Sustainable

sideboard

8 Tips for Putting Your Sideboard to Good Use

A sideboard, also known as a buffet, is a long, low-profile storage and service piece that first began appearing in homes during the late 18th century. The earliest versions were based on a design by Scottish architect and furniture maker Robert Adam, and they were primarily used in the dining room to serve platters of food and to store cutlery, napkins, dishes, and other table items. While they still have their place in the dining room, these versatile pieces of furniture are essential storage solutions that can be found in nearly every room of a home. Whether you already have one—or several—or you are simply considering if it’s the right piece for your needs, check out the following eight tips to learn how to put a sideboard to good use.

 

  1. Keep It in the Dining Room

If you entertain often or gather regularly for family meals, a sideboard is definitely a piece of furniture you’ll want to use in your kitchen or dining room. Here, you can use it to store silver cutlery, fine china, tablecloths, candleholders, and just about anything else you’ll need to host a fabulous dinner party for your friends and family. The sideboard surface is also ideal for serving both hot and cold foods. However, you may want to invest in a natural stone or tempered glass top to protect it from burns, spills, and scratches.

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  1. Make It the Focal Point of Your Family Room

Outside of the dining area, the first place that many people use a sideboard is in their family room. Due to its long and narrow shape, a sideboard works great as a design piece for holding lamps and vases. It also works perfectly as a media center that can hold a TV, speakers, game console, and other essentials, while keeping cords, wires, CDs, and DVDs out of sight in the drawers and cabinets below.

 

  1. Use It to Create a Cleaner Workspace

Those who work from home or maintain a separate area for paying bills or helping their children with homework can use a sideboard to keep clutter from overtaking their workspace. If you’re tired of files, stacks of paper, and odds and ends such as paper clips and boxes of staples taking over your desk, a sideboard can be the perfect solution. It also provides a convenient space for a printer, scanner, and other office gadgets.

 

  1. Give Your Hallway a Boost

Tight spaces such as hallways and entryways can be difficult to furnish. However, it’s often nice to have a spot in these areas to hold items such as your keys, hats, gloves, and lamps and extra storage space for things that don’t get much use around your home. If your hallway is wide enough, consider investing in a sideboard to add some extra style and functionality to the space.

 

  1. Create a Cocktail Bar or Entertainment Area

In addition to serving food, a sideboard can be easily converted into a casual bar for instant entertaining. Use the surface for bottles, ice, and garnishes, as well as to keep mixers, tumblers, trays, and glasses stored safely in the cabinets below. Be sure to store glasses on a non-skid liner, and if you want to add an extra touch, consider investing in a suspended storage unit to hang stemware above the sideboard surface.

 

  1. Break Up An Open Living Area

While an open design concept can work great for many families, it can sometimes be difficult to define multiple spaces. Along with providing a spot for both functional and decorative items, the long and low sideboard can be just the piece you need to show where one living area ends and another one begins. The sideboard is particularly well-suited to sit behind a “floating” couch in an area that combines a living room and eating area.

 

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  1. Display Your Collections

If you collect knickknacks, pottery, small art pieces, or other decorative items, a sideboard may provide the perfect spot to display them. You can simply arrange them on the surface or find a sideboard with glass cabinet doors that give you the ability to show off your collection without having to worry about anything getting broken. A sideboard can also be used below your favorite painting or photograph to ensure that it stands out among other items in a room.

 

  1. Create Extra Storage

As functional as they are stylish, sideboards can be used for extra storage in any room of your home. Consider putting one in a playroom or multiple-use area to keep toys, books, art supplies, and other children’s items neatly tucked away. You can also bring a sideboard into a bedroom to provide extra storage for clothes, blankets, and linens. With their sleek design and narrow profile, sideboards can be particularly helpful for those who need to stay organized in a condominium, apartment, or small home.

