If you're after living room storage ideas that are both practical and pretty, look no further. We've become somewhat experts in finding stylish storage solutions that look fab but also do the job of... storing and stowing stuff.
In living rooms in particular, storage can be tricky. Often full of furniture (including your sofa, an armchair and media bits and bobs) they are usually in need of a storage solution that allows them to feel spacious without sacrificing style.
The key to getting your living room ideas spot on is choosing pieces that offer as much storage potential as possible. Think a coffee table with storage such as a shelf and drawers, built-in shelving solutions, or box cabinets that can be wall-mounted. Look out for storage ideas for living rooms that fit in with your lounge design to keep the room feeling cohesive, too.
1. Assign a place for everything
Brenda Scott, professional home organizer and founder, Tidy My Space (opens in new tab), says: ‘The tip to storage in a living room (actually any room) comes down to determining how you want to use the room, what activities are going to take place in that room and what you need for that activity. Measure, measure, measure! Leave enough room between furniture for foot traffic and getting around, nothing's worse than a room crammed full with furniture.’
Assign a place for everything: ‘For example, the remote goes in the basket on the table, magazines go in the basket or stacked on a shelf, books go back on the shelf. When everything has a home and can be stored quickly and easily, then any room will look like it has lots of storage solutions even if it doesn't.’
2. Curate a mini library with a bookcase
Fancy a break from the tech and screen brain drain? Create a cozy living room corner with a comfy armchair, and a bookshelf stacked with favorite tomes. And if you're wondering how best to arrange hardback stacks, learn how to organize a bookshelf with our simple expert-approved tips.
Jen Noseworthy (opens in new tab), professional organizer, The Simply Sorted Home (opens in new tab), says: ‘Bookshelves are a perfect way to store special mementos – but don’t overstuff them! By keeping a little white space, you'll let your special items shine, while allowing your shelves to look nice and organized.’
Farah Merhi, style expert at Designer Looks Furniture, says: ‘For a bookcase, depending on the design of the space you’re working with, you could opt for more of a mid-century glam option with the Shea Bookcase (opens in new tab) in Gold or a simple, minimalistic and mid-century modern look with the Harvard Bookcase (opens in new tab). Each option has four large shelves that can be styled easily with books, accent pieces, or anything in-between!’
3. Save floor space with nesting tables
A great and versatile option for a modern small living room where floor space is limited, choose a stylish set of compact nesting tables that can nestle snugly at the end of your sofa, or provide extra surface space for snacks and drinks when entertaining guests. Nesting tables make a fantastic coffee table alternative too.
4. Go built-in and bespoke
Jen Noseworthy, professional organizer, The Simply Sorted Home, says: ‘If you can swing it, custom built-in shelving ideas are what storage dreams are made of. With a combo of open shelving and cabinet doors, you can disguise even the biggest of messes, and store everything from books to toys and games, while creating an attractive display above.'
5. Make a feature with an entertainment display
Scott says: ‘If you have a television in your living room, you can maximize the storage of audio equipment by utilizing a media wall idea. Opt for a media console design that features integrated shelving on either end to store books, movies, CDs, decor items, or more media equipment.’
The Industrial Modular Media Set (opens in new tab) from West Elm offers plenty of storage and shelving space with its large console and two bookshelves. Supported by blackened steel frames, each piece is subtly unique, due to the natural color variations in the mango wood. Bringing modern charm to media storage, its mix of open and closed storage gives you the option to display or hideaway.
6. Max-out hidden storage with a lift-top coffee table
Store all the more with an innovative pop-up design like the Topeakmart wooden lift top coffee table (opens in new tab) with hidden compartments, from Walmart. Features include hidden storage space and a lift-up tabletop with an adjustable height. The bottom open shelf below offers adequate displaying/storage space for your handicrafts, flower pots, and magazines.
Cameron Johnson, CEO and founder, Nickson Living (opens in new tab), says: ‘A coffee table with a lift top can serve double duty as a place to store items and can act as a desk or work station when lifted.’
7. Swap drink bottles for decorations on a bar cart
The best drinks trolleys deserve more than just being used to store bottles and glassware. So whether you've invested in a cheap and cheerful buy or splashed out on a statement piece, make the cost per use go further by using it to display decorative ornaments that show off your interior personality. The brass Kayleigh drinks trolley from Habitat (opens in new tab) pictured in the corner is a luxury, but affordable choice if you're looking to add some art-deco vibes to your lounge. But if this doesn't suit yours scheme, we've lots of other bar cart ideas to whet your creative appetite.
Alternatively, go gung-ho in your lounge and create your own DIY bar cart idea for the ultimate bespoke living room storage idea – they're portable and versatile.
