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The home decor industry post pandemic

A snapshot view across Home Decor Services in 2020

Back in mid march I wrote a post here on how Corona Virus would affect the interior design industry. None of us could really predict the impact it would actually have on the world. Indeed there are still many unknowns in this journey into the new normal. The home decor industry post pandemic has seen many changes. Businesses and the people they support both as employers and product and service providers continue to navigate uncharted waters.

Now months later, at the start of a new year, I’m revisiting that post to see how things are with the benefit of hindsight. Did my predictions come true? What did we learn? What processes are now rooted in our business practice from what we’ve learnt over 2021? How has the landscape of interior design and the home decor industry post pandemic changed?

Firstly in our day to day working across every industry things came to a complete standstill as everyone worked out how we would manage this. Zoom and google hangouts became our best friends as we forged new ways to communicate with each other. Slowly things picked up. For the main part, the home decor industry post pandemic is fortunate enough to not only continue trading but to see an upturn in activity.

I’ve taken a look back over the past few months to see what the numbers say. I’ve also asked clients and colleagues in the industry how they fared during this challenging time. Read on to find out more.

Home decor consumer behaviour during the pandemic

Comscore tracks consumer behaviour online. Their May report on the home improvement category saw a huge increase across the EU 5 in both online shopping and use of home/architecture websites and apps. You can see from the stats here there was a considerable increase in interest across the home decor category. 

 

What did this mean in UK? Houzz, the online platform that connects home renovators with interior designers, professional  tradespeople and home decor suppliers reported huge surges in the use of the platform during the first lockdown with some of their busiest ever periods. Year on year reports for August saw home renovation pros receive 102% more enquires than in the previous year. Many product categories also saw huge increases. One surprising statistic from the Houzz report was in the flooring category. There was a 1,500% increase in leads for flooring installers in August 2020 in comparison to August 2019, and a 370% year-on-year rise for carpet and flooring supplier leads. Demand for tiles also rose by an incredible 5,300%!

How did home decor suppliers adapt in the home decor industry post pandemic?

So I spoke to a flooring supplier – Nick Bounds of Naked Floors told me, “We’ve been trading for 18 years and through that period have had 2 or 3 recessions each of which just made us work harder and become more determined to carry on at what we do best.”

“However when Covid19 first kicked in we did get slightly nervous as existing customers postponed their orders. People were very cautious and they simply didn’t want tradespeople entering their homes.”

“Initially enquiries from all angles simply dried up to zero in the first few weeks. What many people didn’t realise is that we were classed as an essential business. A vital part of the construction supply chain so we were allowed to carry on trading. We made sure we communicated we were open and ready for business. With the required safety measures in place we were able to continue with business as usual.

wood flooring by Naked floors

Beautiful bespoke wooden floors by Naked Floors

However some customers were anxious about visiting. Having read so much about Covid in the news and as they’d barely left their homes since the start of lockdown we did our best to put them at ease. Adhering to the safety protocols and communicating how we were able to serve them with the restrictions in place. Fortunately for us there has been no supply chain issues. We are a local manufacturer and don’t rely on foreign imports. We’re proud to source sustainably lowering our carbon footprint and benefitting the local economy. We’re pleased to say that we now benefit from the increase in demand for quality locally produced goods.”

Home Decor and independent retail

I also spoke to Sam Moseley from custom table makers Grain and Frame, a relatively new business who were growing fast when the pandemic hit.

“The business was performing well in March and we were on target to have our best month to date. However, no one could have predicted that we would be facing a global pandemic. The first lockdown meant all of our suppliers shut which meant we couldn’t make our tables.”

“We decided to see this as an opportunity to take a step back and look at improvements we could make to the business. We immediately paused all of our paid ad spend but continued to invest in our marketing activities. At the time, we were struggling with the functionality of our website and the platform that it was built on. We knew this would limit our long-term success. We used this quiet period to build an entirely new website to help improve our rankings on Google and increase the amount of organic traffic to the site, which we were hopeful over time would increase enquiries for our tables.”