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furniture

Here Is the Latest Community News from Ashley Furniture

As the world’s top furniture manufacturer, Ashley Furniture Industries maintains a strong presence in communities throughout the United States and over 120 other countries across the globe. With its manufacturing facilities and Ashley HomeStores, the company has grown in recent decades to become a billion-dollar enterprise comprising more than 800 retail locations. While the company is known for its quality products and designs, exceptional service, and unmatched value, Ashley is also recognized for supporting a wide range of worthy causes and organizations.

Through its community engagement efforts, the Wisconsin-based company directs funds and resources to various programs and activities in the areas of art, education, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility. Ashley Furniture’s recent work in the community demonstrates its commitment to giving back. The following provides an overview of what the company has been up to lately:

Hope to Dream Events Benefit Children in Memphis and Atlanta

Ashley’s giving programs include Hope to Dream, which provides twin mattresses, bed frames, pillows, and other bedding supplies to children across the country. Since founding the program in 2010, the company has donated more than 50,000 new beds with the help of various community partners.

At the end of the 2018 school year, Ashley HomeStore hosted a special event alongside Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. Approximately 50 Club members and their families took part in the event, which included a water balloon toss, face painting, and other fun activities. Before leaving, each child also received a mattress and bedding from the Hope to Dream program.

In Tennessee, Ashley recently partnered with the University of Memphis football team on a Hope to Dream event at the Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex. The event, which featured kids’ activities, football drills, and a facility tour, marked the fourth consecutive year that Ashley and the Memphis Tigers have worked together through Hope to Dream. In 2018, 100 children received mattresses and brand-new bed sets thanks to Ashley Furniture and the Memphis Tigers football program.

Ashley Employees Help Build Homes for Families in Need

Ashley HomeStore employees in Trenton, New Jersey partnered with the local Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing units for members of the local community. The partnership was made possible thanks to an internal program at Ashley HomeStore of Metro New York/New Jersey that encourages employees to take a day off work for community service projects. Throughout the month of May 2018, 60 Ashley employees supported the Habitat project. Ashley and Habitat’s combined efforts resulted in seven new homes.

Arizona Supportive Living Community Receives $100,000 in Furniture

In the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, a group of young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is now enjoying a completely furnished new living facility thanks to a donation from Ashley HomeStore. The 26 young men and women benefitting from the donation are residents of Treasure House, a supportive living environment founded by Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner and his wife, Brenda.

The facility features individual studio apartments built around several community areas, including a family-style kitchen, game room, and patio. Under the direction of Ashley HomeStore Senior Vice President Kurt Haines, Ashley provided the furniture for Treasure House to ensure that residents have a comfortable place to relax, socialize, and build new skills.

Ashley Furniture Builds Bikes for Arcadia-Area Students

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In its hometown of Arcadia, Wisconsin, Ashley Furniture Industries supports a variety of community initiatives. These include Ashley for the Arts, a weekend festival featuring music, art, and family-oriented entertainment.

Along with planning for the upcoming festival, the company recently partnered with Ashley’s Angels to donate bikes, helmets, and bike locks to 42 students from three local schools. Ashley employees training at the Ashley Leadership Institute built the 42 bikes as part of a team-building exercise to develop cooperation, communication, and other leadership skills.

Ashley’s Angels, a youth-focused nonprofit group founded by Ashley employees, delivered 14 bikes to each of the three schools in Arcadia and the nearby communities of Whitehall and Independence. The schools awarded the bikes to lucky second- and third-grade students through raffle-style drawings.

Since its founding in 1997, Ashley’s Angels has supported programs and initiatives assisting over 20,000 children in Wisconsin, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

College-Bound Young Men and Women Receive $285,000 in Scholarships

Throughout its history, Ashley Furniture Industries has focused much of its community giving on ensuring that students across the United States have access to quality education. As part of these efforts, the company provides scholarship opportunities for children of Ashley employees.

The opportunities include the Ashley Grants-in-Aid Scholarship and the Wanek Engineering and Design Scholarship, which provide one-time awards of $2,000 and $3,333, respectively. In 2018, Ashley Furniture distributed $285,000 to over 125 high school graduates. Over the years, the company has awarded more than 2,000 scholarships and directed millions of dollars toward education programming nationwide.

