When it comes to enhancing your living space, sometimes little things can create big changes.
Everyone’s home is their castle, but even the most majestic palaces need an update from time to time. Whether you’re looking for something completely different or just a few comfortable upgrades, popping into your local furniture store and speaking with a knowledgeable salesperson is always a good way to get started.
At Gustafson’s Furniture and Mattress, 6641 E. State St., in Rockford, the possibilities stretch almost as far as the eye can see. A locally owned fixture for almost a century, the store has a vast showroom that displays multiple living room, dining room and bedroom options.
A store with such variety can make it quick and easy to overhaul a living area, but sometimes it’s the little things that create the most impactful changes. Kris Anastase, a salesperson and floor designer with Gustafson’s, recommends using the things you already love in your home as a launching pad.
“Some people like the personal touches in their homes,” says Anastase. “They want to keep something meaningful, like their grandparent’s chair, or a favorite piece that they want to hold onto.”
When meeting with a customer and helping design their room, one of the first things Anastase does is suss out these most meaningful items, with the hopes of making them a centerpiece to the room’s theme.
“Taking something like that and working around it is always a good place to start,” she says. “You don’t have to buy a new furniture set, if that’s too overwhelming. You can buy a comfy new chair or some artwork.”
Anastase also recommends using color to create change.
“Sometimes all you need is a pop of color,” she says. “That’s a great starting point if you’re feeling like your room is a little drab and you’d like to freshen it up.”
For those who are looking for a new seating arrangement, sectionals are always a worthwhile consideration. Not only do they provide a lot of seating but they also add versatility.
“A lot of people like sectionals,” says Anastase. “In most cases, you can choose left or right arm-facing pieces, or you can add a chaise lounge or a cuddler.”
Sectionals are also an excellent option when you’re looking to fill a large area of space.
“Typically, with a sectional, you have corner seats, double seats and single seats, so you can build it to fit the room,” Anastase explains. “If you’ve got a fireplace at one end of the room, you might want to put the chaise at the other end. Sectionals are a great way to build around fixtures like fireplaces and windows.”
If a sectional is too much, a soft, comfy chair might be the answer. There are several easy chairs to choose from at Gustafson’s, including lift chairs, which give people an electronic boost when standing.
“A lift chair is similar to a power recliner, but it also has the added boost option,” says Anastase. “A lot of people are reluctant to admit that they might need something like that, but they’re great if you find yourself having trouble getting out of a chair or if you’ve had surgery.”
Because lift chairs are sought out for medical reasons, Gustafson’s keeps a large assortment readily available for same-day service. They’re designed for one type of customers, but others who didn’t think they wanted the power option may change their minds once they see it in action.
“I’ve had a lot of guys come in who are bound and determined that they don’t want a power chair until they sit in one,” Anastase laughs. “A lot of our power chairs also have a power lumbar option and a power tilt headrest. With those options, you’re getting the ultimate comfort experience.”
While lift chairs might be a welcome addition to any room, they are particularly sought-after for home theaters, a room that has been trending upward since the quarantine of 2020. The extra support can go a long way during movie marathons.
“We always keep a lot of chairs like that in stock – with or without cupholders,” says Anastase.
Textures are also a great way to inspire change and add depth to your decor. There are a lot of fabrics and coverings to choose from, but leather is still a time-honored classic.
“A lot of my customers come in looking specifically for leather,” says Anastase. “Often, when I’m helping someone design a room, I like to add different textures. If they’re going with a lovely, upholstered sofa and chair, it’s nice to throw in a leather option, too. It’s good to mix up the textures a bit.”
And there’s no need to worry about buying all kinds of products to keep those textures looking and feeling their best.
“Our furniture is not difficult to clean at all,” says Anastase. “In a lot of cases, you just need a damp cotton towel to wipe the surfaces.”
Customers who are really concerned about damage can also purchase a five-year protection plan, which covers stains, spills, rips, scuffs, and general wear and tear.
Finding the flow of the room goes beyond furnishings and textures, however. As a designer, Anastase has many factors to consider when it comes to creating the perfect space for her customers.
“I want to be able to visualize the room I’m working with, so I ask a lot of questions,” she says.
“What kind of flooring does the room have? What color are the walls? Are these things that thecustomer is open to changing? Or do they want them to stay as they are? I want to get an idea of the furnishings they have and what they are looking for. A sofa and love seat? Do they want a sectional? Once I have that information, I go from there.”
While she prefers to keep things simple, there are a few things her customers can do to help.
“A lot of times I’ll ask for photos and measurements,” she says. “It’s also helpful to know about window placements or if there is a fireplace and where the floor registers are in the room.”
It’s also important to know where the electrical outlets are in the room, particularly with lamps or power chairs.
“You want to ask the sorts of questions that the customer isn’t necessarily thinking about,” says Anastase. “If you fall in love with a power set and picture it floating in the middle of the room, you need to be thinking about where to plug it in. You don’t want to be tripping over extension cords.”
A conversation with a salesperson like Anastase, coupled with a view of the many options available in a furniture store’s showroom, can be just what a customer needs to pin down their dream room.
“I really try to ask the questions that are going to help the customer zero in on what they’re looking for,” she says. “They don’t always realize just how many options are available.”
For some customers, an approaching salesperson might induce fear of a hard sales approach. Anastase does her best to dispel that notion with everyone she meets.
“We’re here to help,” she says. “I want you to see everything we have and give you ideas that you might not have walked in with. That’s what I’m here for.”
Salespeople are also savvy to which products can be customized and which ones can’t. When speaking to a customer, Anastase always keeps an ear open to the colors and details that are important to them, directing them toward furniture that can be customized, if they’re not describing something that’s currently in the show room.
“There are certain things that you can change fabrics on and certain things that you can’t,” she says. “If you don’t see what you want, I can steer you toward something that we can customize, so you get what you’re looking for.”
Delivering what the customer wants hasn’t been easy these past couple of years. The pandemic and supply chain issues have created significant challenges in many industries, including the furniture industry. Thankfully, Anastase is starting to see things return to the way they used to be, slowly but surely.
“We had to develop new ways of selling furniture during the pandemic, and wait times aren’t exactly where we’d like them to be, but they’re moving in the right direction,” she says.
Whether you’re looking for a major change or just a jump start for your living space, a trip to the furniture store can put you on the road to comfort, convenience and style. Change can be a good thing.
“What’s important to me is that the customer is happy and comfortable in their home,” Anastase says. “To me, that’s all that really matters.”