This article from 2015 was lightly edited to update resources in 2020. I've written a lot more about going Furniture Free; you can start with Why I Went Furniture Free.
Joe Rogan called me a freak for reducing my home furniture (e.g. getting rid of my couch and dining room chairs), but hey, I'll accept that label. Especially as freak doesn't mean much more than "unusual or unexpected," and I didn't feel any hostility or condescension. I agree: eschewing the couch in the name of health is unusual. It's, well, freaky.
Our reasons for getting rid of our couches and chairs aren't because we seek to be "fringe," or "hippies." Nor do we glorify those furniture-free days of yester-year and forsake modern developments and technology. One of our reasons for ditching the soft sitting stuff is simply an attempt to problem-solve given the abundant research on excessive sitting, sedentarism, and the role of the home environment.
It's pretty straight forward, actually. I have a small house. I have two small children. I study the health benefits of movement. If I put furniture there, not only will they sit on it, they can't move in the space occupied my my couch (or TV or coffee table or whatever).
The Dynamic Family Home: a qualitative exploration of physical environmental influences on children's sedentary behaviour and physical activity within the home space is a paper that does a great job at breaking down what it is, exactly, about a home (interior and yard) that tends to reduce movement.
The study findings indicate that families perceive the physical environment of the home space influences children’s sedentary behaviour and physical activity via: overall size, space and design of the home; allocation of home space; equipment within the home space; and perceived safety of the home space. Furthermore, the home space seems to be a dynamic environment where many of the physical elements are chosen, controlled and changed by family members, particularly parents.
One could think of my home as freak-like, or you can think of it as a design selected in the attempt to reduce limitations to movement. Environmental constraints on movement are often very subtle. For example, my 2-year old just started weaving--great for fine motor skill and artistic pleasure, but not really a "whole-body activity" if you know what I mean.
But this is what went down: she didn't like sitting and pulling the string, so she started walking the needle away from the loom to pull it through.
Then she'd walk it back, weave it through, and walk it the other way.
I'm not making this up, people.
My friend dubbed it a "dynamic loom station." But I'm not sure it would be dynamic if her loom was surrounded by the furniture we no longer have.
One woman just posted another example of a small (under the freak-radar) change to her home decor on our Facebook page:
And she sent me some pictures.
Kids (and adults for that matter) already sit the bulk of the day, so is getting rid of some sitting stuff in the other place where you spend the bulk of your time really a freaky idea? Just askin'.
Read more about my set-up at Why I Went Furniture Free; the article includes links to other articles, interviews and photos of various set-ups we've used throughout the years.