Design

New York

What to Expect at the NY NOW Summer 2018 Market

NYNowMarketTwice a year, thousands of attendees gather in New York City for the NY NOW Market, a leading trade show for professionals in the gift, lifestyle, and home furnishings industries. The event features more than 2,300 exhibiting companies and tens of thousands of design-driven products all under one roof. In addition to spotlighting great products, the multiday convention includes an educational program comprising insightful seminars, presentations, and discussions by top designers, retail experts, and home and lifestyle industry executives.

In 2018, the NY NOW Summer Market will take place August 12-15 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Drawing on over nine decades of success, the event promises to offer an exciting experience for retailers, buyers, and design tastemakers looking for the latest products from both established and emerging brands. Keep reading for a closer look at what’s happening during this industry-leading trade show in New York City.

 

Products, Products, and More Products

One of the main reasons that over 20,000 people from around the world attend the NY NOW Summer Market is to see the latest home, lifestyle, gift, and handmade products on display. With four levels of showroom space to explore, attendees at the 2018 event will have more than enough to see during the four days of programming. Exhibitors at the show will feature thousands of lines across a wide range of product categories, including gourmet housewares and kitchenware, home textiles, garden and outdoor, decorative accessories, and, of course, home furnishings.

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Although tens of thousands of products will be on display during the summer 2018 edition of NY NOW, event organizers have carefully coordinated the market layout to make it easy for attendees to find the specific products for their business. Each level of the Javits Center will feature separately curated collections in three broad categories: home, lifestyle, and handmade. While exploring each collection, attendees will have the opportunity to speak with hundreds of exhibitors and product designers.

Furniture retailers and other home furnishings professionals will want to focus their attention on level three of the Javits Center to find the latest in interior furnishings and decor. The Home Collection of NY NOW features three sections, including an area dedicated to home furnishings and textiles. In addition to hundreds of furniture pieces for indoor and outdoor living, the section will showcase the latest floor coverings, wall décor, and bedding products. The section will also include displays of lighting, pillows, and other decorative accessories.

 

Ample Learning Opportunities

Along with seemingly endless displays of products and services, the NY NOW Market offers attendees plenty of opportunities to learn how to advance their careers and improve their businesses. At the 2018 Summer Market, learning opportunities will feature a robust seminar program with sessions on a variety of business-related topics, including e-mail marketing, social media, sales goals, and merchandising. Other seminars will focus on buyer behavior, brand building, SEO, and influencer marketing.

Another highlight of the 2018 educational programming will be a specialty series called Retail Minded @ NY NOW. New for 2018, the four-part series of sessions will be led by Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, a retail expert who founded the well-respected industry website RetailMinded.com. During the Retail Minded series, Reyhle and other guest speakers will offer retail survival tips and discuss topics such as in-store technology, online reviews, and marketing on a budget.

 

Networking and Social Activities 

For many repeat attendees, NY NOW is all about connecting with businesses and other professionals in their field. Event organizers understand this, and they do their best to provide a variety of structured and casual ways for attendees to engage with each other and exhibiting companies.

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Each day of NY NOW includes networking coffee hours in the morning and happy hours in the evening. The event also includes networking lounges as well as live music, giveaways, and other fun activities. In addition to the on-site networking, attendees at the NY NOW 2018 Summer Market will have the opportunity to join their peers for a performance of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical on Broadway.

 

Book Signings and Industry Insights

Those hoping to meet innovative designers and business leaders will certainly not be disappointed by the lineup of speakers at the 2018 summer edition of NY NOW. Alongside the seminar programming, the event will include book signings and the special Trend Talks series, which will provide insight into the latest retail, design, and merchandising trends.

The free Trend Talks series will feature presentations from Bonnie Mackay, a retail design and merchandising executive; Wesley Moon, an interior designer; and Paula Flynn, founder of The Shopkeepers website. The list of authors who will deliver trend talks and be on hand for book signings afterward includes Justina Blakeney, author of The New Bohemians: Cool & Collected Homes and The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home To Good Vibes, and Nicole Feliciano, author of Mom Boss: Balancing Entrepreneurship, Kids & Success. More information about speakers, exhibitors, and activities at the NY NOW 2018 Summer Market is available at www.nynow.com.

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smart-home

Top Trends to Watch for in “Smart” Furniture Tech

As wireless and mobile technology continues to advance, homeowners are becoming increasingly reliant on gadgets to improve the home environment. The Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to the billions of everyday items worldwide that are connected to the Internet, is leading to a new level of interconnectedness between people and their devices. Modern tech has made it possible to adjust a thermostat remotely using a smartphone app or start a favorite playlist with a simple voice command, but these actions only scratch the surface of what is happening in the area of home automation.

Consumers’ demand for the latest technology is leading many furniture manufacturers to create products that integrate tech-driven features into their design. While “smart” furniture is still in its infancy, it makes up a rapidly growing market in the home furnishings industry. In fact, a recent report projects that the global smart furniture market will reach $916 million by 2022. This growth correlates with an expanding IoT network that experts estimate will comprise more than 20 billion devices by 2020.

