Magnussen Home’s Wentworth Village occasional set is shown with the Wentworth Village upholstery group. Shown in a Sandblasted Oxford Black finish, the wood pieces and trim on the upholstery is made with acacia solids and veneers.

Magnussen Home’s Wentworth Village occasional set is shown with the Wentworth Village upholstery group. Shown in a Sandblasted Oxford Black finish, the wood pieces and trim on the upholstery is made with acacia solids and veneers.

HIGH POINT — As more and more furniture resources offer wood and upholstery as part of their assortment, the merchandising of occasional and upholstery has become more and more important particularly for those wanting to be a go-to resource in the all-important living room segment.

The coordinated design — typically between wood and upholstery product teams — thus becomes an opportunity for those offering collections and/or standalone occasional furniture meant to compliment new and inline upholstery groups.

In many cases, particularly with collections, there are stylist elements that tie the groups together, including wood finish, trim and even metal or stone accents that work well with certain fabrics, including neutrals.

Standalone occasional groups also can be coordinated in terms of wood finish and style, but often these groups are paired with multiple upholstery vignettes, showcasing their versatility within the line.

Several wood and upholstery resources discussed their approach to the categories, in some cases suggesting the tie-ins were more subtle than not.

Four Hands, for example, showcased a number of living room settings at the recently concluded winter Las Vegas Market. The clean lines of its Stratus cocktail table mimicked the clean lines of its Kingsley sectional shown in a textured neutral fabric.

The bird’s eye maple of the cocktail complemented the textured fabric and its moss green finish, also complemented a slightly darker green pillow on the sectional. Tying this all together were the modern, angular metal frames and legs of both pieces.

Its Dom sectional meanwhile featured an exaggerated wedge, offering an angled silhouette that complemented the shape of a guitar pick-shaped cocktail.

“These were picked like they were meant to go together,” said Adam Dunn, creative director at Four Hands, adding that the shape of the cocktail and the sectional makes it easier to walk between each piece, a seemingly small, yet important aspect in the design and coordination of tables and sofas or sectionals.

Another vignette showcased a round cocktail and side table featuring light travertine stone tops and contrasting dark metal bases that were paired with a sofa in washed recycled denim fabric and an accent chair featuring a woven banana leaf seat and back. A pouf in a textured gray and cream tone fabric and a small foot bench in a striped denim-tone fabric completed the setting.

“They all talk back to each other because they all have this desert vibe,” Dunn said, describing the way that occasional and accent pieces complement the upholstery and vice versa.

In its first showing of upholstery, also at the Las Vegas Market, RTA resource Bestar-Bush Furniture showcased several living room groups that coordinated stylistically with various inline occasional table settings. It paired the groups through the use of color palettes highlighting various themes such as industrial, rustic, farmhouse and mid-century. In addition, the arm styles and bases of seating complemented the forms of various cocktail and end tables and TV consoles.

“We’re helping the consumer make good design choices,” said Mark Weppner, senior vice president, marketing, design and engineering.

In a nod to how many younger and older consumers alike are living today in urban settings, he noted that the vignettes also were scaled and shown as if they were in studio apartments.

“We’re helping to scale it down to harmonious designs … that work well together,” he said, adding that this takes the risk out of design, particularly for consumers that shop via e-commerce channels, one of the major areas of distribution for the line. “We’ve made the color choices for you so you can select products that work well together seamlessly.”

Also at the Las Vegas Market, Palliser showed its Elements motion seating category which currently has two styles with about 40 SKUs. These include sectional configurations with occasional furniture that blends seamlessly with the seating.

Along with coordinating standalone pieces such as upholstered ottomans, the program offers built-in wood and upholstered storage units positioned between the seating as well as small swivel tables, also positioned between seats and side storage in the arm of the sectional.

“The whole idea is to give consumers lots of function,” said Roger Friesen executive vice president, business development. “This will be a big category for us. The whole idea of integrating these work surfaces is so you don’t need (additional) occasional tables. It’s all there.”

The style and dimensions of the built-in work/table surfaces and standalone ottomans also ties in with the contemporary leaning nature of the line.

“We look at the style and scale of the upholstery and try to marry the table to the upholstery,” he added, noting that the finishes on wood pieces also tie in with the leg colors of the seating. “And because of line focuses more on contemporary looks, our tables act as an accessory to the upholstery.”

For many, AICO has developed coordinated upholstery and occasional as part of major collections, such as its Michael Amini; Michael Amini, Jane Seymour; and Michael Amini Kathy Ireland lines. Coordinated upholstery and occasional vignettes also are available in its A La Carte program.

In each instance, the company designs the groups to offer a solution to retailers and consumers alike seeking a coordinating design aesthetic that ultimately complements each brand.

“We want our occasional to coordinate with our upholstery,” said David Koehler, vice president, sales, noting that Michael Amini puts a significant amount of time to design and develop the two categories together. “The retailer will put someone’s occasional with our upholstery. Why not ours? We feel with our occasional, we can offer the best presentation for our retailers.”

Magnussen, long viewed as an industry style leader in occasional and home entertainment, has offered upholstery for about the past six years. This gave the company an opportunity to become a go-to resource, not just in occasional tables and other wood furniture, but also in the living room segment.

This effort has become more concentrated of late — most noticeably in the past two High Point Market cycles — as the team developed and showed table groups that would pair well with new upholstery. In October alone, it showed 12 upholstery settings, including 10 new groups, each of which had its own occasional table group.

This coordinated approach allowed for a more “cohesive look to the room and to our merchandising strategy,” said Britt Lytle, head of occasional table merchandising for Magnussen.

Scale and price point are also important aspects of the design process.

“Scale is always a consideration,” noted Paulette Bernard, a designer for Magnussen’s upholstery division. “We looked at the tables along with the upholstery at the same time. Consumers can see how they work together and that they were all developed together. They all function well together.”

Flexsteel has been merchandising upholstery and occasional for the past 20 years, making it one of the industry’s resources with the most expertise in the living room segment.

Tim Newlin, vice president of marketing and product management, identified three major considerations in pairing the two categories: pricing, scale and design.

“The first thing is that if you merchandise it together, you will want a price point on the occasional that is complimentary to the price point on the upholstery,” Newlin said. “It never works very well when you have a higher-priced occasional group sitting in front of value-priced upholstery.”

“Second is that it is scaled appropriately for the dimensions of the upholstery pieces so that when it is in a room setting you can easily maneuver the room.”

“Third is what design category is the upholstery and does the occasional marry to that.” he said adding that this can include complementary finishes that tie various wood elements together.

Mixed media is another consideration, an opportunity for metal tones to marry with gray or neutral fabrics.

He noted that consumers also determine for themselves whether the design of the table group complements the design of the seating.

“Usually we want it (a seating group) to work with more than one occasional group,” Newlin said. “If the occasional was tied specifically to an upholstery group we have a harder time. But if the group stands on its own, it can be used with multiple upholstery groups within its design theme.”

“The only exception to that is when we develop a whole home collection, he added. “And generally speaking, we have upholstery that goes with that entire design theme.”