When we talk about organizing family rooms, we’re talking about organizing shelves with DVDs and games as well as organizing toys in the family room. The tidier this room is, the more your family will enjoy using it and the easier it will be to keep it clean.
Read to find out how to organize the family room, but if you’re looking to truly declutter your entire house, you should start at the beginning of this series. Find the series overview here containing all 30 home-organization missions. Or keep reading to get your family room organized today.
Every day’s mission has four parts to it:
Organize What’s Left
Clean the Space
Keep on Track
Ready to R-O-C-K? Let’s do this.
Organizing the Family Room
By “family room,” I mean the room where you and your family sit down together to watch TV or hang out in the evening. Some of you may call it a den, rec room, media room, or lounge.
If you have a formal living room in addition to this more casual space, don’t fret. Since those rooms are more formal, and usually for entertaining guests, there’s a separate way to organize living rooms.
Removing Clutter from the Family Room
Removing clutter in the family room before organizing or cleaning is important. There’s no sense in stacking or arranging things that don’t belong in the family room. Likewise, why bother moving things to clean around them if you don’t need to?
So, decluttering the family room is our first step. To do this, start
Do the following steps as you’re going through the drawers, cabinets, etc. Yes, you could do several passes of the room, first looking for things that don’t belong then for things you want to get rid of, but chances are you’ll start doubting your decisions.
Arguing with yourself turns decluttering from liberating to labor. Don’t overthink it! Don’t come up with reasons why you shouldn’t get rid of something. Don’t tell yourself you may someday do something with it. Don’t walk down memory lane reminiscing about it. Decide.
Count Down from Three and Make a Choice
An easy way to identify clutter is by counting backward from three as you pick up each item. When you hit one, decide if you’re keeping the thing in your family room, putting it somewhere else in your home, or getting rid of it for good.
By focusing on a countdown, you’re distracting your brain from any emotional attachment you feel to an object or any guilt you might have for not wanting to keep it around. The countdown tells your brain it must choose and choose quickly, not churn up a bunch of objections.
Chances are, you’ll know before you even reach “one” how you actually feel about most items. If so, move on to the next thing before you have a chance to doubt your choice. And don’t be surprised if you start making decisions the instant you pick something up — decluttering gets easier the more you do it.
Things to Throw Away
Some things don’t even deserve a countdown. There is just no good reason to keep them — they aren’t useful to you or anyone else. Here are some examples:
- Anything that’s broken
- Dead houseplants
- Empty soda or water bottles
- Food wrappers
- Scratched CDs or DVDs
- Burned-out candles
- Games that are missing pieces
- Dead batteries
- Old magazines or newspapers
- Permanently stained blankets or throw pillows
- Broken lightbulbs
- Other obvious trash
Things That Go Elsewhere
Have a box or laundry basket handy for anything you decide you don’t want to keep in your family room but also don’t want to get rid of. For example: shoes, clothes, dishes — whatever you feel is out of place.
When you’ve gone through the entire room, put this stuff aside. You’ll be dealing with it at the end of the mission.
Things You’re Not Keeping
Below are some examples to help you more quickly identify clutter without having to count down from three. These are all things thrift stores and charities would welcome, or which you can easily sell at a garage sale or online.
- DVDs your family no longer watches or which you can stream
- CDs or albums you don’t listen to
- VHS tapes if you no longer have a VCR
- Books you’ll never reread
- Unused exercise equipment
- Games your family no longer plays
- Toys your kids haven’t touched in months
- Décor and knickknacks you no longer like
Whatever you decide to let go of, put it in a box. When the box is full tape it shut before your kids see the games and toys they haven’t been interested in for ages and suddenly declare their undying love of them. (Taping it shut will also keep you from second-guessing your decisions.)
Move the box out of the room. We’ll deal with it at the end of the mission.
Organizing the Family Room Tips
Organizing the family room requires thinking about how your family uses it. For instance, if your kids like to play while you’re watching TV, you’ll want to create a play space for them that’s not directly in front of the screen but which you can still monitor. If you and/or your spouse like to watch Netflix after the kids are in bed, you’ll want to have cozy blankets available that aren’t coated with Cheerio crumbs.