 

Walnut dining table by Grain and Frame

Walnut Dining Table by Grain and Frame

“Since our new site went live, we have tripled the number of new visitors to the Grain and Frame website. This is still increasing each week. In fact October was our best month in terms of sales which is a direct result of this investment.”

This approach is typical of businesses we worked with at My Deco Marketing over 2020. Increasing online visibility is key to success. The home decor industry post pandemic saw a clear customer shift. Not only to just researching but actually purchasing goods online as the high street became inaccessible, or else people simply preferred to stay at home. We’re seeing an increasing investment in SEO, content marketing and organic and paid social media strategies across Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Becoming more visible online is paying off in bringing in customers as more people shop from home.

Designers making a difference

During the year many in the home decor industry used their design and business skills to help others, especially to support our NHS workers. Read my blog on designers making a difference to discover more. Anna Hayman Designs is one of these. Anna’s business covers both interior design projects and home decor products, Anna told me…

“The impact of Covid in March on Anna Hayman Designs has meant that our interior design side of the business which was just emerging, had to hit pause. With the retail customer spending more time at home, however, over the Summer the product side has boomed, with some of our best months to date being during 2020. We have been outsourcing work to those unable to earn, to try to help the situation and utilise unused skills. We also raised £4000 through selling Art Prints for local NHS meals to try to give back.

Cushions by Anna Hayman Designs

New products for AW 2020 from Anna Hayman Designs

 

Through the Autumn we have added more product lines, developed a new website and grown the business, and feel extremely lucky to have done so.

The question remains what will come in 2021, and we are hopeful that homeowners will continue to invest in their homes,  as we have all had to connect with our spaces in more meaningful way. A lot of people find pattern very calming, so we hope we can continue to create sanctuaries from an ever changing world!”

Home decor on the high street

Next let’s check in with one of the UK’s largest retailers. I asked Suzanne Knight, Sales Manager for Property for John Lewis & Partners Business how the pandemic affected their home decor offering.

“The year 2020 has brought so much change across Britain and globally. Here at the John Lewis Partnership we have been at the heart of equipping people and their homes to accommodate what has quickly become known as ‘ the new norm’.”

“We couldn’t have dreamt of a time when we would have had to close our branches, but we appreciated the need to do so and quickly rallied to reallocate our resource to our grocery business, Waitrose & Partners as the immediate demand was focused on stocking the nation’s cupboards.”

“In the weeks ahead the needs expanded as we saw uplift in sales at John Lewis where our customers were embracing hobbies from needlecraft to stargazing. Our fashion sales shifted to sportswear and the accompanying equipment as gyms closed and many people used the opportunity to focus on health.”

“We evolved many of our in store advice into a virtual service and had 5830 appointments with almost half focused on homeware. Here we have helped people carve out new spaces, seeing sales of bunkbeds increase as siblings share rooms allowing for a home office , in addition to the investment in pieces such as rugs and freestanding shelves allowing households to zone open plan areas to allow for function led spaces such as a home classroom. “

living room interior design

John Lewis & Partners interiors collection 2020

 

“In John Lewis & Partners Business we serve companies in their procurement needs and in lockdown technology was initially the core purchase as workforces shift to working from home. Beyond that we worked closely with other trade customers including those in the property sector, most notably Interior Designers and Home Staging who balanced where they could, current projects but all also revised the needs of past clients equipping them with home offices and garden furniture as they embraced outdoor living.”

We evolved our at service John Lewis & Partners Business specifically for Interior Designers and Home Stagers purchasing via our team by lowering the minimum spend and increasing our trade discount exclusively for this audience. This has been very welcome to this base as many have had to pause all business so very much are looking to maximise all commercial gain in the months ahead in what will always be a memorable year for all. Contact Suzanne Knight to find out more about their services

Interior Designers and the new normal

So far it’s clear to see people focusing on their homes and investing in their interiors during these undertain times. With this in mind we saw interior designers having to manage their projects under new and challenging circumstances.

