case, family room TV ideas should see it located where everyone can watch in comfort – and it integrates perfectly with the rest of the décor. In a small family room, TV wall ideas can be real space savers, but don’t rule out media units that provide a place for the screen along with room to display family photos and personal pieces.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.