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Home Rule

Special Rules and Good Planning Will Keep the Living Room in Order

March 12, 1987|BONNIE McCULLOUGH | McCullough, based in Colorado, is the author of five books on home management

The living room is the place where first impressions are made. When you walk into the house after you have been away at work or play, the first glance influences how you feel. Even when the rest of the house is a mess, you will feel comforted if the living room is in order.

Apply a few special rules to this room and it will be easier to keep looking nice. To begin with, the physical arrangement is important. It is easier to keep a living room nice when it is a dead-end room, located to the side where no one passes through on their way to some other place. Home managers who have both a family room and front room find it easy to designate one for "show" and the other for casual lounging.

Many homes and most apartments do not have a room just for show. As the number of activities permitted in the room increases, so do the cleaning problems. People can live in small places and still be organized. Make some plans. Set rules. Arrange the sofa, bookcase or plants to create a partial divider so that one side of the room does not get passed through all the time.

Decide what types of activities will happen in the living room. It depends on the number of rooms you have, how many people live in the house and their ages. Is this where you will put the TV? Will the children be allowed to take their toys in there and play? As a family, make some rules and then enforce them.

Complicates the Cleanup

Save yourself. Don't allow food in this room, unless perhaps serving an occasional refreshment to adult guests. Eating in such a room complicates cleanup and spoils furniture and carpet. Keep food in areas designed for easy clean care.

Arrange furniture according to the purposes you have defined. If this is a place to visit, arrange the sofa and chairs into a comfortable conversation area where you can hear each other easily. Consider balance and design.

Too much stuff gives the image of clutter and distracts from restfulness. If storage space is necessary, buy furniture pieces that offer covered drawers or doors in which to put things. Generally, open shelves and flat surfaces are for display rather than storage. Keep those open spaces well below the "full" level. Enclosed areas with doors or drawers can be organized and packed to capacity if necessary.

A good rule for organizing any room: Unless it is pretty, keep it out of sight. Put away as much of your stuff as possible. Re-evaluate traditional furniture. Perhaps some of the furniture needs to be moved out. It's easy to overload. Maybe you have too many pillows or knickknacks to arrange. Flat surfaces beg for things to be piled on them; do you have too many? I have never had a coffee table in my home for two reasons: My living room is very small, and it's an open invitation for junk.

Special Attention

As you do occasional redecorating, try to make cleaning as easy as possible. Remember that each different type of surface in the room requires its own cleaners and special attention. The typical living room will have: carpet, drapes, wood, glass and upholstery. What will happen if you add things such as leather, brass, marble, plants and silk flowers? If you can clean a room in 30 minutes instead of an hour, you are more likely to do it.

Changing the lighting may help improve your room. Many living rooms don't have overhead lighting, which necessitates several lamps. If you can hang a fixture from the ceiling instead of the traditional lamp and table unit, you will have less to dust.

Plants add a touch of softness and contrast to the straight lines of furniture and walls. In my opinion, plants in this room of first impressions should be healthy and looking lovely. Those that need to be nursed back to lusciousness should be stationed in some other place.

The front room is the place where newspapers and magazines tend to pile up. The secret is to keep them moving. Get tough with yourself. Give your family a reasonable amount of time to read them and then move them out. A simple rule is to get rid of the old one when the new one comes in. This applies to both newspapers and magazines. Throw yesterday's paper into the trash or designated box. During the day, when the paper is current, have a place for it to sit and encourage family members to stack it neatly there. It's amazing how one Sunday newspaper can make a whole room look trashed out.

When a new magazine comes in, get rid of the old one. If there are articles that you want to keep, clip them and put them directly into your files.

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