A Guide to Modular Furniture Shopping

When people hear the term “modular” a few things come to mind. Standardized, easy to assemble, minimalist, and modern. When you hear the words “modular furniture” there’s probably only one thing that comes to mind: Ikea.

There are, however, a wide selection of stores (online and brick & mortar) that offer furniture to fit your minimalist lifestyle.

Reasons to go modular

Form follows function. This statement should be as true in the world of decorating as it is throughout the sciences. However, many times we buy items that are large and bulky; mistaking quantity for quality. In the world of modular furniture, form is everything. Here are some reasons you may want to start buying minimal furniture:

  • If you move often. Do you relocate for work every few years? Are you a student or young professional who does a lot of jumping around apartments? In a workforce that is increasingly freelance and online in nature, there are fewer bindings holding us back from moving.
  • If you like low-maintenance. Modular furniture is perfect the the person who likes to set something up easily out of the box. You won’t have to worry about complicated maintenance or difficulty finding parts because modular furniture tends to be highly standardized.
  • If you’re a space-saver. Are you the type to try to take advantage of every inch of free space in your home? Alternatively, do you like to give your home a spacious atmosphere through smart decorating? Modular furniture is intelligently designed to take advantage of space. Modular furniture pieces like sofas are often able to be reconfigured or rearranged in different pieces so you can place them in corners or sparsely around the room to open up space. Similarly, they often contain interior storage space for things like blankets and pillows.
  • If you have a refined taste for space. Modular furniture is at the cutting edge of home technology. Therefore it often boasts visually-appealing, minimalist form and modern color schemes. Like any industry, style varies between makers. But generally modular furniture companies tend to stay current with trends.

The biggest names, the best prices

Since modular furniture is an up-and-coming industry, there are a number of stores to choose from, some even with brick & mortal locations. Here are some of our favorites.

ikea

Not much needs to be said about IKEA. They started with one man in Sweden and now have locations in over 40 countries. IKEA is the standard by which all other modern furniture stores are weighed against.

vitsoe

Vitsoe keeps it simple with three basic modular “systems.” Chairs, tables, and shelves. One of each system could easily fill a room. Their designs are minimalist and space-saving, which is evident by the “nesting” tables which fit into one another.

way basics

If you’re looking for simple, lightweight and affordable storage and shelving, Way Basics is where you should start your search. They specialize in storage cubes and they take the humanitarian and environmentalist approach to doing business.

urban outfitters

They may seem like a strange addition to this list, but Urban Outfitters–the paragon of urban hipsterdom–has a surprisingly great selection of modular furniture items in their online shop. They do an excellent job of fusing vintage style with modern function.

 

Indoor Plants for Health and Home

House plants can significantly improve the dynamic of a room.  While some are purely decorative, there are others that can have a dramatic effect on air and indoor pollution levels.  If you are planning on making a few botanical additions to your home, then why not get the added benefit of choosing plants that will work for you, as well as providing an aesthetic benefit?  Here are a few to get you started.

Golden Pothos – This vine-like plant is very easy to grow, requiring very little light, and can survive quite comfortably if you happen to forget to water it on a regular basis.  With regular fertilizing, this plant becomes a fast-growing vine that looks fantastic in any room.  Clippings can be taken, put in water, and will develop root structures in as little as a few days.  Because this is a submersible plant, it is also popular with aquarium enthusiasts.  In addition, this plant is a heavy oxygen producer, and can also remove benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene from your air.

Peace Lilies – Interestingly enough, these houseplants are not true lilies. These attractive members of the Araceae family need only a little light and water in order to survive, and produce brilliant flowers.

Rubber Tree – While used as houseplants in North America, these plants have an interesting use in India; the roots are guided over chasms in order to create what is commonly referred to as living bridges.  These plants prefer bright sunlight, and while they can withstand infrequent watering quite well, they will thrive if given enough moisture.

Weeping Fig – This is the official tree of Bangkok, Thailand.  In a study by NASA, this plant was shown to effectively remove airborne toxins from its environment.  This plant thrives in warm, sunny conditions, but can also tolerate low-light conditions fairly well.  If it is moved to a new room, it will shed a large number of its leaves, and replace them with new leaves in response to the change in light conditions.  While it is adaptive to changes in light, care should be taken not to place it in an area where it will be subjected to strong, cold drafts.  This plant is also popular among bonsai enthusiasts for its aesthetic properties.

Snake Plant – Also known as “mother-in-law’s tongue”, this plant has been recognized in the same NASA study as one of the best plants to remove indoor air pollution.  Like other pollution-reducing plants, this one can survive quite well with low light levels and irregular watering.  Care should be taken not to over water this species, as the root structure is fairly sensitive.

For further reading, you can pick up the book How To Grow Fresh Air, by B.C. Wolverton.

Twenty Quick Tips to Transform Your Home

Does your house need a new look? Do you think changing the look will take too much time or money? Using small changes can often have a big effect.

Here are some low-effort and low-cost ideas that can quickly transform your space:

1. Switch out lampshades and/or finials or change a chandelier

2. Reframe or rearrange artwork

3. Have favorite photos printed on canvas and hang them front and center

4. Swap throws and/or pillows

5. Change a rug or pull it up to expose hardwood or tile floors

6. Take out “high-hat” light in living room for a more ambient atmosphere

7. Give your bookcase a makeover

8. Clear the clutter

9. Switch out bar stools

10. Change drawer knobs and/or cabinet handles

11. Put new towels and/or mats in the bathroom

12. Add a hanging pot holder in the kitchen

13. Sew a fabric band to bottom of shower curtain

14. Change the draperies

15. Add flowers or plants

16. Add accessories like vases, sculptures, candles or photos

17. Lean your artwork rather than hanging it for a way to easily move it later

18. Change slipcovers

19. Use sisal rugs, which are inexpensive and in style

20. Put a decorative plate or bowl in the corners of kitchen counters (where tile meets wall) to increase flow and tie a space together

Updating Your Bedroom

Is your bedroom in need of a slight makeover?  Surprisingly enough, many people don’t spend too much time thinking about how their bedroom looks.  How many times have you been on a tour of a friend’s new home, and the tour stops short of their sleeping area?  If you don’t want to fall into the trap of feeling like your bedroom isn’t a “show off” room, then take a few steps to jazz it up a bit.

By paying a little attention to a few areas in your bedroom, you can leave that door open with no shame.

New Bedding – Depending on your sleeping preferences, your bed may well be the biggest piece of furniture in your home.  Coincidentally, your bedding may also be one of the largest decorations in your home.  Do you like your bedding?  Does it match your home and personality well?  If it leaves you wanting, then consider outfitting your bed with a new bedding set.  With this one improvement, the entire mood of your bedroom can change.  If you can manage to find curtains or drapes that complement your bedding, it will tie your bedroom together in a big way.

Floors – Bedrooms may have the least amount of floorspace visible, but that doesn’t mean that they should be neglected.  Consider buying a decorative rug for your room.  Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, consider installing a new carpet or flooring.  The sky is the limit here, and any change made is likely to be an improvement.

Laundry – Piles of unfolded or dirty laundry can be an eyesore. Even a visible laundry hamper is enough to be a distraction.  Consider outfitting your closet door with a hanging laundry basket, or instituting a “no dirty laundry in the bedroom” rule for yourself.

Lighting – If you rely solely on overhead lighting in your bedroom, then consider buying a lamp or two.  Lamps will serve to highlight your furniture, as well as create a more relaxing environment.