Designers reveal the 5 furniture items you don't need in your living room – remove them to reclaim space

These five pieces are surplus to purpose, designers warn

A white corner sofa with piles of pastel cushions on it, a wooden coffee table in front
(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

Living rooms need to do a lot in our homes – they are a hub for family movie nights, mornings spent relaxing with a coffee, hosting friends, and so much more. 

As a result, we often cram our living rooms full of everything possible so that they cater to every event and every hobby. However, this is leaving our living rooms cramped and dysfunctional, designers warn. 

These are the five pieces of furniture you don’t actually need in your living room if you want to regain control of your sitting room, and why designers and organizers are desperate for a declutter. 

Furniture you don’t actually need in your living room

If you are looking for some quick ways to update a living room without buying anything new, getting rid of a few furniture pieces is the perfect way to go – even if it sounds counterintuitive. This is what designers suggest you axe first.   

1. Big central coffee tables

A wooden coffee table surrounded by two pink armchairs and a blue couch.

(Image credit: Laura Hull / Burnham Design)

Although a traditional living room staple, a big, central coffee table can be surplus to purpose in some spaces – prompting designers to ask ‘does a living room need a coffee table?

More often than not, they block walkways (especially in small living rooms) and become a magnet for clutter, gathering books, magazines, and miscellaneous items that contribute to visual chaos, suggests Nina Lichtenstein, professional interior designer and Founder of Custom Home Design by NL. 

Instead, Nina recommends focusing on having a few side tables within reach of each seat or using nesting tables that offer the same functionality without taking up as much floor space. 

2. Sectional sofas

family room with white sofas

(Image credit: Jared Kuzia)

Unless your living room is massive, professional designer Houna Bech generally recommends staying away from huge sectional sofas. ‘Even though they look comfortable, L-shaped sofas take up so much space, restricting movement and how you can arrange other furnishings in sectional living room ideas,’ she explains. 

‘A single, smaller sofa and a few chairs would be preferable. This increases the room's versatility and facilitates socializing.’  

3. Formal armchairs

A pink armchair in front of a window

(Image credit: Future)

While you should never declutter your sofa, your armchairs may be unnecessary depending on how you use your living room, continues interior designer Nina Lichtenstein. 

‘While a matching set of armchairs might look appealing, they can often be underutilized,’ she says. The space they take up could be used for more practical seating options, such as another sofa that offers more comfort, then maybe add in one accent chair if you have space and know you or guests will use it.  

‘Replace formal armchairs with seating that better suits your lifestyle and space,’ she urges. 

4. Large entertainment centers

media room with custom cabinetry, TV, marble coffee table, artwork, ornaments

(Image credit: Sharps)

In an era of streaming, having a massive entertainment center now makes a living room look dated, according to interior designer Tina Martindelcampo of Soul & Lane. With smart TVs having most of what we need built-in, with the occasional media box or games console the only things plugged in, we can afford to streamline these living room storage units, she recommends: 

‘My favorite idea is to source a beautiful wood or painted sideboard to place under a mounted TV. It provides hidden storage and creates a modern, more stylish media center.’ 

5. Oversized speakers

White living room, shelves

(Image credit: House of Jade/Travis J Photography)

Freestanding speakers used to be a sign that you were in the know about your home tech – now they are a sign that you need to update your living room and modernize. With the advancement of technology, speakers have become smaller and more powerful and can often be built into your living room with very little cost.

So, while you’re refreshing your media unit, consider switching out the speakers for a simple way to make your living room more beautiful.  


How do I manage storage space in a living room?  

With so much bulky furniture such as couches and tables in a living room, it is important to make your pieces work harder to help with storage needs. Picking a sofa with built-in storage or using under-bed storage bags under your sofa is a great way to manage storage space without compromising the flow of your room. Similarly, picking a coffee table that has storage or shelving or using a built-in media unit that has cabinet space large enough to house electrical equipment alongside games and so on is the best approach to avoid a cluttered space.  

What is the most important piece of furniture in a living room? 

When arranging and organizing a living room, it is usually vital that you do not get rid of your living room sofa. This is also the one area of the room where you want to spend, rather than save. At the very least, it is best to have a few comfortable chairs if a sofa doesn’t fit in a smaller living space.  

‘Ultimately, the key to effective furniture selection lies in prioritizing functionality, comfort, and aesthetics,’ concludes Nina Lichtenstein, interior designer. Taking a more minimalist approach can lead to a more harmonious space that can still cater to every need – helping to make your house look more inviting, even with less stuff. 

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.