I Never Stop Rearranging My Furniture: Here's Why
Lately I've been hearing this comment from friends during casual conversations about life in New York City:
I have these friends who move their furniture around all the time. Every time I go over, it's set up totally different.
Finally, after smiling to myself every time I hear it, I had to write this post.
I am one of those people, so let me respond with the reasons I move my furniture around.
Reason #1: Money… Or Lack Thereof
I’ve never had a a big budget for furniture. My home is a mixture of street finds, inherited, a healthy dose of IKEA, bought on Craigslist and just a pinch of Room & Board. So when I move, which has been often, I have to make it work. Sometimes, I live in an apartment where the furniture just never fits, never works right, never feels right. At worst, it sticks out and causes banged shins or bruised hips. At best, it falls into place like one of those puzzles where the pieces are encased in water and you shoot bubbles to move them into place.
Reason #2: Coping With Stress
I am a putterer. I love to sort and fix. It helps me think, gives me a small tangible task. I had a friend years ago whose grandfather had dementia. The only thing that kept him calm in the later stages was puttering around his shoe boxes filled with old electronic equipment. I don’t think he repaired anything anymore, but he was more peaceful when he had what he believed was a task to complete. I imagine the same will go for me if I develop dementia in old age. Making little adjustments makes me happy. And it's free. When I grow old and dotty, the nursing home I end up in will have to give me a furnished dollhouse to keep me occupied.
Reason #3: Control Issues
I can’t control anything in the outside world. But in my home, I can at least have things where they ought to be. That is, I can keep scissors where I need them the most, I can have a small table at the entry way to dump my bag, hooks to hang my jacket and headphones (because without that I’d never be able to find them when it was time to go). My shoes and socks are at the entryway. I can control what I keep in the fridge door and I can hang whatever I want on the walls. Outside, in the real world? Well, anything goes.
Reason #4: I Crave Novelty
I’ve moved 31 times. That has to do something to you. I think it creates a kind of craving for new digs every few years. Nothing clinical, I hope. Nothing was mentioned when I took undergraduate Abnormal Psychology. But I do love floor plans and shelter sites like Apartment Therapy, Design Sponge, Freunde von Freunden and the old Domino (in print). Floor plans to me are like girlie centerfolds for men. I study them for a long time and I let my imagination go wild.
Reason #5: Because I Watch How People Behave in My Home and I Take Notes
Sounds a little weird, I know.
I love to have dinner parties. It's one of my life's greatest joys to have 8 people at my table enjoying food, talking and laughing. I live for that scene. And I'm always taking notes. While people are in my home, I watch where they sit and don’t sit. I watch where they tend to congregate. I make mental notes about the moment in which they looked for a place to put a drink down. How and where they sat is of particular interest: on the couch arm, did they lean forward to hear other people, did they linger in hallways or stuff themselves into the kitchen to talk to me? I notice sometimes that people like to hover and talk in doorways. Sometimes they need to plant a hand on the wall to talk. Still other people pick one spot, the green chair, and stay there holding court.
These observations dictate furniture placement in any place I’ve lived more than any design blog or magazine. It’s more important than feng shui or following rules about interior design.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there's my own comfort in every corner of my home. I need big comfy chairs to sit and read. I need light. I love a simple, spacious room.
Hopefully, this answers some of the questions non-re-arrangers have about chronic re-arrangers. We just want to make it better. We use what we have to create a space that serves us.
How about you? Do you have other reasons for rearranging your furniture on a regular basis?