Living room storage ideas – 23 ways to organise sitting rooms of all sizes

Does your living room storage need an overhaul? Keep your living room clutter-free with these smart solutions
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  • If you’ve lost that loving feeling for your living room, chances are it’s because it hasn’t got enough storage. There’s nothing more unappealing than being surrounded by clutter, so restore that relaxing vibe with these fabulous living room storage ideas.

    As one of the busiest rooms in the house, it’s no wonder that sometimes our living rooms can house a lot of ‘stuff’. But with most of it deemed essential there’s no getting around, instead we need to seek smart storage solutions to prevent the space from feeling overwhelmed and cluttered.

    It’s even more important to keep on top of storage solutions when space is premium – the last thing a small living room needs is to be overwhelmed with clutter. The key to getting our living room ideas spot on when it comes to storage, is choosing pieces that offer as much multipurpose potential as possible.

    Living room storage ideas

    1. Build your own media storage

    Living room with grey painted media storage

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    Go for multifunctional TV and media storage that will house all your essentials in one hit. Off-the-peg modular storage has the look of a bespoke built-in piece, but comes in top and bottom sections and a range of widths and heights so you can arrange it to suit your space, big or small. Available in a range of paint colours, choose a shade that co-ordinates with your wall colour for a chic, cohesive Living room paint idea.

    2. Choose side tables with ‘secret’ storage

    coffee table with storage drawer

    Image credit: IKEA

    Find a home for remote controls, coasters or any other essentials you need within grabbing distance of the sofa but don’t want cluttering up your table tops. These neat nesting tables can be used separately, or when nested together, the smallest becomes a handy hideout for odds and ends. 

    Buy now: Granboda nest of tables, £50, IKEA

    3. Stash cushions and blankets in an ottoman

    grey living room with corner sofa in yellow and grey

    Image credit: Sofology

    Opt for stowaway storage so you can stash living room essentials out of sight. A roomy ottoman with lift-up lid is brilliant for hiding away spare cushions, bulky blankets or children’s toys. Choose one that colour co-ordinates with your sofa or seating arrangement, or choose a standalone piece in a contrast colour or neutral leather.

    This is a particularly brilliant small living room idea, to utilise space in a compact sitting room, snug or lounge.

    Buy now: Cubos footstool, £349, Sofology

    4. Quickly tidy away everything into a basket

    Sofa with grey felt storage tub

    Image credit: Garden Trading

    Invest in a sturdy tub or basket that can tuck under a coffee table or sit next to a sofa or armchair. A brilliant clutter-catcher for books, magazines, iPads or knitting, just chuck everything in at the end of the evening for a speedy tidy-up.

    Buy now: Southwold Star basket, £30, Garden Trading

    5. Go for a flexible easy-stack system

    grey living room with modular media storage

    Image credit: Bisley

    Start small or scale it up…opting for a modular system will give you the flexibility to do both. This high-quality plywood stacking system comes in different-sized modules that can be configured to suit the available space. Clever magnetic fixings hold the pieces together – but can be easily adjusted should you have a re-think later on and want to swap things around.

    Buy now: BOB storage system, from £240 for a single cube unit, Bisley

    6. Invest in fully-fitted storage

    grey living room with built-in storage

    Image credit: Sharps, Shaker in Dove Home Living range, from £1500

    Solve the problem of awkward alcoves or tricky corners in a living room, by opting for bespoke built-in storage. Furniture is tailored to fit, so no space is wasted and taken floor-to-ceiling will make full use of room height too. Opt for a combination of shelves and cupboards to give space for display and somewhere to hide the less-lovely stuff.

    7. Combine storage and desk space

    Floating shelves with desk

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young

    Create a spot where you can sit at the laptop or sort admin, without ruining the aesthetic of your living room. A stack of floating shelves creates a wall of storage and display space with paperwork hidden away in box files – just pull up a chair when you want to work.

    In this smart grey living room idea the addition of wooden shelves helps to add a contemporary display element to one wall. 

    Buy now: Form Cusko floating shelves, from £14, B&Q

    8. Hang easy-access baskets on the wall

    living room with basket storage on wall

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson

    Target clutter hotspots by installing easy-access storage that will encourage even the youngest family members to put things away. Fix a few sturdy metal hooks on the wall at staggered heights and hook a handled basket on each. Willow baskets are great for quick end-of-day tidy-ups for toys, books, magazines, iPads and other stuff that tends to lay about.

    Buy now: Holkham utility baskets, £30 each, Garden Trading

    9. Build statement shelving for books

    Alcove with green painted book shelves

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young

    Turn an awkward alcove into a storage opportunity with a custom-built arrangement. Use regular wooden cubes or box shelving, but instead of fixing to the wall in a straight line, position shelves in a diagonal arrangement. Paint shelves the same colour as the wall for a chic, streamlined look, then fill with your favourite books – as is shown with this elegant green living room idea.

    10. Choose multi-functional pieces

    Blue living room with pink storage ottoman

    Image credit: Sofa.com

    Save space with a coffee table, footstool and storage combined. This neat storage drum comes upholstered in a choice of chic fabrics and has a removable beech wood lid that lifts to reveal a cavern of hidden storage inside, perfect for blankets, cushions, board games and more.

    Buy now: Ringo storage drum, from £195, Sofa.com

    11. Style up shelving

    BOTANICALS- SHELVING

    Image credit: Future PLC/Carolyn Barber

    Soften the hard lines of a dark shelving unit with a selection of plants. Choose trailing varieties and frothy foliage, mixing different heights and shapes to bring the look to life. Selecting a coherent colour scheme really helps when displaying your collections – three to four colours is perfect.

