Technology

pets

How to Select and Protect Pet-Friendly Furniture and Décor

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

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

 

Keep Fabric in Mind

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

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

pet

 

Use Colors and Patterns to Your Advantage

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

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

 

Think Durability

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

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

 

Get Prepared to Clean

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

cat

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

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

 

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff

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

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

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living-room

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

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

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

 

  1. Increased Mobile Payment Optimization

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

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

online shopping

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

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

 

  1. 3D Visualization Tools

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

e-commerce

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

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

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

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

kitchen

Kitchens and Dining Rooms – How to Get the Most out of Your Space

Although they are often a hub for daily activity in the home, the kitchen and dining areas can easily get overlooked when it comes to furnishing and decorating. In some cases, the space may be cramped or hindered by an odd layout that makes finding the right furniture and décor challenging.

Fortunately, a number of innovative options are readily available in stores. You can also find plenty of creative solutions for overcoming any challenges related to either space or layout.

 

Recent Dining Room and Kitchen Trends

To get the most out of your kitchen and dining room, it can help to know about some of the top trends that are showing up in these spaces. While the use of rustic wood and repurposed materials continues to be popular, a trend toward a sleek and minimalist design is also on the rise in kitchens and dining rooms. Those who prefer an uncluttered look are achieving it by using hidden drawers and inconspicuous cabinets to tuck away dishes, kitchen gadgets, and other items.

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As in other areas of the home, more technology is also finding its way into the kitchen and dining spaces. This includes everything from Wi-Fi enabled coffeemakers to Bluetooth speakers and automatic lighting. Many homeowners, however, are choosing to skip these modern touches in favor of natural materials and vintage-inspired décor.

 

Learning to Maximize Your Layout

Regardless of whether you opt for a trending design or choose to go your own way, you’ll want to start by examining how to get the most out of your current layout. In the dining room, this process will focus heavily on your dining set.

A formal dining room often has the table and chairs as the centerpiece. However, you shouldn’t hesitate to add some bookshelves alongside an armchair and/or bench to make the space a bit more functional. When it comes to a dual-purpose dining room, you can maximize your layout by turning the dining set into a multi-use space for eating, socializing, and studying.

As far as the kitchen layout goes, your options may be limited due to permanent fixtures such as cupboards, cabinets, and islands. That doesn’t mean you can’t look for ways to get more out of the space, however.

To accomplish this, you can take a few pointers from the restaurant industry. Be sure that flow follows function by storing items close to where they’ll be used. This includes keeping prepping items next to cutting surfaces and cooking tools next to the oven and stovetop. It’s a good idea to keep as much open counter space as possible so that you have plenty of room for working and storing kitchen essentials.

 

Selecting the Right Seating

Choosing the appropriate seating for your kitchen and dining areas is part of optimizing your space. The traditional dining chair is probably the first thing that comes to mind here, but it certainly isn’t your only option.

Recently, benches and other banquette-style seating have risen in popularity. In homes without a specific dining area, these options are perfect for creating a space-saving dining nook.

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Those who are tight on kitchen and dining space will want to consider the versatility of bar stools. Stools can slide up to an island or kitchen counter. They can also be conveniently tucked away in a corner until an extra guest is in need of a place to sit.

Whether you’re looking for dining chairs, a kitchen bench, or bar stools, it’s important to obtain the right items for your needs. Before visiting a furniture store, take a few measurements in the area where the items will be used. That way, you get something that is the appropriate size for the space.

Also, don’t forget to think about specific styles and features. For instance, bar stools are available with no backs, small back lips, and full backs. You shouldn’t neglect to consider these kinds of features because they can affect both the look and feel of your seating.

 

Storage Options

Keeping your kitchen and dining room uncluttered requires that you have the appropriate storage space for the items you use on a regular basis. Built-in cupboards, drawers, and shelving are all great, but many people need other storage options.

Fortunately, there are plenty of standalone pieces to choose from, including sideboards and buffets. These pieces are great for storing extra plates and tableware used in a dining room.

