Floor cushions from Etsy seller lacasadecoto
Floor cushions from Etsy seller lacasadecoto
I was sitting at work today thinking about how I need to get rid of my not-so-old and very busted futon because it’s so damn uncomfortable, but also knowing this wasn’t gonna happen anytime soon because we don’t the have money to buy a replacement sofa. And then a “crazy” idea occurred to me. Why do we need a couch at all?

Couldn’t I just throw the futon cushion on the floor with some sexy blankets and pillows and get rid of that godforsaken frame that threatens to stab anyone who sits on it? So I started looking up couchless living and most of what I found had to do with homeless people or substituting luxe chairs for a sofa which I can’t do either (nor do I want to). Is there anyone in the offbeat universe who has ventured into couchless living? I could use some inspiration -Naomi

Before we open it up for discussion, you may want to check these posts:

You might find some great ideas there!

That said, we’d love to hear from our Homies — who’s made the switch to couch-less living? How’d it go? Got any pictures? Anecdotes?

Comments on Adventures in couchless living

  1. If I wasn’t terrified my cats would pop the thing, I would get a huge exercise ball as my chair. It requires just enough brain power to sit on that it stops me from biting my nails when I watch TV, you can bounce and play on it, and they’re super comfy as chairs. Not to mention experimenting with it as a kink toy.

    • For the most part, cats aren’t a big problem with exercise balls, that is, as long as they don’t jump down onto them from something else (like a nearby table or bookshelf), which I’m pretty sure is how mine got a puncture hole. BUT, I had that ball for several years (with cats!) before that happened.

        • My cat scratched mine. It didn’t pop right away, but about a month later my partner was sitting on it and bouncing when it burst, leading him to land pretty hard on the floor. I think the cat was using it as a scratching post – it was a really long scratch.

    • I had a giant exercise ball when I was a teenager. It was a lot of fun. And my cats never showed much interest in it.
      The big exercise balls are made out of pretty thick plastic and, because they are rolly I think it would be hard for a cat to get the leverage to really sink it’s claws into the ball. a cat might be able to pop an exercise ball, but I don’t think it is all that likely to happen.

    • I don’t have a cat, but my dogs are actually scared of mine if they bump it and it moves at all…it may be worth purchasing one just to see how your cat reacts – it could be no problem at all!

  2. We haven’t had a couch for a few months, mostly because we haven’t found one that doesn’t kill my back. But also our living room is hella small and I need the room to dance. Also, we have no money. We usually end up with sleeping bags and pillows spread out on the floor when we watch TV (and full disclosure, we watch a lot of TV and movies). Bonus: it lets us get extra snuggly and cuddly. I would eventually like something, I’ve been eyeing lovesac couches. I like that they’re versatile.

    • Our apartment is couchless, and instead we have 2 of the Lovesac CitySacs. It works out well for us, but took some getting used to. And our apartment has become the party zone for our local friends – We just pull out my exercise ball, his foldable butterfly chair, and some extra chairs from the kitchen, and myself and the other girl in the group don’t mind sitting on the floor, so long as we can lean up against something. Works out well for our group of friends.

    • Pouffes are great, albeit rather unfortunately-named. I have to call mine “the leather thing” or people look at me like I’ve finally cracked. It’s cube-shaped, and if I had more they’d be so easy to just stack up if I wanted the floor space, so I definitely second that recommendation.

      • My pouffes are named ‘the black things’. They are stupidly versatile, sitting, lying down, use them as a coffee table, craft table. Love them.

      • There was a brand of pouffe’s in Australia in the 80’s (they may still be around) called Feet-Seat…. I think most Aussies call pouffes feet-seat’s in the same way that American’s call tissues “Kleenex” you could try calling them that 🙂

        • Maybe this is a state by state thing, as I, a West Australian, have NEVER heard of a feet-seat! Do you mean an ottoman?

          Bathers, togs, swimmers, etc. State by state language difference.

          • My memory associates feet-seats with Sven the Masseur foot shoe thingies tv ads.

