2016 NO MESS CHALLENGE .

ย Here we go !!!{yay}! This weekโ€™s challenge is all about organizing living room and family room areas of your home.Typically, this is one of the first rooms both guests and family members see when they walk through your home’s door, so it makes sense to work on it the week.

These rooms (or room, if you only have one, not both) are also typically a challenge since all family members do a lot of “living” in them, with lots of different activities and stuff placed in there.

Are you new here? The Living Room&ย  Family Room Challenge is part of the 2016 NO MESSย  Challenge.ย 

With those two major issues to consider — the multiple uses the room has, as well as its public nature — let’s get to work this week making the area organized and enjoyable for family to use it, as well as for entertaining guests.

Formal Living Room Versus Family Room

Before jumping into the steps for the challenge I want to point out that you may need to go through the steps twice, once for your living room and once for your family room, if you happen to have both rooms. From now on I will be referring to it as a singular room, since you should only tackle one room at a time.

If you’ve got a formal living room that just sits there most of the time, collecting dust and waiting for formal entertaining though, I would encourage you to make use of this space in a different way and really enjoy it.

My personal opinion (and it’s fine if you don’t believe the same thing) is that formal living rooms are a thing of the past. Instead, every room in your home, especially one as centrally located as a living room, should serve some practical function and people should get enjoyment out of it on a regular basis.

Step 1: Think Of What You And Your Family Members Use The Living & Family Rooms For

The first step in the Organizing Living Room & Family Room Challenge is to seriously think about the function and purpose, or more likely functions and purposes, plural, of this room in your home.

Many activities most likely occur in it, and it’s probably the busiest room in your home after your kitchen.ย 

Each family is unique, so you need to think through the functions of your room individually, but here are some common functions and purposes of the living or family room to get you thinking about it:

  • Family gathering space, to rest, relax and converse with one another
  • Entertain guests (both adults and kids)
  • Watch television and movies
  • Play video games
  • Listen to music
  • Read books, magazines and newspapers
  • Surf the Internet (especially for young children that need supervision for this activity)
  • Kids to do homework
  • Play board games or other interactive, face to face games
  • Work on craft activities
  • Guest room (think someone crashing on the couch)

When making this list make sure to consult with all of your family members, to see how they use the room or think it should be used. You don’t want to forget anything, and you may also be surprised that your ideas don’t match. You’ve got to come to an agreement about what activities should be done where in your home so conflict doesn’t crop up.

Understand that there is practically only so much room in your family or living room for various functions. Most rooms cannot handle too many functions, and this means you’ve got to prioritize what activities will go on in here, and which will get moved to a different area of the home.

If you think you’ve got too many functions for the room, I encourage you to read all of the steps below before proceeding further, since you will get a better sense for organizing your family room and living room areas, and how many things you can actually fit in there before making a final decision.

Step 2: Declutter The Room, Rearrange Furniture As Needed, And Move Things Out That Don’t Belong

The next step in theย  Living Room Challenge is to declutter the room, and then make sure that the only things left in the room are those which serve the functions you’ve decided upon above.ย 

Often your living and family rooms become a dumping ground for all kinds of stuff that don’t otherwise have a home, since that is the last place people used the items. However, if those items don’t actually belong there they need to be moved out and put elsewhere in the home where they belong (or making a new home for them).

I realize that is often easier said than done, especially if other rooms are also cluttered and disorganized. Hopefully, as you move through each of the challenges, making progress in more and more rooms, this is getting easier and easier for you though!

Your goal should be to keep the flat surfaces in your living room clear, or at least mostly clear, and to try to create a wide open area of floor space where many different activities can take place.

In addition, often you’ll realize that you want to rearrange furniture you’ve got in these rooms, or even move some of it out completely. Before doing any major lifting, however, read on to step 3 to make sure you set up the room for the best functionality, and in my opinion that means setting it up with various activity centers.

Step 3: Set Up Stations Or Centers That Reflect The Room’s Functions

The most important step in the Living Roomย  Challenge, at least for enjoying the room on an everyday basis, is to set up centers or stations that reflect all the functions and activities which go on in this room.

