Living room storage ideas – 29 ways to curb the clutter

It can be hard to relax when you’re faced with crammed shelves and cluttered surfaces as you settle down to watch TV in your living room. Instead bring order and calm to your space with our round up of the best living room storage ideas.

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, but modern day living has made that more tricky, now that all the rooms in our home need to work harder.

From home offices, to playrooms, to home gyms and gaming marathons, our living rooms are no longer reserved for relaxing, but must serve a multitude of purposes. But there are plenty of quick fixes and tidying solutions to bring order to your living room space once more.

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.

These are our top game-changing ideas to keep your living room in order.

1. Make the most of bay windows

Upholstered window seat with storage drawers.

Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young

Utilise the often wasted space in a window bay with a clever built-to-fit seat. Building in drawers will create extra storage and are much more practical than a lift up lid. Use the angled end section as a built-in side table and add cushions on top for comfort. This would make a great place to keep kids toys or games consoles as they’re easily accessible but still look sleek and smart.

2. Combine open and closed storage

White wall with pink painted square, sideboard with painting and ornaments, pink armchair and coffee table in the foreground.

Image credit: Future Plc/Joanna Henderson

Style out your living room with smart shelving that is both open and closed. Create a display opportunity by making a modular shelf unit the focal point of your space, then arrange your open shelves with a mix or books and decor, reserving the covered shelving for the more practical things. Jazz things up by painting the backs of the cubbies in a cheerful shade, or use wallpaper in a fun print.

3. Upcycle a simple glass cabinet

Glass cabinet in living room with flutted glass panels

Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young

Utilise storage furniture you already have, by giving them a quick update. It’s super simple to achieve this designer-look cabinet doors. Just use opaque glass film to transform a plain display cabinet into an up-to-date storage piece. Keep items inside that don’t look too messy like books, stacked bowls and plates or accessories.

4. Build storage into seating

Built in sofa with green walls, cupboards and ceiling, pink cushions and grey tiled floor.

Image credit: Future Plc/Colin Poole

If your living room is on the wee side, you’ll want to make the most of every inch of space. A great way to do this is to forgo a traditional sofa and opt for a built-in bench instead, adding storage below and to each side. Painting the whole thing in the same colour as your walls (and ceilings to if you’re feeling brave!) will mean it will blend seamlessly into the room and it won’t be obvious it’s storing a multitude of sins!

5. Use every space

White wood panelled and brick wall, chaise longue and polished concrete floor. Structural feature with clever hidden storage ideas.

Image credit: Future Plc/Dominic Blackmore

This is a great way to make the most of every nook and cranny in your living room, as well as make a striking feature using wall panelling. Clad an unused chimney breast by building out a frame, slightly wider than the chimney breast and covering it in two styles of panelling. Dividing the panels at dado height will provide a small ledge for storing and displaying art work, while slim storage cubbies can be used to keep books, accessories and knick knacks.

6. Hide away WFH clutter

Home office set up in living room space with desk chair in front of computer

Image credit: Future Plc/Simon Whitmore

Your living room is already working hard as a space for relaxation, entertaining and playtime, so the last thing you need is paperwork littering every surface, too. Choose clever freestanding furniture that hides away all the workday essentials come 5pm, like this cupboard-cum-desk. A bureau will blend nicely in a living room too or a coffee table that extends out to become a desk, could also be a great option.

7. 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.

8. 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

9. 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

10. Quickly tidy away everything into a basket

Sofa with grey felt storage tub

Image credit: Garden Trading

Invest in a sturdy tub or storage 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

11. 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

12. 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.

13. 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

14. 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

15. 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.

16. Choose multi-functional pieces

Blue living room with pink storage ottoman

Image credit:

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,

17. Style up 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’.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. 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.

25. 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.

26. 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.

27. 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.

28. 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.

29. Make the most of fireplace storage

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

Image credit: Future Plc/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.

How do I maximise storage in my living room?

There are plenty of ways to increase the storage volume in your living room, starting with swapping out old furniture for multipurpose pieces.

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.

‘When organising your living room, ensure everything has a place and try not to focus on just how things look, but their practicality too, says Vicky Silverthorn, Professional Organiser at You Need a Vicky. ‘This is a huge mistake I see people make all the time and I wish I could step in and stop them! A room needs to be visually pleasing of course, but it also needs to work for you and your life, and buying things because they look pretty, will cause you to fail at the first hurdle.’

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.

How do you organise a cluttered living room?

Start by pinning down the rooms main purpose. Is it a living room and also a play area? Is it a place you need to work in? Perhaps it’s a space to unwind and read in. For most of us these days, our living spaces have multiple purposes but try to nail down what the room is used for to work out what storage you need in relation to what you actually need to store. 

‘So often people guess purchase storage and if the piece is then too small, it will end up looking messy and awkward,’ says Vicky.

Hiding away any kids stuff, will also help to organise a cluttered living room. ‘If like me, you enjoy the look of a more adult room once the kids have gone to bed, ensure you choose furniture with your tastes in mind too, ‘ Vicky advises. ‘You can still buy cube storage very much suited to children’s toy storage, just buy it without the characters or in primary colours. Instead choose baskets and boxes in colours and styles that still look smart and sophisticated. ‘

Opt for bespoke storage solutions if you can. Obviously bespoke storage can end up being much more expensive than buying off the peg, but it’s a great way to make use of every nook and cranny in your living room. If you do buy off the peg, make sure you choose storage and furniture that will work hard and last for many years to come.

‘I absolutely love a storage sofa, they’ve come a long in recent years and now incorporate a great amount of storage space to hide away toys, blankets or even paperwork, says Vicky, ‘Since I bought mine, I haven’t looked back!’. 

How do you organise shelves in a living room?

Go for a mixture of open and closed shelves, so you can still give yourself plenty of space to hide away the ‘ugly’ stuff. Open shelves are great to making a display of books, vases and accessories, but things like extra candles, work-out DVD’s, and games consoles will be better suited to live behind closed doors.

Think about balance and symmetry when you’re organising your living room shelves, yes they are there as a practical tool to store your things, but they can also look pretty too! Play with the orientation of books, keeping some upright and some stacked up. Experiment with different height items like vases, candles and plants and create a ‘shelfie’ where you can to bring joy to the practical.

Additional words by Lisa Fazzani and Holly Walsh 

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