Home & Garden

4 trends to consider when buying a chair or couch

Take a seat.

Those three little words pack a wallop when you’re shopping for many of your most expensive purchases: something to sit on in the living and family rooms.

Here’s what’s hot in home furnishings, on which you undoubtedly spend a good chunk of time snoozing, socializing, snacking and watching TV.

Top trends

1. Modern: From millennials to boomers and their parents, many homeowners are opting for cleaner, straighter, simpler lines. A decade ago, the demand was for the ornate: heavily carved wood, gold-leaf-finished furniture and rococo, a style characterized by lightness, elegance and an exuberant use of curving, said Richard Cazares, who co-owns Rene Cazares RC Furniture in Industry, Calif., with his father.

“During the recession, midcentury modern came into play as affordable furnishings at a time when people didn’t have a lot of money for lots of detailed carvings,” said Kim Barriga, an interior designer for 40 years who has owned Design House in Murrieta, Calif., since 2000 and retails customized furniture. “The clean, contemporary look was a breath of fresh air and it stuck. It’s calm, not with a lot of lines.”

Unfussy embellishments might be nail heads, buttons or studs applied to arms or sofa and sectional bases.

2. Different fabrics: Straight microfibers – once a hot seller – have faded faster than a thrift shop couch’s cushions.

Consumers want textured material that resembles knits, said Ben Nielsen, who owns Cambridge of California in Gardena, a 45-year-old family business that manufactures upholstered chairs, ottomans, love seats, sectionals, sofas and sleepers.

In demand are natural yarns, linens and high-performance fabrics designed for the outdoors, such as sunbrellas, said Cazares, whose 30-year-old family business designs and manufactures made-to-order products sold throughout the nation and in Mexico and the Middle East.

Brushed denim, which looks like linen and feels like suede, is also a must-have, Barriga said.

3. Neutral upholstery with colored accents: A more affordable way to furnish a room is to stick with “noncommittal colors” including whites, off-whites, beiges, browns and light grays, jazzed up by jewel-toned or beach-hued (aqua and light peach) accessories that pop, Barriga said.

As for frames, “dark woods, such as walnut, are the most popular today,” Nielsen said. “The light woods of 10 to 15 years ago have seen better days.”

4. Custom sizing and sectionals: Cazares said he receives frequent requests to make things bigger, smaller or deeper to compete with the glut of cookie-cutter clones from overseas. The beauty of made-to-order sectionals is the myriad of configurations.

“If the customer is bored, she can turn them around or move them to make them look different,” he said.

Sectional sofas in L-shaped formations or that wrap around a coffee table also appeal to consumers, Barriga said. For those unable to pledge alliance to either contemporary or traditional, she offers “transitional” mixes and matches of contemporary and neoclassical designs in everything from fabrics and patterns to furnishings.