dinner-table

How to Choose the Perfect Dining Set

Whether you’re planning a special holiday dinner or simply looking to update your dining area, shopping for a new dining table and chairs can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared for the many options that you’ll find at your local furniture store. Even though formal dining rooms have fallen out of fashion, most modern homes have space set aside for enjoying a meal with family and friends, and you’ll want yours to meet certain needs while reflecting your personal style. Read on to find out how you can ensure that you purchase the right dining set for your home.


Determine the Proper Size

Before you do anything else, you need to ensure that you buy a dining set that will fit in your dining area. If necessary, pull out a measuring tape and measure both the length and width of the space. When taking these measurements, it’s important to remember that you’ll need ample room around the table so that everyone can sit comfortably and easily get in and out of their chairs without bumping into their neighbors.

Most designers suggest that you maintain a minimum of 3 feet of space between the wall and each side of the table. You should also provide 2 feet of space at each place setting to prevent diners from bumping into each other’s elbows while they’re eating. This means you’ll have to account for how many people will be using the table at any given time to ensure that you get one that is right for your needs.

In addition to calculating the length and width of your table, you need to consider the height. The standard dining table height is around 29 or 30 inches, but you may want something a bit taller or shorter to accommodate different types of chairs and to fit in with the other decor. Keep in mind, however, that you may be limited in terms of the shape and design if you opt for something other than the standard table height.

 

dining set

 

Think about Shape

Size isn’t the only consideration that factors into creating a comfortable dining space. The shape of your table will also play a role. Rectangular tables are definitely the most popular and widely available, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have other options to consider. In a furniture store, you’ll also find round, square, and oval tables.

A long, rectangular table is probably a good idea if you have a large family or enjoy hosting dinner parties. If you’re short on space, but still want a traditional look, consider opting for an oval table. A round table is also an excellent space-saving solution for cozy dining areas. While a square table is probably the least popular option, it can be a great choice for a long, narrow room.

 

Keep Function and Style in Mind

Once you’ve considered the size and shape of your dining set, you need to think about its general function and how it will fit in with your design scheme. Of course, the dining table is primarily used for eating meals, but yours will likely serve other purposes, as well. You might pay bills, complete work projects, or help the kids with their homework at your table, so it’s important to find one that can accommodate your needs. This means carefully considering the size and materials, which will be covered in a moment.

If you’re investing in a new dining set, you’ll certainly want to get one that looks good in your home and aligns with your personal taste. In a modern home, a sleek design is the way to go, but you can choose to add some contrast by opting for a rustic table rich with wooden tones. For an open floor plan, it’s probably best to choose something that will fit in with the rest of the living area without disrupting the flow. When deciding on a style, don’t forget to carefully examine all the components of your dining room set, including the table and chair legs.

 

dinner-table-444797_1280

 

Consider the Materials

Trying to select materials for your dining set will also present you with a number of choices. Picking the right one will depend on your style and budget, as well as your dining space. You’ll also want to choose materials based on your lifestyle and the ways in which your table will be used. If the table is an extension of your living room or family room, for instance, it’s important to choose durable materials that will stand up to a lot of activity.

In addition to solid woods, you can find tables and chairs made of composite wood material covered in veneer. This can provide an affordable alternative for those who want the wood look without the sometimes-hefty price tag. Other materials commonly used in furniture construction include plastic and laminate, as well as a variety of metals, including steel, brass, and zinc. Granite and marble tabletops are also available. Another popular material is glass, which is a great tabletop option if you’re looking to add an open feel to a small room or apartment.

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shopping

How to Host a Great In-Store Event

Today’s furniture retailers are working in a market that is much different than it was just a decade or so ago. With easy access to online shopping via computers and mobile devices, modern consumers are certainly not lacking for options when they want to spend money on a new product. Unlike many other areas of retail, however, the home furnishings industry is still largely driven by brick-and-mortar sales. Furniture retailers looking to stay ahead of the competition must focus on creating a great experience for every customer who walks through their door.

One way to deliver a remarkable experience while boosting your brand is by hosting an in-store event. Fortunately, hosting a successful event at your store doesn’t have to be a headache. Here is some advice to help you on your way:

 

Preparation Tips

 

  1. Plan well in advance

While you shouldn’t let planning an event take over your professional and/or personal life, it is important to take the time needed to put all the necessary moving parts together. It’s best to begin planning at least 90 days beforehand—and don’t forget to set a timeline with attainable goals along the way. During the planning phase, think about the timing of the event and make a list of what you want to accomplish to ensure that you’re successful.

