Month: October 2018

furniture

What to Know about Sofa Design – A Look at 9 Popular Styles

Few pieces of furniture can affect the look and feel of a living space as much as a sofa. As a favorite spot to socialize, entertain, and relax, it gets a lot of use and is often a focal point of many design schemes.

The earliest sofas were little more than wooden benches. However, over the years, advances in materials, design, and construction led to much more comfortable furniture pieces suitable for an extended Netflix binge.

Today, the sofa, which many people prefer to call a couch, is available in a wide range of styles, sizes, and configurations. Finding one that fits your family’s needs and complements the overall look of your living space can be delete a challenge.

Fortunately, taking a few minutes to learn a little more about the available styles can help make the task a whole lot easier. Here’s a closer look at some of the most common sofa options:

 

  1. Chaise Lounge

As one of the oldest sofa styles, the chaise lounge dates back thousands of years. In fact, it was commonly used in ancient times by Egyptian pharaohs and upper-class Greeks and Romans. The style continues to be popular today.

A chaise lounge can be a great addition to any living room, but it is also suitable for other areas of the home, including a master bedroom suite. With its elongated, reclining design, it is also a popular patio furniture item.

 

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  1. Camelback

Named for its characteristic hump-shaped backrest, the camelback sofa also traditionally features exposed wooden legs, scrolled arms, and elegant upholstery. This option has an antique look that is ideal for traditional or formal spaces. Pairing a camelback sofa with a chaise lounge is the perfect way to add some regal elegance to any room.

 

  1. Chesterfield

The Chesterfield sofa is known for its classic design featuring deep button-tufting and high rolled arms. Most often, these sofas are fashioned out of leather, but the style also works well with other materials.

First created in the 1700s for the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, the sofa was traditionally found in gentlemen’s clubs and libraries. Nowadays, a Chesterfield is a great option for those striving to add a time-honored look to any space.

 

  1. Tuxedo

Like the formal suit of the same name, the tuxedo sofa is simultaneously timeless and modern. The style is similar to the Chesterfield in that it typically features tufted elements and exposed legs. The tuxedo sofa also features the Chesterfield’s high arms, but instead of being rolled, they are usually square shaped.

With their boxy design and straight backrests, tuxedos aren’t the most comfortable sofas available. The sleek, clean lines, however, make them perfect for modern spaces, and a few stylish throw pillows can help boost a tuxedo sofa’s comfort level.

 

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Image courtesy erin williamson | Flickr

 

  1. English Roll Arm

A more casual option than the Chesterfield, the English roll arm sofa has low, rolled arms and loose seat cushions. The design is loved for its comfort and timeless style that works well alongside a variety of home décor. Regardless of whether a space is traditional or modern, the sophisticated silhouette of the English roll arm will likely complement the look.

 

  1. Lawson

The signature features of the Lawson-style sofa are its back pillows and seat cushions that sit separate from the frame. The loose pillows and cushions create a softer and more comfortable piece of furniture that is perfect for lounging. The Lawson-style sofa has become an American favorite over the years, and it’s probably what most people picture in their heads when they hear the word “couch.”

 

  1. Mid-Century Modern

While the name may sound complicated, the mid-century modern sofa features a straightforward design defined by clean lines and a minimalistic, streamlined look. The style was popular from the 1940s until the 1970s. It recently made a comeback thanks in part to the TV series Mad Men. These sofas work equally well in both minimalist and eclectic homes with a modern aesthetic.

 

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  1. Sectional

Designed to seat the whole family, the sectional sofa first became popular in the mid-20th century, but the style dates back to the Victorian era. Today, sectionals are most commonly configured in either an L-shape or U-shape. Both configurations are great for entertaining and can be found in a wide variety of materials and design styles.

 

  1. Sleeper Sofa

If you’re looking for a piece of furniture that plays double duty, the sleeper sofa is for you. Since the first modern sleeper was invented in the 1930s, many other types have hit the market. In addition to a traditional pullout sofa bed, you can find convertible sleepers, futons, daybeds, and even bunkbed sleepers.

