Month: April 2019


How to Select and Protect Pet-Friendly Furniture and Décor

According to the results of a recent survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, approximately 85 million families in the United States own at least one pet. This fact suggests that nearly two-thirds of American households include an animal of some type. Perhaps not surprisingly, the most common animals found in people’s homes are cats and dogs. For most pet owners, these lovable furry critters occupy their hearts and minds as well as their furniture.

Fortunately, if you’re part of the majority and have a pet in your home, there are several things you can do to keep your furniture in good shape. Here are a few simple tips for selecting and maintaining pet-friendly home furnishings:


Keep Fabric in Mind

Upholstery fabric is the most important thing to consider when deciding on a piece of furniture for your pet-friendly home. In addition to avoiding pet-hair magnets such as chenille and velvet, look for stain-resistant fabrics and those that can hold up to some wear and tear.

Although it costs a bit more than other options, leather is an excellent investment for pet owners because it is durable and easy to clean. Synthetic alternatives such as microfiber, microsuede, and Crypton are also tough and simple to maintain.



Use Colors and Patterns to Your Advantage

Along with considering a fabric’s strength and care requirements, pet owners should keep color and overall design in mind when choosing furniture for their home. It may sound somewhat strange, but matching the color of a sofa or chair with that of your furry friend may be a good idea. Doing so can help hide pet hair and keep you from having to constantly vacuum or wipe down your furniture. This is particularly helpful if your dog or cat has solid white or black fur, which is very noticeable on contrasting colors.

Opting for complex or multicolored patterns may also cut down on the headaches associated with keeping your furniture looking clean and hair-free. In addition to camouflaging hair, patterned furniture can hide stains that you’re unable to remove. Blocks of patterns can also conceal small areas of damage your pet has caused.


Think Durability

It’s important for pet owners to look beyond the upholstery to evaluate a piece of furniture’s overall durability. A sturdy couch or chair will hold up over time to rowdy dogs, frisky cats, and careless family members and guests. You may also want to choose wooden or metallic legs over pieces with fabric skirting, which can rip and tear quickly in a home with animals.

The importance of finding durable pieces also extends to your home’s accessories. Be sure to look for sturdy coffee tables and end tables that won’t easily tip over if they’re bumped or jumped on. It’s also a good idea to keep vases, knickknacks, lamps, and other breakable items off of surfaces within reach of a curious cat’s paws or an excited pup’s wagging tail.


Get Prepared to Clean

Regardless of how prepared and careful you are, accidents are bound to happen in a home with pets. If you’ve purchased pieces with the right upholstery, the stains and damage will be kept to a minimum, but you’re still going to have to clean up from time to time. You’ll want to soak up liquid messes as soon as you notice them. Be sure to blot rather than rub to help remove as much of the liquid as possible without damaging fabric fibers or spreading the mess.


You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with upholstery fabric cleaning codes. These tell you which types of cleaners can be used on the product. For pieces that haven’t been reupholstered, these codes are typically found on the furniture tag.

Some of the basic codes include Code W, which calls for water-based cleaners, and Code S, which indicates that the piece must be cleaned with dry solvents. A “W/S” code means that you can clean with both water-based and dry solvents, and an “X” code means that only vacuuming should be used. Regardless of the code, be sure to pre-test all cleaning products in an inconspicuous area before proceeding with the cleaning process.


Don’t Forget the Small Stuff

In a home with pets, you can take steps to keep your animals happy and your furniture protected. Slipcovers are always an option, but you can also deter animals from hopping on your favorite sofa by adding a few throw pillows to the piece. Another way to keep animals out of certain areas is to use ottomans and other small furniture items as blockers. This is a good idea around areas with nice rugs, hard-to-clean furniture, or breakable décor.

Finally, if you really want to keep animals off your furniture, get them their own. Investing in a comfortable pet bed that can be placed where your animal can see or be near their favorite human will go a long way toward protecting your favorite furniture.


