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HomeHomes
Published: Monday, 9/19/2005

Once the pits, sectionals have become cool, sexy, chic

BY CHARLYNE VARKONYI SCHAUB
SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

If someone says the word sectional and an ugly, oversized clump of furniture in plaid bulletproof fabric comes to mind, you really need to get out more.

Sectionals have gone sexy. Styles range from ultra chic to cool cottage. Some have chaises. Others have removable slipcovers. They come dressed with skirts or perched on platforms. Fabrics run the gamut from leather and ultra suede to denim and chenille. They re small enough for a studio apartment or big enough to fill the living room of a McMansion.

And you can find them to fit any budget -- from $1,599 for a two-piece retro version from Palliser s EQ3 s Replay Collection to $17,000 and up for a six-piece sectional from Baker s Barbara Barry Collection.

Michelle Lamb, author of The Trend Curve newsletter, says she has been tracking sectionals.

The sectional look comes and goes, but I think it s going to be with us for a long time, Lamb says. It feels fresh and new, particularly to an audience that didn t have it in their homes before. It is so versatile. You can buy only what you need and rearrange it. It s like buying a watch with five bezels. It s reassuring to know you can change it, even if you never do.

One of the biggest proponents of sectionals is Mitchell Gold, a company with a reputation for innovation in a conservative business. The signature Gold twist is the removable slipcover that is tighter fitting than the now passe Shabby Chic look.

People are tired of sofas in their media rooms, says Bob Williams, Mitchell Gold s vice president and director of design. We felt that people were spending more time at home after 9/11 and sectionals provide a way for families to gather around closer to each other.

The Mitchell Gold folks like to talk about sectionals giving people a psychological hug. They create a room within a room, a popular way to give intimacy to the great rooms found in new construction. Mitchell Gold has seen a sharp increase in consumer inquiries and people are digging it.

Everyone expects innovation from Mitchell Gold, but what about La-Z-Boy? They have given themselves a younger and hipper image. The fabrics are more upscale and so are the designs. The Padova (suggested retail $1,899) has an upscale look and a rounded chaise component.

Palliser s Replay collection from the EQ3 line is a fresh take on the American retro movement geared at Gen X and Gen Y. (EQ stands for Emotional Quotient.) The three-piece sectional comes in a polyester/acrylic fabric in five colors and has a suggested retail of $1,599.

One of the most sophisticated contemporary looks is the five-piece Radiant sectional ($8,390), designed by Stanley Jay Friedman of New York, a devoted modernist. The influence is European. The lines are linear, clean and low slung.

Sectionals are an extension of good design, Friedman says. You don t have to have modules. You can have curved sections in the middle. They give people comfort and an environment that puts them close to each other rather than across from each other.



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