8. Strategically place a ladder
Ladders are a city dweller's BFF if you're looking for low maintenance, small apartment living room ideas. They don't take up much floor space and can be leaned on an exposed brick wall for added industrial chic vibes or against a clean white wall for a relaxed way to organize items. Hang coats, blankets and throws over it, as a quasi shelf/rail or whatever you need it to be.
Using a ladder will actually draw attention to your ceiling too, so make sure your living room ceilings are looking on point (whether it's a statement light fitting or just a dust of any cobwebs). After all, it is your fifth wall according to the experts.
Choose a classic wooden ladder, or go for gold (quite literally) with a metallic, brass-colored ladder to add warmth in an airy urban space. Crucially, you'll want to make sure that the ladder fits within the parameters of your parlor, so you may want to take a note of the height of your wall before you shop. For reference, the decorative metal ladder pictured is available from Target (opens in new tab) and comes in at 66'' tall.
9. Make the most of alcoves
If you have been blessed with alcoves in your living room make the most of them, that prime storage space. Floating shelves are always a good option when looking at how to decorate a living room as they can be used to add some decoration as well as a place to keep books.
But if you need some closed storage too, a great idea for alcoves is to use the bottom space for a storage unit, or even have something built-in so that awkward floor space isn't going to waste.
10. Add a chic sideboard
Sideboards make for great living room storage as you can use them to hide clutter, but the top can be the perfect space to curate some cute decor. No one need know the cabinet is filled with old magazines, a million wires you have no use for, and your ever-growing collection of board games, because from the outside it's so chic and sophisticated. Wayfair (opens in new tab) is our go-to when looking for a sideboard or buffet table at a fair price.
11. Go modular to get a bespoke feel
If you want to create something that perfectly suits your needs, a storage system would be the way to go. You can customize the size, the layout, or how much open and closed storage you have. Plus they look super chic too, perfect if you like a more modern living room with contemporary Scandi style in your home. This flexible shelving idea means you can add and take away sections as and when you need to.
'Modular, open shelving provides a great way to fit storage into small spaces. The best thing about modular furniture is that it really can be installed anywhere.' explains Peter Erlandsson, co-founder and director of String (opens in new tab).
'There are only two things you need to consider. The first is making sure your shelving is deep and tall enough to store your belongings, but narrow enough that it doesn’t compromise your precious square-footage. The second is making sure you use a mix of open shelving and cabinet styles to create a display unit that is flexible enough to hide the things you don’t want on show.'
Whether you're based in the UK or US, String Furniture's shelving solutions can be shipped to you from Utility Design (opens in new tab).
12. Make your living room storage a feature
Living room storage isn't always about hiding everything away. Sometimes a bit of clutter is a good thing. Curate the clutter by picking color schemes and still planning where everything is going to go. We love the rustic look of these short bookshelves in this living room, it almost creates the effect that the books are floating on the wall for a shabby-chic home library idea.
The good thing about bookshelves is that you can handcraft them yourself with scrap wood and some basic home improvement equipment. If you're in need of inspo, we've lots of DIY bookshelves that range in difficulty.
13. Add a window seat for hidden storage
If you are lucky enough to have bay windows, why not use that space for storage by adding a window seat? They are perfect for storing spare cushions, blankets and bedding plus they look gorgeous and create a real feature in your living room.
Curate a seating area with the best hanging chair – the perfect place to cozy up with a cup of tea and book... And voila, you have a reading nook idea too. Find a similar Rattan hanging bowl chair at HK Living (opens in new tab).
14. Install floating shelves
If you are after some quick living room storage that you can put up yourself in just a few hours, floating shelves are the one. They always look lovely and double up as decor too so you can use them to bring some texture and personality into the room.
We like how these are wall-mounted above the television – perfect for it you want to make your TV less of the focus in the room. See more living room TV ideas for clever ways to display or disguise your set.
15. Pick out double duty furniture
If you have a living room that's on the smaller side then your furniture has to work extra hard, so picking pieces that can double up as storage as key. Coffee table ottomans are great for this, but even if you don't have room for an ottoman, a cute pouf with a tray on top can add some extra surface space as a coffee table alternative. The GLATTIS tray from Ikea (opens in new tab) instantly glams up this bohemian accessory.
16. Pick a coffee table with storage in mind
And if you do have room for one of the best coffee tables, pick a design that's going to add some storage in too. Something that has drawers or cubbies to keep tech or even lookout for furniture you can repurpose as a coffee table. We love how in this living room a vintage chest is being used, looks cute and has plenty of room for storage. A simple eBay search (opens in new tab) will show 1,000s of trunks that you can buy secondhand.
17. Go for a storage sofa
Now, we know even the best sectional sofas haven't always been in style but they are making a comeback.
