Updated: Nov 23, 2022
13 things professional declutterers won’t keep in their living room And there's one controversial item on the list...
BY JAYNE DOWLE
A living room can become just too 'lived-in' and end up as dumping ground for everything that belongs elsewhere in a home. Professional declutterers and KonMari practitioners – including members of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO), and the Spark Joy Collective of KonMari consultants – have a hit-list of things we should ban from this multi-purpose space. Follow their hands-on advice and get ready to enjoy relaxation and calm in your lounge. 1. Toys and games A happy family home involves mess, but at the end of the day, toys should be tidied away, says Gill Gudgeon, APDO member and founder of Restore The Calm: 'Toys and games are instant clutter and their brightly coloured nature – and even worse, motion-activated sounds – scream "look at me!"' Gill encourages parents (and their little ones) to return toys to bedrooms or put them away in a toy chest: 'Ideally placed out of your sight-line when you're sat down.' Spark Joy Collective member Romana Reynolds, owner of Purer Living, agrees. She stores her daughters' playthings away neatly in cupboards, or 'categorised in beautiful baskets'. 2. Laptops and work items If you work from home, and your office is the living room, remove or store work-related laptops, computers, papers and files immediately at the end of the working day, says Mimi Bogelund, Spark Joy Collective member and founder of Organised Home and Life. 'If there's no option except to have it there, I'd put everything behind doors in a cupboard, drawers or use attractive baskets,' she advises. 'If it's a temporary situation, I'd recommend packing everything away in work bags and moving them out of the room.' 3. Magazines you’ve already read We all love our magazines (especially your monthly issues of House Beautiful, of course), but do recycle any out-of-date magazines which you no longer need, from weekly magazines to daily newspapers. My Wardrobe Zen's founder and Spark Joy Collective member Victoria Nicholson, says: 'If there's a specific article you want to save, why not capture it on your phone? And when new publications arrive, display them in a stylish magazine holder and replace and recycle those you’ve read.' Zoë Berry, member of LIFE/EDIT Home Organisation and APDO member, says that for the same reason, avoid coffee tables with underneath shelves as these become magazine dumping grounds: 'Unless they’re intentionally curated, they’re just clutter magnets.' 4. Two-tiered coffee table Speaking of coffee tables with shelves… these are always given their marching orders by Vickie Farrell, APDO member and founder of Declutteright, who speaks from personal experience: 'We had one of these in our living room, and I soon learned that having two large flat surfaces that could be filled with lots of things equals a major clutter hotspot. I now have a nest of three small coffee tables that sit nicely in the corner of the room and only comes out when needed.' 5. Clothing and shoes 'The one item you need to remove straight away from your living room is stray items of clothing and shoes,' says Kate Yiannacou, APDO member and founder of Tidy Happy Calm. 'Coats slung over the back of a chair and jumpers stuffed down the side of a couch suggest that the space is only for passing through. They don't say, "sit down, relax, be comfortable".' Mimi Bogelund adds that outdoor shoes should always be left by the front door: 'In winter especially, this will cut cleaning time right down and instantly make the living room feel like a relaxing zone of your home.'
6. Bedding Another one of Mimi's living room pet hates is, 'duvets or other bed linen. If you want to snuggle up with covers on the sofa, get a few soft throws and leave the duvet in your bedroom.' Lynn Kirk, Spark Joy Collective member and owner of Happily Sorted, wouldn’t even have a basket of throws or blankets in a living room: 'They look so warm, cosy and stylish and I’ve had to hold myself back from buying one many times. Mainly because personally, I like things out of sight. Also, I want cleaning to be easy and so have less things to move in order to clean.' 7. Laundry Laundry is also a no-no for Kate Galbally, APDO member and founder of Better Organised : 'I recommend not having laundry hanging or in piles in the living room. Try to keep it to the more functional areas of the home, such as a floored attic or utility room. The living room is usually a space for play, entertainment or relaxation, none of which is easy to do if there are clothes horses or floordrobes [an untidy tangle of clothes, socks and underwear] in sight.' 8. Food leftovers Yuk, this is Jane Fern's worst nightmare – she's a member of the Spark Joy Collective and owns Simply Tidy With Jane: 'Have you ever walked into a café where tables haven’t been cleared of previous customers' leftovers? Our living rooms often double as a place to enjoy eating and drinking, whether that is the family meal or pizza and a movie. But just like in a café, our leftover food and dirty pots need to be cleared away.'
9. Bulky furniture This might sound obvious, but banish bulky furniture, says Craig Hoareau, APDO member and founder of A Tidy Mind – South London. 'I'd get rid of any piece of furniture which is too large for the room,' he explains. 'Consider the space you have before thinking about the furniture you put in it. If furniture is too large, it can make everything feel small and cluttered. Buying furniture that corresponds with the space you have will make it feel more open and relaxing.' 10. Unfinished craft projects Craig says we all tend to start craft projects we haven't quite finished – but the living room is no place for them: 'Will you actually take on those projects again or not? If not, then they should go.' You might feel guilty, especially if you invested money in buying materials, but gather everything together and store your project in a cupboard or spare room until you have opportunity to take it up again. If there is no chance of this happening, find a charity or a friend you can donate it to. 11. Miscellaneous items Elizabeth Wickes, APDO member, and founder of The Life Organiser, is stern about keeping too many accessories in a living room. 'Books, trinkets, and miscellaneous items that are often not being used or read, create visual overwhelm and are magnets for accumulating dust,' she says. 'Only showcase the items that you truly love. By editing those on show and creating some space, you’ll be able to view the items more clearly plus you'll spend less time dusting.' 12. Exercise equipment Leave the cross-trainer, rowing machine and dumb bells out of it, says APDO and Spark Joy Collective member Rosie Barron, founder of The Tidy Coo: 'Exercise equipment and items that live elsewhere are banned from the living room.' If you’re not using it regularly and you can't find space elsewhere in the house to exercise, consider selling your equipment and investing the money in membership of a low-cost local gym.
13. A television This is a controversial one, but Spark Joy Collective member and lifestyle coach Jenny Hayes would get rid of the television. 'The one thing I’d never have in my living room is a TV as a central focus point. For many people that can feel like an alien concept. 'The idea of snuggling up in front of the telly appeals to most, but the truth is it doesn’t actually quench the thirst for being truly met, seen and held. Sometimes we need the space, without distractions, but with a loving, open ear, to process the day and to share the highs and the lows.'
TOP TIP – HAVE A ‘OTHER ROOM’ BASKET 'At the end of the evening I pop everything in to an "other room" basket and move items back to the places they belong. Family life happens and should be enjoyed. The key is to be able to tidy up quickly and easily afterwards,' says Sue Spencer, Master KonMari consultant, APDO member and founder of A Life More Organised.