This week’s wood furniture report that focuses on selling opportunities in home office and dining furniture was originally meant to be one story.
The problem was that trying to fit all the nuances of each category into a single narrative could have resulted in an unwieldy and unfocused report that may have left more questions than answers. Thus, the report ended up getting split into two stories, one focusing exclusively on home office, the other on dining.
But it also makes sense to reflect on where these categories converge. I am writing this at the table in a formal dining room, a makeshift office of sorts. It’s a good use for a table — and room — that only gets used once or twice a year, notably at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The question is: Does a formal dining room — and dining table — suffice for a home office? Not entirely, particularly if you want to file papers or store books, the likes of which are now scattered along a large portion of the dining table surface. But it also struck me that there can be a sort of balance or convergence of sorts between the categories, an issue addressed by some resources interviewed for these stories.
“Companies are going to realize that working from home is the future,” said Jamie Collins, executive vice president at Homelegance, noting that distance-learning initiatives also will continue as well. “But there are a lot of markets in this country where it is difficult to have a home big enough to have a separate home office. Will it be the family room, the dining room or the kitchen? All these areas have to become multi-purpose because of that.”
Collins noted that furniture in these rooms also can be multipurpose, including smaller-scale dining tables with bookcase storage and USB charging stations, or sofa tables that also have charging outlets, thus making them laptop and tablet friendly.
“These are things that fit into smaller spaces, and they have two and in some cases three different uses,” he added.
Christian Rohrbach, senior vice president of, sales and merchandising at solid wood bedroom and dining resource A-America, said that the company saw its biggest boost in e-commerce sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand was particularly strong for smaller-scale dining tables that can double as a desk, he noted.
Regular height tables also tended to do well as they are compatible with desk chairs. Tables with drawers also are popular due to their storage capabilities.
Of course, none of this negates the importance of desks. Given the demands of consumers working from home, they will continue to do well in the marketplace, a big reason A-America is considering getting into the home office category.
But consumers also love dual function pieces. Therein lies an opportunity for manufacturers — domestic and overseas alike — to hone their product development efforts in a way that merges the two categories. Anything that leads to greater innovation and functionality will hopefully be a much needed boost to the wood side of the business.