The Joy of Functional Spaces (and there is no place like home)

Arun Kumar
5 min readMay 21, 2022


Arun Kumar

Photo by Nathan Oakley on Unsplash

Every five minutes I squirm around but don’t seem to get comfortable. The depth of the sofa is 25”, and for short people like me, legs dangle in the air. I feel like a child living in spaces made for adults.

A Gulliver in the land of Giants. I am at a friend’s house, but they definitely are not the Giants. My hosts also have the same build as mine.

When traveling and staying in hotels or enjoying the hospitality in the home of a kindred soul, the contour of spaces sometimes do not conform with the curves of my body. When away from home, occasionally finding functional spaces that invite the body to sink in, relax, and give an audible sigh of relief, comes as a pleasant surprise.

Functional spaces (or the spaces that are functional) that bring the comfort and safety of a mother’s womb, are a precious gift, and a sense of well-being, to strive for.

At home, when I get up in the morning and have my first cup of Earl Grey, things around me magically morph to fit my mind and body. The size of the teacup, and its shape, is just right for my palms to wrap around and feel the pleasant warmth on cold wintery mornings. The sofa chair I sit on is just right for the length of my legs as my back sinks in the comfort of its cushions. Sitting next to me is a side table within easy reach to place the teacup.

It all feels just perfect as if over the millions of years, evolution has shaped everything to fit flawlessly.

I am reminded of all this while staying in someone’s place when after a few days I start to miss the comforts of home. The hosts are wonderful and loving people and I have always enjoyed their company. Their set up of living spaces, however, leaves something to be desired, at least for me.

Our hosts are my height and while sitting on the end of the sofa, their feet dangle in the midair also. Their work around to regain some sense of comfort is to put another cushion behind their back to prop themselves forward. It is something that just does not work for me.

In the morning right away I miss not having a side table. It feels irksome having to lean forward and put the cup back on the coffee table (which is heavy enough that it cannot be dragged easily on the wooden floor without being in the danger of leaving marks).

After a short break, I lean forward again to pick up the teacup, take a couple of sips and lean forward to put it back on the table. The cycle of discomfort repeats.

Later comes suppertime and we sit on a dining table with highchairs, and I am reminded of the same discomfort that started the day. My feet dangle in the air, the slates on the wooden chair, and gaps between them, do not please my derriere. The chair and my bottom are locked in a silent tug of war to find the sweet spot.

The story, in different contexts, repeats throughout the day. After a while I start to think, are they doing this because they are falling prey to their desire to conform with the current home furnishings trends, or they just have some masochistic desires that I never learned about. If it is the latter, I should lock the door at the end of the day when I step into the bed.

By the way, to get into the bed makes me wish I had brought my step ladder so I can climb into bed without the fear of falling. The height of the bed can make Mount Kilimanjaro envious.

A stack of old issues of Architectural Digest on the coffee table makes me think that the real reason their home does not feel like a functional space is that they have succumbed to the disinfected norms of magazine living, and what they see repeated in the houses of their friends. And since it sells, similar sofas stock the floor space in the furniture stores, while to find comfort, you have to hunt online stores.

My friends fell prey to living by other people’s rules. In the end, everyone is following one another and lives in a background of conformal discomfort.

When nature calls, it is time for head for the toilet and I immediately miss the trust of my squatty potty, and afterwards, the cleanliness of using the bidet, My bowel movement is not a happy song as they generally are, and my derriere, once again, makes a pouty face (at least, I think it does).

Interestingly, I note how many aspects of a functional space are connected with my bottom. It makes sense, almost all day we are using its support in one way or another. I am also reminded of the story I read long ago about different body parts arguing who is more important. The bowel says to the heart, the liver etc. that if I stop functioning properly then, you all, my dears, will be down on your knees. Or maybe it actually was a story about an anal boss and my memory is playing a trick.

Oh well, enough about the derriere. I know thy comfort is important and I bow to your wishes.

Slowly hours tick by and during pleasant conversations and a wonderful meal, I keep shifting myself to try to fit contours of my body to the shapes it is presented and find some comfort. I am not succeeding too well.

I begin to daydream that inanimate objects around me are slowly morphing and molding to fit the shapes of my body, and with a deep sigh of comfort, I sink into their embrace.

Now I know what it means to say that there is no place like home. Home is a long evolution towards perfecting our functional space. And it is to that space that after some time being in travels, we wish to return to, particularly, as you get older, and aches and pains grace us easily.

I wish everyone the joy of functional places. Life is too short to spend shifting around constantly on the sofa trying to find the sweet spot that is not there.

Next time when you are at the airport and you see someone standing at the airline counter checking in a side table, a squatty potty, and a bidet, come and say hello. That will be me.