The Globe and Mail Metro (Ontario Edition) - - HOME DÉCOR -

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."

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