Friday, December 21, 2012

Tis the season ...

I do come home at Christmas. We all do, or we all should. We all come home, or ought to come home, for a short holiday -- the longer, the better -- from the great boarding school where we are forever working at our arithmetical slates, to take, and give a rest.
 -- Charles Dickens

The American Leather factory will be closed next week. This is the way we do it in the furniture industry, rather than try to limp along for a week with a skeleton crew, everybody stays home for a week (except for some office staff who are available to answer the phones).

We do the same thing for the week of July 4th.  It’s a nice way to let everyone know we put a priority on strong families and happy team members. Nothing is more important.

As we all make those frantic final efforts to tie up all the loose ends at work while simultaneously finishing preparations for the holidays, now might be a good time to suggest that we all take a few deep breaths to relax and remember the simpler things in life.

Remember that the best moments have little to do with whether your pies came out perfect, or if your gifts were exactly what they needed. More important, we urge you to relax and take the time to surround yourself in the company of people who know and love you. That, after all, is what it’s all about.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Color of the year is a real gem: Emerald Green

Pantone’s crowned Emerald as the color that will rise to prominence in 2013, and we think it’s going to be a real gem.

We’re pretty jazzed about Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013. Besides the fact that it ties in so nicely with Christmas and the holidays, Emerald Green – specifically Pantone 17-5641 – works really well with our palette of fabrics and leathers.

Jessica Green, our Merchandising Manager, tells us that Emerald is extremely versatile and will probably be used most frequently in home furnishings as a finishing touch, “a crowning jewel.”

It should be an appealing compliment to neutral tones, Jessica said: “This soft tone will pair great with our gray spectrum (which is becoming more and more important and slowly overtaking the neutrals) and will spice up warmer neutrals in the cream and beige families. It will look fresh with white and khaki/caramel, a little edgy with black.”

We like that Emerald moves away from deeper, more traditional green and has softer, bluish undertones that allow it to be a chameleon. Jessica also added that “It will be able to work with bright, deep pinks and electric blues, strengthening the vibrancy of saturated palettes with a European sensibility.”

Pantone, which provides color standards for the design industries, makes its annual color forecast based on trends in a number of industries including home fashions, as well as beauty, fashion, entertainment, art, technology and sports. Succeeding Tangerine Tango, 2012’s color of the year, Emerald was selected since it is expected to rise in prominence, in fashion, beauty, interiors, print and graphic design over the coming twelve months.

Describing Emerald as “sophisticated and luxurious,” the Pantone announcement says, this luminous, magnificent hue has been the color of beauty and new life in many cultures and religions. It’s also the color of growth, renewal and prosperity – no other color conveys regeneration more than green. For centuries, many countries have chosen green represent healing and unity.”

Now, we can’t say with complete confidence that Emerald Green is going to bring us world or even inner harmony and enlightenment, but are looking forward to seeing how our designers put it to work to create beautiful homes and inviting rooms.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Conversectionals and other ruminations on seating options

Limitless configurations, more seating capacity and comfortable conversations are just some of the reasons why sectionals are so popular.

Home styling is so much more eclectic these days, and most of us no longer feel that our furnishings have to “match.” Creative designers now want to create coordinated rooms where all the elements work together, where the colors, shapes and proportions are complimentary but not necessarily identical.

Certainly, we in the furniture industry have seen an overwhelming trend toward item buying and away from what we used to call suites (pronounced like suits) of furniture, with each piece in the same finish and the same style. The old days of building a room around a sofa-loveseat-chair combination are long gone.

Each of these key items – sofa, loveseat, chair and even matching ottoman – still play an important role in furnishing beautiful and comfortable rooms. But we’ve seen a powerful move toward sectionals, especially as decorating “rules” relax and more emphasis is placed on casual lifestyles.

Obviously, a sectional can be designed to provide more seating, often in less space than standalone pieces. Because most of our collections include armless pieces, we can build sectionals to go around the wall and down the hall. We can even pave a room with an endless sectional if that’s what somebody really wants.

But sectionals can also be quite small. For instance, in a cramped space, a sectional could be set up with a one-armed loveseat at one end and a one-armed chair with a corner piece in the center. This would give more seating capacity in less space than a loveseat-chair combination, but the overall footprint of the configuration is quite small.

This small Malibu sectional provides more seating in less space than two free-standing pieces.

Sectionals are social. People tend to sit a little closer and are in a more relaxed posture. That’s one reason we’ve always loved what we call our wedge sectionals: two pieces that each have 22.5-degree angle. This is a great configuration for watching television – everybody’s seat is oriented toward the screen – but it’s also an intimate set-up for sitting and talking.

A “wedge” sectional is an excellent choice for both conversation and TV watching.

And sectionals can quite dramatic, too. At the High Point furniture market, we regularly show an armless sofa bracketed by chaises. Matched with an ottoman, this creates something akin to a pit group, even if you don't have to dive into it. But there's plenty of room for lounging, sprawling or whatever word you want to use for leaning back and relaxing.

We've always loved this configuration, with a chaise on either end of an armless sofa. This is the Grant, but you can do this with just about any of our sofa collections.

Here are a couple more of our favorites:

If space isn't an issue, this 10-piece Menlo Park layout ought to make a dramatic statement.

A one-armed sofa with a return, a simple sectional, from our Astoria Park collection.

More drama: The Corbin's unusual arm placement creates a sofa with two sides for sitting.
Have fun! Create the sectional that has the style, shape and seating capacity that's perfect for your room.

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