Renovating? Decorating? Have patience…

Bed looking out over garden working renovating project patience pexels-photo-4099388

It’s been a year hasn’t it? Shut downs, shut ins, masks, work from home. Covid brought it all. But, it has been a huge boon to the home interiors and building industries. Decorating or renovating: have patience is all I can say because everything is getting more costly and taking more time.

Outdoor living has definitely been the big story all across the world. Historically here in New England, we’ve considered outdoor living time to run from April to October, give or take. It can still snow in April and we can still get killing frosts as well. So, outdoor living spaces have not been as big a deal or as elaborate as they are in, say, southern California. But in the past year, the back deck has reigned supreme.

back deck off house in woods renovating project patience

House deck renovating project patience

I’ve spent considerably more time out on my tiny back deck at Nook Cottage this past year and for the first time, I left my furniture outside over the winter so I could take advantage of good weather days with the addition of blankets and mittens.

Linda Merrill nook cottage back deck renovating have patience

But, why am I telling you to have patience? Because there’s a run on materials and labor. Everyone is just flat out and the price of lumber has skyrocketed. This is due to various factors including import tariffs, Covid restrictions, weather events,  plus demand. According to multiple reports, lumber prices have doubled in the last year. This means that the deck you wanted to build a couple of years ago is now twice the cost – if you can get the lumber. And a contractor.

Front porch renovating project patience

With so many working and schooling from home, the WFH situation has been quite a challenge especially in open floor plan homes.

desk work from home pale renovating project patience

Sometimes, a nice little work station can make all the difference in productivity.

home office renovating project patience

With so much more time spent at home, it’s no surprise that folks are tacking interiors projects as well. The insurance industry actually saw a drop in claims for the standard types of damages that occur (those unrelated to unprecedented weather events or fires) because homeowners are home to deal with problems as they arise and not hours or days later.

Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings Hingham Sitting Room and Home Office 2
Interior design by Linda Merrill, Hingham, MA

So, in addition to challenges on renovating project, simpler decorating jobs are also experiencing enormous delays and longer lead times. Every day, we’re receiving email notifications from vendors advising us that products are out of stock or discontinued suddenly. Vendors are also dropping smaller designer clients as they try to consolidate their processes and reduce overhead. All the shut downs due to Covid really cause much of the delay. Whether goods are made in America or overseas, social distancing in factories and workrooms means that once streamlined processes are disrupted.

We all got very used to Amazon two-day turn arounds and free delivery. But nothing is free and nothing is quick these days. A sofa, such as the custom one shown above thatI had made for my lovely clients in Hingham, MA may have had a 6-8 week lead time a couple of years ago and now it might easily be 16-20 weeks. So, word to the wise – plan ahead and have patience with your friendly decorator!

I’ve been very lucky with patience clients. This past summer over the course of a couple of weeks I had to tell my lovely Cape Cod clients that the woven wood shades chosen for their bedroom had been discontinued as had the beautiful embroidered sheer fabric selected for their den, and the lead time on the drapery fabric in their main room (which was the basis for all other decisions color-wise) had gone from 3-5 weeks to 8-10. The mill was out of the country and between having to reprint and ship, there was no telling how long it would take.

French mattress Bench cushion

And then came the big Texas snow and ice storm and subsequent electric grid meltdown.

frozen texas foam factory

Foam chemical suppliers declare a new force majeure, resulting in allocation cuts to U.S. upholstery and bedding makers.

Did you know that foam for cushions and upholstered furniture is a petroleum product? Ah… the 2020’s just keep giving.

In the best of times, patience is needed in any home dec or reno project. Mistakes are made when we rush decisions but if we delay, cost rise, product becomes unavailable.

Word to the wise: If you like something, it fits your needs and budget, and is in stock, buy it and store it if you need to. Don’t feel rushed, but don’t delay decisions. Communicate with your team and be flexible. Everyone is doing everything they can to make the process as smooth as possible!

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18 thoughts on “Renovating? Decorating? Have patience…”

  1. What a dream space!!! You are making me long for warm weather to hang out on the porch and patio again!!

  2. Such sage advice, Linda! Patience must be the word of 2021! I have clients who are a bit put off that they found out custom furniture will be a minimum of 4 months. I’ve always been a firm believer that you should get what you want and if that takes 4 months, let it take 4 months!

  3. Hello Linda, In general I spend years in slowly accumulating interesting objects that will will add to a designed space. However, I realize the difference between doing this and an actual project in which someone is coordinating fabrics, orders, installation work, and so forth. The situation is bad for everyone because the suppliers must be losing money and often future business while the orders are backed up.

  4. I loved reading about how you are spending more time this year outside on your lovely little porch area at Nook Cottage, Linda.

    And re: the delays? It’s so hard for people to have patience right now, I know, but as someone who lives on the SE coast of Texas, close to those refineries, I can tell you that the freeze and its after effects are real. The chemicals used for raw material production in everything..not just furniture…are going to take awhile to get back to normal levels after so much here was damaged. The people that work there are doing all they can to get everything working again.

  5. It has been a year is right! I’ve spent SO much time reselecting suddenly discontinued items and checking stock constantly before even presenting anything. And even when things finally get here, delivery from the mills is an issue. I’ve been waiting for a Sunbrella fabric for a reupholstery project ordered last August that is finally shipping next week (fingers crossed).

  6. This is a great reminder of the times we are living through right now, and the fall out may last longer than we imagined. I almost ordered a sofa last fall, and when I went back to the furniture store in January, they informed me that it would now take 8 months to get it, and the cost has risen by 20%!

    • Perfect illustration! When I started in business, 16 weeks was normal for upholstery. Then with so much fast fashion, we all got used to shorter lead times. 8 months is is a long time – but at least they were honest with you!

  7. As someone working in a kitchen design center for a cabinet manufacturer who is normally at a 6 week lead time and has been averaging between 11-16 weeks this year, I really appreciate this blog post!


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