What does the recent Trade War mean for you as a furniture consumer? Recent actions and reactions from North American Super Powers have impacted the Canadian consumer in general and have hit the furniture consumer in particular.
As of July 1 all upholstered goods originating from the US were hit with a 10% duty and price tags everywhere are reflecting that. Increased costs have not yet trickled down to Canadian manufacturers but it probably will not be long as some manufacturers may be getting tariffed components from U.S. Suppliers. The weakened Canadian dollar is an additional reason we could see prices creep up in the short term.
EHF has always heavily supported the Canadian Furniture industry. We have found excellent quality and workmanship in both case goods, like dining and bedroom furniture as well as in upholstery. Canadian furniture manufacturers have a long standing tradition of building quality products that are durable. When you buy Canadian you are supporting the employment of skilled artisans working in safe, regulated factories. You are also supporting the environment. Canadian manufacturers adhere to very strict legislation regarding reforestation to ensure that our natural resources are replenished and handled responsibly.
Coast to coast small and medium sized furniture companies inject more than 10 billion dollars into our economy according to Stats Canada. In case you need another reason to buy Canadian think of the carbon footprint that is being reduced by purchasing goods that have not travelled half way around the world before landing in your home.
We may always have some offerings from our southern neighbours but the thrust of our business will continue to support the Canadian Furniture Industry. We all play a role in keeping our citizens employed and our country strong and prosperous.
There really is no better time to buy Canadian.
In home décor sometimes the hardest part of any project is feeling the inspiration to get started. You need a jumping off point, something that gets the ball rolling so to speak.
Inspiration can come from just about anywhere. Shelter magazines, decorating shows and decorating sites like Houzz are some obvious places to start. While they can help you zero in on the kinds of things that you are drawn to they can be frustrating. It is difficult to source the things you find there locally at an affordable price. Social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest can also be a great source of inspiration with similar downfalls.
Colour inspiration can literally come from anywhere. Nature has a wonderful way of combining colours in ways that are organic and soothing. Your favorite nature photo is inspiration for a wonderful palette. A favorite piece of Art can get the ball rolling and don’t overlook the world of fashion. Some of my favorite schemes have come from beautiful scarves and fabric. If I love a colour combination in something that is not related to décor I am confident that it is going to work.
Not too long ago we asked ourselves, “How are we inspiring our customers?” Frankly, we were feeling a little uninspired ourselves. Our owners went to the High Pointe Furniture show this spring and they got inspired. When they returned, we revamped the entire store. Our end goal, to be a source of inspiration to our customers. We’ve incorporated on trend colours, new suppliers and models and exciting room layouts.
If you haven’t visited us in a while please do.
Hopefully you’ll leave feeling very inspired.
What is the difference between a $599 sofa and an $1100 sofa? More than five hundred dollars. You really do get what you pay for. . A Consumer may see two sofas covered in the same fabric and assume they are the same when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of the features that determine quality in upholstery are things that can’t be seen.
Quality really starts with the framing. A reputable manufacturer will only use kiln dried native hardwoods like Maple and Birch. Kiln dried woods are much more expensive but using them prevents warping and cracking. Bargain driven manufacturers may cut corners here. They might also use cardboard liners for shaping. If you have ever pushed on a sofa arm and heard a pop chances are pretty good they have used cardboard.
Reputable manufacturers will use no sag springs closely spaced, doubled in the corners and clipped to the front rail with padded clips to prevent squeaks. You should never roll into the corner or bottom out when sitting on a sofa.
The next area manufacturers can skimp on is in the quality of foam used. A lesser quality set may look fine in the showroom but won’t keep its shape for long. Look for foam that is 1.8 pound density or higher. A more expensive manufacturer will offer a choice of seating firmness, will use greener options, have extended warranties and will always have zipper accessed seat casings in case the foam ever needs to be changed. More expensive sets will have accessible channeled back inserts which prevents the stuffing from falling all the way to the bottom. A more expensive set l usually has piping as a finishing touch around seams; have loose seats with fabric on all sides. This adds to the cost but is necessary in keeping your set looking good long term.
If you can’t see these things what is a consumer to do?
I recommend dealing with a reputable retailer and be sure that your sales associate can confidently answer your questions about construction and warranties. The price tag on a sofa truly does reflect the cost that went into the manufacturing of it.
