Creative Ways to Source Goods For Your Next Interior Design Project

interior design project retail Nebraska furniture mart
Large retailers like Nebraska Furniture Mart have the buying power to keep shelves stocked when others cannot.

Shutdowns. Shelter in Place. Self Quarantine. Lots of words that start with an S that won’t help with the S-word that affects business success more than any other – Sales.

interior design project dining setIf you are still doing business the same way you did last year, you will be left behind – quickly.

As a Lifestylist® who’s business revolves around interior design and staging model homes, I started to see warning signs of a disruption in March when plants and companies started slowing or shutting down with no immediate reopening plans in place.

Fast forward and we in the manufactured home staging business are facing shortages in all areas — furniture, appliances, decor, and even labor.

We pride ourselves in designing a business model that allows us to pivot quickly, and the coronavirus market impacts have put that model to the test. Happily, our methods have aided us in re-strategizing what we do in sourcing needed materials and labor. Here are five ways we’ve discovered that work well in navigating shortages to get homes merchandised quickly and affordably.

Furniture delivery interior design project
Some deliveries may be delayed due to disruptions in the supply chain during COVID-19 restrictions.

1. Relationships

Now more than ever, who you know, and the relationship that you have had with them on a business and personal level can make all of the difference. We quickly found out that even though we thought there would be a surplus of furniture and home goods on the market, the exact opposite has happened. Sheltering in place has made people look at their homes with a different perspective, and now are willing to invest more in their homes, because they will be spending a lot more time in them. It is next to impossible to get furniture form the company that I have always purchased from. In fact, they are quoting November delivery on most items! I have a great relationship with some of my vendors, and this has been invaluable when calling to ask favors. So far, this has helped us to get all of our work installed on time.

2. Plan B

Even though I rely heavily on one company, I always have attended trade shows and kept my eyes and ears open for new sources. I had started buying from some that are more expensive and harder to work with, but they do have inventory. They have been an enormous help, and I will remember how great they have been when we get on the other side of this global crisis. Always have a Plan B or backup plan, so you have a way to continue moving forward when something you don’t expect happens.

3. Buy Retail

Again, this is a more expensive way to get your homes completed, but it is an option. Many big furniture stores like Nebraska Furniture Mart and the Ashley Home Stores have tremendous buying power, so they may be able to get furniture a lot more quickly than I can. I am thrilled to have a Nebraska Furniture Mart nearby — they have been fantastic to work with, and I will probably continue this relationship. Plus, I now trust them enough to them retail buyers who ask for a recommendation. Their pricing and customer service are exceptional.

estate sale auction house interior design projects
Estate sales can be an alternate source for the goods you need to source an interior design project. All photos courtesy of Lisa Stewart – Lisa Stewart Photography.

4. Estate Sales and Auctions

This is a place that you might not have ever thought of looking, but estate sales companies often sell new or current furniture and accessories and vintage items from grandma’s closet. Site home builders often sell their model home furniture this way, so you can check with your local builders, or look on to see what is available in your area.

5. You Get What You Pay For

This sounds like such a “duh” statement, but if you haven’t purchased furniture and decor items directly, there may be a lot of costs that you weren’t aware of, and didn’t ask about when making your purchase.

A Few Questions to Consider When You Source Goods for Your Next Interior Design Project:

  • Is the price delivered, or do you need to find a mover? Are there specific delivery days, or can they deliver quickly?
  • Does delivery include having the items placed in your homes, or just dropped in a box on the curb?
  • Will the mover remove all of the packing materials, or do you have to unwrap and dispose of everything yourself?
  • Are the items assembled or RTA (ready to assemble) Hiring someone who knows what they are doing can double the cost of an item, and a piece of furniture that is damaged, or put together incorrectly can be a liability for you?
  • If items arrived damaged, will they take care of the freight claims and replacement, or will you have to take your time and energy to do that? Will the item be replaced, or repaired and by whom? Finding a reputable person to repair a cut on a sofa or a scratch in a tabletop can take up your time and profits.

Times are changing, but there is an enormous need and market demand for affordable, well-designed homes. If we keep moving and being resourceful, there are great, profitable times ahead.

Bookmark MHInsider for more manufactured housing news, and take a look at recent results from a survey of manufactured housing buyers, as well as industry data on the rising number of mortgage applications.