The technology has also come a long way over the years. Today, the sleeper sofa is a great option for those who often host overnight guests or need a space-saving solution in a cramped apartment.

 

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living-room

What Will the Future of Furniture Retail Look Like?

furnitureOver the last 10 to 15 years, many retailers in the United States have experienced some ups and downs due to fluctuations in the economy and changes in consumers’ buying habits. These and other factors have undoubtedly affected the world of furniture retail, but the US home furnishings market is now enjoying a fair amount of growth. Thanks in large part to a healthy housing market, sales of furniture and home furnishings have steadily increased since 2013. With spending on furniture and bedding up 3.3 percent in 2017, retailers can be optimistic about the future of the home furnishings market, which is projected to continue growing at least through 2019.

While continued market growth is good news for furniture retailers, now is not the time to be complacent. Consumers are changing their habits, finding new ways to research and purchase goods, so marketing and sales strategies need to change as well. At the same time, some traditional ways of reaching customers are still working. Knowing how to adapt while sticking with the things that continue to work will be the key to success in the future of furniture retail.

 

Brick & mortar holds steady

While online furniture sales have increased dramatically since the 2000s, brick-and-mortar stores still dominate. Unlike other product categories such as music and videos, electronics, and home décor, online penetration into the furniture market remains relatively low. In fact, online sales in the $125 billion furniture industry only represent 5 percent to 6 percent of retail.

The relatively small success of online furniture sales can be attributed to a few factors. First, furniture is a hard sell online and, without massive local fulfillment solutions, large furniture items are very expensive to ship. E-commerce giants like Wayfair and Amazon may have success selling lamps and other small home furnishings, but these sales are having little impact on brick-and-mortar furniture businesses, which continue to thrive by selling larger, pricier items like chairs, sofas, and sectionals.

 

kitchen furniture

 

Retailers boost their presence online

Though brick-and-mortar stores have the advantage over many online players, online retailing can offer traditional furniture businesses plenty of opportunities to boost sales and reach more customers. Savvy retailers know this and have already adapted their business plans to include more online technology.

Boosting their business’ online presence through websites and social media gives retailers the opportunity to improve customer engagement and remote sales while strengthening their brick-and-mortar strategy. In today’s Internet-driven world, studies have shown that as much as 75 percent of consumers research products online prior to visiting a physical store to make a purchase. The fact that online marketing and merchandising essentially drive customers to a store’s doorstep is not going unnoticed. In the future of furniture retail, businesses that effectively retool their strategies to balance their online presence with a great in-store experience will continue to find the most success.

 

Technology supports a better shopping experience

Along with maintaining a presence online, furniture retailers are working to improve the overall customer experience by embracing established and emerging technologies, including mobile-friendly apps and websites. As an increasing number of people use their mobile devices to browse for and purchase various items, planning customer-engagement strategies with mobility in mind is now more important than ever. Many retailers are also beginning to utilize mobile devices in stores to help sales associates better serve their customers.

Augmented reality (AR) is a newer technology that is particularly suited for the furniture industry. AR gives consumers the ability to virtually see how an item will look in their home next to their other existing furniture, which can help to reduce hesitation over purchasing big-ticket items. AR features can be incorporated into websites, apps, or self-service digital kiosks (which are part of another growing area of in-store technology).

 

furniture

 

Manufacturing adapts to changing lifestyles

As retailers adapt to changing sales and marketing strategies, furniture manufacturers are taking new approaches to furniture design. Lifestyle trends among millennials, generation Xers, and baby boomers have spurred furniture manufacturers to begin diversifying their product offerings to better meet the needs of each group.

Unlike the typical furniture shopper of previous generations, more consumers today value affordability over durability. Instead of buying high-dollar pieces that will last 20 years or more, most people, especially millennials, are looking for more cost-effective furniture that they can use for a few years before moving on to something else.