 

  1. Set a budget

Another important part of the planning process involves sorting out your budget so that you do not overspend. After you’ve decided on what to do during the event, carefully calculate the costs of promotional items, marketing materials, staff, and other needs before establishing your budget. Having a budget in place will also help you assess your return on investment after you wrap up the event.

 

  1. Get the word out

You can’t expect people to show up to an event that they don’t hear about. Be sure to focus heavily on marketing and don’t hesitate to use multiple forms of media to get the word out. You can send out invitations to customers via postal mail, e-mail, and social media. Print ads and outdoor advertising are also effective. If possible, you can create more buzz about your event by reaching out to journalists and local media outlets to help share your story.

 

instagram

 

What to Do the Day of the Event

 

  1. Consider offering freebies

Who doesn’t love giveaways? One of the best ways that you can boost attendance at your event is by offering free stuff. Providing free food and drinks is always a good idea, but you can also hand out goody bags with promotional items and discount offers. For an added draw, consider having a prize raffle. If you go this route, be sure to capitalize on your investment by collecting valuable customer info from those who enter.

 

  1. Get out the camera

After going through all the work of planning and hosting an event, it’s important to document the activities via photos and video. If you’re uncomfortable or unskilled behind the camera, consider delegating the task to a staff member or hiring a professional for the job. Don’t forget to get your guests’ permission if you plan to post the photos and videos to social media or your website.

 

  1. Don’t oversell

While the whole point of hosting an in-store event is to boost sales, it’s important to focus on creating a great experience rather than pushing products onto your customers. Give your guests the opportunity to explore your store and browse on their own without you or your staff getting too “salesy.” Those who are thinking about making a purchase during the event will be more likely to do so if they are comfortable and having a good time, so be sure to make that your priority.

 

shopping

 

How to Follow Up

 

  1. Post photos and event highlights

In the days and weeks following your event, keep the buzz going by posting photos, videos, and recaps on your website and social media pages. If any special guests, community groups, or business partners took part in the activities, don’t forget to mention them in your posts. Also, look around for other people sharing info about the event and send them thanks.

 

  1. Send out follow-up offers

As a thank you to those who attended, you can send discount offers via e-mail or traditional mail to any guest whose information you collected during the event. You can also send out a blanket thank you to the community by offering a “second-chance” promotion to those who were unable to attend.

 

  1. Reflect and start planning the next one

Once everything has settled down, gather your staff to discuss what worked and what didn’t. This is also the time to review your goals and see how well you did at achieving them. In addition, it’s important to crunch numbers to evaluate your budget and overall return on investment. With this information in hand, you can refine and improve your strategy for your next in-store event.

ecommerce

Here Are the Top Qualities of an Excellent Retail Website

It should come as no surprise that it’s critical for furniture retailers to have an effective website to be successful in today’s market. The home furnishings industry as a whole has been somewhat slow to embrace certain technologies, but retailers can’t deny the power of the Internet. Maintaining a presence online is now more important than ever as consumers continue to turn to the web to communicate with friends and family, keep up with the news, and connect with all types of businesses.

Whether you’ve just gotten started or your business is already well-established online, there a few things you can do to ensure that you stand out among other retailers on the web.

Read on for some of the top features of a standout website.

 

Effective Design

Design is important for all websites, but those that offer items for purchase need to ensure that the products are the star of the show. Regardless of whether yours is an e-commerce site or not, the focus should be on the sofas, chairs, tables, beds, and other furniture items you offer. Typically, a sleek, simple design is more effective than a layout with a host of effects that may distract from the products.

online shopping

However, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to add some “wow factor” elements that can stimulate consumers visually and draw their eyes to promotions and call-to-actions. The best website designs showcase new and popular products while making it easy for consumers to find and browse the specific items they’re looking for.

 

Simple Navigation

With effective design and layout, navigating through your website should be simple, logical, and intuitive. Prospective customers who are browsing your products online are often in a hurry, and nothing will kill a potential sale more quickly than a frustrating user experience. In fact, studies have shown that over three-quarters of all consumers cite ease of use as the most important characteristic of any website.

On yours, be sure that product categories are clearly labeled, and don’t hesitate to include filters and comparison capabilities to help users narrow down their search. For retailers of daily use products like furniture, it’s also a good idea to feature easy-to-find customer reviews and FAQs that can assist buyers in their purchasing decision.

 

Search Capabilities

Simple navigation will go a long way toward helping your customers find what they’re looking for, but some will still run into trouble locating certain products. This is particularly true of larger sites featuring several product categories that all contain a variety of options. A simple sitewide search function can help customers get right to the product they want without having to wade through multiple links along the way.

