Styled, Staged & Sold

Bringing you the latest home design and staging trends. From REALTOR® Magazine.

The McMansion brought about oversized furniture to fill those expanded spaces, but now that spaces are shrinking, why hasn’t our furniture too?

One expert offers up one reason why our furniture hasn’t scaled back -- Americans are too fat. Apparently plus-sized furniture is needed to fit our growing waist lines, even as our home’s square footage gets smaller.

"People are just bigger," Tom Fisher, dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, told Minneapolis Star-Tribune in the article Living (not so) Large by Kim Palmer. "Americans are getting fatter as houses get smaller, and this is a problem. It makes a house seem smaller than it is. It's two trends going in opposite directions."

Bigger furniture for larger people is a growing market. Specific companies have emerged to target the plus-sized customer with wider chairs and furnishings, all with extra support.

U.S. armchairs are generally 20-26 inches in width—too small for many customers nowadays. Let’s face it, we’re an obese nation. Nearly 70 percent of Americans are overweight and nearly 34 percent qualify as obese, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. At one store, you can purchase a chair 34 to 44 inches in width.

But our growing waist lines aren’t only to blame for the emergence of plus-sized furniture: Who doesn’t find that oversized chair or recliner more comfy?

Just look at what’s happened with beds: Double-sized beds used to be the norm; now it’s the queen size and many households are more fit for a king.

Our accessories—such as lamps and vases—are making a bigger statement and have gotten supersized too.

But with our love for plus-sized accessories and furniture, our small homes are appearing even smaller. It’s a harmless mistake.

"Looking at this stuff in retail showrooms, it doesn't look too big, then you get it home,” Caren Martin, associate professor at the U’s College of Design, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Sometimes you can't even get it into your home -- you need a 3-foot entry door -- and older houses don't have that.”

What do you think: Is it time for our plus-sized furniture to go—even at the sake of added comfort—or is there room for the supersized furnishings in home design today?


Meet Our Bloggers

Styled, Staged & Sold, created by NAR and REALTOR® Magazine, is produced by professional home staging and style experts around the country.

All Past Issues

Historical issues archive from the official magazine of the National Association of REALTORS®: the business tool for real estate professionals.


Email icon

Sign up to receive blog posts via email or via RSS