For the kitchen, you can find a wide variety of hutches that can be used for everything from pots and pans to everyday pantry items. If your kitchen is on the smaller side, something like a bar cart might be a good option. These versatile carts on wheels may be designed to hold liquor and glasses, but they can also work equally as well as a microwave stand, coffee bar, or convenient kitchen prep station.

end table and chair

End Tables and Accent Tables – A Complete Look at All You Need to Know

Whether it’s a casual family room or formal living area, creating a complete and functional space in the home requires a few essential furniture items. Of course, chairs and sofas are a must, but incorporating smaller, complementary furnishings can add notes of interest and pull everything together. This is where end tables and accent tables come in. Although many people give little thought to these types of pieces, learning how to use them in a stylish and thoughtful manner can take some practice. Here’s an informative guide to introduce you to the many table choices available:

 

Getting to Know Your Options

Before discussing style and design, it’s a good idea to take a broad look at what generally defines an end table and an accent table. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are some subtle differences between the two types of pieces. Of course, all tables have a flat surface and vertical legs and are constructed of similar materials. The main differences between end tables and accent tables, however, relate to location and function.

As the name suggests, an end table is typically placed on the end of a sofa or another piece of furniture to provide a surface for drinks, books, remote controls, and the like. An accent table, on the other hand, is used more freely in the home. They can be positioned next to or between other furniture pieces, but because they are more decorative in nature, they are often found against walls, under windows, and lining hallways.

 

end table

 

Design Styles

As you’ll quickly see when visiting a furniture store or browsing online, there’s definitely not a lack of options when it comes to end table and accent table designs. You can find classic-looking pieces featuring ornate details alongside rustic tables with weathered materials and interesting accents. Some of the specific styles available include cylindrical drum tables and trunk tables.

As far as end tables go, you’ll also encounter several options designed with function in mind. Some of the most popular of these styles include nesting tables, which quickly unstack to provide extra tabletop space. This is a great choice for those with a cramped living area. The C-table style is another utilitarian design option. These tables fit conveniently over the arm of a sofa or chair to provide the perfect surface for eating and drinking.

 

Size and Shape

End tables and accent tables are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. While the heights can vary, most of these types of tables are somewhere between 20 and 30 inches tall. The depth of end tables and accent tables is typically dictated by style and shape, which could be anything ranging from square or round to rectangular, triangular, half-circle, or free-form.

When it comes to choosing a table size, the main thing to focus on is ensuring that it will work for its intended use. For example, if you want an end table to go on either side of a sofa, you should look for one with a height that is within one or two inches of the sofa arm. This means that if your sofa’s arm is 23 inches off the ground, your table should be between 21 and 25 inches tall. Ideally, you’ll also want to find an end table with a depth that closely matches the piece of furniture it’s placed next to.

 

Materials

Like kitchen tables, end tables and accent tables can feature various materials, but the most common are wood, glass, and metal. As a versatile material that can stand up to heavy use over time, wood is probably the most popular choice. Wood can also be painted, which makes it a good option even for those who don’t like its traditional look.

glass coffee table

For accent tables that won’t receive as much use, materials that are more decorative than durable are also an option. Mosaic stone tiles and glass tabletops are popular. In addition to function, the main thing to consider when choosing a table material is the overall style. It’s also important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with mixing materials, as long as they complement one another and look pleasing to your eye.

 

Features

Unless it has a pedestal base, your end table or accent table will most likely come with at least one shelf below the top table surface. Drawers and covered storage compartments are also common. These provide a great solution for keeping clutter at bay in busy households. Other end tables and accent tables also feature a lipped tray top, which can keep cups, books, and decorative items safely corralled.

Some of the less common features to look for include leaves and wheels for those who want a table that is expandable or easy to move throughout the home. Many manufacturers also offer end tables that come with built-in lamps. This two-in-one option provides a functional and space-saving solution for a living room, office, or bedroom.

interior

10 Top Things to Know about Retail Marketing

Like all retailers, those in the furniture business rely on advertising and other forms of marketing to drive day-to-day sales. Regardless of whether you’re flying solo or leading a large team, you need to ensure that your marketing strategy is both affordable and effective at bringing customers into your store. Knowing what approach to take can be difficult, but understanding some marketing basics can help furniture retailers get the most out of their advertising dollars.

 

  1. Marketing is an investment.

The first thing to understand about retail marketing is that it should be viewed as an investment, rather than an expense. When used in the right ways, the money that you spend on advertising will attract and retain customers, boost sales, and increase business growth. Retailers who invest wisely in their marketing efforts should see a measurable return on that investment over time.