In addition to offering site-wide search capabilities, giving site visitors the ability to check the inventory in your brick-and-mortar store is also worth the investment. Often, the main purpose of a furniture retail website is to get shoppers into a physical location. Enabling customers to see what’s in their local showroom can definitely help accomplish this goal. If you offer an inventory look-up function on your website, however, be sure that it is current with accurate pricing and availability information.

 

Eye-Catching Visual Content

You can’t sell anything online without quality photos that clearly and accurately display your product offerings. Text can be effective, but images are what matter most in the modern age. It’s also important to remember that today’s consumers have come to expect multi-media visual content that gives them the ability to see products from multiple angles and in different environments. To make the most of your website, offer several high-resolution photos of each product and make sure they are optimized to reduce page-load times, which plays an important role in keeping consumers engaged.

Along with quality photos, effective websites use animation and other visual content to drive attention and quickly tell a story. Eye-catching logos, menus, and banners can improve engagement even further and keep customers on your site for longer. Partnering with a proven website developer can help you put all of your visual content together most effectively.

 

checkout cart

 

Simple Checkouts

If you give customers the ability to buy items through your website, it’s crucial that you make the checkout process as simple as possible. While maintaining security, avoid over-complicating things with too many steps that can lead users to abandon their shopping cart (which happens with nearly 70 percent of all online transactions). Don’t forget to include an easy-to-find shopping cart icon to help speed up the purchasing process.

It’s also a good idea to offer advanced payment options and ensure that customers know what payment methods you accept before proceeding with their purchase. Of course, credit and debit cards are the most common forms of accepted payment, but you may also consider accepting PayPal, Apple Pay, gift vouchers, cash on delivery, and even bitcoin.

tiny home

How to Make the Most of Your Small Living Area

Whether you reside in an apartment, tiny home, or just an older home with a small living room, furnishing and decorating the space can present a challenge. Finding furniture that will fit in a tight area can be difficult enough, but then you have to tackle the task of arranging items in a way that is inviting, comfortable, and stylish. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an interior designer to turn your apartment or cramped family room into a great living space. With a little creativity and planning, anyone can make the most of every square foot in their home.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Think about the essentials

If you’re tight on space and ready to improve the look and feel of your home, it’s a good idea to start with the essentials. The items you can use will depend on the space, but to make your living area functional, you’ll need a few crucial pieces. You’ll definitely need seating along with some sort of table that can provide a usable surface for you and your guests. Also, don’t forget to think about what type of storage you’ll need in the space. Once you’ve determined what is essential, you can decide on the exact pieces to use and where to put them.

 

tiny home

Image courtesy Inhabitat | Flickr

 

Consider your seating carefully

When furnishing a living area, seating is often the first thing that people think about. For those with a cramped space, the options can seem limited, but that isn’t necessarily the case. It’s all about assessing your needs and then getting creative. Of course, loveseats and smaller sofas are the logical choices, but you don’t have to rule out larger options.

If you need seating for several people or just want ample room to stretch out, it may be possible to bring a sectional into the space. When combined with the right pieces, a sectional that hugs the walls can make a small room feel cozy and inviting rather than crowded and overwhelming. Other options to consider include a sleeper sofa or sofa bed, which are perfect for those who need to optimize every inch of their living area.

 

Invest in multi-functional and flexible pieces

In addition to sleeper sofas, a number of other furniture pieces can save space by serving double duty in your home. Coffee tables with built-in storage or adjustable height may be worth the investment, as are nesting tables that can be “stacked” or fully extended when needed. You can even find couches, chairs, and small accent tables with drawers and compartments for keeping clutter from overwhelming a tiny room.

If you lack the resources to buy new furniture, don’t be afraid to get creative with the pieces you already have. Consider using your dining set for extra seating or putting your desk to work as an accent table. Bookcases and shelving can also double as room dividers in studio apartments and other small combined living areas.

 

Add functionality and personality with accessories

You may have limited space, but that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on the accent pieces. Don’t hesitate to add some personality to the area with rugs, pillows, and ottomans. Instead of table lamps, consider lighting the space with eye-catching floor lamps, which can add visual interest while freeing up surfaces for other items.

Photos, trinkets, and keepsakes can also add life to your small living area. Rather than feeling cluttered, a room that is carefully designed with personal items can feel larger because the eye is drawn into every area of the space.

 

tiny house

Image courtesy Nicolás Boullosa | Flickr

 

Use design to your advantage

While you’re accessorizing, be sure to do so with design in mind. Whenever possible, do your best to use visual tricks to make the space feel larger than it is. Ceiling-to-floor curtains and tall shelving units can elongate the space, while linear prints on an area rug can add width.