            We totally have had them at some stage in Perth but I don’t remember seeing some for ages. But I’d agree with Jo and say Kmart and Target never stop selling stuff like that.

            For me an ottoman is a similar thing but has storage in it. I have seen some cute black suede type boxes like this in Big W I think, but I’m not sure how sturdy they would be for sitting on.

          • Yeah, I think the Kleenex/Band-Aid/Hoover-style proliferation of a brand name is a bit of a stretch with this Feet Seat thing, sorry (at least to the extent you may have thought; interesting that it’s happened somewhere though – where are you?). I’m from Victoria and love a good pouf(fe)! On another point, I believe ottomans have storage, according to British English, but can simply be a pouf in the US.

    • Just be aware that um, sometimes the texture of a beanbag chair can really remind a cat of their litterbox. My childhood beanbag chairs became giant kitty toilets 🙁

      • Not only do kitties like to use them as a toilet, they’re impossible to clean because they’re so large and the filling shifts. I do not think Pouffes are good for homes with cats that tend to “miss” their litter box.

  3. We don’t have a couch in our current apartment, and we just use our regular dining and desk chairs for sitting in when watching the occasional movie or TV show. Then again, I found I didn’t use the couch I had in my last apartment all that often. I usually read in bed instead of on a couch and since most TV and movies I watch are on my computer I usually use my comfortable desk chair for that.

    That said, I miss my comfortable bean bag chair that I had a couple of apartments ago and that is waiting at my parents house for me to get back to the other side of the country. A good bean bag chair is a wonderful thing to have.

    • Papasans are great….except it seems like they break so easily. Mine had so many duct tape repairs after a couple of years that I ended up ripping out all of the smaller wicker dowel thing and replacing it with rope stapled in place.

    • I googled these love sacs and they all came up at around $700? Maybe I’m just looking at the expensive brands because that seems like a lot for a bean bag.

    • All the love sacs I looked up where more expensive than any of the couches I was looking at. I was pretty disappointed that they were $200 more than the loveseat I was sad I couldn’t afford.

      • A friend has a lovesac and I really like it… so comfy… but I had no idea they were $$so expensive$$$! Bummer.

        On the tip of couchlessness, exploring that myself. Our stuff is in storage during a 1 yr contract. I’m considering beanbags and some used fluffy rugs. Ikea has those round wicker things too (like the image in the post). We’ll see if this becomes a cheaper option than a used or cheap sofa…

  4. We’ve been toying with this idea for awhile. My husband is very tall and he’s not really comfortable in couches we can buy in a store. We’ve toyed with the idea of doing something more like a bed in our TV room–something like this:


    Couches like that are insanely expensive, though. I could definitely see just putting the futon on the floor if you’re comfortable with that. Also, I saw this on pinterest awhile ago, and would love to do it. Perhaps you can create a frame for your futon this way:


    • My husband is also really tall, and we’ve talked about going couchless. Our living room is really small, and we only have a two-person love seat right now. It’s certainly not big enough for me to stretch out on, much less him at 6’4″. I have a ton of pillows, so we thought about just keeping those about to sit on.

  5. We got rid of our “couch” a few months ago (actually, it was a homemade bench of sorts made out of the front seats of an old Edsel station wagon… a cool conversation piece, but in the end not so comfortable). We ended up re-arranging our whole tiny apartment by moving the bed to the living room, which is great when we want to watch movies and snuggle. Our old “bedroom” became an awesomely functional storage room with enough floor space for yoga/exercise/dance parties etc. We’re also turning the big bedroom closet into a little office for me!

    Our space is now so much more functional for our lifestyle, we just had to get over the “OMG, what will people say!?!” of it all… which was actually not so hard.

