How the Pandemic Has Changed the Interior Design Industry

One year ago, the pandemic had hit and I was in the middle of a massive company pivot, trying to develop a new way to work with you, from the safety of my home and yours. Since then, it’s been a long year of surprises, to say the least, and constant adjustments to new data.

What we know for sure, is that you’ve been sitting at home for long enough to have made a lot of decisions about everything you like and don’t like in your home.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The changes and the resulting general response to them have altered the interior design industry in several ways. Some of these are exciting (hello, Virtual Design), while others are frustrating and even shocking. The whole spectrum of emotions.

Here are the biggest changes our industry has seen and how they impact you…

1. Demand for home goods, appliances, and materials has skyrocketed

Have you bought something, anything, for your home in the past year that you might not have bought if we weren’t in a pandemic? If so, you are not alone. Many of you have started spending your unused vacation budgets or dining-out budgets on your furnishings and decor. I mean, home has never been more important—why not invest in it, right? That sofa is going to get a lot more use than ever before!

The minute we all decided that we needed to redesign our spaces, demand skyrocketed. From homeschool desks, to dining tables to dishwashers, consumers started to BUY. And by “buy” I mean place orders, because receiving those orders has been a whole different thing…

(If 2020 taught us all about control, then 2021 is on track to teach us a lesson in patience!)

pandemic affect on interior design industry consumers demand increase home goods

2. Production has slowed

As COVID-19 cases soared, factories began shutting down. Fewer workers came into the plants, social distancing regulations limited their ability to work as normal, and production has slowed to a near halt. So while demand continues to increase, supply has been severely compromised from a PRODUCTION standpoint. But the orders? They just keep coming.

We try to procure as many furnishings as possible right here in the US to avoid heavy freight costs, but even American-made items often require some raw materials for manufacturing that come from overseas. Just when we thought lead times could not get any worse, we learned that the primary supplier for foam in the US is in Texas. And what happened in Texas? It froze over. So now we have a foam shortage. No joke.

3. Then, there’s the shipping conundrum…

Then, there’s the shipping conundrum. As PPE and delivery of vaccines rightly takes priority at the ports, our industry faces another problem. You know all the furniture that you ordered back in November? It’s probably close. But now, there is a MASSIVE container ship traffic jam on the California Coast holding up all receiving. And because of this delay in container turnover, there is also a shortage of shipping containers, which has led to the cost of shipping containers tripling. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.) Then, a ship got stuck in the Suez Canal, and the shipping chaos continues.

If you are frustrated by this information, believe me, we are too. I have never seen anything like this in my career. So if you are sitting at home and frustrated that the retailer you bought a new home furnishing from has not delivered, consider the situation. (I sincerely hope they are still answering the phone.)

So, what do we do now?

interior design industry changes during pandemic tools to make home design easier

What we’re doing to alleviate the problem

If you’re trying to design your home on your own, there’s not much you can do about this situation except have patience.

If you’re working with Styleberry, you have the luxury of knowing exactly where your furniture is coming from, and we have a direct line to the vendor. No retailer in the middle, no 1-800 customer service number you have to spend an hour on hold with, only to learn they know nothing about your order.

While it’s true that we are seeing unprecedented lead times just like everyone else, we also know who to call for the most recent update. We track all of our outstanding client orders and are in a unique position to often know clear lead times before we specify upholstery or case goods. We may not like them, but we know them.

What this means to you is that we know exactly where to shop to get the best possible delivery schedule, including trade-only resources that are not available to the general public. That means more clarity and FAR less stress!

We also know… some things are worth waiting for. 😉


P.S. Don’t forget to grab our Guide to Budgeting Your Living Room Furnishings here!

Styleberry Creative Interiors specializes in fresh, relaxed design crafted in a meaningful way. With a team and process you can trust, we’ll help you create soul-soothing spaces that inspire you to unwind, connect, and finally… exhale.

Styleberry Creative Interiors is based in downtown San Antonio, Texas. We serve clients in the Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, greater San Antonio Metropolitan area and Nationwide with Full Service and Virtual Design.

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