The Most Minimalist Furniture There Is
If you’re looking to de-clutter, streamline and create a home that feels open and minimal, Katy Bowman has a decorating tip: ditch the furniture. Katy, her husband and two children, ages 18 months and three years, have a home almost completely free of any furniture whatsoever. Their choice is less aesthetic than physiological. The Bowmans are consultants specializing in biomechanics which, according to Katy, is “the study of living structures (I study the body) and how the forces created by and placed upon them affect how they work.”
Their premise–one we’ve touched on when writing about using standing desks–is pretty straightforward: the human body and physiology did not evolve to sit on its ass nine hours a day. We are a species, like most, designed to be on the go more often than not. Bowman explains her choice in an interview posted on the SlowMama Blog:
I understand the relationship between musculoskeletal function and the immune system, bone robusticity (density and shape), and functions like digestion and breathing. Having furniture isn’t an option for us [her family], in the same way a cupboard full of junk food isn’t an option for many others. Furniture creates a development-crippling environment in that the stuff literally shapes our body, both in the now and in the future.
In their home, the Bowmans do have some “furniture”: some cushions on the floor, a low, traditional Japanese-style table and some mattresses. Katy says of the mattresses, “both my husband and I prefer the floor, and we noticed our kids sleep better on the ground as well, so we’ve just started phasing the beds out.” And they don’t even use the table, preferring to spread out their food on a platter placed on the floor middle-eastern style. Unlike many homes, the Bowmans have an indoor monkey bar set for the boys to play on.
Their motivation to go furniture-less is health-related, but Katy does note the ancillary benefit that her home is “less cluttered, easier to clean, and instead of needing to go to yoga class for permission to get on the floor and sit cross-legged or do a twist, I do these things way more often.” She adds:
This makes all of us happier in general: As a kid, I dreaded all the chores I had to do, like dusting, simply because my mom liked lots of knick-knacks. Living on the floor has made it easy for my husband and I to stay strong and flexible because we’re essentially getting our “workout” all day long, in short and easy doses. It’s perfect for a working and stay-at-home mom and dad who, frankly, don’t have time to drive for 90 minutes to do something for an hour.
We think the Bowman’s choice an interesting and compelling one–one that is a significant deviation from conventional thinking. They beg the question, “what if the best designed furniture was no furniture at all?”