Recent Developments

  • Legal Issues
  • Housing and House Furnishings
    . . . . . Manufactured Housing
    . . . . . 1996 Housing Industry Report
    . . . . . Lead Poisoning Decreasing
    . . . . . 1997 International Home Furnishing Spring Market Update, High Point, NC

Legal Issues

The Living Will

The results of a recent study at Duke University Medical Center emphasizes the need for a living will. The study found that the frail elderly are less likely to favor physician-assisted suicide than their family members. Less than 40 percent of the frail elderly favored legalization of physician-assisted suicide, while nearly 60 percent of their relatives favored legalization. The study also showed that spouses and children were only marginally able to predict their elderly relatives’ attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide.

Reference: Duke Health, Spring 1997, page 29.

Contributed by: Carol A. Schwab, Family Resource Management Specialist.

Housing and House Furnishings

Manufactured Housing

1996 was a good year for manufactured housing in North Carolina. Over 32,400 were shipped to North Carolina sales centers and home sites, an increase of 1.7% over 1995. Production was over 37,000 homes for 1996, down 0.9% from 1995. North Carolina remains second in the nation in shipments, behind Texas. North Carolina ranks 4th in the production of manufactured housing behind Georgia, Texas, and Alabama.

Over 50 percent of the manufactured homes shipped to North Carolina were multi-section homes. 54% of the homes produced in this state were multi-section homes.

The popularity and demand of manufactured housing continues to grow in North Carolina. In 1996, 39.5% of all new single-family home starts in North Carolina were manufactured housing.

Source: NC Manufactured Housing News, March 1997

Contributed by: Dr. Sarah D. Kirby, Housing Specialist.

1996 Housing Industry Report

The housing industry had an excellent year in 1996, hitting an eight-year high in housing starts at 1.47 million units, according the February edition of “U.S. Housing Market Conditions.”

Starts of single-family homes had their second-best year since 1986, exceeded only in 1994.

New home sales totaled 756,000 making 1996 the third-best year since the series began in 1963. Existing home sales reached almost 4.09 million units in 1996, the highest total ever. The total for new and existing sales — 4.84 million units — also set a new record.

Additionally, shipments of manufactured homes set a record in 1996, reaching 365,000 units.

The nation’s home ownership rate increased 0.7 percentage points in 1996, following an identical rise in 1995. The home ownership rate at the end of the year was 65.4 percent, almost back to its peak in 1980 before the decade-long decline in home ownership began.

Despite the robust annual totals, numbers for housing production and marketing turned down in the fourth quarter of 1996, but analysts expect only a modest slowdown, if any, in 1997.

Source: FOCUS at HUD, 2/26/97

Lead Poisoning Decreasing

A HUD report to Congress charts the success of the Federal government’s coordinated effort to eliminate lead-based paint poisoning as a major childhood environmental disease.

Titled “Moving Toward a Lead-Safe America,” the report details the efforts of HUD and other federal agencies in empowering communities to control lead-based paint hazards without reducing the affordability and availability of low-income housing. Communities typically develop local strategies that combine financing for lead hazard control work with other initiatives, such as home ownership, jobs and job training, and other community development activities.

The latest survey of blood lead levels by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that the number of children being poisoned by lead has dropped dramatically. Children with high levels of lead in their blood declined from 1.7 million in 1988-1991 to slightly under a million in 1991-1994.

“This is good news — it shows that our efforts are working,” said HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo. “But we can do better. Nearly 1 million children still have too much lead in their bodies. Our goal is to make every child’s home in America a lead-safe one.”

While blood lead levels have come down for everyone, the report says low-income and minority children in urban areas continue to be at greater risk. Children living in older housing where lead-based paint is more prevalent also are at higher risk.

To help these children, CDC is proposing updated lead screening guidance that would target efforts to areas where lead risks are significant.

Source: FOCUS at HUD, 2/21/97

Contributed by: Dr. Sarah D. Kirby, Housing Specialist.


Furniture Looks Coming Your Way . . .

The 1997 Spring Furniture Market was held in High Point, NC April 10-18, 1997. With over 7,000,000 sq. ft. of showroom space and over 2,500 exhibitors from all over the world, it is the largest market of its kind. This year’s new introductions followed several old and new style categories.

