Logistics

entertainment center

How to Choose the Perfect Entertainment Center for Your Space

The ways that people access and consume television, movies, and music have certainly changed in recent years, but in-home entertainment is more important than ever. While the Internet makes it possible to stream media from anywhere, the entertainment center remains the focal point of family movie nights and daily TV viewing.

If you’re looking to purchase a new entertainment center for your space, you may have some trouble knowing where to start due to recent advances in televisions and other media devices. Fortunately, you can find plenty of great options if you follow a few simple tips.

 

  1. Start with Size

Whether it’s a couch, bed, chair, or entertainment center, it’s always best to start the furniture-buying process by getting familiar with the space you have available. When it comes to entertainment centers, you want to carefully consider both the size of your room and the size of your TV.

Of course, an entertainment center that’s too large will crowd your living space, but it will also make a smaller TV look tiny. A piece that is too small, on the other hand, will throw off the balance of the space and may not accommodate your television or the other media devices you use daily.

To get an entertainment center that’s the perfect size for your needs, you have to take a few measurements. Be sure to measure the width of your TV as well as the height and depth. In addition, make sure to measure your wall space and don’t forget to consider your line of sight so that you can find a unit with the right height for optimal TV viewing.

living-room

 

  1. Consider Your Needs

Once you’ve taken and written down all the measurements, it’s time to take a minute to consider your entertainment needs. Are you only going to use your entertainment center for your TV, or do you also need room for media players, speakers, cable boxes, video game consoles, and/or soundbars?

If you only have a TV, you may want to opt for a smaller TV stand or simply some shelving that can sit below a wall-mounted unit. If you own several media devices, on the hand, it’s important to find an entertainment center that can accommodate them while providing extra space for remote controls, DVDs, and any other items you may need to store.

 

  1. Think Storage

When it comes to storage, you’ll want to consider the size and layout of shelves and cabinets, and also how well the entertainment center accommodates cords. It’s important to look for a console that has open shelves or portals in the back panels so that you can run cords from your devices to your wall outlet.

For many people, one portal or open area will suffice, but you may need more. If you need to manage cords from several devices, look for an entertainment center with multiple portals or opt for a piece you can customize by drilling your own cord holes.

 

  1. Learn about the Available Types

Like other pieces of storage furniture, you’ll find several different types of entertainment centers online and in your local furniture store. One of the simplest is the above-mentioned TV stand, which is basically a small cabinet with a flat top for your TV and additional storage space underneath for DVDs, games, and media devices.

television

When many people think of an entertainment center, however, the object that comes to mind is a much larger wall unit with shelves, cabinets, drawers, and a large open space for your TV. These pieces can reach upwards of 6 feet tall, and most are capable of accommodating all of your entertainment devices and accompanying gadgets. Wall units work great for many homes, but they usually aren’t right for smaller spaces.

For something in between a wall unit and a TV stand, you can opt for a media cabinet that blends in with your other home décor. You can even find enclosed media cabinets that give you the option of concealing your TV, speakers, and media players behind doors when they are not in use.

 

  1. Look for Smart Features

To get the most out of whatever type of entertainment center you choose, it’s important to look for built-in features that will cut down on clutter while protecting all of your devices. In addition to portals for cords, units with enclosed back panels should include venting grills or other openings to allow for proper airflow. These features are particularly important for entertainment centers that will hold gaming equipment and/or sound systems, which can generate a lot of heat.

Other features to look for include tempered glass doors and removable back panels for easy access to all of your equipment. It may also be beneficial to find an entertainment center with wheels. Along with making it easy to get to the rear of your unit, wheels make it simple to move your entertainment center when you need to clean or want to rearrange your living room.

Advertisements
furniture

This Is What’s Happening Right Now in the Home Furnishings Industry

With the US economy improving, furniture retailers and other business leaders in the home furnishings industry have the opportunity to attract customers with more money to spend on large-ticket items such as furniture. However, retailers must learn how to reach a customer base that is embracing e-commerce while still craving quality in-store experiences.

Retailers are also working with a varied group of consumers who differ in their shopping habits and preferences when it comes to what they value in a retail experience. Many of these consumers lean heavily on technology in their day-to-day lives and are attracted to retail brands that are both digitally savvy and in tune with their wants and needs.

Read on to learn more about how these and other major trends are currently driving the home furnishings industry.

 

Economic Growth

In 2018 a strong US economy led to an increase in personal disposable income and a boost in consumer confidence. These and other factors helped the year end on a high note, including a significant increase in holiday spending. In-store and online sales during the 2018 holiday season topped $850 billion, the highest in six years. The economic growth that occurred prior to and during 2018 was also marked by low unemployment rates and a boom in housing, which is a promising trend for furniture and other home furnishings retailers.

shopping

Despite recent growth, however, not all retailers thrived. Major companies such as Sears and Mattress Firm filed for bankruptcy, while others are still struggling to find their way in the market. Going forward, experts anticipate that the furniture market will continue to grow, but retailers are still facing uncertainty due to trade issues.

