I used to have a couch in my living room and loved spending as much time as I could on it. Usually in all kinds of positions involving some kind of horizontal component, with my body fully supported, so that I wouldn’t have to use a single muscle in my body and could relax after a long day. Sounds familiar? 😉
But the problem is that I had already been sitting in a chair most of the day. But I thought it was ok because I had walked 30 minutes and/or did a bit of yoga earlier in the day, right?
Well, it turns out there are 24 hours in a day and most of us aren’t active for more than one of them.
I had been following Katy Bowman’s blog for a while and had been thinking about her message for just as long… (take a tour of her furniture-free house here) but it’s when I read her book released just last fall that I decided to change the layout of my living room.
Fortunately, I do not have any physical problems like back pain or knee pain but I also want to make sure I don’t develop any.
According to Katy Bowman and my experience of having a furniture-free living room for the last 3-4 months, this is a
great way to increase / maintain your flexibility while working a variety of different muscle groups.
I love my furniture-free living room!
Sitting on the floor and getting up from sitting on the floor are very important skills for humans to have… yet many of us are finding it increasingly difficult due to the excessive amount of time we spend in a chair, on the couch or in the car.
A recent study even found that your ability to accomplish this simple task could even predict your risk of dying early (read this article including a video of how to do the test).
How did we transition to a furniture-free living room?
Last summer, we moved from a 1-bedroom condo to a house. Because we had a lot more space, we decided to use the basement as our budget home theater and put the couch there. We go there not even once a week to watch a movie and yes, I sit on the couch then. 😉
In the living area, we simply bought a large wool carpet and many cushions (covers made of cotton and filled with duck feathers). We also have a few sheepskins when we want extra padding. As simple as that!
People often ask what I do when I have people over. Well, we all sit on the floor! We do have a couple of rocking chairs that they can use if they prefer but most of our guests have enjoyed the challenge. 🙂
Here’s what my furniture-free living area looks like.
It’s a perfect spot for reading, stretching, doing yoga, talking, having tea, watching TV, blogging 😉 and of course playing with baby.
More than flexibility and strength,
it’s also a way to decrease our chemical load
In addition to helping us move our body more and in different ways, having a furniture-free living area is also a good way to minimize our chemical load. Unfortunately, most furniture is made of particle board full of glue and other chemicals while cushions filled synthetic material dipped in flame retardants.
Did you know that toddlers have as much as 5 times the levels of toxic flame retardants, which have been shown to be an endocrine disruptor (which means it interferes with hormones) in addition to contributing to cancer and lower IQ?
What is scary is that these toxic compounds are ALL AROUND US,
and ESPECIALLY in baby items!
Really, flame retardants are not only in furniture, cushions and the dust of our homes (coming from the furniture) but also in nursing pillows, baby carriers, baby car seats, strollers, high chairs and anything with a pad / cushion. We’ve been working on minimizing those chemicals in our life for a couple of years, especially that I have a diagnosis of PCOS and don’t need any more endocrine disruptor in my life (but really, nobody does!), by choosing wooden furniture, duck feather cushions, latex mattresses and opting for natural material (cotton, wool, duck feathers, etc).
And we took the extra step of going furniture-free, at least in our living room,
to make our home as safe as possible and decrease the chemical load on our little one.
My nursing pillow is chemical-free and filled with buckwheat, we don’t have a high chair or stroller, and we really try to choose only natural materials for everything we buy, including toys.
We even let everyone know on our baby registry that we didn’t want any plastic or anything made with synthetic material. Yes. we’re crunchy like that and we assume it. 😉
The only item for which we couldn’t find a safe alternative is the car seat unfortunately… they all contain so many chemicals. At least, we spend very little time in the car so what’s in our home is what matters the most.
I’m not saying this to be alarmist or scare anyone, but just like with food and nutrition, it’s important to be aware of the problems so we can do something about it. Don’t you think? Every little step we can take to minimize our chemical load can make a difference.
Vote with your dollars whenever you buy furniture or toys, just like you do when it comes to food.
What about the other rooms?
We still have furniture in other rooms of our house but we definitely spend most of our time in the living area. I also have a standing desk to minimize sitting (actually, it’s not really a desk but just a piece of furniture that’s at the perfect level to put my laptop on).
We have a big bed and I wished we didn’t have it so we could put our mattress straight on the floor… but it was a IKEA model (wood not particle board filled with glue and chemicals, don’t worry! 😉 ) VERY complicated and time-consuming to put together and I am just not ready to take it apart yet. But I want to put it for sale at some point. 😉 Any buyers?
And baby is just about to start eating in the next month or two. We plan on getting a very low table so we can eat seated on the floor. No high chair for us. We also don’t have a stroller so we just carry baby or babywear him a lot.
The good thing is that we save money and it benefits the health of each and every one of us. 😉
What about you?
I’m not saying this is for everyone, but would you consider making a little area in your home like this? Or trying to sit on the floor when you can?