Keep Kids Games and Movies Separate
Kids tend to grab several movies or games while searching for the one they want. They’re not great about putting them away neatly, either.
By keeping the kids’ movies and games on an easily accessible separate shelf — or even in a basket — you can prevent them from messing up the rest of your collection. It’s easier for them to put things away when they don’t have to be careful about it.
Keep Flat Surfaces Clutter-free
Your family room’s coffee- or end tables aren’t the place for framed photos or lots of knickknacks. Crowded surfaces just invite more stuff to pile up. The less stuff you have on the room’s flat surfaces, the neater your family room will stay. It will also be easier to clean.
Stop Remote Controls from Disappearing
Hunting for the remote when your show is about to come on is no one’s idea of fun. So, while you want to keep your flat surfaces clear, remote controls are an exception. Keep them neat by storing them in a divided caddy.
Alternatively, you can keep them handy by fastening them to the side of your end table with Velcro. If you position the remote so it’s pointing at the TV, you don’t even have to move it to change channels or adjust the volue.
Have Convenient Storage for Toys
“Netflix and chill” with your significant other doesn’t have the same vibe when you’re surrounded by kids’ toys. An upholstered storage ottoman adds attractive extra seating and makes putting away toys (or stashing extra blankets) a breeze.
An easy way to keep toys from taking over is to tell each child they’re only allowed a certain number of toys in the family room. If they want to play with a toy that’s not in there, they need to swap it with one that’s in the family room. Any time they exceed the number you decided on, the toy goes into “toy jail,” and they’ve got to do a chore to earn it back.
Creative Ways to Make More Storage
- Floating wall shelves can turn unused areas into convenient storage. You can even put shelves over windows or doors to display knickknacks you decided to keep.
- A vertical storage tower can double as a side table. Several of them in a row between the back of your couch and the wall can act as a sofa table.
- An old trunk or travel chest makes a great coffee table that you can stash blankets in to keep them off the floor.
- Mounting gaming consoles on the wall to either side of your TV frees up space in your entertainment center while keeping the consoles ready for use. Use the Velcro trick mentioned for TV remotes to hang controllers next to the consoles.
Cleaning the Family Room
Cleaning the family room is much easier when you’ve purged the clutter, cleared the flat surfaces, and made putting toys away an easy task. So, if you’ve got the time and energy today, consider following my printable weekly family/living room cleaning checklist.
Otherwise, at a minimum you should take the time today to clean the following:
- Dust the walls, windowsills, and wall art.
- Dust and polish hard furniture.
- Clean the TV screen and remotes with a microfiber cloth lightly dampened with a 50-50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water.
- Use the rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth to get food stains out of upholstery.
- Dust the baseboards.
- Sweep or vacuum the floor and then mop if you have hard flooring.
Keep it Clean
Keeping on top of areas we’ve previously ROCKed is an essential part of this program. By taking a few minutes every day to check out and reset areas we’ve already worked on, we’re breaking the clean/clutter cycle.
As we progress through the series, you’ll find that spending 5-20 minutes going through your home to tidy up makes it look freshly-cleaned all the time. So, don’t skip this step!
- Entryway: Sweep or vacuum debris off the mat, or shake it outside. Throw away
trash. Gather anything that doesn’t belong there.
- Coat Closet: Is everything hung up? Throw away any trash and grab anything that doesn’t belong in the coat closet.
- Dining Room: Toss the trash. Gather anything that doesn’t belong. Wipe the table and tuck in the chairs.
- Kitchen Cupboards: Check for open food containers. Toss empty boxes. Give the handles a quick wipe.
- Kitchen Counters: Throw away trash. Put away items that belong in the cupboards. Give the surface a quick wipe. (You don’t need to move anything, just wipe up spills.)
Deal With Those Boxes
Put the boxes of items you’re giving away into the trunk of your car. Next time you’re out, stop by your local charity to donate them.
Once that’s done, deal with the pile of things you found in the family room that
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