As the largest furniture manufacturer and retailer in the country (580 stores nationwide), Ashley Furniture HomeStore (5151-B Citrus Blvd., Harahan, 504-733-8722; www.ashleyfurniturehomestore.com) covers the full range of style categories, from traditional to contemporary. The 30,000-square-foot, Louisiana-owned Harahan store stocks furnishings for the living room, dining room, bedroom, home office, outdoor areas and more.
"[Ashley Furniture] is in more homes than any other furniture in America by far," says store manager Bill Robbins, who's been in the furniture industry for 38 years. "We have a huge customer base and more styles and collections across more price points."
The store has a steady influx of new products, and except for accessories, pieces are individually ordered; most arrive within three to four weeks. The Harahan store is holding its annual New Year's Savings Bash through Jan. 4, 2015. During the event, customers receive 20 percent off merchandise or financing without interest for five years.
One of the store's newest additions is Ashley Furniture's Urbanology collection. Inspired by eclectic lofts, it was developed to appeal to younger customers. Robbins describes the line as upscale and casual with relaxed styles, clean lines, hand- or machine-distressed finishes and industrial elements.
"It was created to have the look of furniture made from reclaimed materials and to resonate with customers that don't want what their grandmothers had," Robbins says.
While matching suites of new furniture was popular in the past, interior design has moved toward a collected-over-time presentation that combines a variety of woods, colors, finishes, materials and styles.
Living environments also have changed and tend to have an open flow. Because spacious rooms lend themselves to larger pieces, the Urbanology collection offers furniture with bigger proportions, deeper seating and higher backs and is marked by details such as leather upholstery and nailhead trim. Urbanology includes furnishings for the kitchen, bedroom and dining room.
"It's an upscale category of merchandise: the best upholstery, the best cushions, the best case goods, the best scale," Robbins says. "It's an affordable option."