Food & Fitness

The Living Healthy in the Real World Guide to Cleaning & Organizing, Part Five: Creating a Welcoming Living Space

Be sure to check out our previous installments:

Part One: Why Should I Clean?

Part Two: Starting Fresh

Part Three: Dealing with Housemates

Part Four: Cleaning and Organizing the Bathroom

Part Five: Creating a Welcoming Living Space

The living room is the typical place to entertain guests. It is where the family gathers to relax, read books, watch movies, and simply be together. It is the public sphere within the household. Without a welcoming living space, the family may be less inclined to spend time together, and guests may not feel as comfortable in your home.

Here are a few things to remember when trying to organize your living space so that people want to be in it:

1) Create a focal point. This “grounds” the room and draws the eye. Generally the furniture is arranged around the focal point so that everyone in the living room has access to it. It’s a fundamental piece to any living space to create structure and give depth and definition to the room.

I find that in many living rooms, the couch and chairs all face the television set. The t.v. is apparently the most fascinating thing in the room. Because I’ve decided not to own a television, at the moment all of my chairs (I only have two at present, and no couch; it’s taking a little while to gather furniture for my condo!) are facing the three bookshelves that line one of the walls. I like the set-up. When I have guests over, they inevitably wander over to the bookshelves to examine the collection. To me, it’s preferable to having a big black box with a screen looming out of the wall. But if televisions are your “thing”, then by all means make it the focal point. Other common feature pieces in living rooms are fireplaces or wood stoves, or windows if you have a nice view. A fantastic piece of art would also make for a great focal point.

2) Decide what you want from your living space. Are animals or little kids going to be tearing around the room? Is it an area for the family to spend time together or is it more focused on socializing for when guests come to your home? Deciding what you want it to be will make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to organization. Small children and animals will leave their toys in the middle of the floor and wander off without a second thought, but it doesn’t have to be a cause of frustration for you: keep a basket under the table or beside the couch to contain all of the toys for easy access and clean-up.

Something else to consider at this point is your breakables. When the sistertraveller and I lived together, we occasionally had some fantastic parties at our old apartment. They never got out of hand, but sometimes a drink would be spilled and such. These things happen. I always liked keeping out a couple of very beautiful and expensive books on display on the coffee table, but I quickly learned that at bigger social events it is better to hide those books, lest a guest spill something on one of them. Another option is to have that sort of thing on display when people arrive, to discreetly be hidden away as the night continues.

Care for a game of tic tac toe?

3) Don’t be too obsessive. As much as it is important to make a good impression and to have a peaceful place to socialize, the point of the living room is the living part. Make it comfy. A cushion or pillow is nice to have nearby, and I always like having a couple of blankets within arms reach (I keep mine in a storage box so that they’re hidden from view). Choose colours that you like. Have a plant in the room if that’s your thing. Hang art and photographs that define your home. This is the main room for both entertainment and relaxing, so the items on display should be things that you identify with and that you wish to be associated with.

4) Maintain cleanliness. Doing a quick sweep or vacuum and dusting a couple times a month (the frequency of “touch-up” cleaning depends on how much use you get out of the living room) will turn it into an inviting room. Too little and it will turn into a pigsty; too much and it will feel as sterile as a hospital. You don’t need to go overboard here, but it helps if at the end of the day you do a quick glance around the room: put dishware and glasses in the kitchen, put those toys in their basket, wipe up crumbs, and return the book to its shelf. It only takes seconds, and the result is that you will want to be in that room… clutter-free.

Piano along the same wall as the bookshelves.

So there you have it: take advantage of storage boxes and compartments, keep the space comfortable, and maintain cleanliness without turning it into a sterile environment. What do you think? What’s your living room like? Add your thoughts and insights in the comments section below!


  1. clare

    thanks for the tips sagan. after almost a year of a big hole in the our ceiling from a plumbing disaster, our living room has finally come together and i can tell you it makes a BIG difference in how i feel in my space. my home also happens to be my workspace, and the hole was right above my desk! im feeling a lot more productive and peaceful now that its organized and clean.

  2. Ben

    In my opinion, the best way to make your living space more social and friendly is to NOT make the television the focal point of your living space. It’s always so nice when I visit people and I see they’ve chosen not to put the TV in the middle of everything. It makes me feel more welcome.

  3. Sagan Morrow

    Hanlie- I do too.

    Miz- When it comes to books, anything goes. Covet to your heart’s content 😀

    Vered- Exactly! And then the place feels as uncomfortable as it would if it were super messy, anyways.

    Skyler- No kidding. We need to show the love for our books and have them front and centre!

    Clare- GAH, that must have been so difficult to get any work done! I probably would have wound up doing all my work in another room… am awfully happy for you that it’s finally fixed.

    Sophia- 🙂 Glad to be of help!

    Ben- Agreed. When I have people over I want to TALK with them, not sit down staring at a screen with them.

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