In mid-March, as the pandemic was taking hold, my husband, daughter and I were in the process of buying a new house, selling our old house and moving across town.
When we made it safely into our new abode, we felt relieved and eager to start the process of making our house a home.
But as we started to settle in, I realized that furnishing our house was not going to be simple. With bricks-and-mortar stores closed, we couldn’t shop in person for the pieces we needed, so we had to buy online. Overseas furniture manufacturing and shipping have been disrupted because of the pandemic, leaving many items back-ordered or out of stock. And the thought of navigating a big furniture return during these times was daunting.
Still, we gave it a shot. I ordered a quick-ship sectional in a basic fabric that came in a timely fashion. That perfect kid-friendly piece sits in our sunroom. A lovely dining room table arrived soon after.
But a sofa in a custom fabric was back-ordered several months. We still haven’t received it, and now I’m second-guessing the purchase. Will it be comfortable? Is the fabric family-friendly?
Wooden armchairs were delivered weeks late. A back-ordered rug pad arrived long after the rug came and furniture had been positioned on said rug. A ready-to-assemble dresser was not ready to assemble; its hardware kit was back-ordered. And when a print arrived with a cracked frame, I haggled with customer service all day for a measly discount.
Many of us are in nesting mode while stuck at home, and we are shopping online as we continue social distancing. We want to make the most of our space, because our homes have taken on many roles: office, school, gym, refuge.
“It’s clear shopping for the home has become front of mind,” said Becca Roderick, director of interior design at the furniture and decor e-tailer One Kings Lane. “This means that there is more attention to making living spaces as comfortable as possible – upgrading worn upholstery, layering in comforting items like throw pillows and adding new art.”
Wayfair has seen a rise in purchases including vanities, faucets and lighting as housebound customers tackle DIY projects, according to a spokeswoman. Its sister sites AllModern and Birch Lane are experiencing surges in sales of storage pieces, outdoor planters and patio furniture.
One Kings Lane has also seen large increases in the outdoor category, specifically furniture, rugs, umbrellas and tableware. “Houses have always fulfilled the role of sanctuary in our lives, but now more so than ever,” Roderick said.
Navigating the virtual design world has been trickier than I anticipated. Five months after moving in, our house is half-furnished. I spoke with experts about how I could have approached this differently. Here is their advice on buying furniture online, during the pandemic and beyond.
Decorating in a virtual world
Jewel Marlowe, an interior stylist in Fairfax Station, Va., has used the pandemic as an excuse to continue sprucing up her