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Preparing Your Home For The Holidays: Let’s Start In The Living Room

by Tara Kuczykowski on November 2, 2010 · 46 comments

Mandi of Life... Your Way and I have teamed up to bring you a special series over the next two weeks called Preparing Your Home for the Holidays.

I've mentioned several times over the past month that I do not want this to be a last-minute Christmas for us, so we're getting proactive this year in all areas, including getting our home ready for holiday guests room by room. An expert in decluttering, today Mandi's helping me take my living room from playroom to more of a family-friendly gathering area.

Unfortunately I don't have any before photos because my dear husband decided to get started without me (not complaining at. all.), but I can share with you our major issues:

  • Video game equipment was out of control and scattered throughout the space.
  • We had little storage space which meant toys were often piled around the perimeter.
  • Our couch has seen better days, but we're not ready to purchase a new one.
  • I've neglected some of the deep cleaning over the past few months when our kids were heavily into sports.

:: Corralling the Clutter

Kids and clutter just seem to go hand-in-hand, don't they? And when you have five kids...well, that's five times the clutter, and our living room seems to bear the brunt of it.

I'm sure you've heard this before, but baskets are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to contain clutter. I picked up two of these huge baskets at Target last year at half price because they were part of the holiday clearance. It turned out that they're perfect for holding all of our video game equipment on either side of our entertainment center.

:: Giving the Toys A Home

Toys are my nemesis. They're scattered throughout our house, and it seems nearly impossible to find a home for all of them. We're working on a more permanent play area for the kids to stretch our living space, but in the meantime I found an awesome solution at IKEA.

Again, baskets are my friend here. They're the perfect size for the toys my kids play with most, and they're easily accessible in the shelf. All together, the shelf and baskets were priced at under $150 -- well worth it for me to maintain my sanity.

:: Making Do With What You Have

Our poor couch... It was a beautiful couch when we purchased it at 80% off from the seconds store of a major furniture retailer 11 years ago. It had one very small scratch on the leather that was barely noticeable with the light cream color. Fast forward through two dogs and five kids, and this is the end result:

Gosh, I'm so embarrassed to show you that! I often think about how nice it would be to just go out and get a new couch, but it's still solid (and we still have two dogs and five young kids), so we opted to purchase an inexpensive slipcover from Walmart.

No, it's not perfect, but it's certainly prettier and it will do for now.

We also refinished this beautiful cedar chest that belonged to my husband's grandmother. It's now our coffee table, as well as additional storage space. We keep lots of throws crocheted by my mother-in-law in it for those chilly winter days ahead.

:: Getting the Grime Out

I've been a bit of a slacker the past few months when it comes to deep cleaning. We were running six days a week for sports, so something had to give. So today I whipped out my favorite deep cleaning assistant -- a simple microfiber cloth. A package of these costs next to nothing, lasts forever, and is a very versatile cleaning tool.

I used it dry to surface dust everything and to brush the dust that accumulates on the lampshades off. Then I used it damp to wipe down our leather chair, ottoman, and all of the baseboards (a task that I often forget about).

I took our throw pillows outside for a shake and left them to air out while I was cleaning, and I wiped down all of the glass tables and windows with my favorite Method Mint spray glass cleaner.

Now my living room is clean and sparkling! You've noticed that we don't have a lot of knick-knacks. We tend to keep them to a minimum for the most part with the kids, and I also removed a few things to make room for our holiday decorations later this month.

You can join us in Preparing Your Home For The Holidays over the next couple of weeks by using the handy printable checklists that Mandi has created for each room of the house! And of course we'd love to hear your tips and tricks for getting your home ready for the holiday season.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle November 2, 2010 at 4:40 pm

It's nice to know and see that I'm not the only one with these problems. Thanks for this post!


2 amber November 2, 2010 at 4:44 pm

love the pale blue with red.......question though. Could you not have turned the cushion over & used it on the other end?? I mean duct tape is cute & all BUT>>>>> :)


3 Tara Kuczykowski November 2, 2010 at 5:11 pm

No, since it's a leather couch, the cushions are attached. I definitely would have done so if possible!


4 Jennifer November 2, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Where did you get the lamp?


5 Tara Kuczykowski November 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm

That's was one of my great Marshalls finds -- only $15!


6 Jennifer November 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Thanks Marshalls close by but I love it.


7 mary November 2, 2010 at 4:50 pm

thanks for sharing!


8 sarah beals November 2, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Very nice. Slip covers are great when you have kids. You just need to put some red and white striped accent pillows on that couch for Christmas and you are all set. :)
Have you seen the idea of wrapping a throw pillow with cute holiday fabric and tying it with a ribbon to make it look like a present?
When the holidays are over, you can unwrap your pillow. Voila! :)


9 Tara Kuczykowski November 2, 2010 at 5:13 pm

I did see that somewhere and thought it was so cute, but I'm not sure how it would hold up to the kids. I think it might be worth a try though -- maybe it will hold if I put a safety pin through the center.


10 Anitra November 2, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Thanks for the article. I have been preparing for the same thing. I have a cushion on the couch that has been ripped, and was contemplating slip covers. thanks for the pics. Also, Huggies Diapers at Publix are $2.00 off w/sales ad coupon and there is a MFR coupon for $2.50. Publix will let you stack the two coupons.


11 Michelle November 2, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I have that exact chest. So pretty. It was my great grandmothers.


12 Kari November 2, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I love that black shelf with the wicker drawers! Very cute! Also, I am jealous you have someone organizing your house. We decorate room by room and label each box by room where things go so we know where to unpack (and repack) decorations. We also are decorating early outside because it gets wayy too cold in the midwest come November!


13 Tara Kuczykowski November 2, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Oh, I wish she was here helping me! She's just giving me tips, and I'm doing all the hard work. Mandi's great at keeping me motivated though.


14 Tamara B-H November 2, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I'm still sitting here in awe that you have 5 kids and 2 dogs and have glass tables LOL! You must have your kids better trained than my 2 kids and 2 dogs. We bought a great leather storage ottoman on and it serves as coffee table, toy storage, and extra seating for table or parties when needed :) I am going to buy an additional one for more storage in the near future.


15 Tara Kuczykowski November 2, 2010 at 7:39 pm

LOL, they were a wedding gift, and we've actually just actually never been able to find tables that we liked with our couch since it sits kind of low to the ground. They used to have square tops and we did replace those with some round ones after having kids. They definitely require frequent cleaning!


16 Pecky November 2, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I love your "Giving the Toys A Home" tidbit! I tried searching the IKEA site for those items, but couldn't find it ;0(. Would you by chance have their model #'s?

Thanks So Much - Pecky


17 Lori E November 2, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Do you have the names of the IKEA items? I would love to have that shelf and baskets!


18 Tara Kuczykowski November 2, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Yep, the shelf is the Expedit Bookcase (we turned it on its side):

And then this is the baskets:

It seems as though my math may have been a little off on the total -- it's closer to $200. I do believe we got a discount for paying in cash though.


19 Lilolu November 4, 2010 at 2:42 pm

I'm so ready to get rid of our couch. It's a cloth sectional and has seen better days. It doesn't smell as new as it use to even when I get it cleaned. It's too bad I can't put a slipcover over this monster of a couch of ours. I like the idea of sprucing up before the holidays start creeping up. I'll get started today.



20 Jennifer November 6, 2010 at 9:32 am


Thanks so much for sharing. I love reading your practical solutions to everyday decorating issues. Please keep up the posts. I get sick of seeing "perfection" in all of the home decorating magazines. It's nice to see a few practical ideas for everyday life!


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