17 Things You Need in Your Living Room. And 3 Things You Really Don't.

You want your living room to be comfortable, but you also want it to look nice. Your living room may be the only room people visit in your home, and it should reflect your personality, and be welcoming. Do you have all of these things? What would you add to the list?

Here's what every living room needs.

  1. Ottomans. Or tables you can put your feet on.  This is where that whole comfort thing comes in. I wish I could tell you I was capable of sitting on a sofa like an adult, without putting my feet up. And I promise not to do it at your house. But for family, make sure that whatever you put in front of the sofa can handle feet, because it's happening, whether you like it or not. But you also want to put snacks and drinks on the ottoman, so invest in a large cocktail tray for the ottoman, so you'll have a flat surface. And you won't have to invest much, because you can find good ones at places like Target and World Market.
  2. Side tables. Make sure that each potential place to sit is accompanied by a place to put down your tea. Nothing's more awkward than trying to read a book or eat popcorn while holding a cup of hot tea. Without side tables, you'll be cleaning and replacing your upholstery a lot, because of all the spilling.
  3. Coasters. Don't just bring them out for special occasions. Leave one or two attractive coasters (or ugly, your choice!) on every surface you want to protect.

    Useful Tip → If you do end up with a water stain, try buffing it out with a paste of mayonnaise and cigarette ash. But nobody smokes anymore, so try the mayonnaise. It actually works.

  4. Lighting for any situation. Don't depend on an overhead light to meet all of your lighting needs in the living room. Put a few lamps around the room, and make sure you don't miss any prime reading spots. Imagine the room at night, with and without guests, and distribute your lamps for even lighting. As an aside, "overhead lighting" seems to be right up there with sex and money as a topic couples argue about the most. Much like finances, this may be a subject you need to cover before you move in together. 

    Read more → Let's Talk Finances, Dear

  5. Shelf or cabinet for games and cards. Yes, we know you play most of your games online these days, but who doesn't love a game of Battleship™? How about Scrabble™? No home is complete without a few favorite board games, a set of dominos, and a few decks of cards. Keep them in one place, so you can make sure you don't lose the pieces. We don't think you need to include a huge carousel of poker chips, even though we've found one in every beach house we've ever rented. Maybe they're just for vacation.
  6. A throw blanket that does more than just look pretty. You know what's the worst? When you pull a blanket over yourself while you're watching a Law and Order marathon and it can't decide if it will cover your feet or your upper body. A throw blanket is there to serve, and it should be large enough to do the job. Try a knit blanket that can stretch to fit a whole human. Try before you buy at the store. They'll understand.
  7. Coffee table books. But make sure they're interesting. And change them out every now and then, so you don't start ignoring them. Regional themed books are great, or anything art related. Also? Graphic novels that are funny. We're not kidding. Your books should reflect your taste and help start conversations.

    Try these → Best Coffee Table Books of 2015 on The Daily Beast

  8. A place to put books and magazines when you need more space on the coffee table. You could get rid of the magazines when they start piling up, and we fully support that idea, because it's clearly the best choice. But if you do that, how will you find that great Better Homes and Gardens article about how to grow mushrooms inside with a heating pad? Oh, yeah. The internet.  But we know you're still going to hang on to those magazines, so get a pretty basket.
  9. Easy storage for toys, whether they belong to the kids or your pets. Your living room should be a place where the whole family can live, but that doesn't mean you want your neighbor who stopped by for coffee to sit on a slobber encrusted stuffed squirrel (which could belong to a kid or the dog, depending). When the doorbell rings, it's great to have a place to throw everything. A covered trunk is great, because it doubles as seating when you have a crowd over.
  10. Space defining area rugs. If you're lucky enough to have a large living room, you may want to break it up a bit, with one area for conversation, another for a small desk, and another for knitting while listening to podcasts. If your front door opens into the living room, you can make it feel like a wall-free foyer with a small area rug and a table for your keys.
  11. A specific place to keep your remotes, chargers, and anything else you need to operate your stuff. Get in the habit of putting everything in the same place and you'll never miss the beginning of the Grammys while you search for the remote. And you'll be able to charge your phone so you can Tweet all your big, big feelings about the Grammys.
  12. Convenient outlets. Map it out, and have an electrician come in and install outlets in places you'll eventually want them. Nobody likes a tangle of extension cords. And don't you hate it when you have to charge your phone, but you want to lie on the sofa, and you have to keep your arm outstretched because the plug is too far and your cord is too short? Exhausting.

    Make it even easier → Outlet with Two built-In USB Ports at Home Depot

  13. Music. Whether you stream music from your television, have an iPod dock, or use your boom box from 1991, music matters.
  14. The pet corner. Otherwise known as "the dog pocket," there should be a space for your pet to hang. Even if you usually let him snuggle on the sofa next to you, sharing popcorn, it's a good idea to have a space your dog or cat can call his own, for when you just aren't in the mood, or you have human friends taking up all of the seating. Also, you really don't need to share popcorn with your dog, even though you can.
  15. Storage. Cabinets, book cases, trunks, storage ottomans...you should have as much storage in your living room as the space will allow. The living room is where you hang out, and it's important to have access to your favorite things, like books, games, your finger puppet collection, or a sleeping bag, for when you want to camp on the sofa.
  16. Waste basket. You'd be surprised how many people don't have this basic in the living room. The absence of a waste basket leads to coffee tables and chair cushions full of Kleenex and gum wrappers. Ew.
  17. Something to talk about. The living room is the perfect place to display art you love, your grandmother's old Singer sewing machine that doubles as a table, or family photographs. Give your guests something to ask about and make sure your personality shows in your decor. If no one comments on your decor, reconsider your taste. It's not that your friend didn't see your Insane Clown Posse poster, it's just that...you figure it out.

And here are three things no living room should have.

  1. Anything too precious to use. Do you have pets? Or any friends? Or a life? Do not buy the white sofa. Step away from the white sofa.
  2. Dead house plants. House plants aren't a requirement. If you're a plant killer, skip them and buy a green throw pillow instead.
  3. Anything uncomfortable, scratchy, or awkward. Every chair should be the best chair, and every space in your living room should be a good place to hang. No matter how cool that ultra modern bench is, if you can't settle in and have a conversation without being distracted by how much it pinches your behind, don't get it. 

How about it? Do you have all the things? Is there anything uncomfortable that you need to put out on the street on trash day, so someone else can (not) enjoy it?