3 of the Top Technology Trends to Watch for in Furniture Retail

The global furniture market has been experiencing continual growth in recent years. The latest projections indicate that this growth isn’t stopping anytime soon. In fact, a 2018 report from Zion Market Research predicts that the market will experience a 5.2 percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years to reach a valuation of approximately $472.3 billion by 2024.

Among the important factors helping to drive growth in the industry are several tech trends that increase consumer engagement and improve the overall shopping experience. Here’s an overview of three technology trends to watch for in furniture retail:


  1. Increased Mobile Payment Optimization

With the number of smartphone users expected to exceed 5 billion in 2019, the rise of mobile is now one of the most widespread tech trends affecting the human experience. Seemingly everyone is tied to their devices. Mobile technology is now used for everything from socializing and catching up with the news to streaming entertainment content and shopping for the latest retail products.

While savvy retailers have no doubt already optimized their websites for mobile, consumers are starting to use their devices for more than just browsing. Now, more people than ever are turning their phones and wearable devices into convenient mobile wallets.

online shopping

Millennials and members of Generation Z are the biggest groups behind the smart-payment trend, but it isn’t limited to younger consumers. Recent research shows that a significant percentage of consumers across all age groups either already uses or is interested in using mobile payment applications on their devices. Additionally, since the first apps of this kind were launched around 2014, the number of users has steadily increased.

By 2022, estimates predict that the total transaction value of mobile app payments worldwide will reach almost $14 trillion. This will represent nearly a sevenfold increase from 2016. It seems that now is the time for furniture retailers who haven’t done so already to get on board with the mobile wallet trend and start offering smart-payment options in their stores.


  1. 3D Visualization Tools

While their full potential has yet to be realized, augmented reality and virtual reality are two emerging technologies that are particularly well-suited for the world of furniture retail. These 3D visualization tools give consumers the ability to place a virtual model of a piece of furniture in a real room. This can help potential furniture buyers see how a product would fit in their home alongside their other furniture and décor items.

With the ability to view a product from all angles in their own living spaces without having to step into a physical store, consumers are more likely to make a purchase. In fact, retailers that have offered 3D visualization tools have experienced both an increase in sales and a decrease in returns.

Even though the tech is becoming more common, however, it’s important to note that both augmented reality and virtual reality are still in the early phases. In the world of home furnishings, the list of companies that are already taking advantage of the technology includes retailers like Ashley Furniture. Consumers can expect more companies to get on board as the technology improves and becomes less expensive to adopt.


  1. Growth of Digital Merchandising and the “Endless Aisle”

Tools supporting 3D visualization are definitely big right now. However, they are just a part of a larger trend to drive consumer engagement through digital merchandising. It likely goes without saying, but more consumers than ever are now browsing for and purchasing products online. Still, even the most connected consumers crave multiple options, including having the ability to buy the items they see online in a local store.

Creating a seamless customer experience in today’s retail environment requires an omnichannel approach that blends both digital and physical merchandising. This is particularly true in the world of furniture retail, which still relies heavily on brick-and-mortar transactions. Going forward, consumers can expect to see more blurring of online-offline boundaries as retailers leverage more digital merchandising and concepts such as the “endless aisle” to provide a better retail experience.


The term “endless aisle” refers to a strategy that gives retailers the ability to essentially extend their in-store shelves. This is accomplished with the help of digital tools such as interactive kiosks and tablets. The strategy offers numerous benefits.

First, it gives stores the ability to showcase their entire product selection without having to carry each item at all of their physical locations. It also gives customers the option of browsing through products and their variations in-store while they wait for assistance from a sales associate.

Perhaps most importantly, the endless aisle creates a more engaging shopping experience for consumers. It also prevents them from turning to another retailer because they can’t find a certain product in-store.

Combining digital tools with support from a knowledgeable sales team also increases customer loyalty, which results in more sales. Endless aisle technology may be relatively new, but it is likely to play a big role in retail going forward thanks to the benefits it provides for both retailers and consumers.


Reclining Furniture – A Look at the Latest Features and Trends

The recliner is a longtime favorite among people who value comfort in their homes. Over the years, this beloved piece of furniture has advanced with the times to include many features that previous generations would have never considered.

