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Occasional, accent sources offer eclectic mix

Heath E. Combs -- Furniture Today, October 26, 2011

AT THE MARKET — Eclectic describes this week's mix of occasional and accent furniture here.

Many pieces are taking style up a notch. Contemporary continues to gain steam at companies like Chintaly, as do French-inspired looks at Stein World and peeled gold and mirror at Gail's Accents.

A number of companies are updating their bread and butter looks.

Riverside, with 15 new occasional groups, is doing well with Napa Valley, said Mike Charlton, senior vice president, product development and merchandising. The group, which carries a $299 container price for a cocktail table, is in light ash solids and veneers with a clean, relaxed look and low-sheen finish that exposes wood grains.

Also getting a lot of looks, he said, are the company's Binghamton group with vintage mocha finish, knotty alder veneers, distressing and a plank top, and the coastal Evening Tide group. Customers are asking for coastal looks with more design, Charlton said.

Martin Home Furnishings continues to add to its occasional offerings and hired five designers to create new looks, said Christine Takara, marketing director. The additions are more contemporary and contemporary transitional, including a Parson's design with a mosaic inlay in the center of the top.

Another hot look is the company's Hudson sliding top table with moving tray inside, giving two levels of storage in the interior. The finish emphasizes the wood grains.

Chintaly Imports continues to emphasize products that can create ancillary sales for retailers. The company has 13 new curios, and emphasized that the category accounts for 2% of total industry sales, said Randy Grabowski, vice president of sales.

A contemporary curio group with black accents and stainless steel base has been the best received so far. Grabowski said that the company also continues to emphasize Chintaly's experience in shipping curios.
The company's broad selection of motion occasional, with eight new tables, continues to be popular because it offers unique looks and feature storage on multiple levels, he said.

"It's easy for the salesperson to sell, plus the customer likes that it has function," Grabowski said.

AICO's Discovery accents, especially safari-inspired exotics, mother of pearl tops, corner tables and unusual shapes, are performing well, said Chuck Reilly, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Fairmont Designs is introducing some narrower occasional tables this market, designed to free up more floor space in a room, said Steve York, vice president of merchandising.

"The more square footage we can give the living room, the more practical that is for living," he said.

Fairmont is showing its creativity this market with designs like a split cocktail table with lift top on one side and a drawer for storage on the other, and sofa tables with bi-fold doors that can help the pieces double as entertainment consoles.

Some of the company's occasional pieces also feature grooves for iPads so users can prop them upright on tables. Another piece worth noting is the Riviera cocktail table, a simple but fun piece that York said is based on company's leaf logo and offers shelving and casters.

Gail's Accents is drawing attention for looks from a new factory known for its finishes. Among those looks it are a peeled gold and mirrored top on an accent table, oak veneers emphasizing wood grains, high-end carved looks, a wire-brushed look with a chalky white hang-up and detailed prints.

"Retailers have to find something everybody doesn't have," said Ray Steele, co-owner. "They're here looking for ideas."

Probably the hottest number at Stein World this week is No. 476, a fully wrapped linen group with six tables and two colors, creamy white and sea foam. It features a French laundry-inspired design and word prints, according to Alex Plummer, direct or product development and merchandising.

Stein World also is scoring with Market Square, a group with elm veneers, rustic finish and drop ring hardware, he said. The company will expand the group, Plummer said.

Mirrored pieces are still doing great, he added, as are whimsical painted patters that lend flair to rooms without being too intrusive.

Company President Richard Olmeda said retailers are looking for pieces that differentiate them from the competition, "products that resonate with consumer and something that has a story."

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