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Soft home at Baker taking off

Furniture manufacturer Baker Furniture appears to be going soft.

Baker's home textiles assortment has grown to a quarter of total accessory sales and is expected to grow between 10 percent to 15 percent yearly, said Steve Silveira, manager of fabric merchandising.

A division of Baker Knapp & Tubbs, Baker has been adding elements of soft home over the past five years to complement its furniture collections, allowing its customers to purchase the ensembles as whole lifestyle concepts at its six U.S. stores and a store-within-a-store in Selfridges in London.

"We realized the importance of having decorative textiles," Silveira told HTT. "Soft goods allow us to introduce seasonal color changes in our retail presentation, as well as to differentiate our lifestyle presentations — divided into traditional, contemporary and relaxed looks."

The most popular category in soft goods is the private label pillow program, which accounts for 75 percent of the total pillow business, he said. The fall season of pillows will retail between $67 and $107. Faux fur throws have also done well, he added, and the Barbara Berry and Thomas Pheasant designer collections are steadily increasing in volume and importance. Bedding products, including embroidered sheets and top-of-bed, are in the Barbara Barry group.

"I look for artisans and textiles designers that will bring something new to our mix of soft goods. In many cases, these artisans and designers will design soft goods exclusive to Baker," he said.

The retailer uses fabrics selected and, in many cases, designed by the Baker fabric buyer, and sources from both domestic and European mills. The most recent foray is a rug program, which it is launching within the Barbara Barry collection, and rolling out by the end of the year.

A traditional assortment of rugs, they range from 6' x 9' to 10' x 14' , in four sizes and constructed of hand knotted wool. The opening price point for a 6' x 9' rug will retail for approximately $900.

"It's higher-end because that's what we are as a manufacturer," Silveira said.

On the upper end, a silk and wool Barbara Barry rug will cost $4,100. The new rugs are still being tested.

"It gives an opportunity for the sales person to be a design source rather than just a furniture person," he said.

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