After a year-plus of our living rooms pulling double, triple, quadruple duty as classroom, cubicle, movie theater and yoga studio, you’re probably looking around thinking, “This place will never feel orderly again.”
One problem that plagues the living room is that we use it for so many things — watching TV, entertaining guests, family game night, home office and home gym, crafting room and on and on — and it can turn into a storage space for all the gear that goes along with those activities. The living room is also a place where cords and cables can take over, creating a tangled mass that makes everything look messy and chaotic.
With these problems and more in mind, we consulted experts Caroline Moss, the host of the popular product recommendation podcast “Gee Thanks, Just Bought It!” and professional organizer Ann Lightfoot, co-founder of Done and Done Home, who helped us pick out 20 of the absolute best living room organizers, all priced under $20.
Storage Ottoman With Tray ($19.99, originally $24.99; amazon.com)
“I love an ottoman that doubles as storage and a place to put your drink,” Moss says, adding this deeply relatable truth about keeping a tidy-looking home: “Sometimes organizing is just about shoving things out of the way.”
This storage ottoman can be used to hold extra blankets, a collection of board games, knitting materials or children’s toys. It’s made of easy-to-clean faux leather and can be used as extra seating, a side table or a foot rest.
Linen Folding Storage Ottoman ($16.99; amazon.com)
Moss also likes this linen-covered storage ottoman, which comes in seven colors, including gray, black, blue, beige, green, orange and red. It folds when not in use, so it can easily be transported or stored flat when you don’t need it.
White Nordic Storage Baskets with Handles (starting at $8.99; containerstore.com)
Bins are a simple and inexpensive way to bring order to a chaotic living room where the stuff we use for activities like crafting, gaming, working out, etc. is stored. Lightfoot recommends these stackable bins, which she loves for their versatility.
Y-Weave Medium Decorative Storage Basket ($6; target.com)
There are as many styles of storage baskets as there are things to use them for — if you’re looking for smaller storage, Lightfoot likes these woven plastic bins that come in cute colors for organization in living rooms, craft rooms and playrooms. These bins work well on floating shelves to get clutter off the floor, creating a tidier and calmer-feeling living space.
Water Hyacinth Storage Bins With Handles (starting at $8.99; containerstore.com)
One last bin option from our experts! These woven baskets are made from hyacinth fibers, and come in four sizes, from extra small to large, allowing you to create a streamlined look on an open shelf or in cubby-style shelves.
Floating Shelves, Set of 3 ($19.99; amazon.com)
Instead of spending a lot of money on a standing bookshelf that takes up a lot of space, consider investing in a set of inexpensive, wall-mounted floating shelves. The shelves can be used for books or board games, or outfitted with bins and baskets to hold smaller items. Floating shelves are also a pretty way to display small plants or collections like travel trinkets or crystals.
mDesign 3-Tier Shelf Organizer Stand ($19.99; amazon.com)
Moss calls this three-tier riser-style shelf “the ultimate space saver for any room.” In the living room, we love it for stashing gaming consoles, or as the perfect home for Roku and Apple TV boxes. It can also be used on a sunny windowsill to make extra space for small plants to soak up some light.
Decorative Coffee Table Tray ($17.98; amazon.com)
A source of visual clutter is what’s best described as “little piles of little things” — and they can accumulate quickly in a living room. A coffee table tray is a quick and easy way to make a jumbled collection of remotes, eyeglasses, coasters and other coffee table staples look neat and tidy.
Remote Control Caddy ($9.99; amazon.com)
Remote controls on their own can easily turn into a “little pile of things” — or worse, a little pile of lost remotes! But a 10-dollar solution will solve at least one of those problems by keeping all those remotes in one place. We can’t promise a caddy will keep the Apple TV remote from slipping between the couch cushions, though!
Wall-Mounted Mail Organizer ($18.99, originally $32.99; amazon.com)
If your front door opens directly into the living room, items like keys, mails, dog leashes and so on can take over and create a lot of visual clutter. Take a page from the professional organizer’s playbook and use vertical space near the door to install a wall-mounted caddy for those important items. Moss swears by this wall-mounted organizer with cubbies and hooks. “The absolute best place for keys, mail, the dog’s leash, your sunglasses and anything else you need when you’re running out the door,” she says.
