3 Creative Storage Solutions for the Family Room

I am currently in the “thinking stage” for better ways to maximize the space of our lower level. We have a bowling alley narrow open floor plan and it is time to do some better space planning. One of our never-ending problems seems to be storage solutions! You might remember that a few weeks ago I shared with you  5 Ways to Create a Kid-friendly Living Room but one of the main items left out of the mix was CREATIVE STORAGE! We all know that if you want to keep your family/living room looking chic, organized, clutter-free and functional, then you need stylish storage solutions. But how do you go about containing the never-ending problem of toys, books, gaming devices, DVD’s, etc.? Maybe the answers lie in built-in bookshelves, multi-purpose furniture, and storage baskets!

clutter free tips

Built-in Bookshelves

Built-in bookshelves make the most of empty wall space and can work miracles in hiding clutter! Consider using base cabinets for the bottom of your built-ins in order to store the more unsightly items. Open shelving on top are great for housing books and decorative accessories.

Contemporary Family Room design by San Francisco General ContractorFR James Construction

Often times our flat-screen televisions are the main focal point in the room. Creating built-ins around your flat screen beautifies this focal point while providing ample storage for electronic devices, board games, and toys.

Contemporary Family Room design by Richmond Interior Designer Seaside Interiors LLC

Of course, custom built-ins can quickly become cost-prohibitive for many of us. Fortunately, the DIY community always has a cheaper solution! Consider buying several ready-made bookshelves and creating a “built-in bookshelf” using molding and painter’s caulk. Just a Girl gives a great step by step tutorial on how to create your own built-in bookshelves from Ikea Billy bookcases. I am so hoping that we can create some built-in shelving this next year!

built-in bookshelves

Just a Girl

Multi-purpose Furniture

Built-in benches and window seats with hidden storage are fantastic options to consider when space planning your family/living room.

Traditional Family Room design by New York General ContractorS.A.N Design Group, Inc.

Instead of adding a sofa to an open wall, consider building a storage bench that can also function as additional seating. We have a great space to implement this idea in my current dining room, perhaps soon to be seating area.

Traditional Family Room design by Los Angeles Interior DesignerJoni Koenig Interiors

Coffee Tables and ottomans are another area that you can sneak in extra storage! Make your ottoman work harder and smarter for you by finding those with removable tops.

Contemporary Family Room design by San Francisco General ContractorMascheroni Construction

If a new ottoman isn’t in the budget, create a family friendly coffee table that is ready for game night. Store board games beneath your table and coat the top with chalkboard paint for some added whimsy! So cute!


Baskets are my all-time favorite “go-to” solution for clutter control! I use baskets in every room in my home to organize and disguise unsightly messes. Seriously, I cannot think of one room or closet in my home that doesn’t contain a basket! (I might be slightly addicted to pretty storage containers. :) )In the bookcase below, all of those pretty matching containers could be hiding legos, puzzle pieces, card games, children’s magazines, craft supplies, and even play-doh! Granted, I typically keep those items more easily accessible for my kiddos but if you are tight on space and don’t want to sacrifice beauty it can certainly be done.

built-in bookshelvesBHG

A wall of baskets hides a plethora of family fun. If you’re not able to devote an entire wall in your family room to basket storage, try incorporating baskets on book shelves, beneath end tables, and beneath coffee tables. Both of my end tables and our coffee table have basket storage hiding books and toys.

Eclectic Family Room design by Los Angeles ArchitectFarmhouse Studio

These baskets under the coffee table are on wheels for easy toy and book access!

Lori May Interiors

So how do you contain clutter in your family/living room? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments!

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  1. says

    It all stays in the basement which has become Jemma Land! It looks like Toys R Us was hit by a tornado right now, but it will get organized! We have family games, some coloring books and crayons stored in a cabinet under the t.v. Easy to get to but hidden, but the majority of toys stay downstairs!

  2. says

    I love the built in book cases. our front room is super tiny and we did that in one wall in that room to maximize the space in there. I also have a very long buffet in my family room, which is also super narrow, with drawers and cabinets in it. The cabinets all have bins in them that hold the kids books and toys. They get stored back in an hidden in the cabinets. Its keeps things nice and neat. I love the ottoman and coffee table ideas as well.

  3. says

    What great storage ideas, Beth. We are building a couple of long bookcases to go under bay windows in our dining and living rooms, and I will be adding baskets to these areas to keep items contained and neat. We just got a cool new couch a couple of days ago, and so I am on the lookout for a small but stylish and functional ottoman or coffee table to complement the new couch. I like your idea of one with removable lid for storage, or a shelf underneath for storage.

  4. Christina says

    I love the look of the first built in & the one with the tv cabinet. We have something similar but frankly, you can’t store anything up top but decoratives (I do not like clutter or nick knacks) so really only underneath is storage. This drives me crazy!! I have bins rather than baskets that are labeled with words & pictures for our young non-readers…this works well for lots of toys but if anyone has ideas on how to store dozens of board games in a situation where the kids can actually retrieve a game without the others avalanching, I’d SO appreciate it! We have one of those Ikea wall units with cubbies, and the way it looks so cluttered plus the toppling games (though I thought the cubbies would prevent that) is driving me bonkers!! Thanks : p. Christina, mom of four

    • Beth says

      Board games are so challenging! I actually emptied out a bottom cabinet in our kitchen and we now store them in there. Obviously that’s not an option for everyone but I figured I’d rather go to the basement to get the ice cream maker and other random appliances once in awhile rather than have board games falling on me :).

  5. says

    Hi Beth-

    Baskets and containers are key, but in our 1200 sq foot home, the boys primarily play on the first floor. There are no toys in their shared room! On our first floor, I’ve converted a hall closet to a toy closet {with a latch on the outside to keep a curious 3 year old at bay}. It allows for rotation of toys and great organization.

    The reveal should be on my site this week. :)

    Have a good one. Thanks for sharing all that eye candy.

  6. Margaret says

    Thank you for the idea filled post! We are currently transitioning from a bustling family with teens to an empty nest household and I think a lot of your ideas will come in handy. There are many games and puzzles we want to keep for when our children are home visiting, but we no longer need super easy access to.

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