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.
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.
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.”
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.”