Joywell Armchair Caddy Remote Control Holder ($20.99; amazon.com)
Moss loves this over-the-arm remote caddy. She points out that it’s “an unassuming way to organize the stuff that used to live on your coffee table — plus, it comes in 28 colors to match most any couch.” The fabric organizer has six pockets that can hold tablets, planners, remotes, eyeglasses, chargers and more, keeping them tucked away but still within arm’s reach.
3-Tier Rolling Cart ($19.99; amazon.com)
Hobbies are great, but they can come with a lot of stuff. In the living room, create a hobby station to organize all that stuff will keeping your supplies and half-finished projects from taking over the entire room. A three-tier rolling cart is a favorite of organizers and small-space design experts who love the slim footprint, deep storage compartments and portability.
mDesign Slim Plastic Wastebaskets With Handles, 2-Pack ($19.99; target.com)
Wastebaskets, trash cans and recycling bins aren’t typically thought of as organizing solutions, but they truly are: We’ve talked a lot about visual clutter in living rooms, and one big source is from, well, trash.
Putting a wastepaper basket in the living room means you have a place to toss out packaging like wrappers, cardboard, junk mail, catalogs and any other detritus that takes up space in the living room. Cans and bottles, too, tend to get discarded on coffee and end tables — designate the second bin in this set for tossing recyclables.
Umbra Tristian Skinny Trash Can ($10; urbanoutfitters.com)
Slim trash cans aren’t just for trash (but they’re great for trash!) — they can also pull double duty to hold a collection of umbrellas, or to stash small home workout gear like resistance bands, small barbells and foam rollers. This oval trash can has a flared opening and side handles to make carrying it easy, and it comes in black or white.
Dishpan With Handles ($19.99; amazon.com)
If you find yourself forever busing discarded drinking glasses, popcorn bowls and sippy cups from the living room to the kitchen, tackle the problem at its root and buy a small dishpan with handles for the living room. That way, your family (or you, let’s be honest) can toss dishes that need to go to the kitchen in the dishpan, saving you a few trips back and forth.
Extra-Large Cotton Rope Basket ($18.99; amazon.com)
This extra-large cotton rope basket is an excellent way to store a large collection of stuffed animals, chew toys or even extra blankets for movie night. But it can also double as an easy way to return stray hoodies, socks, shoes and whatever other items of clothing end up strewn around the living room to their owner’s room, or just straight down to the laundry room.
Cable Clips Cord Organizer, 6-Pack ($6.97, originally $13.97; amazon.com)
Adhesive cord managers grab onto cords, ensuring they won’t end up on the floor when not in use — which is an especially handy thing if you use a robot vacuum and need to make sure that it doesn’t vacuum up stray charging cords.
The peel-and-stick adhesive is safe to use on drywall, plastic, wood, glass, metal or rubber, and the holder can accommodate thin cords like iPhone charging cords as well as thicker cords like Ethernet cables.
Kootek Cable Management Sleeve ($12.99; amazon.com)
Controlling cords is only one part of cord management — in living rooms, sometimes the name of the game is hiding a mass of cords completely. Enter: cable management sleeves! This style is made of neoprene, so it’s flexible, and it’s reversible, allowing you to choose either the white or the black side, depending on which better suits your decor.
The sleeve is 118 inches long and can be cut into smaller pieces using scissors, or used whole to obscure a longer stretch of cord or cords, making it especially good for computer cords and cables as well as TV cords and cables.
Cable Raceway On-Wall Cord Cover ($14.99; amazon.com)
Another way to manage and conceal cords is to use a baseboard cover. This D-Line cover comes in five colors — beige, white, black, silver/gray and oak wood — which will match to most baseboards. And, because they’re made of PVC, they can also be painted to match unusual wall or baseboard colors (always save that extra paint!).
Organizer for Game Controllers and Headphones, 4-Pack ($14.99; amazon.com)
If you have a gamer in the house, you know a very specific kind of cord management pain: Not only are there wires everywhere, but there are also controllers and headphones, all of which adds up to a lot of messy-looking stuff. This inexpensive set of four self-adhesive headset and controller hangers mounts to most surfaces, and will help to bring order to gaming gear.