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From Home Furnishing Business

What Sells: Sweet Retreat

By Jason Schneider,

"Go to your room.”

Growing up, 30 or more years ago, those might’ve been words that struck fear in our hearts. What could be worse than being cooped up in a bedroom, away from friends, television, or any other source of fun or entertainment?

But now, bedrooms are havens, providing a quiet retreat that’s a pleasure, not a punishment. Casual styles and light finishes reflect the comfortable atmosphere consumers are craving.

“We’re finding shoppers are looking for styles that aren’t fussy or formal, but instead are more casual and comfortable,” says Bryan Sprinkles, national sales and marketing manager, John Thomas. “Finishes and fabrics used are neutral and warm, and as always, they want value.”

Added value

Two things, it seems, never go out of style with consumers—value and functionality.

“Consumers are always looking for value first, and that is a combination of good design, quality, and of course price,” says Geoff Beaston, vice president, case goods, Klaussner. “Once that is satisfied, they are excited about special features that address storage and function such as power outlets in case pieces and also surprises like secret drawers for jewelry storage.”

Finding designs that fit their style is also of value to consumers. Neutral colors—which are popular now, says Sprinkles—provide a blank canvas for buyers.

“When furnishings are neutral shoppers can incorporate color and pattern in their bedding, upholstery, and window treatments,” he says. “Shoppers will, smartly, continue to look for value, getting the most for their money, but first they’ll look for designs that have a lot of look. They’ll look for furnishings that are interesting, but not so far-out that the design is out of their comfort zone.”

Lighter finishes, including light grays, have been popular in the last few years, says Diana Zaldivar, vice president of sales and merchandising, International Furniture Direct. “Also, the solid wood story has been gaining popularity. I believe the consumer has been requesting it. More people now see the value of real wood and they go for it, even if it requires a bit of a bigger investment for them,” she says.

“We have been experimenting and having fun with the mix-and-match concept in bedroom,” she adds. “Someday it will become more digestible for retailers.”

Scaling down

Clean, modern styles are the most popular for bamboo furniture manufacturer Greenington, says Mary Settle, marketing.

“We see an increasing trend for platform beds, which do not require a separate mattress foundation, especially with the new popularity of the ‘mattress in a box,’” she says. “Greenington’s platform beds meet most mattress manufacturer’s warranty requirements with flying colors, as our platform beds are shipped with a sturdy foundation of solid bamboo slats.”

Scale is also a consideration. “With tighter living spaces, we also see an increased demand for smaller scale, beds, dressers and chests for both the suburban homeowners and metro area consumers residing in condos,” says Settle.

“The sizing of bedroom items to accommodate smaller spaces is an important trend,” says Beaston, adding that safety is a concern as well. “We are dedicated to meeting or exceeding all voluntary industry standards with regard to safety,” he says.

Also of growing importance to consumers is sustainability. “We see a growing number of educated consumers shopping with increased awareness and focus on organic natural sleep surfaces and environmentally safe sleeping surroundings,” says Settle. “As the demand for earth’s resources increases, the ability to source available quality materials will also become an issue. Greenington Moso bamboo is an environmentally friendly, renewable resource harvested from fully sustainable and rapidly growing forests.”

Looking ahead, Zaldivar, says, “I think other industries like mattresses and electronics will dictate what we need to accommodate our bedrooms designs and configuration. People also want to reflect their personality with their home decor and furniture, so we’re looking at eclectic trends that I believe will keep coming.”​

Keys to success

Pricing and having items in stock are two keys for success for John Thomas.

“We’re not the least expensive in our category, yet we’re competitively priced and shoppers see the value in solid wood furnishings. Too, we focus on styles that are easy to work with and are not terribly segmented,” says Sprinkles. “As well, shoppers want something as quickly as possible. When we see something working at retail, we do our best to make sure we have reliable stock ready for shipping.”

What makes a bestseller for Klaussner? “The answer to that is simple,” says Beaston. “We have good design, quality, and price thus we are a value. We start with those three things and then we add stories like Trisha Yearwood and Carolina Preserves, creating emotion at retail and the results are some of the bestselling collections in the industry.”

For Greenington, the “wow factor” makes their bestsellers. “Greenington’s uniquely beautiful designs and clean modern styles really get the attention of the new younger consumers,” says Settle. “Being a factory direct source gives us the ability to develop, design, and build new introductions to which we market test with our dealers before production.”

Quality, good looks, and value are what consumers are looking for, says Zaldivar. “Beds that are able to accommodate adjustable mattress bases are still a big request. Popular styles for us are still farmhouse rustic, live edge looks,” she says. “There is still a ‘sea of brown’ out there in some furniture stores; a splash of ‘different’ always catches the eye.​”

Taking a look at the data

Data from Impact Consulting, parent company of Home Furnishings Business, shows the two most popular primary styles of bedroom furniture are Traditional (38.14%) and Contemporary (37.63%). A distant third is Country/Rustic, at 9.28%, followed by Country/European and Mission/Shaker, both at 4.64%, then Transitional at 3.61% and Cottage at 2.06%.

Asked “What bedroom items have you purchased in the last two years?”, 56.7% answered headboard/footboard; 53.61%, dresser; 53.09%, night stand; 25.26%, chest; 13.4%, platform; 12.89%, desk; and 9.28%, armoire. Answering “other” was 16.49%.

The $1,000-2,999 range was most popular (50.52%) when asked “If you were purchasing new bedroom furniture today, how much would you expect to pay for a bedroom suite: queen bed, mirror, dresser, chest, and night stand?” Coming in second, at 28.87%, was the $3,000-7,999 range; and third was below $1,000, at 18.04%. Just 2.58% would expect to pay more than $8,000.

Consumers would be willing to pay for customization; asked “How much extra would you be willing to pay for bedroom furniture that you could customize (color, finish, etc.)?”, 25.77% responded $100-250 more and 24.23% answered $250-500 more. 18.56% would pay less than $100 more, 14.43% would pay $500-1,000 more, and 8.25% would pay more than $1,000 more. Just 8.76% said they would not be willing to pay extra for customizable bedroom furniture.

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