So, what can consumers expect in terms of furniture that makes their lives more efficient, productive, and entertaining? Here are some smart furniture trends to watch for:

 

Seamless Connectivity

Much of today’s technology is developed with a focus on improving people’s lives, and smart furniture is certainly no exception. In addition to connecting to the Internet, furniture pieces with Wi-Fi capabilities can connect with other items in the home to make everyday tasks easier. Tech-loving consumers can expect to experience greater connectivity as manufacturers create more products with the ability to “talk” to one another through the latest technology.

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Some of the most seamless connectivity today exists in the kitchen, but connected bedroom and living room furniture is becoming more popular. Many of these products use smart technology that combines Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, cloud-based artificial intelligence, and voice control to connect with speakers, smartphones, and other devices. Integrating Internet-connected touchscreens into coffee tables and cabinet doors is also an emerging trend.

 

Tech-Hiding Furniture

While the trend toward smart furniture is the result of an increased use of technology, it’s also driven by a desire to make tech less visible in one’s living space. Recent tech-inspired furniture is sleek and minimalistic. Rather than prominently showcasing their tech features, these modern pieces are designed to keep them out of sight.

New items, such as sofas with built-in surround-sound systems, reduce tech clutter while maintaining the look of a traditional sofa. Even furniture pieces without built-in technology are designed with tech in mind. These include cabinets with built-in charging ports and electrical outlets, coffee tables with hidden drawers for computers and other devices, and end tables that keep cords and wires neatly tucked away.

Wireless Charging Capabilities

Most people today remain connected to the world through their smartphones and other mobile devices. Until recently, charging these devices required unsightly cords that could get in the way of a clutter-free lifestyle. Thanks to innovations in wireless charging technology, consumers can now ditch the cords for stylish lamps and side tables with built-in wireless charging units.

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Today, a number of furniture manufacturers are offering these products, which use an electromagnetic field to charge phones and tablets. As wireless charging capabilities improve, charging tables and standalone charging units will likely become commonplace in homes and businesses. In the near future, developments in this technology could make it possible to keep a phone or tablet charged without ever using an outlet.

 

Intelligent Mattresses

With the average person spending approximately one-third of his or her life sleeping, it’s not surprising that people are always looking for ways to improve upon the traditional mattress. For several years, manufacturers have been offering basic intelligent mattresses for use in the healthcare industry. More recently, other companies have created smart, interactive beds with various features designed to support a good night’s rest.

These intelligent mattresses include sensors that monitor sleeping habits and biometric information such as heart rate and breathing rate. Some also incorporate voice recognition technology that enables users to adjust the mattress and turn on components with a simple voice command. Other smart mattress technologies to watch for include climate-control systems, motion-activated ambient lighting, and automatic air-suspension units to prevent snoring.

 

Smart Furniture in the Workplace

In addition to offering benefits in the home, smart furniture is finding its way into the workplace as employers look for ways to improve employee well-being and productivity. Standup desks and adjustable monitors have been popular for several years, but companies have recently introduced desks that can remind an employee when it’s time to change from a seated to a standing position.

The desks feature connected sensors that provide reminders via a smartphone app. Along with helping employees monitor their daily movements, the app can automatically adjust a desk to an employee’s preferred height. Connected desks can also give employers better control over how their office space is being used throughout the day, which is especially helpful in a hot-desking environment.

living-room

How to Prevent Furniture-Related Injuries in the Home

The home is where families spend much of their time outside of work and school. As such, it is the site of many accidents, and, surprisingly, quite a few of them involve furniture. While a new flat-screen TV or heirloom dresser may be a prized possession, these items can also be a source of injury, especially in homes with small children or older adults. The first step to preventing furniture-related injuries is to purchase sturdy pieces made with high-quality materials. Once the furniture is in your home, it’s important to take some additional steps to keep your family safe. Here are a few things to keep in mind when maintaining an accident-free home:

 

The Hazards of Furniture Tip-Overs

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According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), tipping furniture and TVs are among the top hidden hazards in the home. It’s common for young children to climb furniture to get something out of their reach, but items like dressers, armoires, and TV stands can easily tip over under the weight of a little climber.

Each year, tip-over injuries send 38,000 Americans to the hospital, and the majority (two-thirds) of those injuries involve children under the age of 5. Tipping TVs and furniture can also be deadly. In fact, according to CPSC statistics, furniture-related accidents account for one child’s death every two weeks in the United States.

To raise the public’s awareness of furniture tip-over accidents, the CPSC launched its “Anchor It” campaign in 2015. The national campaign urges consumers to anchor large items such as dressers, bookshelves, and TVs to the wall to prevent them from tipping onto children and other family members. Additionally, the CPSC advises families to remove tempting items such as toys and remote controls from out-of-reach places as part of the Anchor It efforts to “get on top of it before they do.”

 

Preventing Tip-Overs with Furniture Anchors

Properly anchoring heavy furniture is a quick and easy task when using the right equipment. Manufacturers often ship anchoring kits with furniture, but these kits, which typically include two brackets and a tether, are also readily available in stores. Consumers attach one bracket to the furniture and the other to the wall. The brackets are then tethered by a strap or cable to prevent the piece from tipping over. When using furniture anchors, it’s important to do the following:

Select the right anchor—Some furniture comes with small plastic cable ties that experts warn can degrade and eventually break. Instead of using plastic, it is better to buy kits that contain nylon or braided steel cable tethers. Metal “L” brackets will also work well for many pieces of furniture.

