Creating a Minimalist Home: Day 20 – Living Room

Ever feel the need to clean up before people come over, because heaven forbid they see what your house really looks like? I think I inherited this trait from my mama, but since creating our minimalist home, I have far less to clean or put away before welcoming company.

The living room is such an important space in the home, but before you start on it, I want you to leave the room. Yup seriously. Get up from your computer, maybe even go outside for a few minutes. Return to the room, but this time look at it as if you’re renting the space, on airbnb, or are a visiting judgemental guest.

I’m sure you’re thinking “you can’t be serious! I live here…”, but the truth is, clutter disappears the longer we live in it. Why? Because we get accustomed to it.

As a ‘guest’ assess the big picture. Do you like the look of the room? Is it inviting, hygge even? Would you have to move anything out of the way to enjoy the space? Does each item have a purpose or work harmoniously with another, or does it look like a random collection of stuff?

Usually when a to-do list, I start with checking off the smaller items on my list, but I’m going to urge you to do the opposite here. Ever stubbed your toe or hit your shin on a piece of furniture? Me too! This used to happen to me all the time because my living room was too cluttered! Start with the largest items in your living room, which will most likely be the furniture.

Assess the furniture pieces you have in your living room. Is every piece used? Do people sit in that chair in the corner? If you’re a family of 4, do you need seating for 8? Simply clearing out a large piece of furniture will really open up a space! For guests, you can always bring out some folding chairs, or floor pillows are totally in!

If you aren’t ready to get rid of a piece of furniture, try storing it somewhere else for a few weeks and see if it’s missed. I suggest investing in multi-functional furniture, for example, a pull-out sofa is functional for your living space and hosting guests. Search for coffee tables and consoles that have storage to hold items such as remotes to help keep surfaces clear.

After you’ve gone through your biggest items, tackle the small ones. Shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer. Use the “Keep,Transfer, Trash” mentality, but most importantly go slow and stay focused. It can be tempting to put on the T.V. in the background while decluttering your living room. Doing so will distract you from the task at hand, which will end up taking longer… and could cause you to lose steam and stop altogether, leaving your living room in a bigger mess than when you started.

Clear away all decorative items from your living room and choose only a few to put back in. Items shouldn’t be competing for attention in a space, and should never keep you from using that space. I suggest choosing decorative items that work in all seasons (such as neutral colours…but this may be a bit bias as I am essentially allergic to colour), this way you’re housing less items in storage in other parts of your home. However if you like update your decor with changing seasons and holidays, choose the one in one out rule, change out pillows rather than adding more for example.  

Since the living room is essentially one of the most “lived in” rooms, it’s important that all items have a place, (magazines, remotes, movies, etc.). Clear off surfaced before you head to bed for the night, put back blankets, and replace those pillows. If everything has a designated space, others in your home will also know where these items belong when leaving the room. Think of it as a “Flex Space”. The space should be clear and functional for the next person and activity. It can get frustrating always telling people to clean up, so be sure to lead by example!


What is your favourite furniture piece in your living room?

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