Since 1922, the folks at Better Homes and Gardens have given their readers helpful advice and tips about decorating their homes. Today, that same advice is literally leaping off the magazine's pages into people's homes through Universal Furniture's new Better Homes and Gardens collection.
Now making its way onto retailer's floors, the collection was showcased this summer during the home-furnishings trade show at the World Market Center.
"We like to inspire people through our magazine ... give them ideas for their home. Ultimately, the outcome we're looking for is to let them create the rooms of their dreams. It seemed to be the next logical step ... to go from the pages of our magazine to creating a furniture collection to create the look they want," said Gayle Goodson Butler, editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens.
"It really reflects what consumers want as far as furniture and design. It brings the magazine to life," added Larissa Rolland, brand marketing manager for Universal.
In fact, interpretation of the periodical's images is so accurate that there are cabinets and an armoire that mimic the look of cabinets found in the magazine's test kitchen, Rolland said.
The collection is divided into three categories: Cottage View, Classics Today and Modern Outlook.
Cottage View is described as casual and comfortable. The look merges a bit of country décor with clean, modern simplicity.
Classics Today evokes images of understated elegance and 19th-century style. It's traditional, but shaped for the way people live today.
Modern Outlook presents itself in a sophisticated and stylish way with its smooth lines and traditional roots.
Each category offers a complete line of furnishings for the bedroom, dining room, home entertainment, home office, occasional and upholstery.
Butler said one of the most appealing features of the collection is that everything can be mixed and matched, not only with pieces from another category but with furnishings already in a person's home.
"It was all planned to make it easier for the consumer to match from within the collection as well as with pieces she already has. These furnishings are pieces you can put together in your own way and be confident of getting a look that you love," Butler said.
Helping give the furnishings their versatility to match any décor are the plentiful options for finishes on case goods and upholstery. Rolland said there are 400 fabric options as well as preselected fabric packages to make it easier for the consumer to decorate her home.
According to Butler, the furniture collection was born out of her staff's desire to introduce furnishings for the consumer that couldn't be found elsewhere.
"We have a close relationship with the readers, and we realized there were things we thought were important to bring to the marketplace that we didn't see others doing," Butler said.
Key features they considered, along with the ability to mix and match pieces, were that the furnishings be realistically scaled for today's homes, they be both comfortable and functional, and they offer great style at a realistic and attainable price.
"Our readers, who are passionate home enthusiasts, will appreciate the quality, style and value of the pieces in this versatile collection. Theywould expect nothing less from a furniture line bearing the Better Homes and Gardens brand," she added.
Butler said the magazine has 38 million readers across the country. They represent a broad cross section of American women, all of whom have a passion for their homes.
"Our readers are always in motion. They always are doing projects in their homes," Butler said.
Another commonality in the magazine's readers is that they tend to "come into our magazine at a life stage change." Whether they are setting up a new home, in the early stages of forming their family, have school-age children or are adjusting to their empty nests, Butler said they look to the magazine's expertise to help them decorate their homes to the way their families' needs are changing.
One of the ways the collection's pieces meet families' needs is by incorporating functional features. For example, a round dining table from the Cottage View category has concentric perimeter leaves and a lazy Susan to facilitate serving, and nightstands in all three categories have a flip top area that conceals electrical outlets for plugging in lamps and small electronic items.
Other special features include hidden storage for jewelry in the sides of mirrors as well as jewelry-storage trays in top dresser drawers, sliding back panels and removable shelves in armoires to accommodate televisions, and drop-down drawer fronts in chests for video components.
Universal Furniture was selected as the manufacturer because of its reputation of making quality items at an affordable price and its willingness to forge a true partnership with the magazine's design team.
"We didn't want to just put our name on something. We wanted a true collaboration and that is what the Better Homes and Gardens collection is," Butler said.
The magazine's editorial team worked closely with designers from Universal to create a collection that blended the best of both. Butler said her staff looked at "every sketch for every piece of furniture."
"We at Universal Furniture know that Better Homes and Gardens delivers trust, appeal and quality -- three powerful ingredients that will resonate with retailers and consumers alike," said Randy Chrisley, president and chief executive officer of Universal.