This post from July 2013 was updated and republished to reflect our continuous household modifications.
Hi. My name is Katy and I live in an (almost) furniture free house. Ok, not really. My house isn’t entirely furniture free, it’s really just couch and easy-chair free. We have tables and art and a stove and fridge and cupboards and bookshelves. Over time the tables have gotten lower (so no kitchen or dining room chairs) and we’ve gone through various bedding (read some of my sleep equipment journey here and here and here) to the point that we just sleep on the floor. We have a dynamic home office with standing desks, ball chairs, and a low table, a squatting platform around our toilet, and when our kids were little we built monkey bars to keep us all moving year round. They’re not that little any more and we still use them almost daily. We have a river rock foyer to move the small joints of our feet as we come and go. So not furniture-free at all, but it’s true about the chairs. We left our seats behind years ago and never looked back.
We’ve made these home modifications because we wanted more movement. I study movement which includes how the body reacts when there’s not much of it. After helping the zillionth person with corrective exercises for their ankles, knees, hips, and lower back—exercises that are really just elements of the movements one uses to sit upon, get up and down off the floor: calf stretching, hip openers, quad stretches—I said ALRIGHT, I GET IT. We’re using these exercises to replace movements that used to occur naturally. Why style my house in a way that’s gotten rid of so many movements only to have to do them all later, after something in my body is broken?
We made the change just as we were about to have our first kid. First off, my water broke while sitting on the couch, so that was a no-brainer (Free couch! Small water stain!). Then we moved out of state, and it made a lot of sense to make the house more accessible to kids. Lower tables meant fewer head bonks and their ability to be with use vs. us above the kids. It also meant more space! More space for moving around on the floor, so our small house felt like it had the luxury of ample room. “Furniture-free” kept our kids out of chairs and squatting (jumping, leaping, cartwheeling) on the floor vs. adapting to chairs. It was a minimal change that naturally facilitates more physicality by not facilitating less with so many places to sit.
For natural-living lovahs, food seems to be the greatest focus. Movement, for some reason, has become secondary. In the same way that a single whole-food meal doesn’t constitute a healthy diet, a daily bout of exercise does not constitute a healthy movement plan. You are what you eat but you are also “what you move.”
The elimination of furniture was a way for use to take a step closer to all day natural movement. It’s an easy step because it does not require more time to more more when you live without furniture. It is also a difficult step because it is hard to wrap our minds around the fact that furniture, while completely normal, is entirely unnatural for the human body.
To show you that this arrangement isn’t super-freaky (at least to me), you can take a video tour of my house and see a tour of my house earlier in the furniture free process below.
Our home is not void of furniture because we don’t love it. I love furniture as much as I love ice cream. Which is why I’m all over both on vacation. But think of it this way: If you were trying to eat less ice cream would you stuff your freezer with it? Probably not. I want to move my body more, so stuffing my house with ways to move it less makes no sense to me.
What we lack in seats, we make up for in journalists coming to our house to check out a more dynamic living space. You can read some of these articles (and see more pictures) here:
There’s a couple other reasons we like keeping our home less cushiony. First of all, it not only gives our limbs more movement taking us to and from the floor, it moves all the parts of us that are sitting, squatting, and rolling on the floor (what I call pressure-deforming movements). Second, it makes going outside so. much. easier. Because in the end, our search for “natural living” is about increasing our interaction with and skill set in nature. The less our house feels like one giant marshmallow, the easier it is for all of us to decide to go outside and get comfortable.