Why I Went Furniture-Free

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 backexercises 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 stretchesI 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:

This Family Traded Mattresses for Monkey Bars–Good Housekeeping Magazine

Nourish Your Body Through Movement–Prevention Magazine

The Movement Movement–Pacific NW Magazine, Seattle Times

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.

Are you still interested in learning more on this?

Are You Ready to Move?

Find products and instruction to get you started right now.

right pointing arrow visit the store left pointing arrow

43 thoughts on “Why I Went Furniture-Free

  1. Awesome! Thank you! And my house is MUCH worse! I wouldn’t even consider that “messy” it just has proof of life! Although I do probably have comparable amounts of raw milk concoctions in the fridge!

  2. Thanks – that’s so interesting! I love lolling on the floor, with cushions, but there are times when I just really want to flop on the couch – actually, my favourite couch position is lying on it, as I don’t find sitting for long periods *that* comfortable, unless I can put my heels up on the seat. Something to do with the backs of my thighs and my hips getting uncomfortable. I’d love to try something like that…maybe one day!

    Anyway, keep up the good work – you are such an inspiration!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve been contemplating how to survive with less furniture. A couple questions:

    Are you mainly using that kitchen computer as a standing desk?

    You said you sleep without pillows. Does that mean you trained yourself to be a back sleeper, or do you sleep in other positions?

    How do you use the squat toilets? Is all of your weight on your feet, or are your knees just elevated while sitting on the toilet seat? Thanks so much!

    1. We mainly use the counter as a standing desk. It’s a little short for the Huz (at 6’0″) so he’ll often perch on a high stool. He also has a standing station (currently in a closet while the toddlers can pull it over.) I sleep without pillows, which too training. I sleep in every position, even on hard floor. Bodies have been doing this for all time (until recently) but, it takes awhile to develop the tissue yields to do so without pain. I’m working on a post (a section of the book, really) that helps lay down the progression. For squat toilets, again, it’s a progression. Starting with both the feet and tush resting (less ROM and strength needed) then you can go on from there (i.e. full weight on feet). Any progression is beneficial — it’s not like it is only beneficial when you get to “doing it right.” <--- Not sure there is such a thing.

  4. Yeah, the monkey bars and rings are really fun. I am sending this to my daughter, ’cause grandson MUST have monkey bars and rings.

    Also love the big property you have. How’s the garden doing?

  5. Thanks so much! You’ve inspired me to look at my life in a whole new way.
    My house is sometimes neater, sometimes waay messier. Its just life!

  6. Yep, that last sentence was grammatically correct. And your house rocks. I think your furniture-free lifestyle needs to be showcased on national TV. Make that worldwide.

    Also, thanks for reminding me to keep it all out so I’ll use it.

  7. Thank you so much, Katy, for your generosity and inspiration! Is anyone more willing to share than you? I’m so grateful for all you’ve brought into my life about alignment, health, lifestyle, and kindness. And now you’ve even invited me to your home. Which I needed because I couldn’t imagine how I could live without heavy furniture (not sure why, just remove furniture, right?). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  8. Thanks for sharing! (Yes, my place is messier and one goal besides “getting rid of sitting furniture” is to declutter…) Love the monkey bars and rings, and the SUP/yoga IndoBoard – still waiting to indulge myself on that one!

  9. I opened this email as I sat slouched in my bar stool height chair at my waist high desk (both designed to make me sit less). Before I finished the first paragraph, I was off my chair and on my half-dome. Thank you for the reminder.

    Do I dare sell my office chairs to force me to remember?

  10. Thank you so much for this tour! your house is beautiful and obviously a perfect fit for your family. One question: what is that oblong board along the wall in the living room? looks like it might be a big indo board? thanks! you are a huge inspiration to me!

