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Premarket observations

April 8, 2010

If you walk enough markets two, three or four times a year, you pick up a few things. Especially in regards to introductions. This isn’t a definitive list, it’s just a few observations from last month’s High Point premarket:

+ Good news: There’s not an overabundance of merlot or espresso finishes  on introductions. Browns are out there but they seem to be warmer, with an almost orange or a slight yellowish tint that gives them the tone of a nut brown, dark goldenrod or, according to my handy Sherman Williams color tool, Sturdy Brown.

(I really like when companies use this brown color in casual dining for a base and natural wood top for a two-tone wood effect. They mix well to me.)

+ Companies aren’t just dialing down on the browns. They’re also using more gray and white paints or dulled woods.

+ Fears that lighter was going to mean honey pine looks on everything are unfounded. I don’t know that we’re out of our brown comfort zone, but I think we’re adjusting it.

+ There is more of a washed look on some lighter wood finishes. And with whites, there’s often a rub-through effect of other colors as an accent.

+ Texture on wood is a trend I’ve been watching. First it was distressing, but some pieces now are getting their texture from what I’d imagine is hard brushing.  There’s still planking but many pieces are brushed for the length of the wood.

+ Schnadig’s Outside/In line includes a metal bed whose railing was painted but had a faux rust to make it look aged. I’d never seen that before.

+Industrial continues to be a popular style this market. Stanley’s new European Farmhouse collection has some industrial touches, such as a table with an inverted iron barrel base and dark planked wood top. You can see the bolt heads showing through the chairs backs, which also have a dark coppery tone on legs and great wood scooped seats.

Universal’s Great Rooms collection has that same industrial feel, with muscle, metal and edge.

This trend that may have started with a little more sparkle and was not necessarily tagged as industrial. But what was more Harley Davidson Sportster to begin with is looking a little more Indian Scout.

+ Another example of that industrial touch (albeit maybe industrial light) was on occasional tables, several of which feature metal attachments that run the length of edges. Nothing overly shiny, though. I also noticed that cast iron is being used more either on on bases or to accent the style of a piece.

+ There’s still a lot of nail head trim on pieces. But I saw more dirty dull copper, gold and silver tones this time. At Schnadig, some nail heads are octagonal. And Stanley is using spit tacks to attach upholstery to some wood pieces.

+ One large case goods company is using script on a traditional accent chest silhouette. That’s a trend that started in fabric working its way to case goods.

+ In formal dining, a long oval shape is gaining popularity for tables, in place of the traditional long rectangle.

+ At Universal, more collections are featuring thicker drawers. We were told that they’re getting a little more credit for ¾-inch back and sides on drawers, rather than the more common half-inch. Thicker drawers are a value addition you can feel.

+ There’s less goop. Opulence is still there, it’s just understated.

+ Hooker’s Melange collection includes a gray accent chest with an off-center stripe. It’s almost like a racing stripe, but much more understated. That’s a touch I hadn’t seen on an accent piece before.