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.

 

Going green when furniture shopping

Going green seems to be on our minds nowadays more than ever. We recognize that there are lots of ways we can shrink our carbon footprint whether it be by recycling paper goods or opting for reusable items in place of disposable ones. One arena we might not think to lower our footprint in is furniture shopping. There are, however, a few steps you can take to make a more conscientious purchase for your home.

When foraying into the green/sustainable shopping lifestyle it is always best to keep the term reduce, reuse, recycle in mind. Before running out to buy a new piece of furniture, albeit one with a smaller footprint, ask yourself how vital the piece of furniture you are looking for is. Is it highly functional and does it fit in well with your other pieces? Or is it a purchase you are making on a whim that does not have a purpose or fit in seamlessly with the rest of your decor? It is important to start with the big picture in mind and find a piece that you can keep, and love, for years to come.

Start with upcycling – check to see if you have something similar lying around the house that could be altered. Ask friends and family if they have unused furniture that would fit the bill and check second-hand shops in your area for pieces that will do the trick. If you are handy and/or creative think of ways a piece can be altered to better suit the needs of your home.

Try DIY – Consider making a piece on your own from scratch. Not only will it be an engaging project for the weekend you can be proud of but you will also have complete control of the final outcome allowing you to create a one-of-a-kind custom piece. When DIY-ing choose paints that are VOC(volatile organic compounds)-free lumber with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification. Many popular paint brands now offer VOC-free options in their color lines and can easily be found at home improvement stores.

Look for labels – when shopping for a new furniture piece look for labels. Certification labels, that is. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has a certification for wood that is responsibly sourced, the Rainforest Alliance has a Rediscovered Wood Certification for items made with reclaimed material and Greenguard is a certification for items with low-toxicity.

Sustainability is on our minds more than ever as climate change is becoming more and more evident of an issue and the toxicity of everyday products has become concerning. With some time, patience and research not only can you be well equipped to make your furniture choices well-informed ones but also have fun along the way.