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.

An Insider’s Guide to the Las Vegas Market – What You Need to Know

lasvegasmarketlogoFurniture and home decor professionals from across the country gather at the biannual Las Vegas Market to see the latest styles and trends in home furnishings and interior design. The expansive market features more than 4,000 brands across over 5.4 million square feet of showroom space. In addition to furniture for all rooms in the home, the products on display include bedding, textiles, housewares, floor coverings, lighting, and wall décor.

The 2018 Summer Las Vegas Market takes place July 29 through August 2. Organizers of the five-day event are looking to build on the success of the 2018 Winter Market, which saw a record number of buyers and suppliers in attendance. Those planning to take part in the event can plan ahead so that they know what to expect when they get to Las Vegas. Check out this quick guide for valuable information about the Las Vegas Market.

 

Registration Details

The Las Vegas Market is free to attend. Registration for the event, however, is limited to those who work in the home furnishings, gift, and design trades. This includes furniture retailers and manufacturers, interior decorators, architects, and product distributors.

In addition to government-issued photo identification, all attendees are required to provide proof-of-trade documents to show that they are a member of the home furnishings and/or design industries. Las Vegas Market officials accept business cards and business licenses as well as previous Market purchase orders/invoices to establish proof-of-trade status.

Although guests are welcome to register for the Market at the on-site registration tent, event organizers recommend that attendees register online prior to their arrival. Those who register before the show can pick up their badges using scan-and-go kiosks at the registration tent and select partner hotels (Aria and the Golden Nugget).

 

Where to Stay

The Summer Las Vegas Market is partnering with over two dozen Las Vegas properties to provide attendees with special hotel rates for booking dates from July 28, 2018, to August 2, 2018. Depending on where one stays, daily rates at the partner hotels range from $28 to $270.

Attendees can choose to stay on the Las Vegas Strip or at one of the off-strip partner hotels, including Marriott Las Vegas, Springhill Suites, and Signature at MGM. Available properties also include non-gaming hotels such as Hilton Grand Vacations Club, Mandarin Oriental, and Elara.

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The Best Way to Get Around

To save on airfare, those flying into Las Vegas can book a flight with one of the Las Vegas Market’s partner airlines. Partners include WestJet, Air Canada, and United Airlines. Copa Airlines and Delta Air Lines are also offering discounted airfare for event attendees. Available discounts include rates up to 15 percent off the regular price.

After arriving in Las Vegas, Market attendees can rent a car or choose from other available transportation options, including taxis and on-demand car services such as Lyft and Uber. Low-cost shuttles from McCarren International Airport to Las Vegas hotels are also available. Attendees staying at select host hotels can also take advantage of complimentary shuttles to and from Las Vegas Market every morning, afternoon, and evening of the event.

 

Making the Most of the Market Experience

With so much to see and do at the Las Vegas Market, it can be difficult for both first-time and experienced attendees to know where to start. Fortunately, the Las Vegas Market offers numerous tools and resources to make it easier to plan for and explore the event.

The Market Planner is a new digital tool that allows attendees to create and save custom itineraries outlining the sessions they want to experience and the exhibitors they want to meet. Available for iPhone and Android devices, the Las Vegas Market app is another valuable attendee resource. The app, which is updated prior to each Las Vegas Market, includes floor plans, an exhibitor directory, seminar schedules, and a listing of available dining options.

Along with digital tools, Las Vegas Market offers a variety of print publications to help attendees get the most out of their visit. Available publications include the comprehensive Market Resource Guide, the Designer’s Guide to Las Vegas Market, Pavilions Magazine, and the First Look style guide, which highlights the top new trends and products featured at the Market.