Find a wall stud—Most modern homes are built with walls comprising drywall boards attached to interior wooden studs. You should screw furniture anchors into these studs rather than drywall, which can easily tear and break. Use a stud finder to locate a fastening spot, and be sure to attach the anchor using screws that are long enough to ensure a secure connection.

Attach to solid wood—In addition to attaching the wall bracket to a wooden stud, it’s important to firmly secure the other anchor into a solid piece of wood on the item of furniture. Avoid attaching the anchor to thin back panels or other areas that may not hold a screw firmly. Once you’ve located a solid spot, mark the area and pre-drill the wood before fastening the anchor with a wood screw.

 

Furniture-Specific Safety Tips

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Your home most likely contains many heavy items that could cause serious injury if they fell on a member of your family. Along with anchoring all top-heavy furniture to the wall, you should examine every piece of furniture for potential hazards. Some items to watch out for include the following:

Dressers and Armoires—Always install some sort of anti-tip device on dressers and armoires in every room of your home. When purchasing new items, you should look for dressers with automatic drawer stops and drawers that open and close smoothly. It’s also important to always close your dresser drawers after use to keep young children from using them like a ladder to reach items on the top of the dresser.

Bookcases—Like dressers and armoires, bookcases are very tempting to young climbers. Be sure to properly anchor your bookcases to a wall and take time to arrange the items on the shelves. Keep the heaviest books on the lowest shelf and never place any enticing items up high, where a child may be tempted to climb for them.

Televisions and Entertainment Centers—Regardless of whether it’s a newer flat-screen or an older “tube” model, the TV in your home could be an accident waiting to happen. Luckily, you can easily prevent injuries by mounting televisions to the wall or anchoring them firmly on a sturdy stand that is the appropriate size for the TV. If anchoring is not an option, be sure to push the television as far back on the stand as possible. Also, always keep all cords tucked away and out of reach to prevent tripping and tip-over injuries.

kitchen

You Need to Know about These Kitchen Décor Trends

As the saying goes, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s not only a gathering place for family, friends, and guests, but also an opportunity to showcase your personal design aesthetic. So, whether you’re planning a total kitchen overhaul or making only a handful of changes, you can pair your own style with the latest trends in décor to make the space truly shine.

Read on to explore a few of the kitchen décor trends that you can use in your next remodel:

 

Colorful cabinets

Though white cabinets remain a favorite among homeowners looking for a clean, bright aesthetic, colorful cabinets are beginning to come into their own. Blue, in particular, has been one of the biggest color trends in recent years. From light baby blue to deep cobalt, this color can add a splash of drama to any kitchen.

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More recently, however, another color has begun to take the spotlight: green. As more kitchen design schemes maximize natural elements, green has emerged as a top pick for cabinet remodels. Cabinets painted in this color complement warm metallic fixtures and marble countertops.

 

Statement shelving

Open shelving isn’t a new trend, but it is one that gained traction recently due to new interpretations of its usage in the kitchen. Typically, homeowners use open shelving to showcase their best dishware or most expensive food items. A true statement piece, open shelving also presents the perfect opportunity for homeowners to add their own creative flair to their kitchens. Between accessories and plant life, they are using these shelving units to create unique centerpieces.

There is an even more revolutionary trend influencing the use of open shelving in the kitchen, however. Instead of swapping out this type of shelving for their built-in cabinets, homeowners are turning their open shelving units into interesting kitchen focal points. Where some are choosing to put their open shelving in the corner of their kitchen, others are adding shelves to the tops of their windows.

 

Banquettes

A popular kitchen design trend from the 1980s, banquette seating is coming back in a major way. Long gone are the highly embellished cherry and oak banquettes of the past. Instead, homeowners are opting for seating arrangements with a more modern aesthetic. More recently, banquettes have left behind busy details in favor of cleaner lines.

The latest banquette trend has also changed the arrangement of banquette seating, doing away with the stuffy, narrow booths of the past. Banquettes now include other furniture pieces such as benches, side chairs, and separate tables. Many homeowners are also choosing to accessorize their banquettes with stylish pillows and vibrant greenery.

 

Pastels

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The pastel trend is perfect for homeowners who want to add some color to their kitchens but aren’t ready to commit to some of the brighter shades of paint. From pink to yellow to blue, pastel colors of all kinds add exciting highlights to any kitchen. These colors stand out the most against greys and wood accents. However, it’s also become popular for homeowners to add elegant pastel accent walls to brighten up their kitchens.

 

Islands with a purpose

Kitchen islands are becoming less of a small counter space in the middle of the room and more of a large, functional centerpiece. Homeowners are now using these additions to serve numerous purposes in their kitchens. More islands are featuring ample storage space of their own, with room for everything from cookbooks to wine racks. Many also equip their islands with built-in appliances and sinks so that they serve a more functional purpose in the kitchen. To top it all off, an increasing number of these fixtures are beginning to feature bar seating to accommodate guests. With all of these features, kitchen islands are truly doing it all.

