Furniture in all sizes, for all tastes, was featured at the Spring High Point Market.

Americans want their furniture to be small enough for condo living and large enough for the suburbs. They want it to support the basics of eating, sleeping and entertaining, but also offer easy and comfortable access to state-of-the-art electronics.

A tall order, but the new designs shown at the March 26-31 High Point Market attempt to cover all the bases — and in style.

Deserted your desk computer for a laptop? You'll find plenty of surfaces to hold it, from the one-piece Family Communications Center available from Sligh, to Bush Furniture's modular Expandable Wall Collection that can cover two walls if desired. Sligh's piece, which includes laptop port and Internet and phone connection, was featured on NBC's “Today” show in March as an example of the furniture of the future.

Leery of hanging your new plasma TV on the wall? There are plenty of mock walls to hold it, inserted in entertainment centers. “It allows you to have the TV floating,” said Jim Schmidt, Bush Furniture vice president of marketing. Or you can simply set it on one of the handsome consoles much in evidence at the show.

Cozy Condo Dining

If you're satisfying a yen for urban living by moving into a condo, you should check out Century Furniture's Metro Luxe. It's the smallest that Century could make a table and still have it seat six, said Ed Tashjian, vice president of marketing. With the addition of two leaves, it will seat 10. At 17.3 square feet, the Metro Luxe's Sunburst dining table is smaller than the 25-square-foot cocktail table offered in Castellan, another Century collection introduced at Market. Castellan, which means “the governor of a castle,” is designed for suburban mansions with their castle-like interiors.

Also in the “large and luxurious” category is none other than Trump Home, brainchild of Lexington Home Brands and real estate developer/TV host “The Donald” Trump. The Westchester and Central Park collections are based on Trump's opulent lifestyle and his New York properties, and, according to Trump, “offer a look of success and status.” Their retail debut will be at Macy's in New York this summer.

Stanley Furniture's moderately scaled, but not small, Hudson Street is a sleek and polished collection with a ‘30s to ‘40s look meant to appeal to urbanites. The glass top of its Midtown desk rides on air and small supporting columns. A matching chest can go in a home office, great room or even in the bedroom as a nightstand.

The chest's suitability for a variety of uses in a variety of rooms continues a broad trend in furniture. Things are seldom what they seem at first glance. An armoire or credenza can hold books and office equipment, clothes, a TV set or, in the case of Howard Miller's greatly expanded collection of wine cabinets, bottles and glasses.

The Big Chill

In Howard Miller's Rosé credenza, a wine rack can be removed and a small refrigeration unit inserted.

Howard Miller began its wine cabinet line 1-1/2 years ago with 25 models, then doubled that to more than 60 this market. Some are finished on all sides and can stand in the center of a room; others have Lazy Susan interiors that can deliver a bottle at the touch of a finger.

Better Homes & Gardens magazine collaborated with Universal Furniture on a three-collection line that echoes readers' comments to its field editors. It is lively, colorful, and above all, handy. Walnut, cherry and painted pieces from the Cottage View, Classics Today and Modern Outlook collections are mixed and matched in several Universal showrooms as well as shown separately.

Homeowners can buy individual pieces to go with furniture they already have, explains the magazine's Senior Projects Design Editor Joseph Boehm.

A nightstand top flips open to reveal electronic and phone connections for accessing the Internet from bed. A tall pedestal is really storage for curved extensions of a round table, while a chairside table conceals a laptop connection beneath a sliding panel. Other occasional tables have trays tucked underneath.

Take Your Pick of Finishes

Vaughan-Bassett offers four finishes geared toward mixing and matching in its American Farmhouse Collection, including a soft-looking Beeswax Irish Pine finish with extra beeswax. The collection's name is a misnomer, admitted Executive Vice President Doug Bassett, because many of the sophisticated, yet rustic, pieces have their roots in Irish, English and French country living. Table and chest tops are 1-3/4-inch-thick slabs of solid pine and maple, with heavy distressing.

The company can let customers choose between such a variety of finishes because 96 percent of its product is domestically made, said Bassett. It doesn't have to work global shipping times into its schedules and can start assembling a piece even before it knows which finish the customer prefers.

The American country look had not been seen at the High Point Market for some time, and neither had the Asian/Islands look, which was prominent. A Southern plantation look from a Bernhardt Furniture collaboration with The Smithsonian was also a contrast to the casual/contemporary and traditional European looks so prominent at past markets — and repeated at this one.

In addition to presenting the Low Country, Southern look of The American Archive Collection, Bernhardt and The Smithsonian collaborated on the more restrained National Heritage Collection, also based on The Smithsonian's materials. This collection showed Keeper's Bookcase, based on a bookcase in the office of the Keeper

(curator) of the Castle Collection in The Smithsonian's original building.

Banana Leaves and Bamboo

In the Asian/Islands genre, Century's occasional tabletops in its Metro Luxe Collection were supported by everything from a banana-leaf motif to open, circular fretwork.

Better Homes & Gardens and Universal resorted to faux bamboo and faux chair caning for design touches. The “caning” had the look, but not the clothing-catching snags of the real thing, said Boehm.

In another display of Asian artistry, Chinese red, black and tan in hand-painted finishes graced home office, entertainment and accent pieces by Hooker.

For contrast, in the traditional European design field, National Geographic and Lane, which came out with the first installment of their National Geographic Home Series several markets ago, brought out The Italia Collection. In walnut, it features decorative inlays and fluid, sculptural lines.

RTA continues to use solid wood and veneers in collections intended for assembly by the purchaser. Sauder Woodworking introduced 10 bedroom, dining and entertainment designs for its Shaker Heights Collection, and entertainment and home office pieces in its French-influenced Genesee. A leader in home entertainment furniture, the company introduced consoles and entertainment centers in various heights and styles to accommodate the proliferation of TVs in today's homes.

Bush's home office/entertainment Expandable Wall Collection, also of solid wood and veneers, is almost custom-cabinet in appearance after assembly, said Jim Schmidt, vice president of marketing. End caps can be moved and pilasters inserted when installing modular units. Like the new Quantum Series in Bush Business Furniture's new Office Ready line, it comes with dowels and cams already attached for quick assembly.

Tools of the Trade

To speed things up even more, Bush is shipping some pieces in a box that can be opened by a tab rather than the conventional method. And in what may be the ultimate in customer service, Bush is shipping a screwdriver with every order. For additional service, the phone number of Bush's help desk is on the piece.

While some buyers of new furniture this summer and fall probably won't go so far as to literally put their pieces together, they will be putting together the look they desire.

At the High Point Market, manufacturers handed them the necessary tool — a wealth of furniture that looks to the past for design inspiration, and to the future for style and function.

The Sunburst dining table in Century's Metro Luxe Collection seats six and caters to condo owners.
Sligh's Family Communications Center is an answer to consumers' questions: “Where do I charge my phone? Where do I throw my keys?” said Bob Kreter, marketing communications manager. This sleek Midtown desk in Stanley Furniture's Hudson Street Collection reflects mid-20th century glamour.
In Better Homes & Gardens/Universal's Cottage View collection, the nightstand has a flip top that conceals electrical and phone connections. Howard Miller's Rosé wine cabinet not only stores the bubbly, but chills it too. A wine rack comes out; a refrigeration unit goes in.

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