My favourite new piece of furniture is actually four upholstered seating units that together make up a sectional. Or a loveseat and two slipper chairs. Or two chaise longues. Or one luxuriously long sofa.
This is the beauty of modular furniture: Every configuration works. Whether it’s seating or shelving, a modular system is made up of easily-movable units that are cheap to ship but can create furnishings of substantial height and breadth.
Each modular unit in a series is small enough to make it through skinny hallways and up long staircases and can be packed into the back of a hatchback — all practical features that have turned manufacturers like Ikea into a global success story.
I depend on modular because I have to change things up, in my own small space as well as the different interiors I work in. At home, I might be hit with the sudden urge to re-jig the living room for a fresh outlook. For work purposes,
I may need to be able to physically move a sectional into a loft, then use it next month as a pair of chaise longues in a basement suite that doesn’t have the pass-by space to handle regular two-armed loveseats.
That’s the practical side of modular. However, in the pursuit of practicality it’s important to resist acquiring the furniture equivalent of the old seven-piece mix-and-match wardrobe collection that was a mainstay of the Sears catalogue in the ’70s. Sure, that mint-green stretch pantsuit worked with the mint-green and pink striped blouse/skirt set and pink and green vest, dress and wrap but every one of the resulting 21 possible ensembles was hideous. (As much as I am drawn to the idea of limiting my wardrobe to seven multifunctional pieces, hopefully someone will have a gentle talk with me if I end up going all matchy matchy simply because it’s practical.)
But I digress. My last piece of practical philosophy: Don’t make a fashion statement when you buy into a modular system.
Resist fad styles and colours; give in to neutral tones and clean lines. Make modular seating the blank canvas on which to layer accent cushions, and multifunctional shelving units the simple frames for featuring more interesting, changeable objects and artworks. Years down the road you won’t still be hanging on to the equivalent of a tacky old pantsuit; that modular furniture will withstand any new décor fashion with flexibility and grace.