In Life, Minimalism

Minimalist Living: How I live with no to as little furniture as possible

People are curious as to how we live without furniture, or rather, as little furniture as possible, so I thought I’d clarify how that works.

WE STAY IN HOTEL APARTMENTS

We do always live in hotels but they are like apartments and they already come with beds, a sofa and all this furniture I wish they did not come with.

We would have SO MUCH MORE SPACE if there wasn’t a sofa, beds, random dressers… oh the humanity of it all!

Anyway, we stay in these apartment hotels only because it has a separate bedroom, larger closets and the kitchen.

If we could find one WITHOUT furniture (unfurnished), it would be perfect because we would bring our futon anyway and sleep on the floor and we do not sit on sofas and so on.

WE ONLY REALLY NEED AT A BARE MINIMUM THE FOLLOWING:

  • Table
  • Chairs (one for each person)
  • Japanese Futon (this is our bed and I guess it counts as “furniture”)
  • A chair a stool of sorts near the front door so that people can sit down on it to take their shoes on/off

P.S. You can buy an authentic all-cotton high quality hand-crafted Japanese futon from Japan here, free shipping worldwide with a few country restrictions, or here if you want an all-cotton one made in the U.S. instead.

We use this work area to work, and when it comes time to eat, we clear our work off the table and eat.

Even better is that some kitchens come with a bar area where you can sit at the counter and eat there, so the table and chairs are free to be a pseudo-office.

Look, even in China they eat in the alleyway outside of their home on some crates and stools:

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Home-Family-Dinner-Food-Eating


As for our clothes, there are built-in closets here in every apartment and hotel (it’s just the size that varies), so we just bring hangers and hang up our clothing.

We do not need dressers (that’s for stuff you fold, and I hate folding), and we just use our suitcases to hold things. I don’t really see a problem using suitcases to hold clothes but then again, we do shift a lot.

The alternative to a suitcase is we have a box or a bag that holds everything that can’t be hung up — underwear and socks for instance.

If you don’t have 8 drawerfuls of lingerie, underwear and socks, everything fits into a box pretty nicely, and you don’t need to dig far to find what you need.

MAJOR PIECES OF FURNITURE WE DON’T HAVE AND THE REASONS WHY

Here are pieces of furniture that people own that I have no desire to:

Wardrobes/Dressers

This is solved by those built-in closets with rods / racks that you can hang your clothes on

Sofas/Couches

I hate sofas in my home because they’re big, bulky and annoying. In other people’s homes? Why not.

So how do you watch TV without a sofa!?“, you might ask…

Well first of all we don’t have a TV in the first place so there goes THAT first world problem, but if we are in an apartment hotel that comes with a TV, we just lie down on the futon and look up at the screen which in a way, is better for your back.

What we do have  is a large blank wall where we project movies from our laptops and have a mini, rather portable movie theater.

Otherwise we just watch movies on laptops on the bed (we have one of those pantry/dish racks that you put the laptop on so that it doesn’t overheat and catch on fire while being laid on the bed).

Like this:

shelf-expanders-space-saving-pantry-rack-solution

Night Tables / Bedside Tables

Whatever for? We just put down whatever we need beside our futon.

Coffee Tables

This is the one, sole piece of furniture I HATE THE MOST. I can deal with the rest, but not a coffee table.

I will NEVER, EVER in my life buy a coffee table. I hate these stupid things.

I always bump my knee on one, or my toe, or have to maneuver around them when I visit people to get to the sofa to sit down.

They’re never at a good height for doing anything unless you are sitting on the floor (then what’s the point!?), and even leaning over to get your cup of tea from the table annoys me slightly because I have to bend down and over to reach it (yes I know, I am quite picky).

I would much rather be sitting at a proper table on a proper chair, and have everything at my chest height that is easily reached for and can be used.

WHAT ABOUT GUESTS?!

Oh the horror!“, you are imagining. What about when guests come over? WHERE IS THE DAMN SOFA? Don’t you care about other human beings?

Of course I do, that’s why I invited them over to begin with, but that doesn’t mean I need to buy a sofa or kit out a room just for a guest when they stay over and visit on occasion rather than every single day!

For guest beds, I keep a spare Japanese futon rolled up in a closet.

http://jlifeinternational.com/?rfsn=1143406.759e1c

 

When they visit, I roll it out, put them in the living room with some linens and a pillow, and there you have it.

Instant guest bedroom.

P.S. You can buy an authentic all-cotton high quality hand-crafted Japanese futon from Japan here, free shipping worldwide with a few country restrictions, or here if you want an all-cotton one made in the U.S. instead.