 

Generational Spending

Another challenge for today’s furniture retailers lies in the changing demographics that are currently shaping the retail economy. Millennials are poised to overtake baby boomers in number during 2019. This means that retailers must find ways to reach millennials and tap into their buying power, which Money Inc. reports is currently around $600 billion.

Meanwhile, a younger group of consumers known as Generation Z is beginning to enter adulthood. By 2020, this group will account for one-third of the population. Fortunately for retailers, millennials and Generation Z value similar things in a retail experience. Retail leaders who focus on digital promotion while providing personalized services will have the most success with these two consumer groups.

 

An Evolving Market

In addition to changing demographics, retailers must also contend with an evolving market environment, requiring the development of new strategic plans. Despite claims that retail is dead, it’s important to remember that changing consumer attitudes and behaviors have always shaped the market and led to changes in the way retailers do business.

Today, the current retail evolution is all about customer engagement rather than customer acquisition. Regardless of whether it’s online or in a brick-and-mortar store, the modern consumer prefers retail businesses that offer quality products, personalized services, and unique experiences.

 

Brick-and-Mortar Retail Gets Creative

In order to attract the modern consumer and compete with online giants like Amazon, brick-and-mortar retailers are focusing more on providing a top-notch in-store experience. The good news for those in furniture retail is that a large majority of consumers still prefer to purchase furniture at a physical store location. This means that today’s retailers who fail to inspire customers to visit their store are losing out on a large market segment.

shopping

Successful retailers know that getting customers into a furniture store starts with marketing, but persuading them to stay and, ultimately, make a purchase relies on other factors. Well-organized merchandizing along with displays that enable customers to easily find and physically interact with the available products increases engagement. Creative visual displays, friendly salespeople, and a welcoming atmosphere can also encourage customers to spend more time in a store, which can translate into increased sales.

 

Retailers Embrace Technology

Although brick-and-mortar dominates furniture retail, digital technology still plays a major role in the overall customer experience. Recent statistics show that only 14 percent of consumers prefer to purchase furniture through a website, but over 90 percent of customers will browse online for products before ultimately making a purchase. Furniture retailers are wise to use technology to improve consumers’ website experiences and get more people into their stores.

Savvy retailers are also leveraging technology to engage with consumers and learn more about their shopping preferences. Maintaining a social media presence is rapidly becoming a necessity, and collecting customer data to personalize services, marketing efforts, and product offerings is now commonplace practice.

Consumer awareness, however, is creating a demand for a balance between privacy and personalization. Rather than relying on third-party data sets, retailers are shifting to “zero-party data,” which uses technology to collect information that customers willingly share with companies.

couch

Here Are 3 Simple Tips to Help Boost Customer Loyalty

Any business leader working in retail understands how important customer satisfaction is to their bottom line. All too often, however, retailers focus so much on attracting new customers that they forget to nurture their existing customer base, which is crucial to maintaining a thriving business.

Furniture retailers, in particular, can be a bit neglectful when it comes to building customer loyalty. This is because many furniture shoppers make a major purchase only every five years or so. However, there are a number of things that retailers can do to shorten the interval between customer visits and ensure that customers return time and time again to make purchases both large and small. The following tips provide some easy ways to boost customer loyalty in any area of retail.

 

  1. Offer a loyalty program.

There are an estimated 3.8 billion individual loyalty program memberships in the United States, but the question is: Do these programs work?

The answer is both “yes” and “no.” While the average consumer belongs to over 13 loyalty programs, they actively use fewer than half. That’s why it’s important for retailers to make sure their programs offer attractive awards and a personalized shopping experience. Rather than sending out the same offers to all members, use the customer data collected through the program to provide relevant offers to each member.

paying-1438142_1280

When considering what to offer, keep in mind that consumers are most likely to stay active in a program that gives them free samples and discounts. Customers also appreciate being able to access their loyalty programs via their mobile phones. Investing in this type of capability may increase customer participation.

Doing all you can to engage rewards members will pay you in spades—research has shown that over 85 percent of customers are loyal to the business where they maintain active rewards program memberships.

 

  1. Communicate with your customers.

You can’t expect to build or maintain a loyal customer base if you don’t reach out regularly to past customers. To do this, it’s best to use multiple channels of communication, including e-mail and traditional mail. These two channels are particularly useful for communicating store news and sending out promotional offers and discounts to customers.

In this day and age, it’s also very important that you leverage the power of social media to communicate with customers and give them a place to interact with your business and each other. Maintaining a strong online presence via Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms can take some effort, but the payoff comes in the form of free, direct access to your customers 24/7. Social media also gives you the opportunity to show the personal side of your business as you build an engaged community with a steady stream of posts and comments.

