6 things making your living room look cluttered, according to pro organizers

See what experts say are the most common items making your living room cluttered

living room with blue armchairs, window seat and jute rug
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Many of us are guilty of accumulating over time, which can lead to our living rooms and homes filling up with too much stuff. This can make it difficult to not only organize your living room but also makes the space harder to clean, too.

The living room is not only an entertaining space but also a family room where you can relax at the end of a long day.

We have asked our design experts to share the key things they notice that tend to make a living room look cluttered, and what we can do to rectify and improve the space immediately.

Experts share the 6 most common things making your living room look cluttered

Follow these simple steps to turn your chaotic living room into a clutter-free sanctuary.

Sofa in foreground of living room

(Image credit: Future / Mary Wadsworth)

1. Overstocking decorative items

living room ideas in leather and blue/black

(Image credit: Andrew Dominic Furniture)

Less is more when it comes to decor. It may be tempting to fill every wall or corner of your living room with family portraits or extra pieces of furniture, however, this is a surefire way to create a cluttered look.

This extends to the overuse of throw pillows. ‘While adding cushions to your living room might give it some color and comfort, doing it in excess can make the room appear cluttered and packed,’ says professional organizer D'Nai Walker. ‘A decent rule of thumb is to limit the number of pillows per seating area to three.’

D'Nai Walker
D'Nai Walker

D’Nai Walker is a professional organizer based in the Washington, DC Metro area.

2. Neglecting surfaces

Living room in white and black

(Image credit: Katie Charlotte Photography/Cortney Bishop)

If you do not want your living room to look cluttered, you must pay attention to the surfaces and countertops around the room. Side tables, coffee tables, and window sills can easily become cluttered with cards, newspapers, magazines, and even dirt and dust.

Designate a specific area for reading materials, or even buy a standout magazine rack, at Wayfair. For the book and magazines you no longer read, consider donating or recycling them.

3. Improper storage

Living room with wooden flooring, blue and cream rug and sofas, dark wood and orange display shelves and french doors onto the balcony

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Without sufficient living room storage solutions, your living room can soon become cluttered and overwhelming. Items like remote controls and throw blankets can quickly accumulate and create visual clutter. 

Incorporating furniture with hidden storage compartments, shelves, and decorative baskets can help keep these items organized and out of sight. Not having a designated place for items and failing to take advantage of storage solutions can contribute to a chaotic living room. Make sure to take the time to properly store and organize items away.

‘Some storage solutions such as bookshelves and shelving units are excellent for displaying personal items, however, they can still become cluttered if not curated regularly,’ says professional organizer Alice Price. ‘Keep them organized by grouping items and using a mix of functional storage and decorative pieces.’

4. Electronics cords

Our living rooms are a great place to both relax and socialize and typically we have a number of electronic devices to help us do that. 

The cords from our TV, DVD player, speakers, lamps, and chargers can get twisted up and seem disorganized in the living room. According to Parveen Garg, manager at Ola Clean, concealing cords and using furniture with built-in cable management can help keep cables organized and maintain a clean aesthetic.

There are also reusable cable ties from Amazon which can be used to tie cables together and prevent loose cabling along your floors and walls. 

Parveen Garg

Parveen Garg is a dedicated and experienced manager in the cleaning business, specializing in leveraging my extensive knowledge of cleaning practices and products to ensure exceptional cleanliness solutions.

5. Toys and games

Toy storage ideas

(Image credit: Kate Guinness)

If you have kids, toys and games can quickly clutter up your living room. Even when kids’ toys are neatly piled away in a living room they still tend to make a living room look cluttered and smaller than it is. This is because there are often bulky toys that are tough to hide or put away.

Any big, bulky toys should stay in their bedrooms or other play areas where they won’t be in view in a high-traffic area like your living room. Keep only a carefully chosen selection of favorites in a basket, and then relocate the rest until you need them. This will save you from tripping over Legos and action figures as you make your way to the couch.

6. Multiple candles

A couple of the best candles are always a great addition to a living room, adding ambiance, scent, and texture. Michelle Cromer, a Feng Shui expert thinks we tend to go overboard with candles: 'We also don't throw out the ones that are no longer burnable,' she says. 'Having multiple candles out can make a living room look like a candle graveyard.'

Instead, she recommends always hiding away any candles you aren’t currently using, or dispersing them elsewhere in your house: 'Add one to the bathroom, bedroom
or even kitchen. And if you don’t want to create waste with the vessel the
candle comes in, take the leftover wax out and reuse the containers around
your house to hold loose items,' Michelle suggests.

How do I make my house feel cozy but not cluttered?

Layering different materials and textures will help create a cozy feel without the need for too many different items. Opting for warm, grounding colors and putting your lights on dimmers is a game-changer too. Dim light with candles, throws, and warm colors are the ultimate keys to coziness.

Another tip is to assess if your furniture is the right size for the room. Choosing the wrong size furniture and improper layouts can make a space feel small and cramped and will therefore give a sense of clutter.

Seraphina Di Mizzurati
Contributing Editor

Seraphina is a contributing editor at Homes & Gardens, writing Solved features on organizing and storage. She loves to decorate and also grow her own produce from her home in London. Her previous experience includes working at Women's Health and Fabulous Magazine.