 

Dark accents

There are more ways to add drama to the kitchen than using bright colors. Homeowners are also incorporating dark accents. Black fixtures, for example, are becoming a very popular choice for kitchens because they complement nearly every color scheme. From lamps to faucets, these dark accents lend a sleek, modern look to any kitchen.

Dark appliances are also set to overtake stainless steel as the number one choice for appliances. Some of the biggest manufacturers now offer ranges of microwaves, refrigerators, and ovens in dark grey and black.

 

Concealed hoods

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“Seamless” is one word that can describe many of the latest trends in kitchen décor, and nothing fits this label better than concealed range hoods. Where homeowners once preferred to make these vents the centerpiece of their kitchens, more people now prefer to hide them. From an aesthetic point of view, concealed hoods blend into the wall or upper cabinets to simplify the look of the entire space. As such, they attract less attention while still remaining functional.

 

Built-in sinks

In recent years, stainless steel and farmhouse sinks have been the dominant trend in kitchen sinks. However, these old favorites have been losing ground to a new trend: built-in sinks. Unlike more traditional models, these sinks are composed of the same materials as the countertops that surround them. Sometimes, they are even part of the counters themselves. This makes the kitchen look much sleeker by eliminating the visual separation between countertop and sink. Popular materials for built-in sinks include stone, marble, and concrete.

furniture

Top Insider Tips for How to Improve Furniture Sales

After several years of declining sales, retail leaders in the US furniture and home furnishings industry are benefiting from an improving economy that is giving consumers more money to spend on big-ticket items like furniture. Economic growth has led to a strong housing market, which, in turn, is now supporting healthy furniture sales numbers that are projected to continue for at least the next several quarters. With the current economic outlook, Furniture Today projects that the $96 billion furniture industry will experience a 2.9-percent growth rate through 2019.

Although furniture retailers can look forward to an improving market, they still need to focus on maintaining best retail practices to take advantage of upcoming sales opportunities. In the brick-and-mortar-driven furniture retail sector, efforts to boost sales center on positive face-to-face interactions and in-store experiences. Here are a few quick sales tips that retailers of all sizes can follow to ensure that customers do not leave without buying:

 

  1. Have a solid marketing plan

Successfully marketing furniture can be more challenging than other products because buying furniture requires an investment and happens only on occasion. Despite the challenge, however, furniture retailers looking to increase sales must find ways to attract customers using a solid marketing plan.

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Sending customers regular e-mails and/or SMS alerts provides retailers with a relatively easy way to maintain brand awareness and keep customers updated about in-store sales and promotions. To attract new customers, furniture managers and store owners can host sales events or promotional giveaways, which can be advertised easily using traditional mailers and social media. Furniture retailers can even partner with real estate agents to showcase their products in homes for sale in the community.

 

  1. Know your products

Knowledgeable sales associates are important in any retail environment, but they are essential to the success of all furniture stores. Within each furniture product category, there are a variety of styles, colors, designs, and materials from which customers can choose. Confident employees with an understanding of the products they are selling can both educate customers and put them at ease during this oftentimes overwhelming shopping experience.

While you and your sales staff do not need to memorize every spec of every piece of furniture on the showroom floor, it is important for all sales associates to be confident in their general knowledge of product categories. The most effective furniture sales associates are also current on the latest design trends, and they understand how certain furniture materials and features contribute to the comfort and durability of a piece.

 

  1. Be friendly and personable

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Regardless of how much a sales team knows about the products they are selling, customers are more likely to make a purchase from someone who is friendly and easy to talk to. Personable salespeople are able to educate customers while building rapport and trust during the shopping experience. A friendly demeanor also helps customers relax and feel more comfortable asking questions. This type of relationship and knowledge-building can generate one-time sales and increase the likelihood that customers will return for repeat purchases.

 

  1. Focus on customer service

Combining product knowledge with the right attitude is the key to great customer service, which is necessary in an industry full of businesses offering competitive pricing, similar products, and flexible financing. While the goal of all retailers is to convince potential buyers to spend cash in their stores, the most successful furniture businesses generate sales by making customer service the focus of their entire operation.

In a customer-first furniture store, trained and friendly employees greet everyone who walks through the door with a genuine smile and a simple inquiry such as “What brought you in today?” The goal of all sales associates should be to serve customers by actually listening to their needs and providing knowledgeable advice without using high-pressure sales tactics.

It’s also important to remember that customer service in the furniture industry starts on the sales floor and extends to management and operations teams who deliver products to homes and follow up on their customers’ experiences. Successful furniture companies value and actively seek out feedback from their customers so that they can continually improve the products and services they offer.

 

  1. Leave a lasting impression

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Of course, not every person who walks into a furniture store is going to leave with a new piece for their home. Regardless of whether a sale is made, however, it’s important that customers return to their cars satisfied with the overall experience they had while in the store.

