New year, new home — that’s the approach we’re taking to new year’s resolutions for 2014. The living room, one of the most-used rooms in your home, is a great place to start. We spoke to Liz Jenkins, a Professional Organizer and Staging Professional in Tennessee, to get her tips on how to organize, refresh and renovate our living rooms for the new year.
Determine function. Decide what kind of space your living room should be, and what activities you want to take place there. Is this a media room? A family activity space? A homework space? “Once you’ve identified how you want the space to function, then you can determine what stays and what goes,” says Jenkins.
Zone the room. Put some thought into what goes where so activity flows smoothly throughout the space. Store items where you want the to be used — media should be stored near the TV, art supplies near the craft table and coasters near the bar. Zoning and separating your storage will also help keep each and every item accessible, instead of shoving everything into one giant cupboard.
Eliminate unnecessary items. DVDs, games, puzzles, toys and craft supplies can clutter up a well-loved living room quickly. Shelves and drawers often become dumping grounds for any and all items. Gather up all of the clutter and group similar items together to eliminate broken, duplicate or unwanted items. “Decorative items should be replaced with a restrained hand, only using items you love and enjoy having in your space,” says Jenkins.
Add color. Keep it simple and paint a single small accent wall, or that empty nook above the fireplace. If you’d rather not deal with messy paint, update your color palette through decorative accents, like rugs, throw pillows, vases or even slipcovers. “Even new lampshades can make a whole room look completely new,” says Jenkins.
Declutter. “Often, I recommend clients remove everything from the room that isn’t essential, like the couch or TV,” says Jenkins. “Then, they can group together the decorative items, and donate or discard anything that doesn’t really speak to them or their current style and ‘shop’ from what’s left. Once things are back in place, you can identify holes in your décor and purchase accordingly.”
Tip: Do a design swap with a friend and trade a few items to get some new items and an outside eye. “New drapes, lamps or a rug can be a big game changer on the way a room looks,” says Jenkins.
Build-in storage. Built-in shelving and cabinetry can add to your living room’s aesthetic appeal and value, plus take up minimal space. If you’re unsure of how to install something on your own, always call a professional for help. If you’re not ready to whip out a hammer and nails, you might want to splurge on some heavy duty storage pieces such as armoires, sideboards or shelving.
Replace hardware. Other than paint, new hardware is one of the most powerful ways to change a piece of furniture’s style. Contrast traditional furniture with modern or colorful hardware, or simply find a fixture in a new finish for a new look.
Update light fixtures. Whether you want to add more light to your living room, set the mood with a dimming fixture or create some sparkle with a chandelier, a new light fixture can totally transform your living room’s look. Unless you’re an experienced electrician, leave any rewiring projects to the professionals — it’s not worth the risk to try it on your own.
Tell us: How are you going to update your living room this year?