Also, consider opting for clear coffee tables and accent furniture with delicate frames to cut down on visual clutter. A classic design trick, strategically placed mirrors reflect light and make a small room feel open and airy.

 

Don’t waste space

This final tip may seem overly obvious, but it is far too easy to underutilize what little space you have. Overlooked areas such as windowsills provide a perfect spot for books, houseplants, and decorative objects. If you need extra storage, look for hidden space in corners and under coffee tables and sofas.

When space is at a premium, it’s also important to think vertically. You can free up more room by opting for stacked storage and using any available wall space for extra shelving. If you want to create a sleek look in your small room, consider the benefits of floating shelves, which give you a spot for books and other items without taking up valuable floor space.

Quick and Easy Tips to Protect and Clean Your Furniture

Furniture can be a significant investment for many families. Picking out the right pieces for your home can also be a time-consuming process. Once you’ve found that perfect table, chair, or sofa, it’s important that you protect it with regular cleaning and care. Your furniture will likely see a lot of use over the years, but you can keep it looking great without too much effort. The following tips will help you do this.

 

General Furniture Care Tips

Regardless of the type of materials your furniture is made of, there are some things you can do to care for any piece. Here are a few general tips to remember:

sofa

 

  1. Read the care label.

Most new furniture, especially upholstered pieces, will include a care label with information on how to clean and maintain the item. If your furniture has one of these labels, read it so that you know how to clean the piece without damaging it.

 

  1. Avoid direct sunlight and heat.

With excessive heat and sunlight, the color of your furniture upholstery can fade, and your wood pieces may dry out and crack. If possible, keep all of your furniture away from heating sources as well as windows. You can also use a window film to protect furniture in brightly lit rooms.

 

  1. Rearrange from time to time.

Moving your furniture regularly is one easy way to keep pieces from being overexposed to heat, sunlight, and other environmental elements. It also gives you a chance to clean in hard-to-reach areas.

 

  1. Lift, don’t drag.

When you move your furniture, be sure to safely lift the item instead of dragging it across the floor. Dragging can break furniture legs, rip upholstery, and damage floor coverings.

 

  1. Protect surfaces.

Using coasters, placemats, and tablecloths is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to protect your furniture. It’s also a good idea to use a protective pad when writing with a ballpoint pen on furniture surfaces.

 

Protecting Wooden Furniture

Wooden furniture is a timeless option that can look great in any design scheme. Most wooden pieces are also durable, but how long they last depends on how you care for them. To keep your furniture woods looking great, follow these tips:

wood furniture

 

  1. You must dust.

Regular dusting keeps wood surfaces shiny and helps avoid the buildup of abrasive material that can cause scratches. Dust every few days or so, and be sure to use a cloth that is soft, dry, and clean.

 

  1. Mind the chemicals.

Cleaners that contain ammonia can damage wooden furniture. It’s also important to avoid products with silicone and excess alcohol, which can harm wood surfaces. In most cases, it’s best to wipe down any truly dirty spots with a damp cloth that’s been soaked in warm, soapy water, then wrung out so it’s not dripping wet. Repeat as needed, then dry the area with a clean cloth.

 

  1. Avoid moisture.

When cleaning wood, be sure not to use too much water. Excessive moisture can lead to mildew, warping, and other problems. For this reason, wooden furniture should not be placed in bathrooms or laundry rooms.

 

  1. Keep the polishing to a minimum.

Despite popular opinion, regular polishing does not create a protective layer on wooden furniture. It does add shine, but it also makes surfaces more slippery and can cause a buildup of residue. Very oily products can show every fingerprint, too. Cut the polishing back to once or twice a year.

 

  1. Make timely repairs.

Repairing damage quickly will ensure that a minor issue does not become a major problem. If the damage is beyond your repair skills, call a professional for help. Doing so will save money in the long run.

 

Caring for and Cleaning Leather and Upholstery

Upholstered and leather furniture often gets a lot of use. Children, pets, and life in general can take a toll on sofas, chairs, and other pieces, but caring for them doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow a few care tips, and you can keep them looking great.

leather furniture

 

  1. Always test cleaning products.

When using a new cleaning product, test it in an inconspicuous area before spot cleaning. This will help you avoid ruining the material with something more unsightly than a simple stain.

 

  1. Blot, don’t wipe.

When you spot clean, avoid using a wiping or scrubbing motion, which can spread the stain and work it deeper into the fabric. Instead, gently blot from the inside to the outside of the stain.

 

  1. Use a leather conditioner.

A barely damp, soft towel is all you need to clean up messes on leather surfaces. To keep leather looking and feeling great for many years, it’s also important to apply leather conditioner every six to 12 months.