 

Things to Do Afterhours

After a long day of exploring products and attending seminars, Market attendees can unwind at on-site happy hour bars or the spacious Grand Plaza Courtyard, which offers refreshments each evening of the event. Off the Market grounds, a number of fun activities are available for those who want to enjoy local attractions. Market organizers suggest side trips to the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory, the Neon Museum Boneyard, and the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts. More information about what to see and do during the Las Vegas Market is available at www.lasvegasmarket.com.

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.

security

4 of the Best Ways to Protect Customer Data

Maintaining personal information about your customers and employees is an important and often necessary part of business operations. The rise in online sales in the furniture industry and other areas of retail has led to the transfer of even more personal information from customers to businesses. Names, addresses, credit card numbers, and other account data are all used to fill orders and provide customers with a more efficient shopping experience. Unfortunately, this same data is a target of cybercriminals looking to profit from sensitive personal information.

While cyberattacks can affect businesses of all sizes, small businesses are especially vulnerable to this type of crime. In fact, nearly 50 percent of all cyberattacks are directed toward small business enterprises. When a hacker’s efforts are successful, businesses can lose the trust of their customers and face financial consequences serious enough to shut down their company. Fortunately, there are several relatively easy things that any business owner can do to protect their customers’ data. Here are a few strategies for implementing an effective data-security plan:

 

  1. Have a Strong Privacy Policy

Creating a detailed privacy policy provides business owners with an easy way to promote transparency and build trust among customers. While it’s necessary to ensure that the document is legally compliant, it should be written with the consumer in mind. Instead of using “legalese,” effective privacy policies should be written in simple language that is easy for anyone to understand.

Within the policy, it’s important to clearly outline what type of personal information is collected from customers. The document should also discuss how the business collects and uses the information and what measures are taken to protect it. Additionally, every privacy policy should provide contact information to help customers manage their personal data. There is no one right way to create a policy, but business owners should seek legal guidance to ensure that the document complies with state and federal laws related to data protection and privacy.

 

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  1. Know What Information Is on File

Even with excellent security measures in place, there is no way for a business owner to protect information that they don’t know they have. One of the first steps to take in implementing a data-protection plan involves taking stock of personal information by inventorying paper files, as well as computers, flash drives, mobile devices, and other electronic equipment.

Business owners should also work with managers and employees to identify what type of personal data is collected. Knowing where the data comes from and where it is stored is also important. Once a business identifies its data channels and storage sites, it will be much easier to track down the customer information it has on file.

 

  1. Get Rid of Unneeded Data

After locating and taking stock of all your stored customer data, the next step to take is to delete any unneeded personal information. There is no reason to store—or even collect—personally identifying information that is not integral to a business’ products and/or services. It is especially important to get rid of stored credit card numbers unless there is a legitimate reason to keep them on file. In addition to making data management more complicated, storing unnecessary customer information increases a business’ risk of being the target of a cyberattack.

 

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  1. Provide Proper Security for Any Stored Information

Of course, the most important thing a business owner can do to keep customer data out of the hands of criminals is to ensure that proper protective measures are in place. Effective data security begins with using the latest software to protect against viruses, malware, and spyware. In addition, it’s important to keep computer software, web browsers, and operating systems updated to protect against the latest threats.

In addition to using updated programs and computer systems, business owners should invest in a secure server. Although a dedicated server can be costly, the benefits that it offers are well worth it. A client-server setup provides centralized storage that gives businesses the ability to back up data and perform regular security updates across an entire network of computers. Servers also protect against computer viruses and worms, which can easily spread from one computer to another in a peer-to-peer setup.

Encryption technology is another way to protect sensitive information. Financial data, customer transactions, and even company emails can be encrypted to ensure that only authorized parties can read them. Encryption software works by scrambling information using a complex algorithm that can be very difficult to crack. This type of software is particularly important for businesses that use mobile devices to scan customer credit cards.

Regardless of how many security measures are in place, they will only be effective if employees implement them properly. Business owners should take the time to educate their staff members about how to handle customer information and identify data breaches. Creating a “culture of security” also requires regular training to keep employees updated on company privacy policies and the latest cyber threats facing the company.

