A consumer’s guide to furniture

 

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How do you transform a house into a home and make it your own?  Larry Baer, a vice president for Baer’s Furniture, has some advice on how to choose statement pieces for your home.

What are the latest trends in furniture? Are there new furniture items and new furniture features that consumers should know about?

Baer: The design in general is constantly evolving and changing, so it’s never sitting still. Art, technology and fashion are always changing. The main trends are still consistent, and the primary styles don’t change. You have coastal, you have modern and you have tropical furniture, as always. But you’re also seeing a lot of interesting accents. What happens is, you’re reinterpreting old trends with a new approach. There’s definitely a bias toward more clean line designs, and you’re seeing somewhat more industrial-type furniture, like concrete tables, countertops and floors. It used to be you’d walk into a cool restaurant in Soho and you’d be surprised to see a concrete floor, but now you’re seeing it places all over the country, including homes in Florida. Acrylic is something, too, that’s really coming back in style, and that reminds me of when I was a kid in the ‘70s. In general, you’re seeing that people want furniture that’s got a lot of character. You’re seeing a lot of the hand-hammered metal on accent tables, consoles and even on bedroom furniture. That’s one of the great things about being a larger retailer, like Baer’s: You can source globally and price competitively and still have one-of-a-kind things. You can find stuff with beautiful architectural details and put together these really eclectic interiors in people’s homes. Consumers are becoming more comfortable with unique designs, and we offer complimentary design services to our customers. Complimentary design is a great advantage because people can express themselves and have that freedom, but know that it will all blend together and look well-thought out.

Is there a trendy furniture color or a popular fabric pattern this year? What special designs and colors should shoppers have their eye on?

Baer: We’re still seeing a lot of the spa colors — the greens and the blues and teals and turquoises. And we’re also seeing more accent pieces with a lot colors. It’s about letting people be more expressive and be more personalized, and letting consumers get comfortable being more unique and choosing what works for them.

What’s the best way to judge furniture’s durability? How do you determine whether a furniture item will last a long time and remain in good shape?

Baer: That’s a really tough thing because some unscrupulous retailers have done a great job making lesser quality things look like better quality things. But we do things better at Baer’s. Quality merchandise is one of the things we’ve built our reputation around. There’s great-value furniture, but you have to make sure you get good quality furniture because if it doesn’t hold up, it doesn’t do you any favors. Before you buy furniture, find out what the warranty covers and what the furniture is made of, research the manufacturer and make sure you’re buying from a reputable retailer. Some furniture stores are out to make quick profits, but at Baer’s we want to have customers for life. Baer’s is a family business; we know we’ve got to stand by customers to keep customers, and we really pride ourselves on giving customers the benefit of the doubt when problems arise. In this day and age, with the internet, if we don’t stand by your customers, you’re done, and your reputation is gone. We really have made a conscientious effort to really stand behind the things we’ve sold, at great expense to the company.

How can furniture shoppers ensure that they make comfortable purchases? Is there a trick they can use to find chairs, sofas and couches that will be cozy for everyone in their family?

Baer: I don’t think there’s any tricks in anything in life. When it comes to recognizing quality and comfort, there’s no replacement to going into a furniture store and sitting in the chair. Consumers definitely want to touch and feel it. There’s no way to know if you’ll be comfortable with it, until you sit in it. People need to experience the comfort and quality level to understand it. They can’t see comfort on a screen.

What other advice do you have for furniture shoppers? Is there anything else they need to know?

Baer: I think consumers are able to make much better decisions now because of all the information available to them. I think you need to develop relationships with retailers. This industry does not lend itself to ordering from a retailer across the country. You need someone local that has a reputation and that’s going to take care of their products and that will stand by you. We’ve been around for 70 years, and there’s a reason for that.  There’s a reason to buy local in this industry, because local stores have to earn our reputation every day.  We’re super proud of what we have to offer.

Contact Kowarski at 321-242-3640 or ikowarski@floridatoday.com.  Follow her on Twitter @IlanaKowarski.