  11. yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes ………

    I know that at times of recovery from injury, pain, etc it’s fine to do whatever you need to do to get the support you need to be comfortable — to aid recovery — (& I have been there so do know of what I speak) — but I **cringe** when I hear healthy people taking about their favorite chairs with their favorite back supports …….Hard to not ‘evangelize’ — but we **must** be able to self-support, otherwise we’re on that downward path ……

    We have a bannister-high shelf that we use to ‘stand’ – hubby with laptop, me with iPad (right now I’m at desktop & sitting – but I’ve made my chair into a stool in that I never lean back & also created a concave surface – a little higher so I have plenty of opportunity to move my pelvis around …… ‘clocking’ right now)

    While spending hours watching Wimbledon on my iPad recently, I also enjoyed standing on a roller, alternating with a high stool & occasionally also sitting on a regular stool.

    and yeah — we have one bar & scheming on more – both the hubby & I long for those youthful days of bar swinging (before hopping ….).

    Thank you as always …….

  12. My question is: What about rocking your babies to sleep? I do not rock them to sleep all the time or only that way (I realize they need to go to sleep on their on), but I often rock while nursing my babies. And I find it is important for me to feel comfortable while nursing in order to be relaxed and patient with it. (as those babies can be pretty demanding!) I have never been able to get very comfortable nursing the babies on the floor, other than in bed. We have a king-sized futon mattress on the floor as our bed and I feel very comfortable having the babies there with me, but in order to get them into their crib once they are sleepy. . . well, it is much easier to do from an elevated position like an easy chair or rocking chair. I HAVE been known to get up with nursing/almost asleep baby still latched on and transfer said child to the crib, but it is difficult and not my first choice. So what are your thoughts on this matter?

  13. Katy, I am so glad you are doing an AHS presentation. I feel like you are the missing link in the whole scene as far as movement is concerned. As far as I can tell, you’re the only one who has illustrated how the physics of our *everyday* movement affects our biology, chemistry and long term health. There has been a lot of hullabaloo about pushing cars uphill, flipping giant tires and such which is all great if that’s what you’re into but I feel like the information here is much more practical and relevant. This has also been a great source for learning about getting kids off to a good start.

    Personally, I always thought that movement and what people call exercise should be integrated into a day’s work and not an isolated episode where we go “work out” so these types of posts really resonate with me. And especially this one as we prepare to furnish our home. I’m thinking less is more. And less is less to buy, clean and maintain 🙂

  14. Great post. Your info is awesome and I just keep loving your posts more and more. Thank you!

  15. I was only recently thinking about what a good idea a raised, backless wide bench would be to sit on at the table so as to give the option of squatting or sitting cross legged whilst eating.

  16. Somehow, I just knew you would be a MAC girl! and yes, my house is also that messy, and I have just a husband and a college student at home for the summer, the oldest baby is on his own. (Your friend’s silk wall hanging/blanket is a work of art!)

  17. Fascinating. I have truly benefitted from your exercises for squatting for my plantar faciitis. So one question and Im not trying to be argumentative. So I get that for a long time people’s bodies did act differently.- sat on floors more etc BUT those same people died much sooner then we do now so…even doing those things they still had pain, arthritis, joint breakdown, etc. so….how do you stop that breakdown of the body while choosing to live more naturally? Can you? Id be intersted in knowing, honestly because my ad’s kids all seemed to have inherited his joint/leg setups where at 76 hes had both knees replaced and has quite a bit of pain in his feet/ankles, etc. And, frm my studies, much development is pre-birth sometimes even highly determined by a mother’s nutrition, upbringing. My mother grew up during ww2 in germany, read she ate DIRT and not as a ” oh you silly kid eating dirt” kind of way. All of her girls have terrible teeth and other bone issues we have been told were from her malnutrition when she was young. How do you combat that?

