Declutter Your Living Room

For a faster, more profitable home sale

Decluttering your living room of excess furniture will instantly make the room feel more spacious as well as revealing any hidden focal points.

Home buyers are looking for a living room spacious enough for their entertainment needs, as well as a relaxing retreat for their personal use.

Of all the rooms in the house, the living room demands the most attention when it comes to arranging furniture.

The living room is often the first room buyers see after coming through the front door, so it's crucial that you impress them with your comfortable and practical furniture layout.

For help making small living rooms look more spacious, see small living room ideas.

What's wrong in this room?

Cluttered living room.This living room is cluttered, some furniture pieces are out of scale and the focal point could use some support.

What's wrong:  In the picture above you see a television and table crammed in a corner, exposed wires, a cluster of unrelated items haphazardly strewn across the fireplace mantle, objects thrown across the coffee table and rumpled blankets and pillows casually thrown down. The coffee table is far too high for the furniture.

The clock hanging over the fireplace is too high and out of scale with the fireplace, the coffee table is too high next to the sofas and the TV is awkwardly placed in a corner-- seems like an afterthought as the only place for it to go. The plant on the floor looks dead.

What to change:  The sofa covers could be replaced with neutral colored slipcovers. Remove the TV stand and hang it centered over the fireplace, tho it is actually too small relative to the fireplace.

The clock above the fireplace could be replaced with a large piece of colorful artwork or a mirror at least 2/3 the width of the fireplace.

The fireplace mantle accessories could be arranged into organized vignettes. Avoid grouping tiny accessories as they will look like clutter from a distance.

Pack away the patchwork quilt and accessorize with a textured throw in a pretty color and pillows in different shapes and odd numbers.

Replace the coffee table with one close to the height of the sofa seats; side tables should be close to the height of the sofa arms. Sometimes a room will look off and you won't know why. It's often because the furniture is out of scale.

Declutter your living room

Living room with three focal points.This interior designer has chosen to celebrate the TV in this living room, by turning it into a focal point. The fireplace is the second focal point.

These days, the struggle to find the ideal placement for the big screen TV has created an extra challenge for home stagers and interior decorators.

Cable wire connections are often situated in the wrong places and need to be moved. When decluttering your living room, be sure to situate all the TV wiring and attachments out of sight.

A big screen TV can also compete with a room’s natural focal point, requiring extra thought and creativity when placing your furniture.

Because the big screen TV is a good selling feature these days, you need to find the right place for it; whether as a focal point above a fireplace or console, or hidden out of sight in an armoire, on an entertainment unit or in a completely different room.

White is the best color for expanding a small space.White is the best color choice for expanding a small space. Open legged furniture revealing more floor space contributes to a more spacious look.
  • Declutter your living room by emptying the space of most of the furniture, plants and accessories. This includes wall art, heavy drapes that block the light and area rugs. Save the pieces of furniture that you plan to use for staging later.
  • After you declutter your living room, take advantage of the opportunity to deep clean and look for any damage that needs to be repaired.
  • Start with the ceiling-- if it looks dingy, low or dark, repaint it white or a pale neutral paint color.
  • Check out the walls; look for cracks, stains and holes. See diy home improvement for tips on filling non-structural cracks and holes.
  • Refresh trim and windowsill paint, and especially baseboard molding which often takes a beating. 
  • Painting doors, window trim and moldings a crisp white will give your room a fresh contemporary facelift. (For good flow throughout the house, paint all trim and molding in the same paint color.)
  • Wash windows inside and out until they sparkle.
  • If you have a great view from your living room and attractive windows, go ahead and remove your window treatments. This will let in more natural light which is the most preferred form of lighting. 
Lots of natural light provides an expansive feeling.Lots of natural light will brighten and make small spaces appear larger.
  • Don't forget to dust ceiling fans and light fixtures, as well as your furniture.
  • Clean all the floors. For carpets, hire a professional carpet cleaner. I have rented carpet cleaning equipment with so-so results; it never looks as good as a professional job. a dingy and stained carpet is a real buyer turnoff. 
  • If your carpet has outlived its usefulness, replace it with a neutral-colored carpet. For wood and tile floors, get down on your hands and knees and scrub every corner until the floor shines. I know...ouch, but until a better way is invented, it's still the best way to clean a floor!
  • Wash, de-bug and polish all of your light fixtures, including ceiling, floor and table lamps. Throw glass light fixtures into the dishwasher if you can.
  • Clean all the ashes out of wood-burning fireplaces. To remove soot stains from brick or rock fireplace exteriors, spray with Johnson’s “Scrubbing Bubbles” bathroom cleaner. Let the product set for about five minutes, then scrub with a soft nylon bristle brush. You may have to repeat this procedure a few more times. Be sure to rinse off with clean water when done. 
  • All light switch plates and electrical outlet covers should match. Damaged switch plates are very affordable, so replace if necessary. Make sure they are free of fingerprints and grime. For stubborn grime, use "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser". It works great on the walls too.

Before you place furniture back into the room, read about space planning for the home.

What is space planning? It's part of the home interior design process; understanding how balance, visual weight, traffic patterns, scale and axis effects the furniture layouts in your home.

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Staging the living room

Updated December 12, 2023