The last time you thought about centers may have been in kindergarten, but really it works in your home too. Basically, you are making sure that you have all the right things, in a convenient place, for the activities you think should occur in your family or living room.

Here are some examples of various common “centers” you can have in your living or family room and what things should be in them, to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Make sure your centers are unique to your family’s needs and desires.

Family Gathering Space To Relax And Talk Together

The most important things you need for this center is a place for everyone to sit, positioned in a way that everyone can look at each other while they talk.

This space can, of course, be used for both family and guests. You may also want to have a plan for how to add or rearrange furniture temporarily for when you have a larger gathering than typical in your home.

This same center may also be part of the center for watching TV, or listening to music, or reading (read about all of these below), so you may need to consider multiple functions at once when deciding how to arrange everything.

Make sure while you’re fixing up this station or center that you go ahead and declutter under the couch and in between couch cushions since this is just a prime place for all kinds of junk and stuff to accumulate.

Place To Read Books, Magazines & Newspapers

For reading, you need a good comfy place to sit (as mentioned above), plus good light and access to reading material.

You may not want all your books, magazines and newspapers to “live” in the living or family room all the time, but you may want to have a table or other storage box where you could place the book you’re currently reading through, or a spot for a few of the latest magazines or newspapers.

Entertainment Center For Watching TV, Movies, Playing Video Games & Listening To Music

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I already touched, above, on the need for good seating for this center, but obviously you want to have everything necessary that goes along with these entertainment activities in a central place, close together for convenience.

This may mean having your CDs and DVDs organized (we’ll tackle this task in more detail in a later challenge), and close to your TV and entertainment center.

Further, for those families who play video games having a gaming center (such as the one shown on the right) which holds all necessary games, controllers, cables, etc. is very helpful.

Additional Centers Unique To Your Family’s Needs & Desires

As you can see, the key to organizing living roomย  areas is to go back through your list above, from Step 1, of the functions and purposes of each room, and make sure that you have a center for each function on your list set up in the room.

Don’t be alarmed, however, that there is not enough room for a separate center for each activity. Fortunately, many of these activities use the same types of space, and centers can serve more than one function, or overlap in functionality.

The key is to get creative to fit in what you find most important into the space you have available.

Step 4: Make Sure You’ve Got Adequate Family & Living Room Storage Solutions

When making your centers and stations in your living or family room, it is often necessary to get creative with how to arrange and organize things, and figure out how to store the items you need in the room.

That’s why the fourth step in theย  Living Room & Family Room Challenge is to consider what storage solutions you’ll use in these rooms. Once you’ve completed the other steps in the Organizing Living Room & Family Room Challenge, and gotten the rooms organized and ready for use, there is still one more thing left to do — create a habit for daily pickup of the room.

As I mentioned before, the living room and/or family room are often the most used rooms in the house, beside the kitchen. Therefore, with all these activities going on in such a public location, you’ve got to take actions to keep it neat and organized on a daily basis.

In fact, depending on how much time you and your family spend at home, you may even want to develop a routine for pick up of this room even more often, such as two or three times a day.

For example, in my home when my children are home in the summer (like now) we pick up the family room before lunch, before dinner and again before bed. None of these pick up breaks, on their own, take too long but they keep things looking good all day long while still allowing the kids to play to their hearts content in there.

Developing a similar routine for your home, that fits your unique needs, can keep this area company ready most of the time while still allowing everyone to enjoy themselves in there at the same time.

Tell Me How The Organizing Living Room & Family Room Challenge Is Going For You

I would love to know how this week’s Organizing Living Room & Family Room Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you’ve organized these areas of your home in the comments below.

I also love before and after pictures of your family and living rooms, and would love to see some of yours. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and blog posts and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. You’ve worked hard to get organized, so now here’s your chance to show off!

Sneak Peek For Next Week’s Challenge

We’re working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don’t get too distracted from the Organizing Living Room & Family Room Challenge this week.

However, I know some of you love to know what’s coming next, so I’ll tell you. Next week we’ll be working on organizing the dining room and also quickly revisiting the kitchen eating area.

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