Pocket worthyStories to fuel your mind

4 Things Making Your Living Room Look Messier Than It Is

Even if you try keep your living room tidy, sometimes it still doesn’t provide that calm, peaceful feeling. One of these might be the culprit.

Apartment Therapy

Read when you’ve got time to spare.


Photo by Diana Paulson

When you want your home to feel like it’s straightened up, you can’t skip over the living room.

A tidied-up living space is a welcoming oasis, a small retreat for people to gather or rest or reconnect after a long day. But a messy living room has the opposite effect: Even if you’re just noticing it in the periphery of your vision and registering it barely consciously, a messy living room can be a stressor that makes you feel far from at home in your very own house.

The really tricky thing, though, is that even if you take on efforts to keep your living room tidy, sometimes it still doesn’t provide that calm, peaceful feeling. Something’s off and you can’t quite put your finger on it.

Here are some common culprits that can have this effect and can make your living room look messier than it actually is:

at_house tours stock archive_4391ba9ae2a1bff43ecaab650faf6d9ffaa34f19.jfif

Photo by Minette Hand

Exposed Cords

Nothing destroys a serene vibe like poorly-concealed cords tangled behind the TV or snaking out from an outlet. For cords that hang down the wall, try installing cord covers painted in the same color as your wall. If you’re a homeowner and feeling extra ambitious, you can undertake a project to completely hide cords on the inside of your wall.

Even if you can’t totally conceal the cords for your entertainment system, there are ways to make them less unsightly. You can use cable management sleeves to gather and cover a group of cords all going the same direction, or cable management boxes to camouflage cords in a hub-like configuration. If you have phone chargers strewn about the room, try a phone charger shelf to keep things contained and looking organized.

Photo by Marisa Vitale

Unfluffed Pillows

This might seem like a stuffy tip, but in an otherwise neat living room, lumpy, deflated, and tossed-about cushions and pillows imbue the space with a tired, indifferent appearance. The solution is simple: Pat your couch and chair cushions so they perk up and hug throw pillows before placing them exactly where they go.

If they need extra love beyond a good fluff, a fabric shaver can work wonders and make them look good as new.

Photo by Pippa Drummond

Small Things That Aren’t Contained

This applies to utilitarian things (like remotes) and decorative items (like candles). Most of the time, laying small objects on a large surface looks messy. Think of the difference it makes in your bathroom’s appearance when you store lotions and potions on a pretty tray versus directly on the countertop. Whether you choose trays and baskets or find a new home behind closed cabinet doors, corralling your small items lends a refreshing in-order look to your living space.

at_house tours stock archive_e1515f09d4f4cc8c1039244bf29a030dc232c9dd.jfif

Photo by Marie-Lyne Quirion

Too Many Knickknacks

Even in a pristine living room, too many tchotchkes can quickly make a space look cluttered and junky. Try grouping collections together or editing the number of mementos you have on display.

Shifrah Combiths has been writing professionally for twenty years. She loves lifestyle photography, memory keeping, gardening, reading, and going to the beach with her husband and children.

How was it? Save stories you love and never lose them.

Logo for Apartment Therapy

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy and was published July 24, 2019. This article is republished here with permission.

Want more posts, tips & tricks, house tours, before & after transformations, shopping guides, and more?

Get AT’s daily newsletter