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Storage Ideas for Small Living Rooms

Check out these smart storage ideas for keeping a small living room or family room clutter-free

Written and produced by Debra Steilen
  • Werner Straube

    Small Living Room Storage

    You want to relax in your living room, not stumble over piles of stuff. Check out these smart ideas for keeping your living room or family room fashionably clutter-free.

    Interior designer: Michael Abrams

  • Werner Straube

    Invest in custom built-ins.

    Make every square inch of wall space work on your behalf by installing bespoke built-ins sized to hold your treasures. (Take the built-ins all the way to the ceiling if you can.) This example features a sofa placed in front of a mirror—which makes the room look and feel larger. But by pulling the sofa forward a foot or two, the entire wall can be converted into storage for books, collectibles, and art. Use the top shelves for decorative art you’re likely to leave on display for a long time. Lower shelves are more suitable for print and electronic media or ever-changing displays.

    Tip: You can get a similar look with tall freestanding bookcases.

    Interior designer: Samantha Todhunter

  • Greg Scheidemann

    Choose multi-functional furnishings.

    Don’t let your furniture get by with only doing one thing at a time. Storage ottomans (designed with hinged or removable lids) provide extra seating and tabletop functionality—as well as discreet storage for blankets and games. Choose from round, square, or rectangular bench-style options. 

  • Werner Straube

    Make your coffee table work harder.

    Don’t let your coffee table get by with holding a vase of flowers and a fanned-out deck of magazines. Choose a version with multiple shelves for holding books, magazines, and decorative art—and a sweet little basket for your remotes.

    Interior designer: Skip Sroka

  • Colleen Duffley

    Repurpose a trunk.

    Small trunks (such as this antique model by Louis Vuitton) provide stylish nesting spots for cocktails, as well as smart storage solutions for movies, music, and other leisure-time staples. Antiques not your thing? Look for end tables or accent tables that come with multiple shelves or drawers to keep clutter at bay.

    Interior designer: Berkley Vallone

    See more of this designer’s stylish cottage.

  • Werner Straube

    Keep clean with cloud storage.

    Streamline your living room or family room set-up by streaming or storing your movies and music in the cloud instead of an entertainment center. Such a plan frees up valuable floor space for a pleasing furniture arrangement. Plus, you’ll never step on an errant plastic case again.

  • John Bessler

    Exploit the back of your sofa.

    Of course, if your sofa is pushed up against the wall you’re out of luck. But in an open floor plan, there may be room behind the sofa for a console table that serves a storage function. Choose a model with a shelf or drawer; supersize the storage function by incorporating baskets at ground level (or up above) to hold essentials. 

  • Emily Followill

    Upcycle awkward space.

    Does your living room collide with a stairwell? Turn that angled area into an entertainment zone by building or sliding in cabinetry to store glassware, liquor, coasters, and napkins. Adding a small bar sink, and an undercounter wine chiller and icemaker to create a compact wet bar for serving drinks and appetizers before dinner. 

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Roll in mobile storage.

    Slide in a bar cart and watch it become the focal point of every get-together. Stock the cart with liquor bottles, glassware, and napkins to create a mobile dry bar. Or use the cart to serve tea or coffee. Either way, you gain the benefits of a drink station without having to find space for cabinetry. And you can move the station wherever you need it.

  • Jeff Herr