In addition, social media sites provide an excellent platform to respond to concerns and feedback and show consumers that you value their opinions and are committed to offering top-notch customer service. This, in turn, can lead to greater customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth recommendations, which can bring new customers through your doors.

 

  1. Focus on providing a great customer experience.

Whether you’re interacting with customers online, over the phone, or in person, your main focus should be on making the experience as positive as possible. Recent research has shown that a large majority of consumers believe that the quality of a company’s customer service reflects how much they value the people who shop in their stores. All in all, a customer who does not feel valued by a business isn’t likely to stay loyal to the brand.

business

Creating a great experience with every interaction will help you stand out from the competition and keep customers returning to you when they’re looking to make a purchase. It’s important to note that providing consistently good service to each customer requires the efforts of everyone in your store. Business owners and managers may set the bar, but lower-level staff members are typically the direct link between your business and its customers.

Assembling a strong team of employees and training them to be friendly, helpful, and efficient is the best thing that you can do in the customer service department. Always keep in mind that your customers have a number of choices when it comes to where they shop. If they feel valued and respected regardless of whether they make a purchase, your customers will reward you by bringing repeat business and recommending your store to family and friends.

couch

What You Need to Know about the 2019 Winter Las Vegas Market

lasvegasmarketIt’s time to register for the 2019 Winter Las Vegas Market, which will bring together retailers, designers, and other professionals for four days of programming focused on furniture, gifts, and home decor. As one of the home furnishing industry’s most anticipated events, the Las Vegas Market features an unmatched product showcase comprising over 4,000 brands from leading manufacturers, as well as emerging companies.

While exploring the more than 5.4 million square feet of showroom space, attendees at the 2019 Winter Market will have an opportunity to view the latest furniture, home decor, bedding, lighting, and upholstery. Las Vegas Market will also feature a wealth of networking activities alongside unmatched educational programming offering insights into the latest industry trends. If you plan to attend, here are five things to know before you go:

 

  1. Market Dates, Hours, and Location

The 2019 winter edition of Las Vegas Market will take place January 27-31 at Las Vegas’ World Market Center. The venue comprises three separate buildings and two temporary pavilions. Showrooms in Buildings A, B, and C, featuring furniture, bedding, decor, and outdoor items, will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from January 27-30 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on January 31.

As home to exhibits featuring gifts and antiques, as well as handmade and artisanal products, the temporary pavilions will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. most days of the Market. The final day to visit Pavilion 1 will be Wednesday, January 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Attendees will still have an opportunity to explore Pavilion 2 on Thursday, January 31, but the space will only be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

  1. How to Register

As a trade show for professionals in the home decor, furnishings, and gift industries, Las Vegas Market is completely free to attend for those who can provide proof-of-trade documentation, which can include industry-related business licenses, business cards, and past invoices from Las Vegas Market exhibitors. All attendees are also required to provide state- or government-issued photo identification.

Las Vegas Market offers pre-registration for buyers and suppliers, independent business representatives, and non-exhibiting manufacturers. After arriving at the Market, registered attendees can pick up their required registration badges at special scan-and-go locations and partner hotels. Those who forget to pre-register or who prefer to register in person can take advantage of the on-site registration services available on each day of the event.

 

  1. Lodging Options

For its 2019 winter event, Las Vegas Market has negotiated special rates with 26 area hotels. While rates vary from one property to the next, guests can expect to pay anywhere from $39 to $275 per night at one of the Market’s official housing partners. Those who book a room through Las Vegas Market aren’t required to pre-pay for their stay, and each registered guest is entered into a special drawing for show tickets, dinner, hotel upgrades, and other incentives. Of course, attendees also have the option of handling their own housing registration at one of the many available Las Vegas hotels.

 

bedroom

 

  1. Seminars and Events

In addition to providing a variety of exhibits, the main attractions at Las Vegas Market will include seminars, discussions, networking activities, and other special events. During the 2019 winter edition of the Market, attendees will have an opportunity to take part in learning activities focused on design trends and business management. The educational programming will include discussions on tableware, urban design, home accessories, and e-commerce. The Market will also feature seminars on merchandising, business profitability, and client relations.

In order to help attendees to navigate the showroom displays, Las Vegas Market is offering the special Furniture Market 411 Tour on Sunday, January 27, and Monday, January 28. Hosted by designer Glen Peloso, the 411 Tour will help designers and retailers to find the products and suppliers that will work best for their business. The Market will also offer attendees the popular FIRST LOOK tour, which will highlight the latest products in categories such as furniture, gifts, housewares, and handmade products.

