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What is Modular Furniture?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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Modular furniture refers to pre-made units that can be combined in different ways to furnish a room. Modular furnishings are often flat packed for home assembly. Most furniture companies have a showroom with their modular furniture products set up so customers can see what the items look like assembled. Online shoppers may shop through virtual furniture galleries. There are many types of attractive modular systems available for each room in a home.

Kitchen modular furniture systems are popular today. Most manufacturers of modular kitchen furnishings offer upper cabinets with options such as single or double doors and solid or glass door panels. Box-shaped cabinets with pre-drilled holes on the sides allow shelves to be added according to how much space is needed between each shelf.

A lower modular kitchen unit may have a sink already inserted in the top with cupboard space underneath. Lower units may have shelves, drawers or a combination and may be adjusted to fit a specific kitchen. For example, after a rectangular base unit is chosen, it may often be expanded by adding on a rounded modular section to increase a kitchen’s workspace and storage space.

Dining room furniture may also be modular. Some modular furniture systems for dining rooms feature tables that may be added on to create more seating by placing several of the same table sections together. Living room modular furniture often includes sectional sofas. Sectional sofas have different units or sections that create a whole sofa and some of these may include beds or large footstools as part of the design.

Modular closet furniture is popular in bedroom closets. Modular closet designs consist of many different components that can be fitted into closets to create a storage system that looks built-in. For example, shoe racks that sit on the floor or that are wooden shelves that fit near the center of the closet can be added to created modular storage. Hanger bars that can be hung at different levels are space savers, as they hang two rows of clothing in the amount of space used by clothes that hang from a single top bar.

Bedroom modular pieces include dressers, head boards and night tables that are pre-made and ready to assemble. Dressers may have the option to add an extra hutch or top dresser section to allow for more storage. Children's bedroom modular furniture is especially popular as different pieces can be added or modified as the child grows. For example, some baby cribs are designed to be converted into a single bed after the child outgrows the crib. There are also bunk beds that convert to twin beds or to a larger bed if the twins are pushed together.

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Discussion Comments
By Georgesplane — On Jan 12, 2011

@ Aplenty- I can give you my opinions on modular furniture. I am a first time homeowner, and I have a young daughter, so I expect my furniture to hold up to the abuse of children as well as hold up to future moves. I also need to keep my furniture purchases within a modest budget. I would tell you that modern modular furniture varies in quality just as conventional furniture does. You will save money however on comparable pieces. I have bought modular pieces like television stands and bookshelves from retailers like K-mart and Wal-Mart that fell apart within months. The particle board was low quality, and the fastening hardware was cheap and inadequate.

I also own (and have owned for over three years) pieces form Graco, Dream on Me (toddler beds and kids furniture), Copenhagen DenMarket (office furniture), and Ikea (living room and Dining room) that have held their own, and still look and feel new. Be warned though, that even at these places (with the exception being denmarket) carry some cheap products that have a short life. I tend to try to buy their middle of the road products and I find them to be very durable, practical, and comfortable. The directions are also very clear, making them easy to assemble. Honestly, I don't mind doing the work if it will save me a few hundred dollars (on both shipping and product cost).

By aplenty — On Jan 10, 2011

@ Valleyfiah- I am always tempted to purchase contemporary modular furniture but I always worry that it is 1) difficult to assemble, 2) uncomfortable, and 3) not very durable. What have your experiences, or anyone's for that matter, been with modular furniture? I need new furnishings for my living room and dining room and I am thinking I would like my furniture to look a little more modern. I need storage units, china cabinets, table and chairs, and a new sofa. Any thoughts please.

By ValleyFiah — On Jan 08, 2011

I just bought a modular furniture sectional sofa, and I will never go back to a regular sofa. The sectional is a contemporary design, but is very comfortable. I also spent much less on the sofa than if I were to buy a similar conventional sectional sofa.

I spent $850 for a full sofa with a double chaise lounge. The sofa has a hard wood frame, removable dry-clean only cover, memory foam cushions, and a ten year warranty to boot. The shape is very square, but everything from the cushions to the armrests are covered in a body contouring memory foam. I think my favorite feature of the sofa is the fact I can add or subtract pieces as my living situation changes. If I want to add another chaise, I can. At the same time, I can also separate the chaise from the Sofa when I feel the need for a change.

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