How to Quickly Declutter Your Living Room Step-by-Step

You moved a sweater to clear a spot on the couch, and now you’re digging through the drawer searching for the television remote. You’re a little annoyed as you look around and realize how badly you need to declutter your living room. It’s a cluttered dump zone and you don’t know how it got that way.

Thanks to the entire family, every single surface has something on it. Coats and scarves litter every piece of furniture, and dirty dishes and magazines clutter the tops of all the tables. Shoes and backpacks create a little obstacle course through the room, and who knows what’s stuffed in the drawers.

It’s overwhelming and you don’t know how you’re going to muster the energy to get it cleared out. You worked all day, came home, prepared dinner, cleaned the kitchen, and did the dishes. All you want to do now is sit down, decompress, and relax.

But NO! Now you have to declutter the living room or it’s going to drive you nuts, and who can relax with that mess staring you in the face?

Here’s a systematic approach to quickly declutter the living room so you can finally sit down and relax.

decluttered living room with white couch, coffee table and modular storage

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How To Quickly Declutter Your Living Room

Living rooms tend to be a natural dump zone. The minute a family member walks through the door, the piles start to build. Everybody tosses their jackets over the back of the couch. They pile their shoes on the floor and toss their backpacks wherever there’s an empty spot.

Somebody might grab a snack and sit down on the couch to watch their favorite show. Once the snack is gone and the show is over, they leave the dirty dishes sitting on the coffee table.

Your living room quickly became a cluttered mess and it’s driving you crazy. Sitting there scowling isn’t going to make you feel any better,  so you might as well get busy and declutter the living room. This is how I get mine done quickly.

Have other rooms that are driving you crazy? You can see how I declutter my kitchen and bathroom, and how I avoid these common decluttering mistakes.

1. Scan The Flat Surfaces

Starting with the flat surfaces, scan the entire room and make mental notes of everything that needs to be removed. If there’s a ton of stuff that needs to be removed, you might want to grab the garbage can and a couple of baskets so you can clear it out more quickly.

If your living room is anything like mine, you’ll be looking at cups, glasses, snack plates, shoes, jackets, and other miscellaneous clothing items from every person in your family. GRRR – the nerve.

2. Get Rid of Garbage

Start with the garbage. It’s visually obvious and doesn’t take any brainpower to decide where it actually belongs.

Throw away all of the obvious garbage including dirty napkins and random post-it notes that are lying all over the place. Don’t forget to check between the cushions of your furniture.

When that’s done, pick up all of those old outdated magazines and throw them in the recycle bin.


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3. Remove Dirty Dishes

Pick up all of the cups, glasses, and snack plates from the afternoon carnage. If they don’t have dried crusty food on them, put them straight in the dishwasher. Otherwise set them in the sink for a good soak.

It’s best if you can put them directly in the dishwasher and not have to deal with them again, but sometimes that’s just not possible.

4. Sort Remaining Surface Clutter

Grab an empty basket to help you gather everything up and save some trips to other rooms.

Separate everything into groups that make sense for you. If you keep shoes and coats in a mudroom, group them all together so you can move them all at once.

If there’s a stack of stuff that belongs in your daughters’ bedroom, then make a stack for each person so it can all be moved to the appropriate room.

Once you have all of the surface clutter grouped, load it in your basket and move it to the room it belongs in.

Scan all of your pillows and throw blankets to determine if you really need them all out. Take one more look around at the flat surfaces to see if there is anything else that doesn’t belong there.

You’re only five minutes in and your living room is already looking much better.  See how quickly you can declutter?

Since you’re already decluttering, you might as well take care of the hidden clutter too. Hidden clutter is the clutter that is out of sight and out of mind. It isn’t really in the way, but it’s clutter all the same.

decluttered living room with coffee table and white couch

5. Declutter Media Cabinet And Shelves

Go through your media cabinet and get rid of any random extra cords or cables. You really aren’t going to need any of those old coaxial cables or telephone cords that you’ve been hanging on to, and it’ll drive you crazy trying to figure out what they go to.

You probably don’t even own the piece of equipment those cords belonged to anyway. Also get rid of any other random electronics accessories that you no longer need, including those remotes you don’t have matching components for.

Now check the shelves and sort through all of the old media. Remove any old DVD’s that nobody watches anymore, CD’s nobody listens to anymore, and video games that nobody plays anymore. You can sell these on eBay, at a garage sale, or donate them all.

Go through any books and pull out the ones you probably won’t read again and donate those too. Don’t forget about the board games that are missing pieces or the family outgrew years ago.

You’re only up to ten minutes at this point, and don’t have too much left to do.

6. Clean Out Any Drawers

Now on to the drawers.  The bottomless pit where random objects go to get lost for eternity. I’m not even really sure where all of the crap comes from, but it all ends up in the drawers at my house.

Start by dumping everything out of the drawer onto a towel on top of the table so you can see it all.

Throw away any dead batteries, random post-it notes, broken or ruined coasters, rubber bands, and any other random crap that doesn’t belong there. Keep only what belongs in the drawers.

I emptied a full end table drawer and ended up with a few coasters and a candle lighter that went back in. None of the other stuff that was filling the drawer actually belonged there, or even in the living room for that matter.

Hidden clutter conquered and it only took you another 10 minutes, so why not finish the job and tackle Decor items.

7. Remove any Out of Date Decor

Take one last look around the room and remove any out of style decor items or nick-nacks that you just don’t like anymore. Yes, it’s time to give up that 80’s lava lamp once and for all.

Also include collectibles, artwork, or rugs that no longer fit the decorating direction you’re heading in. You can either sell these or donate these items.

That was five more minutes, so now you’re at fifteen.

Decluttered living room


You did it!!! Your living room is decluttered and it didn’t take you all day!

You removed the garbage and dirty dishes. Then you decluttered the media cabinet, shelves, and drawers. You even removed some out of date decor items and should be proud of yourself. That overwhelming mess only took you fifteen minutes to sort through but lifted a ton of weight off of your shoulders.

Now that you’re all done, sit down and relax.  Look around and enjoy your accomplishments.

Want to keep your living room this tidy, put your family on a daily ‘After Work/After School’ routine that includes putting things away once they walk through the door.

Share your transformations in the comments, and don’t forget to sign up for your free Home Decluttering Guide and our weekly newsletter.

living room with blankets, jackets, magazines, plates, and lots of clutter thrown around.

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