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Secret Storage Tricks to Make Your Living Room Look Bigger

Living room feeling cluttered, chaotic and cramped? Invest in clever storage ideas to neaten and stretch your space

Houzz Contributor. I am an editor, journalist, web and copywriter. I was Editor of… More

The living room can be one of the home’s busiest spaces, coping with everything from messy lounging to family admin. So how to keep yours tidy and organised without packing it with lots of extra furniture? The secret is to think creatively when it comes to storage and, better still, come up with solutions that might even slip by unnoticed.

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Camouflage storage in a plinth
Look closely and you can see the plinth in front of the fireplace in this contemporary living space is made up of a number of wide drawers.

How to get this type of construction right in your home? First, ensure the drawers are flat-fronted and flush – handles here would look out of place. Next, choose a soft-close mechanism, so that even the messiest of family members has no excuse to leave them open.

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Conceal it in a window seat
A window seat offers the perfect opportunity for storage to be built in beneath it. That’s all very well for a bay window, but what if you have a flat wall? Well, you can actually be more ambitious, creating a false square bay using storage.

In this scheme, tall shelving on either side of the window seat, as well as below it, does the job. Clever, eh?

Clever ways to arrange the furniture in your living room

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Put it behind a door
When we look into our living rooms, we tend to focus on the three walls in front of us – but not on the wall behind us, where the doorway is. That wall is actually a great place to put tons of storage, whether shelving or cupboards, because you’ll often have your back to it – and it will go largely unnoticed (although the clutter-reducing impact it’ll have won’t).

See more hidden storage ideas

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Go up and over a doorway
Vertical space is often overlooked in a living room, but it can provide useful wall storage. Here, otherwise unused space at picture rail level and above has been used for display and book shelves.

Considering something similar? Paint the shelving itself in the same colour as the walls to help it blend in rather than stand out, and don’t over-stuff it or the room will feel top-heavy.

How to deal with an awkwardly shaped living room

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Build a secret niche
Part safe, part hidden storage space, this shelving unit sits behind a faux wall panel to allow the room to look elegantly uncluttered.

Putting a cupboard into a chimney breast may require structural work, but you can achieve a similar effect in any alcove or niche by building a simple frame for a flat-fronted, push-click door, painted to match the walls. Hang a picture and it will look like a wall rather than a door.

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Go large with a storage wall
Sometimes, in a small room, you have to go large. That can mean devoting a whole wall to floor-to-ceiling storage, all hidden behind doors that, when shut, can blend in seamlessly.

The beauty of this example? The vertical lines in the panelling exaggerate the height of the ceiling, while the open shelf at the end provides contrast and relief.

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Create a media centre
TV walls are a must-have for many contemporary homes, but they present two problems. First, the wall is dominated by something that, for much of the time, is nothing more than a large black, characterless panel. Then, to get the best viewing, the TV needs to be hung quite low.

So why not anchor yours within a modular storage unit like this? Pick a fuss-free design in the same colour as the wall and you’ll focus on your favourite show, not the storage unit – or what’s in it.

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Hide a home office in a cupboard
How many living rooms (and kitchens, bedrooms, dining spaces…) are utterly ruined by piles of paperwork, bills, notes, homework, a computer and countless other bits of admin? So packaging everything up into one piece of furniture that can hide it all away neatly makes great sense.

With this piece of furniture, doors open to reveal a fully functioning office; closed, it looks like a smart armoire.

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Choose furniture with secret storage
Love the idea of putting your feet up on a comfy footstool at the end of the day, only to find it’s covered in TV remotes, kids’ toys, pets’ toys or paperwork? Why not pick one like this, which has a lift-up lid and tons of storage hidden stealthily inside?

The same goes for coffee and side tables – look for ones with lids, drawers or shelves to help keep the room clutter-free.

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Stash all sorts in the sofa
If you can minimise the furniture in your living room, you’ll free up floor space and make it feel bigger. So shop for pieces that do two jobs – one of them being storage.

This sofa-bed has a lift-up seat with storage space beneath. The compartment here is reserved for bedding, but you could put everything from DVDs to paperwork in yours.

What clutters up your living room? Tell us about it in the Comments section.
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