Making Room...in the Family Room

Do you watch TV or movies in the family room? Does it double as the playroom? Is it a place to listen to music or cozy up with a good book? Entertain guests? Your family room may be the backdrop for all these activities. Because family rooms can serve so many purposes, it can easily become a jumble of clutter. A good organizing system and regularly maintaining that system will help to keep it all in check.

Let’s take a step back and dig a bit deeper. Think about the intention of the room and how It aligns with your family values. You might be thinking this sounds a little too philosophical. Aren’t we just trying to clear the clutter out of the room? Well, yes, but there’s more. Take a moment to reflect on the vision you have for the room. Does the vision include the whole family gathered? What’s happening in the room? Game night? Lively conversation? Popcorn and a movie? So much of what takes place here will be intertwined with your family values and making memories. When you think about it, it’s not really about the stuff is it? So, you’ll want to be sure that the room is organized to support your intentions and vision.

Edit the Clutter

Of course, your family room is going to have your belongings in it. In fact, it may hold some of your most prized and priceless possessions. It’s prime real estate within your home for family portraits, photos from a favorite vacation, cherished memorabilia, and more. The family room is a great space to rotate beloved photographs and mementos.  Honor and respect the past, relish the present and make room for the future.

If your family room is at all typical, it houses electronics, and plenty of them. If you’re still holding onto that stereo receiver that you lugged into your college dorm room, now may be a good time to let it go. There are plenty of electronic recycling options, including a program at Staples. And if you have old hard drives or other devices with sensitive information on them, don’t worry. They’ll be wiped clean per Department of Defense specifications. Your device may even qualify for their eCash Card.

While we’re talking about technology, how many cords and cables do you have that are not plugged into anything? Do you know which devices they belong to? If all the devices you use are plugged in and working, chances are you don’t need the excess cables that you’re keeping ‘just in case’. Of course, if you’re ready to donate any electronics, it’s a good idea to match the cable to the device. Cords and cables are like plastic food containers or orphaned socks. They multiply, and they’re just not as efficient without their partners. Inventory what you have; keep only what you need; ditch the rest.

With young kids in the house, toys may be taking up a good deal of space if this room is designated for play. When organizing clients’ play areas, parents often tell me that their kids play with just a few favored toys. Much of what else is in the room is largely ignored. Find out which toys are most beloved and consider donating any that are in good condition and can be enjoyed by others. Children feel good about helping kids in need, and you can introduce a valuable lesson about giving back and community service. You may also want to rotate toys in and out of the room throughout the year to keep the toy selection interesting and the clutter at bay.

Popular movie subscription services have replaced DVDs and, gasp! VHS tapes are a thing of the past. Because of the various materials these items are made with, they can’t just be tossed into the recycle bin. Services like GreenDisk will recycle them for you responsibly.  Your town library may be another option so check with them as well. They will however, most likely and gladly accept your gently used book donations as they prepare for book sales.

Family Room Storage Options

Your family room is an ideal space to use decorative baskets or bins to stow away the room’s essentials. Multi-purpose furniture like a storage ottoman or coffee table with drawers are good options to keep categories of items together. Don’t forget that a bookcase is a container as well. Be selective about what gets displayed on shelves and around the room. You want to enjoy looking at your collection. Give it space and keep it uncluttered. It’ll be easier to clean that way, too.

Let’s get back to the cords for a moment. There are lots of cable caddies on the market that can help corral the jumble of cords that comes with all the electronics. Choose one that best suits the need and the space.

A corner of the room is a good place to designate as play space. The walls help to define the area and keep clutter contained within that zone. The same idea can be applied for a desk or counter and stools used as a homework station.

Maintain Regularly

Like no other room in your home, the family room requires a balancing act. Everyone in your family will use the room at one time or another. And it serves many purposes for each of you. Knowing how you want the room to function will give you the framework for how to organize all the belongings that support the room’s purpose and function. When it comes to keeping it organized, all household/family members who enter should take part in maintaining its order. Just keep in mind the room’s name sake.