In addition to offering great face-to-face service, retailers can leave a lasting impression by engaging customers with interactive room planning software and other tech-driven tools. Providing customers with a bottle of water, a cup of coffee, or sweet treat can also increase the likelihood that they’ll return to a store or recommend it to their friends and family.

bedroom

The Top 10 Bedroom Furniture and Décor Trends You Need to Know about

Often referred to as a sanctuary, the master bedroom is one of the most-used areas of the home. The room is where the average person spends one-third of his or her life sleeping, but it is also where people relax and wind down from the day before drifting off. To get the most out of such a key space, it’s important to focus on comfort and design while remembering to add a personal touch. Take a look at what’s new in bedroom furniture and décor with this list of the latest bedroom trends:

 

  1. Four-Poster Beds

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In addition to buying bigger mattresses, many people are welcoming the return of four-poster beds. These classic pieces have been around for centuries and are now making a comeback in bedrooms with enough room to accommodate them. Unlike their ornate predecessors, however, most modern four-poster beds feature a clean and simple style that stands out without overwhelming the space.

 

  1. Calming Colors

Comfortable furniture and bedding are definitely necessary for proper relaxation, but calming décor can be just as important. Mixing shades of gray and white with pastel tones and pops of soothing blues and greens is a bedroom design trend that supports rest and slumber.

 

  1. Unique Accents

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Adding unique accents is an easy way to complement a neutral or subdued color palette in the bedroom. Trends in this area include intricate wallpaper, contrasting floral patterns, and eye-catching ceilings with bright colors and/or textured treatments. Designers are also making a statement by adding texture to the bedroom with accent walls of wood or concrete.

 

  1. A New Twist on Headboards

Although it is an often-overlooked furniture piece, the headboard can be an important design feature in the bedroom. Today’s trends favor either a minimal headboard or a prominent piece that showcases one’s personal style. Low or almost nonexistent headboards are perfect for those who want to show off an accent wall. Others are choosing to make the headboard itself a focal point by incorporating textured upholstery and repurposed material into the piece.

 

  1. Metallic Details

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Using metallic accents throughout the home is a design trend that remains strong. In the bedroom, metal lamps and light fixtures in copper and gold tones are in fashion. Bedside tables and bed frames with warm metallic details are also on trend among those looking to create a sophisticated look.

 

  1. A Touch of Luxury

Combining practical features with luxurious design elements is a trend that is helping to turn the bedroom into a dreamy retreat. Luxury in the bedroom starts with soft fabrics such as cashmere, mohair, and faux fur. Velvet is especially popular, and it is showing up on pillows, cushions, bedding, and upholstery. Furniture with carved features is also on-trend, and many people are opting to replace their boring ceiling fans with classic chandeliers or other eye-catching fixtures.

 

  1. Nightstands and Bedside Tables

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In many bedrooms, the nightstand is simply a place to put a clock, lamp, and some nighttime reading material. And while it’s important that they serve a purpose, nightstands and bedside tables certainly don’t have to be boring. Modern pieces from Ashley HomeStore and other retailers focus just as much on style as they do on utility. Those who want something a bit more casual can join the current trend of repurposing chairs, stools, and even old luggage trunks to serve as their bedside table.

 

  1. Dark Furniture

While white furniture is still a great choice for many design schemes, dark wood furniture is a classic that is seeing a resurgence in popularity in the bedroom. In fact, the use of dark wood is a design trend that is showing up throughout the home. Deep brown and even black furniture, which has long been out of fashion, is back in style. In addition to supporting a modern luxe look, brown, ebony, and other dark tones coordinate well with a variety of colors and designs.

 

  1. Spots for Relaxation

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For many people, the bedroom is much more than a sleeping spot. Those with kids or roommates may even find that their bedroom is the only place in the house where they can be alone and enjoy some peace and quiet. The need for a peaceful retreat is fueling a trend to create cozy sitting areas in any bedroom space not taken up by a bed and other essential furniture. One or two comfortable chairs along with a footstool and/or small end table provide the perfect spot to enjoy a book or some quality alone time.

 

  1. The Bed-in-a-Box

Rolled like a sleeping bag and compressed into an easily transportable size, the bed-in-a-box is a convenient and affordable mattress option. Once out of the box, the mattress begins expanding until it reaches its full size and is ready to provide a good night’s sleep. The bed-in-the-box trend started with online companies, but the mattresses are now available through a number of furniture manufacturers and retailers, including Ashley HomeStore. Sales of beds-in-a-box have doubled in recent years and still show no signs of slowing down.

summer

A Complete Guide to the Latest Trends in Outdoor Living

As the weather becomes warmer and the days get longer, people across the country have begun to retreat to the outdoors for fresh air and relaxation. For many, porches and patios have become the preferred living areas for eating, lounging, and spending time with the family. Those looking to get the most out of their outdoor living spaces are incorporating outdoor furniture and accessories that combine style and functionality while emphasizing comfort. Read on for an overview of the latest trends in outdoor living.

Bringing the Indoors Outside

Long gone are the days of white plastic chairs and green cast iron. Many people now view their patio or deck as an extension of their indoor living rooms, and they are buying outdoor furniture to create a polished look that has been traditionally reserved for interior spaces.