Today’s consumers can also find recliners in a wide variety of styles, fabrics, and sizes to fit any home, budget, and design scheme. Additionally, multi-seater reclining sofas are becoming increasingly popular as more people look to boost the comfort level in their homes and commercial spaces such as theaters, auditoriums, and office reception areas. If you’re in the market for new reclining furniture, check out the following features and trends that are driving this area of furniture retail.


Current Trends

According to a recent Consumer Trends Buying Survey from Furniture Today, casual styles of reclining chairs are the most readily available in furniture stores. In 2017, these styles accounted for nearly 40 percent of all the reclining units on showroom floors. Among the styles, those selling at middle ($500 to $899) and low price points (below $499) are the most popular. Furniture Today’s survey also revealed that while leather is the most popular covering for recliners, a variety of fabrics are available, including faux leather, vinyl, and polyurethane. Recently, “green” fabrics have also significantly increased in popularity because more consumers are looking for sustainable furniture options.

In the area of reclining sofas, recent research from Technavio shows that increasing demand from younger consumers, particularly millennials, is driving the market. These and other consumer groups are turning more frequently to private-label and niche furniture brands for their reclining furniture. However, well-established retailers such as Ashley HomeStores are still playing a major role in connecting consumers with these furniture styles. In fact, the increasing demand for reclining sofas is driving retailers of all sizes to expand their product offerings in this area.


Available Features

As is the case with other areas of life, technology is finding its way into the furniture that people use each day. This is quite evident in the latest features that you will find in reclining furniture of all styles and sizes. Along with the classic comfort that recliners offer, today’s consumers can now enjoy phone chargers, LED lights, full-body massagers, and Bluetooth capability built into their recliners. Even lower-end reclining pieces are receiving a boost from more subtle features such as power-activated footrests and headrests.



Types of Recliners

As far as basic styles are concerned, the reclining furniture market is certainly not limited. Furniture stores carry a wide variety of traditional recliners with plush padding and an overstuffed look alongside sleek and contemporary pieces with sharp lines and angular edges. Other popular styles are more transitional. These options work well in both classic design schemes and contemporary spaces. Timeless styles that are still widely available include club chair and high-leg recliners, which offer a reclining feature without the recliner look.

In addition to a range of styles, recliners offer several options when it comes to the types of reclining mechanisms they use. One of the main options is the pushback recliner, which you can recline by pushing on the chair’s back while holding the arms. Other recliners have a mechanical handle, lever, or pull-loop to activate the reclining mechanism. In most cases, these options feature two positions: upright and fully reclined.

Along with basic power recliners that recline with the touch of a button, there are also fully automated power chairs available that both recline and lift. Many of these offer several reclining positions, as well as a rising mechanism that enables a person to get on their feet safely and easily. This option, which is typically referred to as a riser recliner, is most well-suited for individuals with mobility issues. While they can be pricey, riser recliners may qualify for rebates if they’re purchased for medical reasons.


Purchasing Considerations

If you’re ready to purchase a new piece of reclining furniture, there are several things to consider. Once you’ve established your preferred style, your next step should be to evaluate how much space you have for your new furniture. Be sure to account for the space you’ll need when the piece is fully reclined. You’ll want one that you can recline without making it difficult for others to move throughout the room. Also, whether it’s a reclining chair or sofa, you need to make sure that you have enough space in the back to recline without bumping into walls or other furniture.

Other important considerations to keep in mind are the materials used to build the recliner. In many cases, reclining pieces are among the most popular furniture items in a home. Because of this, it’s important to select a piece that is durable and resistant to staining. Leather and microfiber are both good covering options for durability and stain resistance. It’s also a good idea to opt for reclining furniture with high-density foam cushions, which will hold their shape under frequent use.

Of course, before making a purchase, you should be sure to try out the piece out in both the upright and reclining positions. The best recliners will be sturdy and comfortable and feature easy-to-use reclining mechanisms with smooth action.