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Spring Cleaning Method: Family Room Edition

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This week in Spring Cleaning I’m tackling the Family Room, or as some people call it the Dumping Ground. It’s only natural that a room where everyone hangs out inevitably becomes a magnet for clutter. If your family room is one of the places you spend the most time cleaning then it’s time to get some systems in place to tame the junk pile-ups and restore a sense of peace to the family hub. Family Room Systems take a little extra effort to design and may require investment if you really want a space that is easy to keep clean and clutter-free. The secret sauce is ensuring your furniture is functional.

So Spring Cleaning in the Family Room is really not sustainable unless you have the appropriate storage in place. Unlike the kitchen storage doesn’t necessarily come with the room, it’s either contemplated in the design of the home (Pro Tip for anyone planning a remodel!) or achieved with furniture that does double duty. My primary focus in this post is storage options that will help your Family Room work for you and be a place you can tidy up in minutes.

Some of the most common clutter categories I see in Family Rooms are:

  • Remotes

  • Magazines

  • Toys

  • Board & Video Games

  • Cords

  • Throw Pillows & Blankets

  • Pet toys

Think of the seating in your family room (usually a sofa or big sectional) as the earth with everything else acting as storage satellites around it. You aren’t going to store things in your sofa but the end tables, coffee tables, ottomans, media consoles and benches can be integral players in a good Family Room storage system. Here are some great examples in each category that are as functional as they are beautiful. (Side Note: my personal taste tends to run on the modern side but I assure you that options with similar functionality exist in many other styles as well – these examples are just to inspire you! For product links just click on the photo!)

End Tables

Looking above at our Clutter Categories End tables are a great place to keep the remotes and magazines. Both are things that would work on an open shelf or away in a drawer, depending on your own personal preference. In my house I can’t leave them in an open situation because Gus likes to chew remotes and tear up magazines. Here are a couple of nice end-table options. Pro Tip: Some of my favorite End Tables are actually Nightstands – they are the same average height and work equally well in either room!

I love this end table from West Elm. It’s got an open shelf on the bottom and a drawer on the top – perfect for remotes & magazines!

This end table from Design Within Reach also doubles as a laptop desk, it’s perfect for magazine storage next to the sofa

Coffee Table

I like the coffee table for board game storage. It’s the perfect size for board games and it’s so handy to pull them out when you want to play!

Another recommendation I have when you have small kids is a Play Table, which can double as a coffee table in your family room. It has roll out drawers underneath that are great for storing trains, craft supplies or any other toy category that gets used at the table. When they are done playing they just scoop everything back into the drawer!

This Crate & Barrel Coffee table has pull out drawers on either side – perfect for board games

IF you have small kids I highly recommend a Play Table like this one form Pottery Barn kids as your coffee table. It’s so easy to keep the kid-clutter contained!

Media Console

Whether your TV sits on a piece of furniture or is mounted on the wall having a console is a must in my opinion. It keeps the many boxes (cable, XBox, router, etc.) contained and can also provide storage for video game paraphernalia like headphones, controllers and batteries (thank goodness most games are now streamed – one less clutter category!) Our console has a drawer for media devices (it is also a charging drawer!) and one of the drawers we use for blanket storage. One blanket draped on the sofa looks nice, two or more looks cluttered and for some reason everyone in my family likes to have their own blanket so a storage drawer is Critical Clutter Containment. One additional thought on media consoles, I think the most functional styles have a combo of open shelving (for the boxes that talk to remotes) and drawers/cabinets. The open shelving means you will need some cord containment. There are many available options here, the ones I like best for their ease-of-use are cable sleeves!

When selecting a media console it’s best to choose one that has open storage for your ‘boxes’ and drawers for other things that need storing, like video game paraphernalia!

This console from Crate & Barrel is floating, you mount it on the wall. I love floating consoles because they make a room feel larger while also providing valuable storage space


A bench is a great solution for additional seating and extra storage. I like benches for throw pillow storage. Throw pillows can look nice when no one is sitting on the sofa but if there are a lot of them they tend to get cast about. Or maybe you like to shift your throw pillows by season like I do – if that is the case a storage bench or window seat is an excellent storage option for pillows; it’s out of the direct epicenter of activity in the room and usually a big enough space for a few pillows to live. Benches are also a great place to store the overflow of Pet Toys if that is a thing in your house.

I love this storage bench from Room&Board, it would be great pillow/blanket storage plus bonus additional seating

Here’s another storage bench I like from Design Within Reach, the top opens up and it comes in 2 sizes

Other Solutions

But what if I like the furniture I have? What if some things won’t have a home in a piece of furniture? Okay, okay – maybe you won’t be replacing all of your furniture just to have a functional Family Room. There are some solutions that are free-standing if you need more storage but have enough furniture. One solution is baskets or felt/fabric bins. You want something that is nice to look at and easy to scoop things like toys (or magazines, or blankets, etc.) into. The attractiveness of the vessel will distract from what resides in it. Another Interior Design trick if you must have things like remotes sitting out is to use a tray. Trays add a touch of elegance and also signal that something is supposed to reside there. Plus tray shopping is fun, so many choices!

These felt baskets from Design Within Reach come in 3 sizes and can contain almost anything. They are so pretty they distract from the stuff you store in them

The clutter in Family Rooms tends to be transient, as people move in and out – it’s not really a room that accumulates lots of things in one category over time (though please do go through and ask yourself which remotes are actually getting used!) By carefully designing a storage strategy for your Family Room you will be creating a Haven rather than a Dumping Ground in the room that everybody wants to hang out in. In my opinion that is worth the time and effort!

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