DECOR IS MAKING LIFE EASIER
WITH MORE AND MORE PEOPLE, particularly the boomer generation, downsizing and moving into condominiums, home décor and furnishing trends are pushing more toward ease of use, along with creative storage solutions to save space and make life simpler.
Steve Freedman, president of the Chesterfield Shop, has been seeing it most in categories such as recliner furniture. “That’s where we have been seeing the most innovation in technology,” he says.
For example, lift chairs are a big seller, Mr. Freedman says. These are chairs that combine comfort and styling, functionality and convenience. They feature a wand or button to lift people to their feet or let them recline. They can feature table tops for your laptop, a slot for a wine glass, or USB ports.
“Very few of these chairs are non-power,” he says. “The days of a recliner when you pull on a large handle are disappearing.”
The same rule applies to size – you are not seeing big, bulbous chairs anymore. Instead, what you are seeing are chairs that are streamlined, contemporary, so they fit into smaller spaces in the home.
Mr. Freedman has seen it all since he entered the family business in 1979 (the Chesterfield Shop, with five locations around the GTA, is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year). Fabric, durability and technology have evolved rapidly, and for the Chesterfield Shop it’s all about staying current and relevant. Products are now far more ecofriendly, because customers are looking for furniture manufactured from sustainable materials and recycled goods, which are made through responsible production practices.
The market for recliner chairs isn’t restricted to older people, Mr. Freedman adds – younger people are buying theatre seating with all the gadgets to sit back and watch sports or Netflix.
Zero gravity chairs are another trending item, he says. These are chairs that lift your feet above your heart, which is more conducive to proper blood flow and cardiac health.
The Chesterfield Shop is selling a lot of sofa beds now, too. The American Leather comfort sleepers, for example, feature products that are sleek and space-saving, with track arms and thin metal sled legs, and a four-inch high-density foam mattress for sleeping comfort. They can be disassembled to fit through narrow doorways or halls.
Designers have seen this trend, as well. Linda Mazur, principal designer at Linda Mazur Design Group, and an on-stage speaker at the Toronto Fall Home Show, points to a number of examples of this ease-of-use, space-saving trend, including sofas that aren’t as deep; coffee tables and ottomans with storage space inside; narrow or taller fridges for small spaces; and washer/dryers in one combo unit. Ms. Mazur also points to the evolution of “smart home” technology, which allows alarms, lights, music, temperature control and other accessories to be controlled easily from an iPad or iPhone.
“Our clients are in-tune with wanting a well-designed, functional space but are not wanting to compromise on the design aesthetics or comfort level simply because they have elected to live in a condo or smaller space,” Ms. Mazur says.
“I think the [home décor/interior design] market has recognized these things and is rapidly changing to accommodate the change in our lifestyles,” she says.
That applies to storage space in the home, as well. Linda McFarlane of Smart Shelving says pullout shelving is a huge trend, as many of her clients moving into condos don’t want to rip out a kitchen just to get the convenience they had in their houses. Smart Shelving will retrofit existing cupboards with gliding shelves to give the owner easier access while maximizing space. One important safety point is to make sure you pay attention to the weight-bearing limit on shelving. Pull-out shelves can also be used under sinks and in the bathroom, Ms. McFarlane adds, including custom-fit solutions around a plumbing configuration.
“With less living space, we need to be cognizant of how many pieces of furniture are brought into a space, how much storage is incorporated,” says Cynthia Soda, owner/ principal interior designer at Soda Pop Design Inc., another stage presenter at the Toronto Fall Home Show. “It’s like putting a puzzle together. All the pieces have to fit perfectly. We need to be deliberate about the choices we make and to think more about the cubic footage available to us."