There is truth in the adage, “all that glitters is not gold”.
I was a bit cynical that yet another celebrity was lending their name to a furniture line. I did not have high expectations but I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised with the new home collections from celebrity chef Rachael Ray. Better known for her cooking shows, cookbooks, magazines and philanthropy she now adds furniture designer to her repertoire.
We have just floored pieces from the Cinema, Highline, Upstate and Simply Dining collections. They offer our customers a fresh look with an emphasis on clean simple elements that are both classic and functional. Unlike other celebrities that lend their brand to almost anything, Rachael is the actual designing force behind her collections. They represent what she wishes her own furniture would be.
She has brought her practical and down to earth approach to furniture design adding both style and function to every piece. Bedroom vanities and night stands are equipped with electrical outlets and USB. Coffee and end tables have stylish options with ample storage. Kitchen Islands are designed with the expertise that you would expect from a chef. Pull through drawers, pull out storage and built in waste receptacles. She has an exquisite shoe cabinet in her line that will conceal the storage of 48 pairs of shoes. Rachael designs for the way we really live. She has even included coordinating pet beds for your pampered pets and a feeding station with lots of built in storage for leashes and treats.
The finishes are refreshing and the lines are truly timeless. In her own words, she is “offering designs that are not only beautifully crafted and multipurpose but a great value”.
I would encourage anyone to check out her collection on line or better yet come in and check out these collections in person. There really is a lot to love about the latest celebrity offering.
The angst we see each day with customers tying themselves in knots over decorating. We put such pressure on ourselves to create the perfect room. The average consumer spends less time committing to a house or a forty plus thousand dollar vehicle than a sofa.
Customers spend months debating fabrics and pillow choices. We torture ourselves with images on Pinterest and Houzz which are not easily replicated for price points that most of us are comfortable with .We live in a constant state of disappointment that our homes will never look like these professionally staged spaces. These sites can help you narrow in on your preferences but really can’t be taken to literally.
So how do we manage through the labyrinth of choices offered today’s consumer? It can be done if you try to take some of the emotion out of it. Keeping a few of these tips in mind can help you stay on track.
- Keep in mind that only you and your family will have to live with your choice. The more people you ask the more opinions you will get. If you choose to phone a friend be sure they support your vision.
- Be clear about how you want to use the room and who will be using it. Focus on function and stay on track.
- Be sure of your measurements, allowing for traffic flow between furniture. Be sure that the furniture also fit through doorways and can turn in narrow halls etc.
- Learn from previous mistakes. Now is the time to assess what you loved and hated in the furniture you are replacing. Use this information to help guide your decision
- Relax .At the end of the day it is only furniture. In the grand scheme of things your pillow pattern will not be the most critical decision you will make.
Furniture shopping and getting something new for our home should be fun. Embrace the adventure and stop overthinking things.
Leather shopping can be confusing. The terminology is confusing and mistakes can be costly. There are many advantages to purchasing leather but you should definitely be an informed consumer.
Terms you should be familiar with when shopping for leather;
- Full Grain – Top layer of the hide including the entire thickness. It is not buffed or sanded to remove imperfections. It has its full grain and is very durable.
- Top Grain – Has the split layer with imperfections removed. This is thinner and easier for manufacturers to use. It is sanded and given a finish which makes it stain resistant but not as breathable.
- Corrected Grain- The layer that is used after the top layers are split off. An artificial grain is applied to the surface then it is sprayed with stain or dye.
- Bonded Leather- This is made of leather scraps ground down and mixed with latex or polyurethane to create a sheet or bolt. The actual leather content in this category varies. It is inexpensive but not long lasting. Buyer beware, its prevalence and poor performance has given top grain leathers a black eye.
Good quality leather will last for many years. Leather is easy to clean and maintain and should only get better with age. Be sure to protect your leather from direct sunlight and heat sources to prevent fading and drying out. Leather doesn’t retain dust so it is terrific for anyone with allergies. Purchase a style that has loose seat cushions to rotate so that your favorite spot doesn’t show wear prematurely.
As a general rule, leather will cost double the price of the same sofa in fabric. The next time you see a leather sofa on sale for $1099 you are really looking at the quality equivalent of a $549 sofa. How long would you expect that to stand up?
