Furniture-Free Living Is A Thing, And It's Fascinating

by Wendy Wisner
Originally Published: 
realfoodsimplelife / Instagram (left photo) / awholestory / Instagram (right photo)

I know I’m not the only one who regularly fantasizes about getting rid of half the stuff in her house. I hate clutter. It makes me ragey and anxious. And with two young kids at home, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the mess. I feel like I spend every waking second either stepping on someone’s underwear or Lego (ouch!), or crouched over, picking up someone’s crap.


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I declutter regularly and try to lead as minimalistic a life as possible. And for a busy 21st century mom, I think I do pretty OK. But still, there is always just so much stuff—from floor to ceiling—making me dizzy, blocking my path, and cluttering my mind.

So you can imagine how totally fascinated I was when I stumbled upon a group of people who are taking minimalism to the next level and going “furniture-free.” Yep, there’s a little cohort of people out there (just check #furniturefree on Instagram) who have embraced the “furniture-free” lifestyle for all its worth—shunning most of the furniture that we consider essential for modern life.

Now, before you go freaking out, and thinking these people are living in cold, empty houses and sleeping on the bare floor, you should know a few things about what it means to be “furniture-free.” It’s not necessarily about having zero furniture in your house; most “furniture-free” people have a few necessary items, and their homes aren’t eerily empty or comfort-free at all.

They just don’t have much in the way of traditional furniture. Instead, their living rooms are lined with lots of soft rugs, pillows, yoga bolsters, and low-to-the-ground tables. They don’t sleep on the bare floor—most sleep on some kind of padding or mattress. Many keep some chairs available for guests as well.

And let me tell you, these homes (at least the ones shared on social media) are warm, open, welcoming, and actually pretty gorgeous.

Kind of makes want to set your couch and coffee table on fire and never look back, right?

Brittany, a blogger and mom from Scotland, described on her blog how she stumbled upon the furniture-free lifestyle, and why she choose to do it. Her family lives in smallish space (1000 square feet) and was constantly looking for ways to “open up” their home so that it was less cluttered and so that their kids would have more room to play.

She also wanted to try to add more movement and variety into her own life. Slouching on the couch or a chair all day isn’t the healthiest way to engage your body when you think about it.

Eliminating her living room couch (and substituting with a pad and some comfortable cushions) along with some other key pieces of furniture, solved all those problems—and more.

“Getting rid of the couch really opened up our tiny living room,” writes Brittany. “Immediately the ceilings seemed much higher and the space was much roomier. My kids loved all the extra space they had to run, jump, roll and crawl. I didn’t find myself as bothered by their rambunctious play because there was more room for it. I now had more room to do my own exercises without having to worry about hitting furniture or needing to move it away before starting.”

And I mean, just take a look at her space. Doesn’t it look beautiful, spacious, and actually pretty dang comfortable?

A lot of the “furniture-free” people seem to be those interested in healthy living, using their bodies more consciously, and incorporating more movement in their lives. And while I am not sure I am quite cool enough to get rid of my squishy couch and armchair, I can totally see where they are coming from.

Sitting on the couch for too long makes my back feel funky, and all the time I spend sitting at my computer for work can’t be good for me (most furniture-free people have a standing desk, which sounds both awesome and scarily unpleasant to me, if I’m being totally honest here).

Petra Fisher, a Restorative Exercise Specialist describes the health and fitness aspects of “furniture-free living”:

“Quite simply, because having less furniture means that you have to move your body more,” Fisher writes on her blog. “You just don’t have the option of plunking yourself down into a comfortable cocoon and staying there for hours. For the price of a little discomfort, we get to work all day on improving our core strength, increasing our mobility, and getting all kinds of movement variety.”

Fisher explains that going “furniture-free” isn’t something you should do in one fell swoop. You can get rid of a piece of furniture here and there until you get used to it. And of course, she emphasizes that you don’t need to be 100% furniture-free to reap the benefits of it.

As far as I’m concerned, one of the best arguments for going “furniture-free,” or at least having less furniture, is how much fun it looks for active kids. Especially on cold days when you are cooped up indoors, having less furniture means more opportunity for play, creativity and movement for little ones. And that’s a win for everyone.

And then, of course, there is just the factor of how calming these furniture-free spaces. I mean, I’d trash my cozy, warm armchair for a living room like this. (Though I’m sure five minutes after the picture was snapped, this woman’s living room looked as much of disaster as mine).

I am not sure I could pull the whole “furniture-free” thing off. I’m pretty sure no one in my house could give up their beloved couch or armchair. On the other hand, I would give almost anything to have more space and less clutter in my home. So you just never know. Tomorrow my couch and dining room table might just be in the dumpster.

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