why is retail furniture so tiny?

 
 

We like to stay in the retail furniture market loop. Some might call it an excuse to go shopping but we actually take our research very seriously. One one particular trip to a well-known retailer we had an Alice in Wonderland like experience. As we walked through the rooms we felt like we were growing, or as though the furniture was made for people much shorter than us. Then I overheard a sales person say "Did you know we have leather chairs for sale under $1000?" It all made sense. Retailers are geared to hit price points that appeal to the average consumer and can be marketed as a deal. So, how do you get a leather chair to cost less without making it out of a different material or compromising it's structural integrity? You shrink it.  If you have fewer springs, less wood in your frame and a smaller piece of leather it costs you less to make that chair. 

custom leather chair (left), retail leather chair (middle), custom upholstered chair (right) 

As you can see, we are comparing a custom leather chair (left) a retail or shrunken leather chair (middle) and a custom upholstered chair (right). The first thing we noticed right off the bat was the different in height. The retails chairs simply aren't going to hold as much presence in a space or offer any kind of neck support. Not the most alarming thing since there is a place in design for small scale pieces. What concerns us the most is the seat height. The retail chair is two inches (sometimes more) lower than the average custom piece of furniture. Check out the photo on the left at the beginning of this post, do you see that the chair only comes up to the calf area? Ideally, the chair would sit right behind the back of the knee as to not stress your back every time you get in and out of it. This doesn't seem like a big deal until you use that chair on a daily basis.

The bottom line is that selling a leather chair for "under $1000" seems like a great deal until it becomes part of your everyday life and you realize its size, quality and comfort have been compromised just to hit a target price. This is one of the reasons we find it so important to educate our customers and clients about all the different levels of quality in the furniture market. Where retailers have to hit a certain price point that the average consumer can afford we can tailor the product to fit our clients budget, style and needs. 

Design Tips, BlogLauren Overholser