Featuring many opportunities for networking, Market will offer guests the chance to attend an evening reception nightly from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Grand Plaza Courtyard of Building A. The relaxing reception will feature music and a cash bar. Other notable networking activities that will be held as part of the Winter Las Vegas Market include the 2019 WOW Awards Dinner and the 2019 Housewares Design Awards Celebration.

 

  1. The Market App

Available on both the App Store and Google Play, the Las Vegas Market app is the perfect tool to help attendees to plan and enjoy their Market experience. The app includes floorplans, an exhibitor directory, and product lists that attendees can access while on the go. Additionally, the app features the Market Planner tool, which offers attendees an opportunity to create a custom itinerary for each day of the event.

fabric

A Beginner’s Guide to Furniture Upholstery – All You Need to Know

With the exception of all-wood chairs and benches, nearly all furniture pieces meant for sitting and lounging are covered—at least partially—with some sort of upholstery. Along with providing comfort, upholstery fabric is perhaps the most prominent stylistic feature of any chair, sofa, or ottoman. Upholstery also gets more use than any other furniture element, so it’s important that it can stand up to daily wear and tear.

Knowing your options when it comes to furniture upholstery can help you in picking out pieces that are best suited to your needs. Depending on the intended use, you may want to choose an upholstered piece covered in tough, long-lasting fabric that can resist stains and fading. In some cases, you can get by with a less durable fabric. In order to gain a better understanding of your options, check out this guide that covers natural and synthetic upholstery commonly used in the furniture industry.

 

living-room

 

Natural Upholstery Fabrics

Natural upholstery fabrics are those comprising fibers and materials derived from plants and animals. Although some natural fabrics can be difficult to keep clean, many homeowners prefer the look that only natural materials can provide. While there are many options to choose from, here are a few of the most common ones:

Cotton – Cotton is one of the strongest and most durable natural upholstery options available. In addition to resisting fading and wear, cotton is fairly resistant to wrinkling and soiling, especially when blended with other fibers for added strength and durability. Cotton also can also be readily dyed, which makes it a great choice for many furniture pieces.

Linen – Unlike cotton, linen is not very resistant to soiling or wrinkling. However, this naturally lustrous fabric does resist pilling, abrasion, and fading. While it isn’t necessarily the best choice for casual family rooms, linen works perfectly for furniture pieces in formal dining and living areas.

Leather – Depending on the quality, leather typically lasts longer than most upholstery options. Leather is also very easy to clean and maintain, which is great for families with small children. It’s important to remember that leather pieces can vary in terms of grade and treatment, and this affects both price and overall quality. Be sure to do a bit of research to find the best leather furniture for your home.

Wool -If you’re looking for a very durable and sturdy upholstery fabric, wool is definitely worth considering. Made of animal hair, wool can be found in everything from sofas and chairs to carpeting and rugs. When it’s used for seating, the fabric is typically blended with synthetic and other natural fibers to improve texture, durability, and stain resistance.

Velvet – Velvet upholstery has been on-trend in recent years, and there are no signs that it is going away anytime soon. Its renewed popularity is due in part to advancements in fabric technology that have made today’s velvet more resistant to staining, fading, and abrasions than the velvet of the past. In terms of comfort, texture, and richness, velvet upholstery is hard to beat.

 

chair

 

Synthetic Upholstery Choices

When it comes to a heavy-use material such as upholstery, two of the most important qualities to consider are durability and ease of care. Today’s consumers have a number of manmade fabric options to choose from, and most are tough, fade-resistant, and very simple to clean. Take a look at these options:

Nuvella – Exclusive to Ashley Furniture, Nuvella is an extremely durable performance fabric used on both indoor and outdoor furniture pieces. While it protects against spills and stains, if it does become soiled, it can be cleaned up very easily. In addition, Nuvella is made with 100 percent recyclable fiber, which makes it a great choice for those looking to reduce their environmental impact.

Microfiber – A dense material, microfiber offers the aesthetic qualities of suede while providing greater durability and resistance to moisture. This knit-blend polyester fabric is also much easier to clean than real suede, and its low cost is ideal for those on a budget. Microfiber is particularly well suited for casual seating in family rooms and other high-traffic areas.

Faux Leather–If you want the look of leather without the price tag, faux leather is really your only option. In terms of construction, you have the choice of polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl). Vinyl synthetic leather is easier to clean and maintain than PU, a fabric which is softer, more breathable, and more flexible.

Nylon – Although nylon is rarely used on its own, it is a common synthetic upholstery material that works great in a variety of pieces. When blended with other materials, it creates a soil- and wrinkle-resistant upholstery fabric that stands up well over time.

Polyester – Like nylon, polyester is a synthetic fabric that works best when used with other materials. In addition to cotton and wool, polyester is often combined with velvet in order to eliminate crushing. Polyester blends are also resistant to fading, wrinkling, and pilling.

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.

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.

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.