With so many people looking to bring the indoors outside, furniture manufacturers are offering a variety of fabrics, furniture, and accessories that can withstand everything from brisk spring rainstorms to sweltering summer heat waves. These weather-friendly options make it easy for anyone to decorate outdoor spaces according to their taste.

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Fire Features

Cozying up around the fire is relaxing regardless of the season, which is why more people are beginning to design their outdoor living areas with fire features in mind. Propane-fueled fire pits and fire tables are now available in a range of styles that can adapt to a variety of spaces. Many homeowners are also choosing to install propane or wood-burning fireplaces to create a cozy ambiance and extend the amount of time they can spend outdoors.

 

A Focus on Comfort

Due to modern innovations in furniture materials, many patio sofas and chairs today are just as comfortable as indoor pieces. An effort to make the outdoors even more relaxing is driving the trend of using oversized cushions and a variety of fluffy pillows that can be mixed and matched to fit with any design scheme. Hammocks, outdoor daybeds, swings, and hanging chairs are also popular options for people who want to nap, read, and relax in comfort while enjoying the outdoors

 

Darker Hues and Fun Patterns

While bright colors are always popular in outdoor living spaces, a preference for outdoor furniture featuring dark colors and deep hues is on the rise. Along with deep purple and blue hues, black, brown, and shades of grey are among the dominant fabric colors for outdoor sofas and chairs. Green is also making a comeback as a popular color in outdoor design. To add some vibrancy to the dark palette, many people are using patterned throw pillows and accessories throughout their patios and decks.

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Use Accessories to Complete the Look

Completing the look of your outdoor living space requires more than just a few pieces of furniture covered in fluffy cushions and pillows. Today’s trend toward blurring the lines between outdoor and indoor spaces is all about the details. In addition to coffee tables, stools, and ottomans, popular finishing design touches include candles, rugs, and centerpiece bowls.

Lanterns, candles, and outdoor string lighting are also among the functional accessories that people are incorporating into their outdoor design schemes. Manufacturers even offer waterproof chandeliers and table lamps for those seeking to bring interior design elements outside.

 

Embracing Coastal Vibes

Another trend in outdoor living emphasizes a vacation vibe. Those looking to capture the feel of their favorite resort are combining shell-shaped accessories and sea-themed prints with furniture featuring sand tones and cool coastal colors.

Bold cabana-style stripes also feature prominently in many outdoor furniture collections. Teak sling chairs, woven stripe patterns, and bright umbrellas are all available to complete the look for anyone who wants to relive their last beach vacation every time they relax on their patio, porch, or lanai.

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Mixed Materials and Retro Looks

Rattan and wicker-inspired furniture that was popular decades ago is making a comeback, but today’s consumer prefers vintage-style pieces with a contemporary flair. While more difficult to manufacture, pieces that combine contrasting materials such as metal and wood offer the design detailing that many people are looking for in outdoor furniture. Woven pieces featuring non-traditional colors and design features are also on-trend among those who want to combine a vintage look with pieces that are more modern.

 

Multifunctional Pieces for Greater Flexibility

When warm weather arrives, many people use their outdoor spaces for dining, socializing, and entertaining. An area that serves this purpose requires multifunctional pieces that do not compromise style or comfort.

To meet the demand for greater flexibility in outdoor living, furniture manufacturers are adding wheels to furniture and accessories and creating large patio sets that can be easily rearranged to fit a variety of situations. Adjustable outdoor sectionals alongside tables and stools with built-in storage are the perfect options for those who need to be ready to change the configuration of their outdoor space at a moment’s notice.

furniture

This Is What Is Happening Right Now in Furniture Manufacturing

Over the last several years, the furniture and home furnishings industry in the United States has enjoyed steady growth, thanks to an improving economy that has given consumers more disposable income. Growth in the industry began in 2009, and the latest figures show that it is likely to continue for at least the near future. Retail experts project that US furniture sales will experience a 3 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $122 billion by 2020. Globally, the furniture and flooring market is forecast to reach $695 billion by 2019.

Of course, the projected growth in the industry has furniture retailers, distributors, and manufacturers optimistic, but industry professionals are also facing new challenges that are changing how they approach furniture design and marketing. It’s important for furniture manufacturers in particular to stay on top of the latest industry trends so that they can create products that will satisfy retailers and, ultimately, consumers.

To satisfy consumers, manufacturers must be aware of their demographics, lifestyle choices, and buying preferences. These factors help shape the industry by influencing how furniture is made and sold. Read on for an overview of what’s happening in the furniture industry and how it affects the work of manufacturers.

 

Millennials Are Driving the Market

While the furniture market also comprises generation Xers, baby boomers, and seniors, the majority of today’s furniture shoppers are millennials. As one of the largest groups of homebuyers in the United States, the generation spends billions on furniture and bedding each year. In addition to changing the way that retailers market their furniture, millennials are affecting how and what type of furniture is manufactured.

The generation prefers modern pieces with unique designs and tech-friendly features to the more traditional furniture that their parents likely own. Also unlike their parents, many millennials value affordability over durability and aren’t overly concerned with how long a specific piece will last. The generation prefers decorative, disposable furniture that they can use for 10 years or less before replacing it with something else. Manufacturers are meeting this demand by using materials and design processes that enable them to balance quality with affordability.