    I would also recommend a really big pile of artfully stacked pillows as a couch substitute… this has always been a dream of mine…

  6. we ended up inheriting a queen size mattress set and since we didnt have a couch the old mattress set ended up in the living room. So now we have a mattress ‘couch’ piled with cushions and two big comfy chairs, its actually really great! the mattress is super comfy for snuggling, and theres plenty of seating with it and the chairs. I like pretty things so I was a little worried at first, but stapling fabric around the box spring, getting some short legs from home depot and making all the cushions match got it looking great!

  7. I think living couch-free is a cool idea. For years, I had a twin bed pushed against the wall in the living room with cushions on it. It served as seating, and extra sleeping space if necessary. I would live in a bean bag if the kids didn’t take it first.
    I will issue a word of advice, though. A lot of people (with disabilities, elderly, some overweight) have trouble getting up and down off of the floor. If you host any of those groups of people, you may want a backup or two of regular chairs (with cushions, since kitchen chairs get hard after a while) so these people feel comfortable in your home. I know my grandmother would never be able to visit us if we didn’t have regular seating (we have a chair, since our couch is so low, she struggles to get up from it, too).

    • Yes, I was going to bring up the issue of those who need a sturdy seat. While I’m more than happy to plop down on the floor of my friends’ apartments and houses, I know my parents aren’t as nimble as they used to be, and would need a solid chair (and not too low or overly squishy) to be able to get back up.

    • Not to mention if your or your significant other/roommates suffer an injury, even temporarily. A fall from my horse landed me with six stitches in my knee, and during the first couple of days before the swelling calmed down, even lowering myself onto the toilet was laborious and required a leap of faith. If I had to sit on or very near to the ground, I probably would have fallen and busted my ass.

  8. When my husband and I first moved to Seattle, our tiny one bedroom apartment was couch free. We threw a camping mat under the window with some blankets on top of it, furnished it with pillows and called it “the corner of zen”. This is because putting an air mattress under the window with blankets and pillows proved to be very cat-incompatible.

    For us, having a comfy place to sit has proven to be part of what makes home, well, home. That solution really didn’t work for us, partially because it was too low and too uncomfortable. When we got a couch (bought from a friend for $100) and then a free cycled sleeper sofa, it was GLORIOUS.

  9. growing up my mum made us some giant cushions… i mean giant… like 3ft by 3ft square cushions….. which were just AMAZING!!!! we loved them, also i have seen somewhere that someone sewed 4 bed pillow covers together along the long edge, and put pillows in which kinda looks like a pillow version of a lilo.

  10. We have normal couches, but we also have a pile of oversized pillows in our living room. We got the idea in Morocco. I love it. If it’s just me watching tv, I build myself a little pillow bed. If we have a bunch of people over, everyone can have a pillow under their butt. Much more flexible than proper furniture. We also have plans to turn our roommate’s room into a giant pillow room one day while he’s out. I assume he’ll be okay with that.

  11. I could never live couchless again. I did that at college; I had bunk beds and a desk, so I could never properly sit in my room to relax. The only couches were in the dorm lounges (and who wants to sleep on those ? Yuck! /is germaphobe) In one of my apartments, my roommates and I only had a plastic chair and tv table to use someone’s laptop on, plus we all slept on / read on / watched tv on air mattresses. In both cases, I was so happy when I was able to move on and have a comfy couch again. My back and elbows were much happier lol

  12. I see a lot of suggestions, but what about the initial issue of not enough cash to get a couch? Someone mentioned free cycle… For those who are interested in a couch but don’t want to or can’t pay for one, check out freecycle.org, or the Craigslist free section! Obviously watch out for bed bugs etc but seriously…. You can have a couch as an option too!

  13. I can’t sit on floors sadly, cuz I can’t get back up again, so I have a big lovely amazing couch that cost me a lot of money I didn’t have…. But!

    If I could sit on floors, and I had an uncomfortable futon with a comfortable cushion, I would totally be propping that shit up against a wall, getting a few beanbags, and a bunch of cushions, and boho-styling the hell out of my living room…. couple of low end-tables either side of the futon cushion to make it a little more couch looking maybe, and to put drinks on and whatevs… sweet… It’d be like living in a really cool tree house. Maybe hit the thrift-store/craigslist for an armchair or two if you have non-floor-sitting friends or relatives who might visit.