The way I see it, if they’re staying with me, they’re not expecting a 5-star hotel treatment because more than likely they’re staying with me to save on the cost of visiting my fair city, and if they cared about comfort and luxury as much as they did, they’d go to a hotel and pay for a private place to sleep instead (this is what my brother does, he never stays with me because he doesn’t want to impose and he doesn’t want to sleep on the floor).

stock_bed-pillows-sleeping-rest

As for guests who come over for dinner, we sit at the dinner table and eat there. If we have tea and coffee afterwards, it’s still at the dinner table.

I wouldn’t be moving to a couch at this point because… well…for one thing, I loathe COFFEE TABLES with a vengeance.

It is also much more efficient and cleaner to eat a dessert at a table with your cup of tea than it is to try and balance all of this on a sofa without getting crumbs onto the sofa or in between the cushions or spilling coffee all over yourself.

WHAT ABOUT WHEN YOU GO TO BUY A HOME?

I concede that we WILL buy some furniture (we only own a futon right now), but it’ll be practical and useful stuff.

What I would buy as the main piece of furniture for my home is a very large, solid wooden table with chairs, and that chair I mentioned for the front entry area for people to take off and put on their shoes.

As for everything else?

The only other furniture I’d let into my house is this wonderful rosewood dresser my mother has promised to give me.

It is really heavy, ornately carved, and bulky but it is sentimental to me, and beautiful. It is the only piece of unnecessary I’d allow in my home and only if we had a home that was permanent.

Oh, and a piano, but does that really count as “furniture”?

SO, WOULD YOU EVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THIS?


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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20 Comments

  1. Tyler Parker

    I was surprised to find people who lived in the same manner that I do, as far as furniture. I became self-conscious of my furniture situation because of other peoples’ opinions so that’s why I began looking online for other people living with minimal furniture. I do love my furniture situation, although, none of my guests have so far . I have intentionally sought to live minimalistically after I read Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden;” and then I saw the documentary “The Minimalists” and saw modern people actually living like Thoreau did. So I sought to try this out at my new apartment.
    My living room consists of two beach chairs, a fold-able tray table, a plastic bin (to hold things and kick my legs up) which I use the same one in my room because it is light and easy to move between rooms. My tv stands on the ground in the living room so there is no bulky and annoying tv stand. I have two stools in the kitchen to eat on which sit against a kitchen bar that came with the apartment. I have 8 pairs of silverware (maybe too much) and minimal cooking pots, utensils, pots, and no seasonings or condiments because I don’t really use them. My bed is a twin air mattress, my closet is built in to the apartment, and I have two plastic sets of drawers to store clothes, necessary objects and towels. My books are neatly stacked on the ground up against the wall because who really needs a book case.
    I have chosen the cheap and minimal furniture route because I did not want to buy nice furniture when experimenting with minimalism in case I realized that I actually love couches, tv stands, enormous dressers, night stands and coffee tables. However, I have not come to that conclusion because I love my current living situation so far so I may upgrade the quality of my furniture but in the same format. My furniture is so easy and I have so much extra room in my apartment. No extra clutter, no hauling ridiculous sized furniture up stairs and through doorways, and no expenditure of hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars on nice, bulky furniture.
    The only problems that I have with my furniture situation is that it is not very accommodating to guests and I foresee, possibly incorrectly, bringing a date home and her immediately bailing because I have cheap and minimal furniture. On the other hand, I have enough chairs for guests even though they are not soft and extra comfortable like sofas, and I can always add air mattresses if someone needs to stay the night. To my benefit, if a women bails on me because of my furniture then maybe that is a woman I don’t need to be dating anyways.
    I have only lived like this for a month and have only had a few guests but they have all heavily criticized my furniture situation. But like I said before, I love my apartment like this. When I travel I just fold up my bed into a bag and take it with me so I always sleep on the same bed where ever I am. If I am to move when my lease is up, I can easily fold everything up and load it into my sedan which is how I got all of my belongings here in the first place. I wrote this long comment because I could closely relate to the author and thought my input could be helpful. I do like the idea of Japanese futon although some comments below said they are risky of insects and mold. I also like the projector idea because I have a huge blank, white wall, and the dish rack idea for the laptop because it is easy and will let the heat out of my laptop better. I recommend reading “Walden” by Thoreau and watching “the Minimalists” on Netflix. They are very good.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I have read Thoreau, and don’t have a TV, nor Netflix but would like to watch The Minimalists although I know the boys well…

      AS for your furniture situation, just upgrade your items. Instead of a TV stand, a small, simple, IKEA stand. My partner has done that, and that’s how we live. We are still I will say, on folding chairs though which I am hoping to fix next year in our furniture budget… hahaha 🙂

      For me, folding chairs, TV stands.. they are too flimsy.

