By: Sheila Long O'Mara
Gathering around the table to share a great meal has become the perfect bonding experience for growing, busy families.
To do that, families need a table at which to gather, and the furniture industry has come through with a wide variety of styles and looks to fill the bill.
While formal dining rooms seem to be becoming extinct in today’s homes — a sentiment echoed in the latest consumer survey by Home Furnishings Business — dining at home has not. Instead, they’ve shifted their dining location.
The 276 consumers who participated in our dining survey had shopped for dining room furniture for their homes within the last 18 months. More than 86 percent of them reported dining most frequently in their casual dining area or in the kitchen, and 13.5 percent said the formal dining room was their go-to spot for dining.
Their shopping patterns fall in line with that figure with 67.5 percent saying they were in the market to buy a casual dining group while the other 35.5 percent said they were seeking a formal dining group.
Busy family schedules filled with after-school activities for children, dual-income couples and other family activities have shifted the long-ago formal dinners to more casual affairs. That’s not to say coming together at the end of a full day takes on less importance. Today’s family is dining more casually, and dare we say more intimately, with lots of sharing of the day’s happenings from all family members.
The dining table — be it formal or casual — tends to be the hub of many homes and often serves multiple purposes. Consumers cited a number of activities that take place around the dining table, including sitting to talk (32.1 percent), watching television (17.8 percent), paying bills (16.4 percent), hobbies (13.6 percent), work (11.1 percent) and homework (9 percent).
Of those consumers shopping for casual dining styles, 43.5 percent bought a table and 42.6 percent also bought chairs within the last 18 months. Contemporary looks reigned with the consumers. More than 43 percent bought contemporary casual dining, while 28 percent opted for a traditional look. The remaining purchases were sprinkled among European country, rustic country, mission, cottage and transitional styles.
According to dining suppliers who submitted their top-selling dining groups, the industry offerings are inline with consumer trends and tastes. Consumers are on the prowl for casual, more livable dining options with little to no high gloss finishes for their casual dining areas. Nearly 60 percent say they prefer a medium gloss and 32.5 percent prefer a flat, dry finish.
Cherry, (26.5 percent) mahogany (29 percent) and oak (23.7 percent) score highest in preferred wood species among consumers in the casual dining market.
When it comes to pricing, consumers vary on their price expectations for a casual dining group — table and four chairs. More than 35 percent (35.6 percent) say they’d expect to pay between $600 and $999 for a casual dining suite. More than a fourth (25.6 percent) would pay $1,000 or more, while 21.6 percent peg the cost for a five-piece group at between $400 and $599.
Moving into the formal dining, 36.2 percent of the consumers who purchased the category within the last 18 months bought a table while 29.8 percent bought chairs, too.
As expected, price considerations for formal dining climbed beyond those of casual dining. Slightly more than half (50.7 percent) of consumers expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,999 for a formal table and six chairs. About 26 percent (26.2 percent) expect to pay less than $1,500, and 23.1 percent expect the group to cost between $4,000 and $11,999.
The style preferences for formal dining flip flopped from the casual dining category. More than 38 percent (38.7 percent) of the consumers say their dining room furniture is traditional, and 29.3 percent reported having a contemporary dining group. Medium gloss finishes come out ahead for formal dining as well with 65 percent saying that look is their preferred finish. Only 11.7 percent said they preferred a high gloss finish in their formal dining room.
Mahogany and cherry are the two referred wood species for formal dining with 35.5 percent selecting cherry as their top choice, and 31.5 percent opting for mahogany. Another 22.8 percent said they’d prefer an oak formal dining group.
A more in-depth report on the bedroom category is available for purchase by calling Natalia Hurd at (404) 390-1535 or via e-mail at NataliaHurd@ImpactConsultingServices.com
Dining’s percentage of 2014 furniture sales through 3Q
Dining sales through 3Q 2014
Dining’s sales growth between 2013 and 2014 through 3Q
Saloom’s Cresent Dining Table
“The maple table is available in a number of finishes offering a great amount of customization for our customer. We do a lot of COM on the upholstered seats, too.” Table retails at $1,200.
Winner’s Only Mango Dining Room
“Customers like the casual, relaxed style, and the warm finish on the mango wood with the metal accent details. The butterfly leave makes it easy to expand the table for gatherings plus there are coordinating stools and a gathering table. It’s perfect styling for our Minnesota casual lifestyle.” Retail is $999 for dining table and four chairs.
A.R.T. Furniture’s Harvest Dining from Collection One
Collection One from A.R.T Furniture is a casual dining collection inspired by antiques from Provincial Canada and American architecture. The Harvest Dining speaks to consumers with its classic style, rich scale, and detail and unique appearance. Suggested retail as shown is $2,999.
Copeland Furniture’s Audrey Dining with Estrelle Chairs
Audrey offers an abundance of versatility for consumers and retailers. The table from Copeland Furniture is manufactured in solid American walnut or cherry in five finishes and is available in six extension table sizes as well as two fixed-top sizes. The precision ball-bearing extension system with self-storing, butterfly leaf is popular feature. The 42-inch by 72-inch/96-inch extension in walnut retails at $2,999.