  14. When my sister and I got our own apartment, we ended up living couchless for a while. At first, we just ended up spending more and more time in our bedrooms, but then I made a giant beanbag (6ft wide, stuffed), and that ended up being lots of work. However, it works well now, and the livingroom is more homey. However, good stuffing for a large bean bag can get as expensive as a cheap couch.

  15. Thanks for some of the ideas people have posted, I hope to see a few more. My Future-husband and I are moving into our first apartment together now, and there’s no way we’re getting his second-hand couch into the place. It’s just too big and bulky to fit through the door.

    We’re in desperate need of some alternatives to fill a really really nice living roomspace. If everything could be easily moved for dance/poi – that would make it all the more awesome.

  16. I didn’t have a couch in my twenties (I’m now 30 and suddenly ended up with 2 out of the blue!).

    Initially, I had an extra twin bed and mattresses, so I pushed it up against a wall, and then lined up the wall area with comfy pillows (Sears sells pillows as cheap as $5). I would fold up blankets and top them with a stuffed animal on either side to create “armrests.” When my boyfriend and I moved into an apt together, I had to pare down some so I got rid of the frame but kept the mattresses. We put them on the floor – again, against the wall – covered in nice blankets and lined the wall with comfy pillows again. Then we bought a lovesac (I think it was the Big One size) and that was really awesome, although it did need refluffing every couple weeks.

    It did help that we had a low coffee table and I also have a little Korean eating table (designed for those sitting on the floor). I did not really have the space to invite very many people over at a time, so sitting spaces did not really become an issue for us, but if you have enough space and like inviting lots of people over, you may want to look into floor cushions you can pull out and put away as needed. If you have any family members or friends who have physical difficulty getting down and up from the floor, you may want to make sure you still have a chair for them to sit in. My boyfriend would let older guests use his computer chair. Unsurprisingly, no one liked using my computer “chair” (giant exercise ball – which my dog has not punctured).

  17. I’ve done pretty much exactly what you are thinking about. We had a futon , and though not broken, we ditched the frame. Futon itself was on the floor, against a wall. We covered it with a eastern-ish bed spread we got from a yard sale and supplemented with some very large pillows from Ikea. They were maybe 3 ft x 3 ft. It worked pretty well. You could fold the futon halfway open like it would have been on the frame if you wanted, or fold it all the way over if you wanted a little more height.

  18. I have been living couchless since I moved 9 months ago. One of the reasons: it is a one room appartment …. Not much space there. And no money to buy one. Another reason: I have been travelling the world and most cultures (that are not western) don’t have couches. They sit on the floor or on cushions.

    I find it way more relaxed and easy-going.
    I now have my bed, which is only 5in high, so it is pretty much on the floor, on one side. Then a nice rug. And on the other side I have a “foldable matress”/guest bed, covered with a nice blanket. And looooots of pillows. The walks are covered with fabric from top to bottom. I started that when I was studying but could not paint the white walls due to various reasons. Since then I always put fabric on the walls. I can change the fabric when I want to. I can take it with me when I move.
    Plus, together with the bed and mattres and pillows and blankets, it is so cozy.

  19. Before we got our second hand lounge we used our Thai day mats and had them piled up on top of each other on the floor with some cushions. They were great. You could have them flat on top of each other. Fold them up for individual chairs, roll them if you need something sturdy and higher. I still have that set up in my spare room.

  20. I used to live in a teeny city apartment with room for either a dining table or a couch, but not both, so I went for the table. It meant I could have dinner parties for six, which was way more fun than vegging out in front of the TV. Even when my friends and I weren’t eating, we’d gather around the table for board games or chatting with coffee/beer/whatever. It felt very companionable and seemed to encourage conversation and activity more than lazy lounging–plus it was great for studying. I really like the image of a big table, rather than a couch, as the center of social activity in a home.

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