      Reply
    2. Todd

      First off, screw people’s opinions.
      With that said, here’s my one. Lol
      A camping pad and a bed sheet i found to be just as comfortable as an inflatable mattress and easier to deal with. Been sleeping on one for over a year now.

      Reply
      1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

        Camping pads is a good idea.

        Reply
  2. R. J. Moore II

    I don’t keep furniture, television, or even a table. I only own four pieces of silverware and a similar ratio of cooking and eating utensils. I have a bed and a box. I also don’t decorate anything. I hate clutter and useless objects, which to me includes almost everything other people spend their entire life paying for. Including a big house, lawn, it’s just work, I don’t care how it looks and I don’t like enough people to worry about overflow from company. I’m a Spartan hedonist, and I’ll gladly indulge my loathing for clutter at the expense of my friends.
    I wouldn’t mind owning large and expensive things if I found them useful, but I generally don’t.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      My partner is exactly the same way (in theory).. although books for Baby Bun given to us from family members have started to take over a bedroom..

      Reply
  3. oe

    even the japanese have discarded the futons because of mold & insects.
    there are ways around the first problem, not the second.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Haven’t had mold or insect problems yet in 10 years; suppose it depends on your climate.

      Reply
  4. nikijks

    Loved this post, it made me laugh because I identify. I’m trying very hard to be a minimalist. My sister stays at the plushes hotels when she visits me and I tend to go and stay with her when she does.

    Reply
  5. Ero

    This seems like the perfect amount of furniture for me, but I think I’m going to add a desk that doubles as a bookshelf as I will need to spend a :LOT of time on school work and need some storage for my supplies 🙂 It’s a bit of a relief, actually, I was stressed about affording furniture and this blog proves that it doesn’t have to be such a financial burden.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      Oh good point.

      Yes, furniture is not a priority for us. Just a simple few things is enough.

      Reply
  6. SarahN

    I know you’re a BIG fan of the futons, but I don’t think I could be ok with being ‘ground based’ for relaxing. it’s ok for a stint, but long term, I don’t think I like the idea. I wonder how old people (80+) with poor joints handle it? I do know your ethnicity is known for squatting long and late into life in ways you don’t see in other cultures, so perhaps it’s just keeping the flexibility up?

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      Maybe.. I will find out when I am 80 and get back to you 🙂

      Reply
  7. Jess

    I am constantly culling and trying to make things more efficient and streamlined but I think it really comes down to lifestyle how much you can tweak. For example, we have a couch with a pull out bed and storage underneath. There isn’t any storage space in the unit so I’d have nowhere else to put the vacuum if it wasn’t for the storage underneath. We keep it pulled out and I spend a huge amount of time just chilling on the couch. We much prefer this than on the bed because The Partner and I are both very active (read: dusty and sweaty) and he does sports and sometimes you’re exhausted and want to just walk in and lay down, and I don’t like to dirty the bed. I consider our home quite minimalist but because we do have common pieces of furniture (that are very practical for us) no one thinks much of it. I can see how if you’re missing that piece of furniture people think it’s weird. Oh for example the tv! We have a tv because The Partner plays console games, so no one thinks anything of it. But the tv isn’t actually plugged into tv and I haven’t watched tv in 10 years and when people know THAT they think it’s weird.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      YES! I don’t have a TV and some people look at me with admiration, others think I’m bonkers.

      Reply
  8. Marie-Josée

    I wouldn’t be happy long-term with your minimal furniture. My husband and I consider ourselves minimalists compared to most people we know, and have been culling our belongings for the past ten years. With our youngest child away from home now, we are in the final stages of this process. We own furniture, including a coffee table made of recycled barn wood, and very comfortable sofas (handmade in Montreal) as well as very comfy, unpholstered dining chairs, but we don’t own nick=nacks. Decorative art is one piece I purchased from a friend who is a wonderful painter and laminates of our children’s memorable art-work. I need to be comfortable in my home, it is our haven, I do own a lot of kitchen appliances and pots and pans, as I do a lot of cooking.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      Perhaps I won’t be happy either 🙂 Right now, it is all we need and I very much enjoy the space. I have plenty of room to do lots of projects, Baby Bun gets to run around and I don’t worry about him poking an eye out.

      Once we get our own place, it might be a different story, to be honest. Right now we’re renting / hotel-living, so it is very transient.

      Reply
  9. Ramona

    Well. we have a lot of crap we don’t need, but husband is more of a hoarder type. I could live with less, that’s for sure. Maybe now as minimalist, but clearly not as cluttered as now.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      To each their own. 🙂 Opposites attract. You help balance him out!

      Reply

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