'Having spent prolonged periods of time at home with the whole family, we've certainly seen a shift away from occasional seating, to much more expansive comfort. Large scale corner formats and softer fillings are taking center stage, now that we're lounging more than ever.' explains Ruth Wassermann, design director at MADE.COM (opens in new tab).
The second best thing about larger sofas, after being super comfy, you can get plenty of options that have storage compartments which are an especially good idea for apartment living rooms.
18. Create displays with glass cabinets
We are loving the eclectic feel of this dark gray living room, and it's another space that proves not everything has to be hidden away. Clear glass cabinets like Ikea's HAVSTA (opens in new tab) offering are perfect for creating displays in your living room and giving you room personality.
Plus choosing a glass cabinet over a solid one means light can still flow through so your storage feels less bulky and doesn't break up your room.
19. If in doubt, add baskets
The easiest and affordable living room storage idea? Baskets. They fit in any space and suit any style. Plus you can never have too many. They are ideal for keeping blankets, books, magazines, dog toys, kid's toys, firewood – really they are a living room essential.
We love this lightweight SNIDAD rattan basket from Ikea (opens in new tab) which allows you to show off your home accessories, while adding warmth and interest to the room too. This living room idea on a budget won't cost much either, and when you're not using them in the lounge, they make great tidy-uppers for other rooms.
Top tip: Keep a 'lost and found' basket in your living room for all the things you take in there with you throughout the day that need returning to their rightful place. Put them in the basket, then when you head to bed at night, take the basket with you to put stuff away en route. Kid's toys, lip balms, hair ties, the sweater you discarded earlier – they can all go in the basket to be transported to their rightful home.
20. Don't like baskets on the floor? Hang 'em high
If baskets placed on your living room floor feel a bit too relaxed, organize them on your wall to free up some space underfoot and add interest to bare walls. It's a living room wall idea that'll add depth and dimension to plain paint decor.
21. Use storage to bring in color
When you are squeezed for space it can be tricky not to just make all your small living room storage super practical and not focus too much on what it actually adds to your space. But we reckon even in the smallest of spaces, storage can still be pretty and actually become a feature of your room.
Need book storage ideas for your small living room? Don't just stack them all haphazardly on shelves, use them as part of your decoration. Arrange them in colors and pick out accessories to match. See practical and stylish.
Top tips for choosing storage furniture for your living room
- Think about the full range of storage options for a living room: fitted and freestanding pieces, as well as those that conceal their contents from view, and those that display their contents. All of these styles are useful, and you might prefer a combination of all of them.
- Plan your shelving around what it will be holding, so that it’s strong enough and the right depth, plus assess how a collection of favorite pieces is likely to grow.
- Paint the shelving the same color as the walls for an unobtrusive finish.
- Don’t forget to allow for skirting boards when you’re measuring up for storage.
- Storage furniture doesn’t have to come from the same range, but keep wood colors or finishes consistent and look for harmony between different pieces.
- Invest in a modular system if you think your storage needs are likely to expand so that they can be increased accordingly.
- Store heavy items low down so that they don’t tip the furniture over, or choose a piece that can be fixed to a wall.
What is the best storage for a living room?
The key to effective living room storage is to have a mix. You'll want spaces to keep things on show so shelving is always a good option as you can use them to add decorating too.
But you'll also want storage you can use to hide away all that un-aesthetically pleasing stuff that you need in a living room like remotes and wires and manuals, so consider adding in some closed storage too in the form of a cabinet or console table. Yep – they're not just for hallways.
Then you've got the sneaky storage which can be great if you're in need of small living room ideas and don't want to fill your room with furniture. Storage sofas, ottomans, windows seats – multi-purpose furniture makes for great living room storage.
How can you create storage space in a small living room?
To create storage space in a living room you are first going to want to de-clutter and see exactly how much 'stuff' you need to fit back into the space. When looking at how to choose furniture for a small living room, vertical storage always works well in smaller spaces because it has a minimal footprint so look out for pieces like ladder shelving and slimline units. Shelving is another great option for the same reasons, they provide plenty of storage without taking up any of the valuable floor space.
'Maximize space in a compact living room by investing in multi-functional furniture. An ottoman footstool is a great place to start, it works as additional seating for when guests visit, it creates extra storage, and best of all, a place to put up your feet at the end of a long day.' says Jen and Mar from Interior Fox (opens in new tab).
'Add shelves to open areas to make the most of empty spaces. Floating shelves or a tall bookshelf that extends to the ceiling will provide ample amounts of storage and a place to showcase decorative items. Try a built-in cabinet or low-profile media unit for a stylish alternative to a TV stand, it provides additional space to stow away items out of sight, while creating a clutter-free living room to relax in.'