A growing interest in sustainability issues and the increased use of technology among millennials and other consumer groups are also leading manufacturers to design and produce environmental- and tech-friendly pieces. Other consumer segments making an impact on furniture manufacturing include the increasing number of renters and single-person households. These groups are more likely to demand furniture that is affordable, space saving, and multifunctional.

interior

How to Easily Break up Your Open Living Space

A relatively new trend in residential construction and design, the open floor plan started to catch on in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century. Prior to the 1950s, most American homes featured a much more divided layout dominated by smaller spaces and a main hallway connecting them. In this traditional floor plan, the kitchen was typically located in the rear of the home. This is because it was viewed as a utilitarian space that was off-limits to guests.

Today’s open-plan concept, which started growing in popularity around the 1990s, brought the kitchen into the center of the home alongside the dining room and living room. The merging of these three areas creates an open, casual living space that is great for entertaining and socializing as a family.

While an open floor plan comes with several advantages, it is certainly not without its drawbacks. In addition to largely eliminating private living spaces, an open layout can appear cluttered and be more difficult to keep clean.

Combining the kitchen, dining room, and living room into one shared space also leads to design challenges. Without physical separation, an open floor plan can look and feel a bit chaotic. Fortunately, creating clearly defined spaces can be quite simple with a little creativity and the right furniture and design elements. Here’s how to do it:

 

furniture

 

Embrace Symmetry

When separating areas in an open-space layout, it’s wise to start by creating a balanced look using your largest furniture pieces. The classic living room design featuring two matching sofas facing each other is perfect for open floor plans because it uses symmetry to clearly define the space. Complementing the area with a large dining room table and matching chairs adds to the design while enhancing functionality.

Alongside the large furniture pieces, you can create even more symmetrical definition by adding matching chairs and paired-up accessories such as lamps, mirrors, and framed art. Be sure to avoid cluttering the area and don’t hinder the traffic flow from one living space to the next.

 

Use Rugs to Establish Conversation Spaces

In an open floor plan, rugs can be your best friend. In addition to complementing your layout, area rugs are the ideal solution for demarcating conversation spaces while also adding warmth and character to what could otherwise be a large, empty, and cold area. Rugs also guide foot traffic and create subtle visual boundaries that don’t interfere with eye-level design elements.

When using multiple rugs in an open living space, you can opt for matching pieces or go with a more eclectic layout by mixing colors, patterns, and textures. Don’t forget to carefully consider the look of your furniture and the overall design scheme of the room when deciding which rug(s) will work best in the space.

 

Choose Color Wisely

An open layout gives you the opportunity to use color in creative ways. Color can be used for two distinct purposes: to create a cohesive look or establish clearly defined spaces. If you’re looking to create definition with color, don’t be afraid to go bold with colorful accent walls, furniture, and accessories. You can tie everything together with a unifying neutral background that flows from one area to the next.

If you find it difficult to determine when to start and stop applying color, you can instead choose to keep all walls and architectural elements the same hue. Another option is the tone-on-tone approach. This enables you to add subtle contrasts while sticking with a coherent color palette.

furniture

 

Invest in Open Shelving and Room Dividers

Room dividers provide an easy solution for those who want to break up their open living area. While products such as folding screens and curtains can be used for this purpose, you can get creative without comprising the overall flow of the space. Consider using open shelving and other see-through storage solutions to define a room’s boundaries while preventing the area from feeling too closed in.

Other clever options include multipurpose partitions that double as a space for planters. For added texture and character, use see-through wooden partitions with striking geometric patterns. Whatever the style, it’s always a good idea to choose freestanding dividers that can be moved as needed.

 

Don’t Cut Corners

One of the best things about an open floor plan is that it gives you the option to divide the living area as you see fit. When delineating the space, don’t overlook the corners because they can be used in a variety of ways. If your great room’s current layout seems lacking, consider creating a cozy corner reading nook or perpendicular dining area.