Cat Hoad of interior design and project management  Absolute Project Management explains how this year unfolded for her business.

“With multiple projects in progress at the time of the first lockdown we quickly adapted in order to continue serving our clients. Our team decamped to work from home and zoom meetings became the norm. As construction is in the class of essential business the sites were open. We were able to visit our projects and liaise with clients and contractors taking the proper safety precautions. However it was not without it’s challenges. With workshops closures and high demand for building materials longer lead times became inevitable.

Absolute Project Management Interior Design

London renovation project completed during lockdown by Absolute Project Management

 

As well as this progress on site is slower. Contractors are working with fewer tradespeople on the team to allow for social distancing. Now more than ever we are advising planning ahead and engaging specialist services as early as possible to avoid delays when starting your renovation project. With an increase in demand we’ve been able to leverage our longstanding relationships across the build and design industry to ensure our projects run smoothly through these challenging times”

A boost for home stagers

At the start of the first lockdown estate agents closed their doors and house sales slowed. At first interior designers and home stagers had no access to properties due to lockdown restrictions. However then another boost for the home decor industry post pandemic came in July. In the chancellor’s Summer statement, an announcement of a Stamp Duty holiday until March 2021.

I spoke to Jane Lee of Jane Lee Interiors to discover how this affected her home staging business.

“When the housing market shut down, my work inevitably slowed to a trickle. With no kids to home school I found myself spending (a lot) more time on Instagram, with unexpected consequences …

Three weeks in, an estate agent whose blog post I’d shared on my stories messaged me. Would I take part in their video series, talking about lockdown-friendly ways to get properties ready to sell? Absolutely! Even better, they’re now recommending me to all their customers.

Then there was Zoom. Clients are more open to video consultations now, something I’ll continue to promote as I can work further afield.

Jane Lee Interiors kitchen design

Home Staging by Jane Lee Interiors

 

With the housing market back on track, buoyed by the stamp duty holiday, staging is back in demand. Apart from minor product sourcing issues, due to limited stock and slower delivery times – and nearly passing out behind my mask in the heatwave – for now things are feeling more normal.”

Interior Design Events

Finally one of the things we miss most is simply connecting with people. Some of our biggest design events including Decorex and Focus/20 from the Chelsea Design Centre had to happen online. This has been the year of Zoom. I’ve found it a great way to connect with people when I couldn’t be out and about. Debbie Blott founder of The Decorcafe Network for interiors and creative businesses says this year the ability to connect online is more important than ever.

“Our network is founded on connecting through interiors inspired creative events. In 2021 we were looking forward to private house tours of homes featured on Grand Designs. In-store events with the high street’s best loved interiors brands we’re also on the schedule. However that all changed in March when we suddenly we had to make a move to online meetings. Instead of just once a month there was a high demand to stay connected. We quickly moved to busy almost weekly members meetings of our interiors and creatives community. We’re now welcoming new members every week as interior designers, independent business owners and larger brands look to find new ways to connect through building connected communities online.”

Moving on to 2021

So there you have it a little round up across our industry for 2020. Looking back at my original blog from March I don’t think anyone would have predicted some of these outcomes. Moving in to 2021 I feel blessed to be part of an industry where we were still able to trade for most of the year. I feel 2020 proves two things

  • Home as a place of sanctuary is more important than ever.
  • The internet as a place to trade, connect and communicate is more important than ever.

The technology, skills and knowledge in the space that connects these two important places is exactly where my business sits. I’m hopeful of good things and I wish you all the best for 2021.

SBID International Design Awards 2020 Winners Announced

The annual Society of British and International Interior Designers is one the most prestigious accolades for the interior design community.  The highly anticipated winners of this year’s SBID International Design Awards have recently been revealed!