Have you ever passed on the perfect piece because you weren’t quite certain? How many times have you purchased something for your project to find that you misremembered a colour or a size? I’ve found the perfect way to take the guesswork out of your design projects. Perfect because it’s convenient and best of all it’s free.
Back in the day I faithfully kept a notebook filled with paint chips and fabric samples so I would have everything at hand I needed to make a good decision. Despite my best intentions, I often forgot my notebook on a bookshelf, in a different purse or car. Problem solved. I have recently discovered a free organizational app that is a real game changer.
It is called Evernote, a digital notebook with amazing applications to keep yourself and your projects organized. Best of all you can download it on your phone and it syncs across all of your devices.
I created a digital file folder for every room in my home. What I love about this app is that I can save notes, create tags, and add measurements, inspiration pictures and articles clipped from the web, photos imported from my gallery or taken directly in the app. I’ve snapped photos of my existing furniture and art and even imported my paint swatches from paint supplier’s websites. You can set construction schedules, create checklists, wish lists , set reminders and scan in receipts and business cards. Everything you can think of to keep your project on track can be kept here.
Wondering if that piece of art will fit in your room? Don’t guess, pull out your phone, pull up your colours and measurements and boom, good decision made.
Once you start exploring this app’s capabilities you will be hooked!
It’s fall. The nights are cooler and noticeably shorter which always evokes a desire to cozy things up. One of the latest Scandi trends to influence the design world could help us all cope with a winter that seems to last forever. The Danes value a quality of life they describe as Hygge.
Hygge, which is pronounced HUE-gah is described as, the quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well –being according to Wikipedia.
The Danish, who are deemed to be one of the happiest cultures on Earth, are focused on warmth, presence, togetherness, family, friends and comfort. A simpler lifestyle that values sipping, instead of mass consumption. Gatherings with friends , pot lucks lingering at the table long after dinner is done, warm blankets , candles, hot cocoa ( Glogg if you are in Denmark) all fall into the category of Hygge. This trend embraces gratitude and simple pleasures that make us feel warm and safe and connected to those we love. This is a trend worth jumping onto.
I love my home and while I know there is a big wide world out there it is still my favorite place to be. Home should be where you feel safe and comfortable. A place filled with warm memories and simple comforts. If you feel like getting your Hygge on this winter here are a few things you’ll need besides great warm socks and the perfect cocoa mug .Think lanterns, candles, cozy blankets to cuddle under, a large gathering table to share family time or even board games and a fireplace.
Turn off the TV and put your phones and tablets down. Reconnect with loved ones and watch your happiness quotient rise.
Happy Hygge to one and all!
Fallen Out of Love with Loveseats
A common combination when purchasing new living room furniture is a sofa and loveseat. Perhaps we think our rooms are too small for anything else. A loveseat which is a smaller version of a sofa is meant to be a seat for two people. On paper this would appear to optimize seating but in real life it is rare to find more than one person sitting on a loveseat. No one wants to sit that close no matter how much they love each other. It’s always the last seat taken at a party if you think about it.
Often times people do not realize (without design consultation) that they actually have room for two sofas as sofas now come in sizes from 77” to 107”.
Try working with two chairs. You’ll build a cozy conversation group and still have your optimum seating for two people
Arrange four chairs around a large center ottoman with a small sofa off to the side.
At the end of the day there are many ways to love your seating without necessarily having to love a loveseat.
Inspiration From Around the World
In some ways the world has become smaller and more interconnected. The cycle of trends from the fashion world are colliding with the furniture world in shorter and shorter time frames.
Many principles of fashion can be successfully applied to interior decorating. A great outfit consists of great layers. A mix and balance of solids, prints and textures with just the right accents or accessories. I love layering bold patterns and blocks of colour. Why not do the same with your décor?
I think that vibrant colours will be making their way back into our homes again. Think about punches of hot pinks or lime greens to perk up your space. I am inspired by the beautiful and colourful saris of India and the artful way that bold solids and interesting prints are mixed. Why not step out and play with layering prints and accent colours. Choose them as an accent or build a whole room around them. Don’t be afraid, mix it up. The interior design images that usually get the most attention are not usually rooms awash in beige.
Call it Boho, call it tribal call it global, call it whatever you like but I encourage you to embrace new colour combinations and influences from other cultures. Layers, layers, layers make it interesting.
Make it Home!