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.

employee engagement

Practical Advice on How to Improve Employee Engagement

Maintaining a positive, productive, and profitable workplace requires employees who are engaged in their job and committed to giving their best every day. Engaged employees work harder and are willing to go the extra mile because they feel connected to their company. In a retail environment, such as furniture sales, employees who are committed and dedicated to their work help to increase sales and annual revenues while promoting customer loyalty and satisfaction. Satisfied employees are also much less likely to leave their jobs. Reduced employee turnover means that furniture retailers can save on the significant costs associated with hiring and training new workers.

Despite the many benefits that come with employee engagement, many business owners are failing or simply not trying to cultivate an engaged workplace. In fact, recent research found that nearly 35 percent of the American retail workforce is disengaged from their jobs. Fortunately, retail business leaders who are interested in boosting engagement among their employees can find success by following a few simple tips.

 

employee

 

Make Communication and Positivity a Priority

Communication is a crucial aspect of business operations for companies of all sizes. Business leaders who communicate their expectations to each employee will have greater success in attaining overall company goals. In addition to providing clear guidance and instruction, prioritizing communication in the workplace also involves embracing transparency and accessibility. Retail employees who view managers and owners as another part of the team that is available to assist them will have a deeper sense of investment in their work and the company.

Focusing on positive communication and taking time out to thank employees for their work are other ways that business leaders can improve workplace morale and engagement. Overly critical work environments are stressful and prevent employees from speaking their minds. Supportive and positive workplaces, on the other hand, foster engagement and motivate employees to perform at their very best.

 

Hire and Provide Support for Strong Managerial Staff

Much of the responsibility for promoting employee engagement lies with managers. The most successful managerial staff members are those who want their people to succeed and will provide the support and guidance they need to do so. Effective managers also understand their employees’ strengths and value their contributions to the company.

When hiring from outside sources or promoting from within, business leaders should focus on finding managers who possess the leadership traits needed to improve engagement among workers. Providing ongoing coaching and holding managers accountable for employee engagement are keys to continued success. Research has shown that companies with supportive managerial staff have employees that are 67 percent more engaged than those at non-supportive organizations.

 

management team

 

Implement Recognition and Reward Programs

It should go without saying that an employee who feels respected and valued for his or her work will be more motivated to continue supporting the company’s goals. Offering a simple verbal “thank you” can go a long way in showing appreciation for outstanding employees, but managers and business owners can take things a step further by providing employee rewards and incentives.

Recognizing employees with a “Wall of Fame” board, an employee of the month party, or shout out on social media can all be part of a rewards program. In the furniture retail industry, employers can motivate associates with leaderboards for top sales or number of hours worked during a busy season. Offering employee discounts for outstanding work is another way that retailers can engage sales associates while making them feel valued.

 

Give Employees Room to Grow

The potential for internal growth plays an important role in driving employee engagement. Regardless of the type of work that one does, it is difficult to remain engaged when daily tasks never change. For this reason, business owners looking to attract and retain top talent should examine the growth opportunities they provide to potential and current employees.

Although managers often correlate growth opportunities with a salary increase or a new job title, many employees can get the same satisfaction from growing within their current position. Providing employees with training and new leadership opportunities can be all that is needed to increase their engagement and break up the monotony of their day-to-day work.

 

employee

 

Do Something outside of Work

Along with allowing a little time for fun in the workplace, business leaders can promote employee engagement by organizing social events. Social activities outside of work give employees the chance to interact and develop personal relationships with one another in a relaxed environment. When teams of workers enjoy each other’s company, they are often more productive professionally.

Employees’ personal schedules can sometimes make it difficult for everyone to attend any one event, so companies should try to organize several throughout the year. Activities can include a company softball tournament or barbecue, weekly happy hour, or an evening at a professional sports venue. Bringing employees and managers together for volunteer projects also provides a way to increase engagement while maintaining a positive presence in the local community.

bedroom

Introducing What to See and Do at the 2018 Spring High Point Market

High Point MarketTwice a year, the nation’s home furnishings industry leaders visit High Point, North Carolina, to learn about the latest products and trends in home furniture and décor during the highly anticipated High Point Market. The biannual trade show features five days of education and networking activities for furniture retailers and manufacturers, designers, architects, and other professionals focused on home interiors.