A corner can also provide a small conversation space or study area. Even if your corners can’t be used for these purposes, try to get the most out of the space by adding shelves, artwork, or extra storage to often-overlooked corner areas.

business

Traditional Marketing Actually Matters in the New Digital Age

While it’s important for today’s furniture retailers to market via social media and other digital channels, doing so should not come at the expense of traditional marketing efforts. Of course, most prospective customers are spending a significant amount of time online, but they are still reading the newspaper, watching television, and tuning into the radio. In fact, the average person spends 112 minutes each day listening to the radio and five hours each day in front of the TV. Also, while online and satellite radio services are increasingly popular, more than 90 percent of Americans still listen to AM/FM stations and all of the advertising they broadcast.

People are also exposed to visual advertising each day when they drive past billboards on their way to work and return home to find flyers and brochures in their mailboxes. It’s true that the ways people consume information have changed, but the types of advertising and promotion that worked prior to the digital age are still effective at spreading a brand’s message among potential customers. The fact that radio, television, and print media remain an integral part of most people’s daily routines is exactly why furniture retailers should continue to include these channels in their marketing campaigns. Read on to learn more about traditional marketing methods and find out how you can make them work for your business.

 

Traditional Marketing Channels for Furniture Retailers

Direct mail and printed ads—In a largely brick-and-mortar industry like furniture retail, direct mail can be very effective at generating sales. This is particularly true of small retailers that rely on local customers to remain in business. Flyers, brochures, and even postcards are especially useful for advertising in-store events and other special offers.

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Direct mail is also perfect for delivering coupons, which are great tools for getting customers into a store. In a recent survey of furniture shoppers, 70 percent of respondents said that a coupon or ad delivered to their mailbox had led them to take action on a purchase within the last year.

While the main goal of direct mail campaigns is to increase store traffic, they also work for retailers looking to simply boost their brand awareness. In fact, studies have shown that brand recall is much higher among those who received direct mailers as opposed to digital advertisements sent via email.

 

Outdoor advertising—Falling under the category of out-of-home (OOH) advertising, billboards are common, hard-to-miss sights along highways and freeways across the United States. Like direct mail, billboards are strongly effective at promoting brand recall among those who notice them, and they are great tools for advertising sales, new product lines, and store grand openings.

Advancements in digital technology have led to billboards with giant LED screens that bring an advertising message to life using vivid colors and eye-catching movement. It’s also important to note that OOH advertising isn’t limited to billboards. To promote their store, furniture retailers can also use smaller signage on bus benches, public transport, and vehicles.

 

Radio and TV spots—Although radio and television advertisements are more expensive than other traditional marketing channels, they are also among the most effective. Retailers on a budget may want to forgo the TV commercials and opt instead for a radio ad, which is a more affordable option that still has the ability to reach a large number of people. While the exact figure varies among industries, radio advertisements have the ability to generate up to $17 in revenue for every dollar spent on the ad.

Despite the expense, the main benefit of advertising on television is that it gives retailers the ability to use sight, sound, and motion to showcase their products while attaching personality to their business. Consumers also trust TV commercials more than other forms of advertising, which is great for retailers looking to build credibility in their community.

 

Tips to Consider

Now that you know about the traditional marketing channels available to furniture retailers, how can you use them to spread your business’ message? Here are a few quick tips for creating an effective advertising campaign:

post office

 

  1. Target the right audience.

For direct mail campaigns, it’s important for retailers to understand their customer demographics and find ways to target those who will most likely come into their stores. Tools like the U.S. Post Office’s Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program can be helpful in accomplishing this goal.

 

  1. Run multiple advertisements.

Whether it’s in a newspaper, on the radio, or on TV, a single advertisement alone isn’t very effective at attracting new customers. Running different ads simultaneously in several formats or running the same ad for an extended period will do a better job of boosting business awareness.

 

  1. Be creative.

Just because they’re labeled “traditional” doesn’t mean that billboard, print, radio, and TV ads should hold back on the creativity. Advertisements with eye-catching logos and designs, and well-crafted photos, videos, and ad copy will attract more attention and potentially more business.