    1. A couple of things — the notion that primitive people died way earlier than we did comes from lumping infant and child deaths into the statistical pool. There is better “how long did we used to live” research that excludes early mortality. This shows that, if one was robust enough to make it to 12 (or 14? I can’t remember) then the length of adult life was fairly equal to what it is now — 78-80ish. We certainly aren’t trying to live forever over here in Alignment World, but there are many people who are doing more than dealing with an age-related body breakdown. They are accelerating their body breakdown through their habits, and then medicating and/or seeking surgery. Medicine can keep up living our full lifes. The question is, what is the quality of your time. So many people — in their 30s and 40s — have bodies immobilized through pain, injury, and disease. Way ahead of a “natural” schedule. It is hard to combat early infant malnutrition. The key is to do the best you can at establishing natural body loading and eat lots of good quality food. Again, it’s not about living forever, but at recognizing that most situations can be drastically improved through habit modification! Thanks for your comment! -KAB

  18. Brilliant! This minimalist way of furnishing the house also makes for easier cleaning right? Sounds like an all-round winner.

  19. Thanks for showing us your home. When you mentioned earlier that you don’t have furniture I was wondering what your set up looked like.
    I grew up with a wooden climber in my living room which was awesome. Looking back we should have kept it!
    With my boys I have had success with an Ikea wobble board, a punching bag which is thrown around like a dummy, a wooden chin up bar, couches which are trampolines, and never sitting for long!

  20. This is wonderful, and oh my home is just as, if not more messier than that. Thank you for not tidying up. I often sit on the floor when just hanging out, but this made me realize that I can sit on the floor to work too. As we redo/create my study I think I”m going to figure out a way to have multiple ways to work on my computer. A shelf for the laptop when I’m sitting on the floor, and when I want to stand.

  21. Katy, I lived in Japan for a period, and I noticed that a lot of old people (mostly women) were bent over. REALLY bent over. Not just a few, but a significant number of retired people.

    A feature of Japanese society as I experienced it was the absence of sit-on furniture. We ate at a low table seated on a cushion (very like in your house as your video shows), tho often with a hole under the table for the lower leg to hang into; there weren’t usually sofas in the houses I visited. And then the bed was on the floor and was folded away each morning.

    I have asked myself ever since, are much admired chair-less cultures as good for us as we chair-culture types make out? Why are these really commonly seen old women so bent over? And they are very bent over!

    My ideas were (i) the japanese Seiza sitting-on-your-heels position causes the back to round over time. (ii) this is related to nutritional deficiency, possibly from food privations around 1945. (iii) It is simply osteoporosis (iv) the japanese are prone to such postural change (v) there are good and bad ways of sitting without furniture (i.e. point i)

    I haven’t lived in other Asian countries, but I spent some time in Africa where life was less sedentary, and I have no memory of this being common. I have wondered ever since, what was the cause.

    I much enjoy your posts, and your human style. Thanks

  22. Can I ask what the height of your dining table is? The husband and I were literally just discussing chopping the legs off of our dining table, although our reason was just to make eating more of a kid-friendly experience. Our 2.5 year old is always up and down, in and out of laps, standing on the table, and our lives would be much easier, and meals much more peaceful, if half the time weren’t spent lifting him up and down. I’m sure he would appreciate a bit more autonomy as well. But we couldn’t figure out what height we should make it.


  23. Wow, what a great post–thanks! Love seeing the squat-toilets. Wish I could attend the symposium, but the August date doesn’t work well for people who work in education. One of these days I will make it there.

    So grateful to have come across your brilliant work through Paleo circles. Heard you on a webcast and knew I had just been introduced to a wonderful resource. Really want (and need) to focus on alignment/movement now. I worry about neck and head issues from people looking at iPhones etc like I am doing now. 🙂 Have to confess I did just buy a new sectional for my home, but I don’t intend to get coffee tables etc. This way, the floor will still be open to practice Yoga or Pilates or whatever.

  24. When we moved from the US to NZ, we didn’t bring any furniture. We lived for 6 weeks without a bed (we ordered one), and were glad to have it because sleeping on the floor was COLD.

    But, after that, we just didn’t have any more furniture (there were some built in shelves and we had a dresser and a closet). it was great. We did everything on the floor and it was so easy to keep clean. 😀

    Friends gave us a table and chairs and then also some lounge chairs. We have them in the house, but rarely use them! LOL we still prefer living on the floor.

