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Use Stylish Storage to Restore Order to Your Living Room

From showpiece furniture to the simplest shelving, smart storage is key to a beautifully organised living space

Natalie Davies

Natalie Davies

Interiors Editor

Re-imagine bedroom furniture

Give bedroom furniture a new lease of life as a practical storage solution for your living room. Use paint to customise two chests of drawers to complement your décor - here an ivory shade ties the furniture into a traditional neutral scheme - and place either side of a fireplace to add symmetry to your layout. The low level also means they are a great place for table lamps and you can hide a multitude of sins in the ample drawers.

 

Go dual-function

Choose hardworking furniture wherever you can - it's a great boon to keeping a busy family living room neat and tidy. Try to find pieces with extra storage areas incorporated into the design to make the most of every inch. Here, a coffee table has clever slots to store books and magazines plus two levels of shelving for remote controls and other essential bits and bobs. 

 
Modern living room with velvet sofa
Photo credit: Paul Raeside for Livingetc

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Screen it off

Keep a modern living room clutter-free with a clever storage solution that works perfectly with a minimalist scheme. Use a curtain to cordon off shelving and create instant calm by hiding away anything that ruins the clean lines of your décor. Fabric is also a great way to bring pattern and texture into your space. Here it forms a decorative backdrop to a grey sofa and unites the monochrome scheme.

 
White Modern Living Room with Black-framed Wall Prints
Photo credit: Lizzie Orme for Style at Home

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Create a dramatic focal point

Go full-on mid-century with a Mad Men-style wooden sideboard complete with glass-fronted sections that you can use to display your favourite drinkware. Make the area a focal point with a picture wall above of your favourite prints - you can mix and match the sizes if you stick to one type of frame - and use lighting to accentuate the area. A retro floor lamp completes the look and puts a spotlight on your favourite accessories.

 

 
Monochrome living room with country accessories
Photo credit: David Giles for Ideal Home

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Carve-out a cubbyhole

Make every inch work in a clean modern living room with pockets of practical storage in a wooden bench or window seat. Not only do the cupboards hide away any unsightly clutter, you can also use the wooden top as extra seating with the addition of cushions or to display gorgeous accessories and table lighting. In this neutral living room, space has been left for a useful wicker basket to hold logs for the fire, but it could equally hold children’s toys in a family home. 

 
Traditional living room with bright blue sofa
Photo credit: Jonathan Gooch for Homes & Gardens

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Fit shutters

Add bags of storage with bespoke fitted shelving in alcoves and recessed corners. Here, roomy alcoves gets a shabby-chic twist with antiqued louvre shutter doors that play on the traditional features of the room. This look is easy to achieve with an undercoat of woodstain and an over coat of off-white wood paint. The secret is to rub wax or apply Vaseline to the areas where you want the dark shade to come through and then lightly sand after the topcoat is fully dried. The distressed effect looks beautiful with grey walls and pops of teal are the perfect highlight to complete the scheme.

 
Modern Grey Living Room with Dusky Pink Sofa
Photo credit: Rowland Roques-O'Neil for Ideal Home

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Keep it spacious with low-level storage

As an alternative to floor-to-ceiling shelving, give a family living room box-style, floor-standing shelving. This will free up wall space above for prints and framed family photographs, while keeping the room from feeling cluttered. Use the minimal height to good advantage by displaying homely accessories such as modern planters and copper jars. 

 
Neutral Traditional Living Room with Eclectic Display Cabinet
Photo credit: Paul Raeside for Homes & Gardens

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Make a show

Be inspired by the time-honoured tradition of collecting beautiful artefacts with a show-stopping display cabinet. Position it to take pride of place in your room and fill with an impressive-looking collection to match. Collect around a material or colour for a co-ordinated display. Create drama by layering numerous finds in co-ordinating tones to allow each piece to stand out. Black accents will ensure the look remains strong.

 
Country living room with vintage features
Photo credit: Brent Darby for Country Homes & Interiors

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Find preloved treasures

Anchor your living room scheme with a large central storage chest that can double as a coffee table. Often unique with a story attached, a reclaimed version makes a subtle addition to a country rooms and adds plenty of character. Fill with living room paraphernalia, such as magazines and spare blankets or throws, and free up surface space for coffee mugs and remote controls. 

 
White Modern Living Room with Library and Striped sofa
Photo credit: Paul Raeside for Livingetc

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Aim high

Use every inch of space to display your wares. If books are your passion make a floor-to-ceiling library. It's a stylish way for bookworms to house a prized collection and creates plenty of interest in a room. Look for a rustic rolling ladder on castors for easy access to the high shelves and a vintage touch. Install overhead spot lighting above the shelving so it's easy to see the entire contents of the bookcase no matter how high

 
Traditional living room with open log storage
Photo credit: Polly Eltes for Country Homes and Interiors

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Make use of period features 

If you have an older property with alcoves either side of a fireplace, be sure to make the best use of them - they're perfect for creating storage. For a timeless look, install a traditional wooden cabinet rather than open shelves; that way you can hide away clutter and still have the space below free for other purposes, such as storing logs for the fire. 

 
Pale grey living room with upcycled sideboard
Photo credit: Dominic Blackmore for Ideal Home

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Customise a sideboard

Upcycle a plain piece of furniture to give a neutral living room a fresh, coastal edge. Cover a sideboard with wallpaper featuring a peeling plank design for a clever DIY hack that will give your room a unique focal point you won't find elsewhere. Protect the paper with a coat of clear, hardwearing varnish and complete the look with a display of grey and white coastal-inspired accessories.

 
White modern living room with Scandi accents
Photo credit: Tom Meadows for Ideal Home

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Reinvent unused space

If your living room features a staircase, get creative with that often neglected bit of space under the stairs. Think about a custom-built recess cupboard to boost your room's clutter-busting potential and make use of any additional surfaces for display. Streamline the look by matching storage to staircase - here the minimalist style is also matched by wall-to-ceiling, handless cupboards that keep the look airy and open.

 
Cream Living Room with Vintage Trolley and Wall Clock
Photo credit: Darren Chung for Beautiful Kitchens

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Fall in love with vintage

Give a neutral living room character by using unexpected retro pieces for display. Look for unusual reclaimed furniture or accessories, such as this portable serving trolley, that can add instant industrial interest. Create an easy-on-the-eye display by using the trolley as a display space for three objects that share a similar character, such as the black clock, impressive lamp and graphic print shown here. 

 
Living room with leather seats and white gloss furniture
Photo credit: Colin Poole for Style at Home

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Unite a space

Give a room a cohesive look with matching storage. Maximise a small living room's potential with co-ordinated wall-mounted and floor-standing media storage units, built around a TV. Choose a hi-gloss finish to keep the look modern and push-open doors that have plenty of room behind for digital boxes and DVDs. Balance the scheme with a matching coffee table with seamless hidden drawers.