 

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Quicker Delivery Is in High Demand

Along with affecting how much they’re willing to pay for a new piece, millennials’ and other modern consumers’ attitudes toward furniture affects how long they are willing to wait for furniture they’ve purchased. This demand for quick delivery is leading many furniture manufacturers to streamline their operations.

According to the results of a 2018 industry survey, American upholstered furniture manufacturers consider reducing delivery times to be one of their most pressing challenges. To do this, more manufacturers are using technologies such as computer numerically controlled cutting (CNC) machines during the manufacturing process. Implementing better employee-training practices is also part of many manufacturers’ plans to speed up the time it takes them to deliver their products to market.

 

More Consumers Are Renting

Home sales may be increasing nationwide, but a large percentage of Americans are still renters. In fact, a recent report from the Pew Research Center showed that over 36 percent of households rented in 2016.

Although there are various reasons as to why a person may choose to rent over owning a home, money is a common factor. With less money to spend, many renters are similar to other modern consumers in valuing affordable furniture. Some renters are also tight on space, leading them to seek smaller and/or multipurpose pieces for their homes. Smart manufacturers today are creating inexpensive, streamlined furniture that appeals to the country’s large population of budget- and space-conscious renters.

 

Online Retail Continues to Grow

The growth of online retail continues to provide new opportunities for both furniture sellers and furniture manufacturers. Companies on the manufacturing side of the industry now have the ability to sell to retailers that aren’t limited to a specific geographic area. Some manufacturers are also increasing their efforts to create innovative furniture pieces that ship easily. This includes ready-to-assemble furniture, which is experiencing a revival in popularity in the United States. Despite the increase in furniture e-commerce, however, most furniture buyers still prefer to shop in-store.

 

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Retailers Are Catering to Environmentally Conscious Shoppers

A growing demand for sustainable products is leading many furniture retailers to carry eco-friendly pieces in their showrooms. Like many other market trends, millennials are driving the interest in green furniture, but people of all ages are looking for ways to decrease their carbon footprint.

Furniture manufacturers may have different definitions of what constitutes sustainable furniture, but for most, it includes pieces that use recycled and/or responsibly sourced materials, such as certified wood and natural fabrics. Sustainable furniture is also created using efficient manufacturing practices that reduce the company’s water and energy usage. Many of today’s furniture manufacturers focus on the green furniture market as part of a business strategy to increase profits while protecting the planet.

 

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Here Are the Top Things to Know about Furniture Woods

When looking for a new piece of furniture, most people will purchase an item that contains at least some wood. In addition to being the most popular material for tables, desks, and bookshelves, wood is the foundation of nearly every other type of furniture, including sofas, loveseats, and recliners. Even if it’s not visible on the exterior of a piece, wood is most likely providing interior support alongside other structural materials.

Wood has always played an important role in the home furnishings industry, but the variety of wood choices available today can seem overwhelming. To help you make an informed decision the next time you go furniture shopping, check out this quick guide to furniture woods.

 

Why Choose Wood Furniture?

One of the main reasons that wood is such a great furniture material is because it is naturally strong. A piece made of either hardwood or softwood can last a very long time with little maintenance or upkeep aside from occasional waxing, polishing, and oiling. The durability of wooden furniture makes it a smart investment for those looking to furnish their home with quality products. Wood is also available in a variety of types, styles, and finishes that can easily fit in with any design scheme.

Additionally, wood is a renewable furniture material that can be produced with very little impact on the environment. Many wooden pieces also contain recycled materials, which makes them the perfect option to consider if you are interested in sustainable furniture.

 

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Getting to Know Hardwoods and Softwoods

All solid wood products can be divided into one of two categories: hardwood or softwood. The tree from which the wood originates determines its classification. Hardwoods come from leaf-bearing (deciduous) trees, and softwoods are sourced from cone-bearing (coniferous) trees. While it is common to assume that the terms hardwood and softwood refer to a wood’s strength and density, this is not necessarily the case. Some hardwoods, like balsa, are actually soft and lightweight, and some softwoods, like pitch pine, are actually very heavy and dense. In most cases, however, hardwoods have a higher density than softwoods due to their cellular structure.

 

Furniture Hardwoods

Because they are very strong and durable, hardwoods are often used in high-quality furniture pieces. Hardwoods also come in a variety of colors and natural patterns that are very visually appealing and unique to the tree from which they came. The major downside to purchasing hardwood furniture is its price, but the higher cost is well worth it for many people. Here are some of the hardwoods most commonly used in furniture:

Oak—With roughly 60 species in the United States, oak is an abundant hardwood that is valued for its strength and prominent grain patterns. The two varieties (red oak and white oak) range in color from yellow to light pinkish-brown. Oak is used in all types of furniture, but it is very common in pieces made in the Mission style.

Maple—One of the hardest hardwoods, maple resists warping and shrinking and holds up to heavy use. The light-colored wood is usually beige or tan with a straight, even grain pattern that sometimes gives way to curls or waves. Maple is an excellent wood for dressers, cabinets, butcher blocks, and other heavy-use items.