Each High Point Market brings together more than 75,000 attendees for exhibits and presentations across 11.5 million square feet of show space. At the 2018 Spring Market, taking place April 14-18, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about thousands of new home furnishings products. Keep reading for a preview of what else guests will experience during the event.

 

A Focus on the Latest Trends

With tens of thousands of people on hand to learn about what’s next in the furnishings and interior design industry, High Point Market organizers put new and emerging trends at the center of the event’s programming. The 2018 Spring Market will highlight trends in luxury interiors, customizable and one-of-a-kind furniture, and eclectic design. Market programs will also focus on antique and reproduction décor along with eco-friendly and toxin-free home furnishings.

To help track the latest trends and hottest new looks on display, the High Point Market Style Spotters will be exploring showrooms throughout the event and sharing their top style and product picks online. Each year, eight fashion-forward designers make up the Style Spotters team; they host a panel discussion highlighting what attendees should look for at the Market. Following the discussion, which is dubbed Style Spotters Live, the designers will lead attendees on a tour of their favorite showrooms. At the 2018 Spring Market, Style Spotters Live will be held on the morning of Tuesday, April 17.

 

Professional Tips and Insights

Outside of the activities on specific styles and trends, Market attendees will have the opportunity to get tips and insights into how to grow their business and improve their professional knowledge and skills. Highlights of the Market’s professional learning activities will include the Design Viewpoints Series, a four-part seminar presented by the High Point Market Authority and the American Society of Interior Designers.

The 2018 Spring Design Viewpoints Series seminars will help design professionals learn how to develop legal contracts to protect their business interests and increase company profits through design fees. The Series will also include seminars on attracting new clientele and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

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Presentations from Business and Home Furnishings Leaders

Each High Point Market includes a number of presentations from top industry professionals and business experts. Market organizers offer the main presentations as part of the event’s keynote series, which features the people and ideas helping to advance the latest business and home furnishings trends.

Attendees at the 2018 Spring Market will hear from Trisha Yearwood, who will discuss her business ventures and tips for building brand awareness. The country singer and entrepreneur will address the Market audience while filming a special broadcast of her Facebook Live show, T’s Coffee Talk.

Alongside Yearwood, author and consumer futurist Doug Stephens will offer insight into how retail is changing and what business leaders can do to maintain and grow their customer base during the transformation. Following his keynote note on April 15, Stephens will host a book signing.

 

Hundreds of Exhibits

Many High Point attendees make the biannual trip to North Carolina to build new business relationships and see what the top companies in home furnishings and design are offering to industry professionals. Each year, more than 2,000 exhibiting companies show up at the Market to present their latest products and services.

Throughout the event, exhibitors host activities featuring food, entertainment, networking, and product introductions. The 2018 spring show will also feature a number of exhibitor-sponsored educational events, including workshops, seminars, and presentations.

 

Entertainment and Social Activities

To help attendees wind down after a long day of education and exhibits, High Point Market features a variety of social events. From early breakfasts and luncheons to evening receptions and cocktail parties, there are plenty of fun activities to enjoy each day of the Market. There are also a number of special events presented with support from exhibiting companies and the High Point Market Authority.

On Saturday and Sunday of the 2018 Spring Market, musical artists Con Brio and Lee Ann Womack will put on concerts for attendees as part of the Stars Under the Stars event. Con Brio will perform on Saturday, April 14, and Lee Ann Womack will take the stage Sunday evening. Free food and beverages will be provided at each concert, which will start at 7:30 pm.

In addition to the two performances, the spring show will feature Third Night, an exhibitor-sponsored gala with live music and themed showroom parties. The gala will be held at the Market’s Hamilton Wrenn Design District on the evening of April 16.