Mission, with its straight lines, simple design and rustic looks seems to be getting mass appeal as it gains in popularity. Mission was first introduced by Gustav Stickley, William Morris and Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the earl 1900’s. It’s “no-nonsense” design is appealing to many retailers and consumers who want relaxed looks without sloppiness.

Relaxed or casual contemporary styles also seem to be gaining more of the market share. Lighter, less formal finishes were seen in wood furniture. Upholstery varied from soft, sumptuous curves to sharp angles, most often dressed in textured fabrics like faux animal chenilles as well as other textures.

(For those consumers old enough to remember the hot furniture styles of the 70’s, you may not be thrilled with another style trend that seems to be gaining ground!) Yes! Mediterranean is back in vogue. This time with new names like Coastal European or Southern European. Today’s Mediterranean is “restrained, sophisticated and even elegant looking. (Yes, even this 50 year old home furnishings specialist, who inherited some Mediterranean furniture with her husband and still hates the 70’s look today has to admit that it’s true!)

Today’s Southern European looks are finished in light, dry tones instead of the dark, shiny finishes from the 70’s. In upholstery, the colors are brighter than the browns, golds and avocados from the past era (Thank goodness!). There is even a mix of fabrics on the same piece of furniture. The covers on the inside of a chair or sofa may be a paisley while the outside covers are a stripe, plaid or even leather.

As more and more Americans are working at home, the furniture industry is scrambling to provide products to help us meet the need for workspace to fit within the various spaces we have at home – be they small or large. Home office furniture is now available in a variety of styles, finishes and price ranges. The desk is changing to accommodate technology and ergonomics is the “by-word.” Modular units customize workstations to fit any person’s work needs and to fit any size room. More furniture manufacturers added home office furniture to their lines or increased their offerings in the category for the Spring Market.

With the merger of computers with television, “convergent” furniture is being developed to house the computer components with the VCR, sound system, etc.

Motion chairs are still on the “best-sellers” list of furniture. The big man recliner got even bigger this year with Action Lane’s introduction of Comfort King. On the flip side, there were more smaller scale frame introductions, too. (We women want to relax in comfort, too – Hey, where’s the remote!) Leather and leather-vinyl covers continue to be the cover of choice. To cut costs, manufacturers use leather on the parts of the chair that touch the body and vinyl on the outside of the frame.

Beds are not just wood or brass anymore. This market, there was extensive use of steel, iron, brass, and leather as well as wood in various combinations.

In Wicker and rattan the classic looks still remain strong. Leather covers on wicker and leather used as an accent material on wicker case pieces give new and different looks to the category.

Fabric and color looks coming your way…

Chenille was everywhere!

  • Look and feel of velvet with a more casual look
  • New generation with less “full-face” coverage or all over design – may add texture following a paisley design or certain areas of a plaid or stripe

Overall softness to the fabrics

  • Casual looks that were brushed, sanded, sueded, tumbled or washed
  • Denims, corduroys
  • Gone are “stiff-as-board” fabrics

“Allover” Texture

  • Textures added to hammered satins, and traditional damasks
  • Weaves of crewel and basket patterns

Prints Beginning to Return

  • Small and large-scale designs, dramatic and elegant drawings
  • Flowers blooming in large-scale with a romantic to dramatic flare

Menswear Looks Abound

  • Herringbones, checks, plaids, houndstooth checks and window panels are just some of the designs seen

Its “au-naturel”

  • Cotton, silk, linen are leading the consumer’s interest in natural fibers
  • Denim and other apparel looks from natural fibers are moving to upholstery

Simple Elegance

  • Damasks and stripes may have a touch of glitter or rich colors
  • Velvets, jacquards returning

Color, Color Color

  • Terra cotta, greens, blues remain strong
  • Denims, new navy’s and sky blues
  • Lots of red – generally warmer shades
  • Blue-greens and yellows going toward primary range
  • Greens in more neutral tones – not hunter green
  • Buttery yellow and bronze golds in combination with red and greens
  • Bluer reds – raspberry or strawberry
  • Robin’s egg blue with accents of aqua
  • Wedgewood blue
  • Spice colors like saffron, cinnamon reds, cumin
  • Browns, blacks, dark wines
  • Neutrals like tan, taupes, and natural tones
  • European citrus colors, not as acidic, and used more often as accents. Mango and papaya – two important brights.
  • Greens like avocado, “mustardy” greens, dill
  • Plum and paprika

Below are some examples of the new furniture introductions seen at the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point.