 

  1. Flip and rotate cushions.

Rotating cushions once a week will help evenly distribute wear. While you’re at it, take a minute to fluff your cushions and don’t forget to vacuum in order to keep dirt from becoming embedded in the upholstery fibers.

 

  1. Know your upholstery cleaning codes.

Many manufacturers provide cleaning codes on care tags to help people clean the item properly. For example, Ashley Furniture has 13 universal cleaning codes for its products. Knowing what these codes mean will help you with your regular furniture cleaning.

What You Need to Know about Furniture Today’s Leadership Conference

furnituretodayleadershipconferenceEach year, the top furniture retailers and manufacturers in the home furnishings industry gather at Furniture Today’s Leadership Conference. The multi-day event features expert speakers, panel discussions, and insightful presentations.

The Furniture Today 2018 Leadership Conference takes place November 27-29 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Following is an overview of everything you need to know about the industry event.

 

Venue Location, Travel Details, and Lodging Options

Furniture Today’s 2018 Leadership Conference will be held at the Four Seasons Orlando Resort on Dream Tree Boulevard. Those flying in for the event will likely land at either Orlando International Airport or Orlando Executive Airport. These are both approximately 30 minutes from the conference venue.

The conference does not provide transportation between the hotel and the airport. However, attendees can hire a taxi, hop on a shuttle, or rent a car. During the event, attendees can take advantage of reduced valet parking rates at the Four Seasons.

The hotel room block reserved for attendees at the Four Seasons Orlando is sold out. However, there are numerous lodging options in the area. Nearby hotels include Villas of Grand Cypress (3 miles away), Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek (4 miles away), and Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress (5 miles away).

 

Four Seasons Orlando

Four Seasons Orlando | Image by Inside the Magic | Flickr

 

Registration Information

Those planning to attend the Leadership Conference can register for the event online. Registration pricing ranges from $599 for home furnishings retailers to $1,499 for third-party service providers. The rate for manufacturers is $1,250 per person. Spouses and other non-industry guests can attend conference activities for $499 per person. Registered parties who find that they are no longer able to attend may be subject to a cancellation fee of up to 50 percent of the registration total.

 

What to Expect from the Educational Programming

One of the main highlights of Furniture Today’s 2018 Leadership Conference is the all-star lineup of prominent speakers. Vincent Boles, a US Army general who served in the military for over three decades, is the event’s keynote speaker. During his presentation, Boles will discuss the leadership insights and experience he gained over the years serving as an Army general, executive coach, university professor, and owner of a supply chain consulting practice.

In addition to General Boles, expert speakers and panelists include Clarence Smith and Irv Blumkin. The home furnishings executives are directing a peer-to-peer leadership session focused on furniture retail. During the discussion, Smith, Blumkin, and other panelists will cover topics ranging from merchandising and retail technology to human resources and business management.

Other speakers include Liza Hausman of Houzz and Alessandra Wood of Modsy. Their merchandising session will focus on holistic retail and discuss how consumers are engaging with businesses through both in-store and online environments.

TedX speaker Andrew Tarvin will discuss leadership through improvisation. Danny Kim, a millennial executive coach, will explore how today’s furniture industry leaders can best manage a multi-generational workplace that is affected by technology and social media. Attendees can also learn about human resources best practices from furniture industry veterans Joe Genduso and Victor Herrera.

A leadership session examining the customer experience will focus specifically on what furniture retailers and manufacturers need to do in order to compete for customers in a retail environment dominated by big-box and online companies. Strategic consulting executive Lorri Kelly will lead the discussion.

To close the show, a “Future of the Industry” panel led by Ryan Blumkin, Mark Mueller, and Travis Wagner will address how the next generation will guide the future of furniture retail and manufacturing. Following the panel, Furniture Today Editor-in-Chief Bill McLoughlin will officially wrap up the 2018 Leadership Conference.

 

What about Networking?

Outside of the learning activities, there will be plenty of time for attendees to socialize and network with other leaders in the home furnishings industry. On the afternoon of November 27, Leadership Conference sponsor Malouf will host a golf tournament at the Tranquilo Golf Club.

Attendees not interested in hitting the fairways can instead take part in a tour of a local furniture store’s warehouse, showroom, and adjoining café and wine bar. In the evening, attendees can return to the Four Seasons Orlando for a cocktail reception and dinner in the hotel’s grand ballroom.

Other networking activities at the conference will include an awards dinner and after-party on the evening of November 28. More information is available at www.leadershipcon.com.

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.

 

sofa

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.

 

sofa

 

  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.

 

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.