    In this example styled. on an Ideal Home shoot navy blue, leaf green, turquoise and an earthy pink keeps the look co-ordinated but not ‘matchy-matchy’.

    12. Build a media unit from MDF

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson

    A piece of MDF and two floating shelves creates a professional looking TV/gaming centre. The bottom shelf allows lidded ottomans and drawer units to be popped neatly underneath, whereas the top shelf can be used for more storage boxes or made pretty by adorning with vases and accessories.

    Paint the whole unit the same colour for an ‘interior-design’ look.

    13. Stash books in baskets

    living room storage ideas 1

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    If your living room is full of books stop your shelving from looking too chaotic by using baskets to group books together. Put similar colours and sizes side by side for an ordered feel, or arrange by topic or author.

    14. Go for a wall-to-wall system

    living room storage ideas 2

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittian

    Invest in shelves that run from wall-to-wall in a living room. A run of open shelving or glass fronted cabinets across a living room wall gives you plenty of space to display favourite finds. Pair with low-level cupboards or drawers for easy access to everyday items that aren’t so easy on the eye.

    15. Customise your own sideboard

    Living room storage ideas 3

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Pushing together a bank of Ivar units, from IKEA for £45 each, creates an unobtrusive, inexpensive storage and display space for all your living room clutter. Store your books and games inside to keep them neat and out the way. Paint it white for a  simple finish.

    16. Frame a window to utilise space

    living room storage ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young

    Make best use of space by framing windows with bespoke storage. Realise the full potential of unused wall space, especially up high, with built-in storage solutions. Window seats provides the perfect place to sit and make you feel that little bit closer to the outside.

    17. Repurpose vintage storage trunks

    living room storage ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    For an eclectic interior full of charm, give new life and purpose to old pre-loved pieces. A storage trunk not only gives a room a sense of history, but can double up as a feature coffee table, too.

    You should be able to pick up sturdy, good-quality solid-wood vintage pieces for much less than you’d pay for them new. Antique shop fittings and cabinets work brilliantly in modern homes as they offer well-organised storage in a unique piece of furniture that’s full of character and personality. Optimise storage further with a wooden sideboard with plenty of drawers.

    18. Consider ladder-style shelving

    living room storage ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain

    Step up your storage with ladder-style shelving. A leaning ladder shelf is a great way to add storage without overwhelming a living room. As well as being an interesting alternative to more conventional shelving, they are perfect for paler schemes or rooms with limited space. Be sure to secure the frame to the wall for safety.

    19. Embrace non-traditional furniture

    living room storage ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    Think outside the box when it comes to furniture choices for your living room. A traditional dresser, a more obvious dining room choice, sits beautifully in place of a bookshelf . In this case the natural wood adds an element of rustic country charm. While the boxy design blends in with the modern sofa and table, keeping the look contemporary.

    20. Opt for smart furniture pieces

    living room storage ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    Making your furniture work harder is especially important if you have a small living space. Chose multi-purpose furniture pieces, such as this coffee table that seamlessly accommodates books and magazines. Perfect for storage while also handy for providing a surface drinks and blooms on display.

    21. Make best use of free-standing furniture in alcoves

    living room storage ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    Make the most of all the space available. Many living rooms have alcove space either side of the chimney breast, this provides a natural solution for storage. The ideal choice is to have bespoke cabinetry and shelves fitted, as seen on the left above, however it can be expensive.

    But even on a budget, the space is still a prime location for clever free-standing furniture pieces – the space is effectively wasted otherwise, due to width restrictions. Use tall units to best utilise every square inch of storage on offer.

    22. Reclaimed shop cabinet

    shop cabinet in a living area with vintage items - Simon Whitmore

    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Store just about anything you need to keep in perfect order with a reclaimed shop cabinet. You could pick up a similar piece on a smaller scale at an auction house or go bespoke to create the unit of your dreams.

    23. Fireplace storage

    colourful living room with floral rug and magazines in the fireplace - Dominic Blackmore

    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    Now this is a seriously smart way to get the most out of a retired fireplace. The perfect spot for a magazine junkie’s treasured collection – out of the way yet easily accessed – it looks good and means copies of your, ahem, favourite mag can always be close to hand when you need them for inspiration for your next building project.

    Ideal Home’s top living room storage tips

    • Make living room furniture work harder by choosing items that include storage. A coffee table with a shelf beneath will create an extra surface for stashing newspapers and remote controls out of the way. An upholstered ottoman could double up as a storage unit and a coffee table. Vintage trunks are also ideal for this job and will add character to your living room, too.
    • Create space on your coffee table for hot mugs of tea by relocating books and magazines to shelves. Bookcases aren’t just for traditional-style rooms; modular shelving units and ladder-style shelves are ideal for contemporary schemes.
    • If your room hasn’t the floor space to accommodate a bookcase or a freestanding unit, opt for a wall-hung shelving unit instead. DVD storage will also banish the clutter and keep your living room in order.
    • Storage doesn’t just need to be functional; you could use it to give your room a whole new focal point. Floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall shelving filled with books, framed family photographs and much-loved home accessories will create a striking feature that is unique to you.
    • If you’d prefer storage to take a back seat, make use of alcoves. Ask a carpenter to create subtle, built-in units and paint them in the same shade as the walls so that they blend in.
    • For a contemporary scheme, try fitting a streamlined sliding panel to conceal a whole wall of shelving, drawers and pull-out cupboards. If you have lots of dinner party items and equipment, have a look at our living room storage ideas.

    Will you be trying out any of these living room storage ideas?

    Additional words by Lisa Fazzani

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