 

  1. Reach out to the community.

Along with using creativity in the content of their advertisements, furniture retailers should be creative in the other ways they communicate their brand locally. Donating products for local contests and raffles or sponsoring sports teams, community groups, and/or events offers retailers the opportunity to fulfill marketing objectives while showing potential customers they are committed to their community.

pinterest

What You Should Know about Using Pinterest for Social Marketing

In the world of retail marketing, visual content is just as important as written content. In fact, it’s often more important. This is particularly true for product categories such as furniture. Next to the fashion and beauty industries, few areas of retail rely more on visual presentation to connect with consumers than home furnishings.

Within brick-and-mortar furniture stores, retailers use thoughtful visual merchandising to highlight each product’s best features and demonstrate how customers can use the items on the showroom floor in their own living spaces. Outside of physical stores, furniture retailers leverage visual advertising to draw customers into their shops. Despite the fact that many furniture retailers understand the important role that visual presentation plays in their advertising efforts, many are missing a great opportunity to spread their message even further through social media.

While almost all social media platforms support photo and video posts, few are as visually focused as Pinterest. And now that many consumers are actively using Pinterest to search for products and ideas, all furniture retailers should be thinking of ways to reach out to potential customers via the platform. Those who do so will find that Pinterest can be an ideal tool for showcasing their product offerings.

 

pinterest

 

Why Furniture Retailers Should Take Pinterest Seriously

Within the last several years, Pinterest has become one of the largest and fastest-growing social networks. The platform has over 200 million active monthly users. The visual nature of Pinterest has made it the go-to network for users to share and discover new interests. Through new features such as visual search and in-app purchases, the platform is also quickly becoming a preferred shopping tool for many social media users, including a large number of millennials who are on Pinterest more than any other age group. According to recent statistics, Pinterest is the top shopping platform among millennials. Over 55 percent of all Pinterest users turn to the site to buy various items.

Even those who do not use the platform to directly buy products use it to plan purchases. In fact, a recent study found that 93 percent of people in the Pinterest community have used “pins” to plan purchases, and 87 percent reported that Pinterest pins have played a major role when they made purchasing decisions. What’s important for furniture retailers to note is that among the various topics available to browse on Pinterest, home decor is one of the most popular. People are now on Pinterest to not only find decorating and design ideas, but to also browse for and buy home decor products, including furniture.

 

Tips for Using Pinterest as a Marketing Tool

The good news for furniture retailers who are just getting started on Pinterest is that the platform is very easy to use. It has many of the same sharing and community-engagement features of other social networks. However, marketing on Pinterest requires a somewhat different approach than on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Following are few tips for retailers to consider.

 

  • Create a visual experience.

Anyone who has been on Pinterest knows that it is full of visual content. Furniture brands and retailers looking to make a marketing impact on the platform should focus on creating a visual experience with pins containing high-quality product photos. In addition to photos of the products themselves, it is also a good idea to pin “lifestyle” pictures that show products in a naturalistic home decor setting. These types of photos will also help users to find product photos via Pinterest’s visual search function, which supports approximately 600 million visual searches each month.

 

  • Don’t forget about searchable keywords.

Unlike other social media platforms, Pinterest is a powerful search engine that handles more than 2 billion searches on a monthly basis. A large number of Pinterest users even prefer the platform to traditional search engines such as Google. With so many people using the network to search for products and ideas, it’s critical for retailers to include keyword-focused pin descriptions alongside their product photos. Searchable descriptions should include trending keywords related to the featured product’s style and design, material, and/or function. It’s still important, however, to keep descriptions short and let the photos speak for themselves.

 

  • Use Pinterest’s specialized pins.

Pinterest offers several solutions for retailers to promote their products and drive traffic to their store website. The solutions include Promoted Pins, which are essentially paid Pinterest advertisements. According to Pinterest, over 60 percent of users have discovered new products or made purchases after seeing a Promoted Pin. Additionally, Pinterest reports that over 70 percent of users have said that Promoted Pins and other business content make the platform more helpful. Along with promoted advertising, retailers can take advantage of Rich Pins, which provide more context about a product, and Buyable Pins, which enable users to purchase products directly through the Pinterest page.