 

  1. Marketing budgets should be based on business goals.

Instead of planning a marketing budget based on sales percentages or total revenue, it’s better to allocate advertising dollars according to specific business goals. For instance, if you want to secure a certain number of new customers by the end of the quarter or the end of the year, you should consider what kind of advertising efforts it will take to accomplish your goal, and then budget accordingly.

 

business

 

  1. Not all advertising mediums are created equal.

Today’s retailers have access to a wide variety of advertising mediums, but that doesn’t mean that each one is as effective as the next. Choosing whether to focus more on traditional channels such as radio spots and print ads or digital outlets such as social media and pay-per-click advertising depends on a number of factors, including your brand image and marketing budget.

 

  1. Your target audience matters.

The most important factor to consider when selecting marketing channels and establishing an overall marketing strategy is your target audience. Retailers need to know their customers and understand how to reach them. Establishing a profile of current customers based on age, gender, locations, key occupations, income levels, and other factors will help you better direct your advertising efforts toward the right audience.

 

  1. There are plenty of low-cost marketing options.

When planning your marketing strategy, it’s important to remember that there are a number of ways to attract customers without breaking the bank. Some low-cost options to consider include in-store events, sales promotions, and sponsorships. Additionally, maintaining an active presence on social media provides a relatively easy way to connect with current and future customers without spending a dime.

 

  1. Manufacturers and other businesses can be marketing partners.

Another way to stretch your advertising budget is by partnering with the companies you work with on a day-to-day basis. If you plan to promote a specific brand or product, don’t hesitate to reach out to the manufacturer to see if they’re willing to collaborate on an advertising campaign. If you’re located in a busy commercial district, you can also work with neighboring businesses to attract more customers into the area.

 

chair

 

  1. A personal approach can be effective.

Taking a personal approach to promoting your business can go a long way toward attracting and retaining customers. Consider sending a personalized thank you note to those who make a large purchase or rewarding customer loyalty through individualized incentives and special offers. You can also get personal in the digital space with the help of modern tools that identify customers and track consumer behavior.

 

  1. Marketing automation and AI increase engagement.

Some of the modern tools at your disposal include marketing automation and artificial intelligence (AI). If you have an operational website, which is a key investment for any retailer today, you can use AI-based applications to better target customers based on their online shopping preferences. Automated emails and other online communications offer another way to engage with and provide a relevant online experience for each customer.

 

  1. Email marketing still works.

As a retailer, don’t overlook the effectiveness of emails. Even though much more sophisticated digital tools exist, email marketing still provides one of the most effective and affordable ways to reach out to customers. In fact, research has shown that email marketing offers a return on investment of up to 4,400 percent. You can capture email leads through your website by offering valuable information, discounts, and other exclusive offers to customers who sign up for your email subscriber list.

 

  1. It’s important to monitor marketing effectiveness.

Regardless of your overall marketing strategy, you or a member of your team needs to take an active role in monitoring your efforts. If you’ve purchased a radio or television ad, be sure that it is running at the correct times so that you get what you’ve paid for. You’ll also want to keep an eye on your digital advertising content and cut back on or eliminate anything that isn’t working. It may be a good idea to direct less of your marketing budget toward general advertising and more toward measurable marketing methods. These include emails, paid social media, and direct mail.

furniture

10 Furniture and Design Trends That Will Be Big in 2019

With the new year, it’s time to examine the latest trends that are shaping the look of furniture and home décor. Some of the trending styles from 2018 will stay strong through 2019, but others are just emerging in the world of design. Many design trends from decades past are also coming back in style as more people look to add some personality to their living spaces. Still, there are plenty of modern design features that continue to grow in popularity along with the increase in urban living and concern over the environment. In no particular order, here are 10 of the top trends to watch for throughout 2019 and beyond.

 

  1. Retro Chic

Today’s dynamic interiors are fully embracing retro colors and shapes, particularly those from the ’60s and ’70s. The long-lasting “boho chic” style remains quite popular and fits in perfectly with emerging retro trends. Some of this retro styling is showing up in the form of curved throwback furniture and velvet upholstery fabric, which has made a triumphant return to the design scene in recent years.

 

  1. Natural Materials

While smart furniture and tech-focused design were big in 2018, people have started to shift gears a bit to embrace a more natural look within their homes. Wood, stones such as granite and quartzite, and even concrete are all on-trend in 2019. Other materials to look for include natural fabrics on upholstered furniture, cushions, and tapestries.

living room

 

  1. More Metal

An ever-popular material for fixtures, furniture, and accent pieces, metal will continue to feature prominently in interiors. However, the use of metal is changing somewhat to include more innovative designs. A shift is also occurring away from rose gold, polished nickel, and stainless steel toward new favorites such as copper, brass, and blackened metals.

