Forget feng shui — increasingly, homeowners are choosing to toss out their furniture altogether.
Furniture-free living, in which people minimize or even remove furniture from the home, is a movement that has been growing in popularity in alternative nutrition and exercise circles. The trend, which has been pushed forward by body movement author Katy Bowman, is based on her theory that people prevent their bodies from moving by constantly sinking into chairs and couches — which, as a result, enables a sedentary lifestyle and causes various health problems.
“You get instant movement variety and you build in lots of strength and flexibility opportunities,” said Petra Fisher, who gives classes on how to go furniture-free in Toronto. “It’s a serious game-changer when it comes to maintaining your whole-body health and wellness.
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Routine Creation. Having a morning routine has been saving me lately. If you’re struggling to start one I encourage you to make a short list of the things that feel good/you need in the morning. Decide on your amount of time that you can dedicate. And then select accordingly. For example, my list was about ten long, I picked three (stretch and breath, hot water, calendar/to do list write) and I do this all in ten minutes. I can’t reliably have more than 10min, but these few things help me stay grounded to start my day. And whenever I have extra time I just snag a few more things off my list and add them in. • • • • #todolisting #morningroutine #morningroutinecreation #furniturefree #movenat
Despite the name, furniture-free followers don’t live threadbare lives — but instead of couches, chairs and beds, they often opt for rugs, pillows, yoga bolsters, mattresses and low-to-the-ground tables that will bring residents closer to the floor. Drawers and cabinets are all fair game while beds and chairs are limited.
While the movement has been circulating on social media under the #furniturefree hashtag since at least 2012, writer Adriana Velez recently tried living without furniture for a week and wrote about it for Realtor.com.
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A little peek at our #furniturefree living room. We discussed and realized that for us the space that we relax and cuddle is the office (we don't have a tv so we watch shows on our computer) and our more active space for fort building/dance parties/epic train track building/yoga/picnics, is the living room. So we relocated our couch to the office. Im not anti couch (yet?) but this set up is really encouraging active and engaged play, family yoga sessions, and intentional cozying on the couch. And I love it! Now im on the hunt for some cozy pouff chairs! Thanks for the inspiration @cpar621 #movenat #littlelettereddreamhome
As part of the experiment, she exchanged her family’s living room sofa for floor pillows and ate weekday dinner squatting around her small accent table. She also slept on the mattress and did her writing work lying on the floor cushions in 25-minute intervals.
“It was harder to get [my husband] to join me on the floor,” Velez told Inman. “But having dinner on the floor around the table connected to both my husband and my son a little bit more. So it kind of went both ways.”
Overall, Velez found the experiment interesting but was glad to go back to her furniture once the week was over. Although the furniture-free lifestyle made her sit up straighter, doing work on the floor had become uncomfortable.
Nonetheless, the movement has its share of devoted converts and many claim it has helped them feel lighter and more connected to their bodies.
“What I really love is that I have to work harder in my body,” Jennifer Gleeson Blue, a nutrition and exercise specialist, wrote. “Like most of us, I’m under-moved. Every bit of support I can take away requires that my daily tasks require a greater quantity and variety of movement.”
Others found it particularly good for parents of young children.
“As I age, I want to make sure that my body is as mobile as possible,”Ayşın Karaduman wrote on Instagram. “Getting up and down off of the floor, not sitting for hours with my hips tucked under in a slump on a couch, and changing positions often are all ways to move more and in ways that are nutritious to my body.”
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Have you ever considered that chairs might be making us sick? I hadn’t either, until I discovered the work of biomechanist extraordinaire Katy Bowman (@nutritiousmovement ) a few years ago. We human beings evolved in an environment where we moved and used all parts of our bodies all day every day. Whereas today, most people immediately think of “exercise” when we bring up movement. And yet the two are very different (or rather, exercise is a very small subset of movement both in terms of time spent and range of movement). We can’t imagine life without furniture. And yet furniture, like many other modern conveniences, sometimes has unintended consequences for our health. For example sitting in chairs or couches all the time, as well as not squatting in the WC, mean that we are rarely if ever flexing our hips fully. Or the fact that we are shod in shoes almost from babyhood means that the extremely intricate anatomy of our feet never gets a chance to fully develop. These are just a few examples of how modern cultural practices lead to all kinds of “whole body” problems, such as back pain, headaches, knee problems, digestive problems, osteoarthritis, etc (yes the whole body is connected!) So what does this mean for us practically? In our family we have made quite a few changes over the years. While we’re not 100% #furniturefree (we do have a couch we love, and a kitchen table + chairs), our setup does induce us to move our bodies more fully every day. One way we do that is by using low tables (and not buying kid chairs at all) – just get a used table and chop off the legs! We also sleep on floor beds. Getting up and down from the floor encourages you to use more body parts than getting into a high bed or just plopping yourself into a chair. Floor-sitting is really beneficial too, being much more dynamic than using furniture. These simple changes have allowed us to add more variety to our “movement diet”. I love getting creative with ways to optimize health that don’t involve spending more time or money – both for my family and my clients! How about you? What “blind spots” have you discovered recently that were potentially affecting your health?
Still, doing away with the furniture may be a move that is too radical for most — even on social media’s exercise and nutrition circles, it remains a fringe movement.
But according to Velez, testing the movement doesn’t have to be as radical as tossing the furniture. Rearranging chairs and couches and trying something different from time to time may be enough.
“People’s responses have ranged from ‘I’ve already done this, I’m already on board’ to ‘that’s a crazy idea,’” Velez said. “But I hope this plants a seed in people’s minds that they have options.”