Organizers I regret buying for my living room – and why I switched things up

These three furniture essentials didn't live up to the task of organizing my living room – here’s what I swapped them for

three image split of living rooms
(Image credit: Future)

I have made a lot of mistakes when organizing my home and furnishing a space myself for the first time. Nowhere was this more true than for my living room. 

When decorating and organizing a living room for the first time, I initially picked out three essential pieces of furniture to help put the room together, but learned quickly that they were some of the worst organizers I could have chosen for the space – and they all quickly needed to be replaced.

Having learned from my home organizing mistakes, these are the three organizers I regret buying for my living room and what I replaced them with, so you don't make the same costly mistakes as me.

Organizers I regret buying for my living room

There is a key theme running through all of my furniture regrets for my living room – and that is a complete lack of storage. This made organizing a living room with too much stuff simply impossible, resulting in piles of clutter wherever I looked.  

1. An open-shelving TV unit

Cochere TV Stand against a gray wall.

(Image credit: Wayfair)

By far the worst organizer I initially picked was my open-shelving TV unit. Luckily, I got this for free on a community marketplace as a placeholder when we first moved in, but it quickly became my most hated furniture piece in the room. The open shelving meant I could see all of the wires behind it no matter what I tried in terms of organizing cables, and the shelves themselves collected so much dust that getting rid of dust was a weekly nightmare – even with an air purifier.

Finally, I found a sturdy wooden TV stand with a large drawer and a shelf, perfect for gaming consoles and tucking away wires and laptops that weren't in use.  

2. A coffee table with no storage

Pottery Barn coffee table

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

Another sub-par living room organizing mistake was picking out a coffee table that had no storage at all. No shelves, drawers, or compartments. 

Although this looked great, it fell short when it came to trying to keep clutter off of the top meaning the space always looked messy. 

While the curated ‘clustering’ look is on trend at the moment, it wasn't working for my living room, and I had to swap out my aesthetically pleasing coffee table for one with a little more practicality – one with some more drawers to tuck away odds and ends that otherwise made my table impossible to put a mug down on.  

3. Storage baskets for under the sofa

Loft

(Image credit: Snug Sofa)

The simplest swap of them all was my under-sofa storage. I picked a couch with plenty of open space beneath it to help my room look a little bigger and brighter, but for some reason then filled that space with bulky baskets and bins to hold clutter, throw blankets, and seasonal decor I didn't have on display. 

Much like the organizers I regret buying for my bedroom, these baskets just blocked up the space, didn't hold much, and ultimately looked cluttered. 

I still needed a bit of storage in this spot, however, so I swapped them out for an under-bed storage bag, much like the ones I used in my bedroom organizing. Being slimmer, I could push the bag all the way back under the sofa so that it was largely out of sight while holding everything I needed (some vacuum bags, like these from Amazon, helped to fit everything into one). I kept my storage space and maintained the light visual weight of a sofa with legs – a win-win, even if it took some trial and error.

Under-bed Storage Bags | View at Amazon

Under-bed Storage Bags | View at Amazon
Make full use of the space under the bed or couch with the two spacious storage bags.

FAQs

How do I simplify my living room?

The best way to simplify a living room is to declutter everything in the space, starting with the areas on display such as shelving and surfaces, and working into cabinets and home storage. Once you have gotten rid of anything that you no longer use or like, donate items when possible. 

Once you have dealt with the smaller items, then you can turn your attention to the furniture in the room. Decide if you still like or use all of it, if not, what could you get rid of or replace in the space that will provide a more minimalist look without sacrificing practicality.   

How do I make my living room cozy but not cluttered?

To make a living room feel cozy and lived-in without being cluttered, consider playing with textures and color to add a cozy feel, and then clustering practical items together for curated clutter that is still functional. For instance, stack books and magazines together on tables, and curate personal niches on shelving displaying family photos and memories alongside candles. Remember to leave important surfaces clear to provide space to put down drinks and snacks when needed.


Fixing my home storage ideas has made my space ten times more simple to live in and enjoy. Even the simplest of swaps, such as the baskets under my sofa, make a huge difference to how ‘at-home’ I feel in my house.

Chiana Dickson
Writer

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, 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.