SBID International Design Awards

St John’s Wood Residence by Shalini Misra – Winner of Residential Design over £1 million

The awards celebrate the talent of the exceptional designers of interiors worldwide. Alongside the interiors the SBID Product Design Awards showcase the innovative products designers use to create their visionary spaces. As with many design industry events this year it was not possible to host the awards event live at a venue. For the first time in 10 years the International Design Awards were announced publicly online. A joint celebration held alongside the inaugural Product Design Awards.

SBID International Design Award Winners

Despite this year’s unprecedented challenges, the SBID International Design Awards 2020 have been the most globally represented edition to date. With entries from a staggering 49 countries, the entrants, finalists and winners are a testament to the profession’s extraordinary resilience.  They clearly demonstrate the world-wide determination to continue to celebrate the achievements of the design profession at large.

Cotswold Manor Bedroom By Pippa Paton Design – Winner best KBB Design

The Award winners for the interior design categories showcase incredible creative talent from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, United States, Dominican Republic, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong S.A.R., and Canada. The entries feature breath-taking interior design projects.

Casa Verdi, Domincan Republic – Winner Residential House under £1 million

From multimillion-pound mansions and super luxury private villas to bold, budget-conscious renovations. The awards also celbrate innovative commercial designs for retail, restaurants, offices and hotels; this year’s designs exemplify the ever increasing standards for the global interior design industry.

Alberts Disbury Restaurant SBID Award

Albert’s Didsbury Restaurant by Space Invader Design – Restaurant Design Winner

Click here to see the full list of winners for Interior Design categories.

SBID Product Design Award Winners

From the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Denmark, to the United States, Egypt and Taiwan, the Award winners for product design categories highlight some of the world’s the finest examples of intuitive design within the interior sector. Showcasing inspiring sustainable solutions, quality of craftsmanship and  superior performance. This combines with inventive functionality which continues to drive the industry forward through innovation and expertise.

 

SBID Product Awards

From left overall winner Northstone Contemporary Terrazzo, Saltwater by Tsar carpets UK – Winner Floor Coverings. Chair Objet by Maison Arabella – Winner Residential Furniture

Click here to see the full list of winners for Product Design categories.

One of the most coveted awards is that  of Overall Winner. This is for the entry that receives the highest scores from both tiers of judging and the public votes combined.

A Hidden Betsuin

A Hidden Betsuin, Exhibition Space in Heibei, China – Overall Winner

This year the SBID Awards shines its coveted spotlight on Chinese design studio, Bluemoon Design for its hot-spring-inspired exhibition centre ‘A Hidden Betsuin’, using all-natural materials. For product design, leading Italian producer of compound stone, Northstone was awarded this enviable accolade for its artisan tile collection, The Fine Lines by Barbieri.

As Dr Vanessa Brady OBE, SBID Founder and CEO says: “We have all been struggling to cope with the broad effects caused by Covid-19 – as individuals, as well as a community. So the Awards this year, whilst very different, have been particularly inspiring to review. It just goes to prove the importance of our surroundings and how the way we feel and act within them is directly impacted by it. It’s been an important reminder to business owners that good design is not just about its aesthetic and functionality, but particularly in commercial space, it’s also about the intrinsic value great design adds to business.”

Wimbledon Common Duplex by Claire Gaskin Interiors – Winner Residential Apartment under £1 million

Judging the Awards

This year’s esteemed international jury was made up of visionary leaders who understand that outstanding design is key to business success. The judging panel includes a host of top tier professionals from global design businesses such as Burberry; Bentley; Belmond; Jacobs; Walpole and Quintessentially.

Now in its eleventh year, the GOLD-rated awards programme is recognised for its transparency, as well as its professional and ethical standards by The Independent Awards Standards Council. With all categories assessed by panels of leading industry experts who look for outstanding examples of technical content and aesthetic creativity, achieving an SBID Award is an unparalleled marque of industry excellence for the deserving winners.