    We’re considering moving into a new place, and with that, considering going furniture free again. No one uses the chairs, and we only use the table to pile things on, so. . . it would be a great opportunity to just let things go — and go back to our floor living.

    I’m keeping the bed, though. I love the bed (it’s organic and sustainable and what not).

  25. Great post, I will share it on facebook. 🙂

    I threw my bed out and bought a futon and tatamis in 2010. The real japanese thin cotton futon without any padding. It’s quite hard but it feels great. Best bed I ever had. My nervous system is happy to get feedback from the ground. It finally knows where my body really is.

    In March I read this post from Mark Sisson

    and threw out every sitting/standing desk from my living room. So it’s standing in the kitchen (cooking) and floor living in the living room and bedroom. Now I use a “japanese” table with cushions to sit on the floor while staring at my computer. For reading books I sit on my balcony on a chair or on the floor indoors wherever I want.
    I also move my stuff around from time to time.
    I stare at my bookshelfs with a threatening look and tell them ultra hardcore macho Ido Portal style: “Move or die!”
    Just kidding. 😉

    Also important: Decluttering my flat from time to time. Those Feng Shui poeple must be on to something. I feel a lot better after this “cleansing”.

    Thanks for showing us your house. It’s nice to see there are other “crazy” people like me. Especially if it is one of my favourite movement/alignment experts. 🙂

    Monkey Bars and rings in the bedroom would be great. I have to figure out how to build a low cost construction. So maybe a trip to the hardware store is in order.

    I’m looking forward to your AHS presentation.

  26. First of all you are adorable!
    Secondly, my house is so much messier than yours even when it’s “clean.”
    Thanks for the tour!

  27. Hey Katy,

    Happen to have a link or source for those neat square seats in the living room? Those look like dynamite for TV time.

  28. You have inspired me to
    Step 1: move my furniture back to the walls so there is more floor room
    Step 2: get rid of 1 of my 2 couches in my living room
    Step 3: keep the couch in a less used spot (to the side of the tv) on sliders so if we want to crash on the couch and watch a movie we can but for every day use we will be more likely to choose sitting on the floor

    We are currently in step 1 and my family is already getting considerable more floor time. I miss the fung shui of my previous furniture configuration but I am happy to sacrifice that and find new fung shui designs for a healthier family! Thanks for the house tour- it was very helpful and thanks for keeping it real:)

  29. Yes! So inspirational. Just set out our dining table and chairs on the street! Eating/studying/playing on our coffee table instead. Next up, the sofa!
    As a working mom, I sometimes miss going to a yoga or dance class, but now our house is permanently ready for any dance party, any time of day.
    Can’t wait for the squatting potty progression in The Book. We’ve been using one for a month now. Game changer.

  30. I love the monkey bars! Do you have a plan for those? Or did you just make it up as you went? Super fun for a rainy fall/winter/spring in WA!

  31. I love the indoor monkey bars! Do you have plans for those? I want to have my husband make them for my daughters’ birthdays. The dome play set in the back yard…let me guess, garage sale? If not, where did you get it? Waiting for your third article on Breaking Muscle about carriers, car seats, etc…mainly the carrier part!! Thanks for sharing!

  32. When we decided to FINALLY get rid of our awful couch (hooray!), I suggested to my husband that we not replace our couch… inspired by your video! I didn’t think he’d go for it, but he loved the idea right away. An advocate for creative play, he recently blogged about our transformation into couchless home and what that means to our family. We’re now all bolsters, physio balls and pillows. Thanks for the inspiration to go couchless! https://playfromscratch.com/ideas/requiem-for-a-couch/

  33. You rock, Katy.
    A lot of depression can be traced back to posture.
    Posture: ab strength and spine curve habits.
    Nix the chairs, nix the slouch, heal the body.

Comments are closed.