Hickory Chair’s Ingold Oval Table
Customization makes the Ingold table from Hickory Chair a winner. Its classic form can adapt to the traditional or the modern, and the table is available in a number of configurations, including round or oval. The pedestal bases can be built with casters of antique bronze, antique silver or antique brass. Starting suggested retail is $7,575.
Fine Furniture Design’s Antebellum
The Antebellum dining room from Fine Furniture Design offers relaxed traditional styling in the tradition of period pieces, but scaled and designed with today's consumer in mind. Crafted of walnut solids, figured swirly mahogany veneers, with inlays of maple and ebony veneers. Retail for table and chairs is $5,800.
Lexington Home Brands’ Tommy Bahama Home Ocean Club Peninsula
Ocean Club from Lexington Home features a timeless design and generous styling packed with function. The combination, along with the fresh interpretation of contemporary island living, makes the group a winner with consumers. Suggested retail for the table is $2,149; side chairs are $399, and arm chairs are $459.
American Attitude from Samuel Lawrence Furniture
Samuel Lawrence delivers a unique mix of artistry and design to dining with American Attitude. Building on the popular industrial chic trend, the collection pays homage to the environment with its authentic, natural viewpoint.
Retail, as shown, is $4,300.
Corliss Landing from Cresent Fine Furniture
An opaque driftwood stain enhances the knots and imperfections of the acacia wood in Cresent’s Corliss Landing. The natural weathered look remains a popular option for consumers looking for more casual dining options.
Artisan Shoppe from Kincaid Furniture
A design-your-own approach from Kincaid’s Artisan Shoppe speaks to consumers looking to furnish their dining needs. The collection offers a range of choices in sizes, shapes, finishes and chair styles as well as storage cabinets. Retail for table, $1,849.
American Drew’s Park Studio
The space-saving design of Park Studio from American Drew works for first homes or small, urban apartments and loft spaces. Tables are paired with compact seating options.
Suggested retail for round table and four chairs, $2,460.
Viewpoint from Emerald Home Furnishings
Emerald Home Furnishings offers simple, contemporary lines with Viewpoint. Solid pine combines with oak veneers to showcase a textured wire brush finish that speaks to the casual feel consumers are seeking. Suggested retail for five-piece group, $799.
Lately in my travels, as well as here at home, I’ve been to a few restaurants. Some of them new; some of them well-established spots. Each of them sport their own special slant on eats, and some offer drop-dead, gorgeous décor. The design in a few give you the feel of walking into a RH catalog or, better yet, someone’s well-appointed, comfortably dressed home. How welcoming and calming.
While in Philadelphia for a team pow-wow last month, we went to a relatively new spot, Route 6 (Route6Restaurant.com) named after the highway that begins in Provincetown, Mass., and meanders through Cape Cod. The restaurant is located just South of our offices in Philly, in an area that is undergoing a resurgence. A number of great eateries have popped up and more are sure to follow.
Walking through the door, it hit me that there is an abundance of decorating ideas staring every one of Route 6’s diners in the face. Cozy, linen covered banquettes coupled with a feast of blond wood and metal accents. The welcoming décor makes you want to move right in. It’s an upscale beachy feel, without being kitschy—or sandy.
Another favorite in the city of Brotherly Love is The Continental Mid-Town (ContinentalMidTown.com) on Chestnut Street, not far from the famed city hall. A small-plates joint with a great mix of food to meet a variety of tastes.
Both restaurants are owned by Starr Restaurants, but the vibe of each is quite different. The Continental Mid-Town offers a more retro feel with 1960s-era chairs, curved banquettes and brightly colored tables. Upstairs you’ll find hanging wicker swing seats that allow diners to gently sway while dining.
It’s just a hip, relaxed space that serves a mean lobster mac n’ cheese and scrumptious Thai chicken wraps. Never a bad meal.
On the West Coast in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., I was fortunate enough to dine with a great old friend recently at Veladora, (RanchoValencia.com/Dining)the stunning restaurant at the newly renovated and recently reopened Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa.
A spectactular farm-to-table menu and a beautiful hacienda-style setting with open ceiling beams and dramatic metal chandeliers make diners want to linger long over drinks, dinner and dessert.
So what the heck do restaurants have to do with furniture retailing? In addition to the fact that consumers spend a lot of change on dining out these days, restaurants have become another space for consumers to turn for inspiration in home decorating.
Your stores should be the first stop in finding that inspiration. Well-merchandised stores tend to be more successful that those that just toss the sofas on floor and line them up like soldiers waiting to march out the front door.
In this issue, we talk merchandising. Most specifically the marriage of a well-merchandised floor and a well-merchandised Web site. The two must go hand in hand, working together to entice consumers.
Enjoy the read, and we all look forward to seeing many of you at the market in Las Vegas.