 

  1. Multifunctional and Compact Furniture

A rise in urban living among Millennials and other demographics has led to greater demand for flexible furniture that is easy to move and serves more than one purpose. Stackable seating, expandable and foldable tables, and convertible sofas are just a few of the furniture pieces whose popularity will continue to grow in the coming months. These space-saving solutions are great for those with tight living quarters and small apartments, but they’re also perfect for people embracing minimalism and clean lines in homes of all sizes.

 

  1. Art Deco

Despite a move toward smaller living spaces, many people still crave luxury and glamour in their homes. This craving for a touch of opulence is driving a renewed interest in Art Deco design, which many designers believe will become quite popular in 2019. Watch for hints of Art Deco in textile designs and furniture silhouettes, as well as in furniture colors and detailing.

 

  1. Cozy Beds and Bedrooms

It’s safe to say that many people would list their bed among their favorite furniture items in their home. More than just a spot for sleeping, a bed provides a sense of comfort and safety, and more people are looking to turn theirs into the ultimate oasis for relaxation. You can expect to see more beds featuring headboards and footboards covered in comfortable upholstery. Canopy beds are also growing in popularity as the trend toward cozier bedrooms continues to gain steam.

4 post bed

 

  1. Bold Colors

Although light blushes and timeless black and white furnishings are still in style, many people are getting more adventurous with their color choices. The design palette of 2019 will feature more bold colors on walls and furniture. Some of the hues to look for include deep greens, striking yellows, and tonal reds.

 

  1. Geometric Patterns

Geometric patterns are certainly not a new design trend, but many experts are expecting to see a different type of geometric design rise to prominence in 2019. Oversized patterns featuring asymmetrical shapes and bold colors are becoming increasingly popular, thanks in part to the fact that many people are looking to bring a jolt of energy into their living spaces. Those who aren’t quite ready to embrace bold patterns on walls or larger furniture can still cash in on the trending look with geometric throws, pillows, and other accents.

 

  1. Matte Finishes

In 2018, matte black finishes emerged as the top trending finish choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Those who appreciate the sleek look will be glad to know that matte black is likely to stay on-trend throughout 2019. You can expect to see it on flooring, seating, lighting, and home décor items. Matte finishes on other colors are also growing in popularity as a choice for dressers, sideboards, and other furniture.

 

  1. Sustainability

Within the last decade or so, a growing demand for sustainable products has emerged in many industries, including home furnishings. Along with the trend favoring wood, stone, and other natural elements, 2019 will see more people looking for sustainable décor items made of materials such as jute, rice paper, bamboo, and clay. Sustainable furniture and textiles comprising eco-friendly fabrics will also be part of the trend.

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.

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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.

 

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Simple Checkouts

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

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

tiny home

How to Make the Most of Your Small Living Area

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

Here are some tips to get you started:

Think about the essentials

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

 

tiny home

Image courtesy Inhabitat | Flickr

 

Consider your seating carefully

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

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

 

Invest in multi-functional and flexible pieces

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

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

 

Add functionality and personality with accessories

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

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

 

tiny house

Image courtesy Nicolás Boullosa | Flickr

 

Use design to your advantage

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

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

 

Don’t waste space

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

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

Quick and Easy Tips to Protect and Clean Your Furniture

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

 

General Furniture Care Tips

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

sofa

 

  1. Read the care label.

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

 

  1. Avoid direct sunlight and heat.

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

 

  1. Rearrange from time to time.

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

 

  1. Lift, don’t drag.

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

 

  1. Protect surfaces.

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

 

Protecting Wooden Furniture

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

wood furniture

 

  1. You must dust.

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

 

  1. Mind the chemicals.

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

 

  1. Avoid moisture.

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

 

  1. Keep the polishing to a minimum.

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

 

  1. Make timely repairs.

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

 

Caring for and Cleaning Leather and Upholstery

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

leather furniture

 

  1. Always test cleaning products.

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

 

  1. Blot, don’t wipe.

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

 

  1. Use a leather conditioner.

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

 

  1. Flip and rotate cushions.

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

 

  1. Know your upholstery cleaning codes.

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

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.