Casual elegance is the theme of this Bernhardt sofa. The fabric is a bronze chenille paisley design with stripes and scrollwork of rusty red, moss green, gold and cocoa. The sofa features opulent comma shaped arms and a dressmaker skirt. Oversized toss pillows edged with fringe add to its comfortable, cozy look.

Lexington Furniture Industries’ World of Bob Timberlake this spring is featuring Polar fleece fabrics from Malden Mills. The fabrics have been specifically engineered for use on upholstery. The fabric like its apparel mate, has terrific hand or feel, nice texture and wearability. For furniture application it adds warmth in the winter, coolness in the summer.

This sectional sofa from Century Furniture is a transitional style that can go contemporary or traditional. The half-moon shape encourages more cozy comfort for conversation. It is covered in a soft, lustrous boucle and silk of ivory, dusted sage and pale copper.

The ‘Gallery’ chair by Marge Carson is inspired by the European boudoir chair. It comes with a quilted accessory throw, tassel trim on the arms and an optional shirred, banded base. A pair of Gallery chairs can create a tete-a-tete, a love seat with an open back in the center, a chair-and-a-half or a cozy pit.

This Berkline recliner adds a new dimension to comfort and convenience. The design of the chair includes a larger-scale and an adjustable waterfall back. One armrest lifts up to reveal a speaker phone and a storage compartment for remote controls. The other side panel drops down to reveal hidden storage for magazines, games, and other items, as well as a handy, hideaway table/cup holder that pulls up and locks into place.

Henredon’s Registry collection gets its inspiration from the Arts and Crafts movement with an Oriental influence as well. This “chinet” has frosted glass doors and is made from solid cherry woods.

Called the Gameskeeper’s Hutch, this china cabinet is from the Dutch Unlimited Home Furnishings by Kincaid. It is Knott’s Island Pine, the solid wood collection with knots, markings and natural qualities of pine wood. It features a pierced diamond motif and raised panel for authentic details. It’s inspiration is an original built hutch and coop for keeping tomorrow’s dinner. This one features plate racks, glass storage cabinets and antique brass hardware.

Eighteenth century elegance is alive and well in this Bombe Chest from the Claridge Collection by Century Furniture. Rocaille carvings hug the corners. Carvings and moldings are softly gilded over a heavily rubbed and antiqued umber “Anniversary” finish.


Now you see it. . . Now you don’t. This Computer Cabinet is Sligh’s contemporary hard-working home office concealed within an armoire. It has all the amenities…work surface, pull-out keyboard tray, file area, storage drawers, bookshelves, wire management features and a built-in multiple plug receptacle, all in a nice, neat space. Sligh’s patented Pocket Chair (TM) is standard, too. It folds up and tucks into the knee space when not being used.

Now you can customize your kitchen with this unique Broyhill Fontana Kitchen Island. It features butcher block work surfaces for food preparation, double doors which opens to adjustable shelves, and a large drawer that puts kitchen utensils within easy reach. It is also completely mobile for added convenience, easy preparation and cleaning. The signature washed pine finish can blend or contrast with your present cabinets. It also features open shelves for storing fruits, vegetables and canisters.

This unique chest will be an “eye-catcher” in any room. It is part of the Henredon Registry collection. It is made of woven copper and has a distressed mahogany base and heavy hammered hardware. It combines the arts and crafts style with subtle Asian themes.

Cigar humidors were unique accessories making a comeback at the High Point Market. This one from the Ducks Unlimited Collection is styled in rich mahogany. It is lined with Spanish cedar, which is noteworthy for its dry, unscented qualities that won’t affect the flavor of the cigar tobacco. The interior also features a hydrometer to measure humidity, a humidifier and is packed with a special humidifier liquid. The top is engineered to provide an airtight seal with a vacuum-like reaction to insure maximum freshness. The Ducks Unlimited Home Furnishings nameplate in antique brass adds a distinctive finishing touch.

You can bring the garden inside with this rug from Couristan. Beautiful bouquets of flowers adorn the romantic Floral Garden Collection. This classic, luxurious rug is made in Spain of 100% wool. It has a super-dense weave for ultra fine detail, a silky, smooth finish and a thick, rich pile. It comes in four colorways …green, black, beige and pastel beige and in three sizes 4′ x 5’2″, 5’6″ x 8, and 8′ x11′

Contributed by: Dr. Wilma S. Hammett., Housing and House Furnishings Specialist.




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