Consumer insight on Living room trends from John Lewis & Partners

Consumer insight on Living room trends from John Lewis & Partners

So how exactly does consumer insight on living room trends help with your design business? I’m sure you’ve heard me say this before but building your successful design business comes down to one key thing – knowing your ideal customer. Whether you specialise in creating forever homes for families or home staging properties for sale or rental, consumer insight is crucial in predicting behaviour, trends and spending patterns amongst your core target market. When you know your audience, it’s easier to define their problem and present their perfect decor solution with style and confidence.

The things we do in our living rooms (and things we wish we didn’t)

Earlier this year I read a really interesting report from John Lewis & Partners Business. The Things We Do In Our Living Rooms (and things we wish we didn’t) looks at living room trends and changes over the last 5 years in how we use this room in our homes. The report is the result of a survey of over 3,000 John Lewis & Partners customers, as well as members of their buying, design and home design stylist partners. It analyses the changes in our lifestyles over this time and how this affects how we decorate. The living room trends we aspire to and what homeowners are shopping for to create their perfect living room. In terms of consumer insight this report is absolute gold dust. A My Deco Marketing recommended read 👍🏽  for any interior designer in the residential market.

 

Trends for living rooms

The living room is a hard working room in our homes which is many things to many people. At it’s heart it is a sanctuary to relax and enjoy downtime alone or connect with the family.  It is also a multi purpose space which often doubles up as a space to dine, work from home, exercise and more recently a home school too. As a room where we welcome guests and entertain it is also perhaps the room where we most express our personality through style and decor.

Research led trend analysis

The sales data and commentary from John Lewis interior design partners present a clear picture of how homeowners rise to the challenge of creating their perfect living room. It shares tips and ideas to integrate trends. For example the rise in design for wellbeing, alongside details of the pieces homeowners choose to create their own calming retreats. Alternatively read up on how statement luxury furniture and finishes alongside smart tech create grown-up spaces for entertaining. There’s also solutions on how to create hard working flexible spaces. With many of living in smaller homes in cities, open space living and multi-tasking rooms are becoming the norm. Knowing how your clients use their homes is key in creating functional layouts that will work in their space. Discover exactly what people buy to zone flexible spaces. From accommodating family living to work from home stations and making room for downtime.

Living room trends takeaways

To some of us five years may not seem long enough for big changes. However you may recognise some of these key living room trends that have come and gone over the past few years. Here’s just some of the takeaways from the report of what we’re buying now and what we’re not.

 

Living Room Trends

 

Are any of these a feature of one of your recent interior design projects? I’d love to hear so do let me know in the comments below.

For more of what’s hot and what’s not download your full copy of the report here  – The Things We Do In Our Living Rooms Report

John Lewis & Partners Business: Services and trade discounts for interior designers

John Lewis & Partners has a designated team to help business customers across many areas, from Interior Designers to Home Stagers. The service offers access to iconic British brands as well as their in house designed collections. It’s also reassuring to know that the products are backed by their longstanding reputation for quality and price.
John Lewis & Partners Business also host CPD events, accredited by the BIID and SBID. These are held at the John Lewis & Partners Heritage Centre in Cookham, Maidenhead where you can explore the extensive archive and hear how these designs from the past inspire future collections. The next events will be announced in the coming weeks.
In the meantime do register your interest of trade discounts with suzanne.knight@johnlewis.co.uk

living room interior design

Discover more – View our live chat on IGTV

On 5th August I was joined by Suzanne Knight, Sales Manger for Property at John Lewis & Partners Business live on my Instagram @fiona.mostyn Click through to my Instagram account and my IGTV channel to view the conversation. We were able to discuss the report in more detail and offer even more insight into the way we use our homes. Additionally since lockdown we’ve seen unprecedented changes in the way we live. We also discussed how these changes affect our lifestyles. As well as how can we now use consumer insight to help design for more flexible living with a focus on balance and wellbeing.

 

Fiona Mostyn My Deco Marketing