Walnut—Walnut is a dark hardwood that features a straight grain pattern that is most striking when clear-coated or oiled. The wood also carves easily, making it an excellent choice for decorative furniture like cabinets, headboards, mantels, and antique-style tables.

 

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Furniture Softwoods

Although softwoods aren’t typically as dense as hardwoods, they can be just as long-lasting. In fact, softwood furniture can even last longer than hardwoods in some environments. The most common softwoods used in furniture include the following:

Pine—Lightweight and affordable, pine is a common material in modern furniture. There are many different species of pine, but most share the same pale-yellow or light-brown color. Pine is also easily recognizable due to the dark knots and physical growth rings that stand out on its surface. The wood is perfect for rustic furniture, but it can be painted to fit in with all types of décor.

Cedar—Although it is light and brittle, cedar is a durable wood that is often used to make drawers, chests, and closets because it has a distinctive scent that repels moths and other insects. This light-red softwood is also resistant to moisture and decay, so it works well for picnic tables and other outdoor furniture.

Redwood—Like cedar, redwood has weather-resistant properties that make it perfect for use in the outdoors. It is especially well suited for patio tables and chairs, but redwood can also be used indoors for Western-style beds and other rustic pieces.

 

Other Wooden Furniture Products

In addition to solid wood, many modern furniture pieces use composite wood materials such as plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). While these products are manmade, they are still composed of actual wood that is bonded together and pressure treated. Plywood, MDF, and other engineered wood products are both affordable and eco-friendly. Most often, they are used on the backs and interiors of furniture, but some bookshelves and other budget-friendly pieces are made entirely out of these materials.

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How to Connect with Customers through Personalized Emails

Using modern marketing channels to reach out to customers is a good practice for any business in retail, particularly furniture sales. In addition to costing much less than many traditional marketing strategies, digital approaches such as SMS messaging and email campaigns are very effective. In fact, email is still one of the most effective marketing tools any business can use to reach customers across all demographics, including the sometimes-persnickety millennials.

Although using email communication is an affordable and effective strategy, business owners and marketers must find a way to stand out among the dozens of daily emails their customers often receive. This is where personalization comes in. Personalization is very important to today’s consumers, who have come to expect businesses to cater to their individual interests, needs, and wants.

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Despite the fact that most consumers are expecting a personalized experience, research shows that upwards of 70 percent of businesses owners are still failing to personalize their customer emails. Fortunately, delivering personalized email communications does not have to be complicated. Read on for an overview of effective personalization tactics that can increase email open rates and get more customers to shop in your store.

 

Start by Getting to Know the Customer

It is very difficult to personalize any marketing strategy without the right customer information. One way to learn more about those on an email subscriber list is through sign-up forms that ask for basic personal details as well as information about customers’ occupations, interests, and shopping habits.

Business owners can also learn more about their customers by following their online behavior. The email links they click on and the offers they sign up for can provide insight into their preferences. All of this information can then be used to segment an email list to send more personalized and targeted communications in the future.

When collecting data and personal details from customers, it is important to let them know that the information will be used to provide relevant offers and a more personalized experience. As concerns over data sharing continue to grow, more people are becoming cautious about signing up for offers that require certain information. Business owners who practice transparency build trust with customers and will have a better chance of collecting the info they need to operate a successful personalized campaign.

 

Address Recipients by Their Name

Every email sent to a customer should begin with a greeting that uses his or her first name. Thanks to email subscription forms, a customer’s first name is one of the easiest bits of information to gather. Also, most email services enable users to customize messages with a recipient’s name, so there is no reason not to use it. Starting a message with “Dear friend,” “Hello customer,” or another generic greeting will not encourage many people to read anything beyond the opening line.

 

Add Personalization to Subject Lines

Along with using first names in every email greeting, adding a name and other personalized info to the subject line is a surefire way to get more customers to open and read an email. In fact, recent studies have shown that a personalized subject line can increase email open rates by over 40 percent. More people reading an email means more people shopping for products and signing up for offers, which is the goal of any marketing campaign.

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Send Messages at the Right Time

Instead of sending out an email to an entire subscriber list at the same time, it is more effective to deliver messages when each recipient is most likely to read them. In many cases, there will be time zones to consider, along with other factors, that will help determine what time is best for customers. A/B testing and email marketing platforms can offer the data and other tools that business owners can use to customize delivery times for each person on their email list.

In addition to considering time zones and consumer habits, business owners should focus on sending timely messages that advertise current sales. Also, sending out emails about a seasonal or limited-time offer creates a sense of urgency, making recipients feel the need to act quickly to avoid missing out. Special personalized offers sent on customers’ birthdays are also very effective.

 

Don’t Forget to be Human

Email personalization works best when it is apparent that there is an actual human behind the message. Some of the easiest ways to do this include using a conversational tone and first-person pronouns throughout the email. Depending on the nature of one’s business, it might also be a good idea to send emails that include emojis to help a message seem more friendly and informal.

In addition, ending each message with the name and perhaps a photo of an actual person shows the reader that someone took the time to reach out to them personally. All messages should also include a reply-to email address so that customers can easily reach the company without having to search online for contact info.