trade tales | Dec 3, 2021 |
How have shipping delays changed your install process?

While one big TV-worthy reveal used to be a standard rite for marking the completion of an interior design project, the unprecedented shipping delays have made achieving such a cohesive moment difficult. We asked seven designers—Leah Alexander, Chauncey Boothby, Meagan Camp, Elle Cole, Maggie Dillon, Lauren Lowe and Joy Rondello—how delays have changed their installation process.

Chauncey Boothby
Chauncey BoothbyRead McKendree

Waiting game
“I now lay everything out on the line with clients at the very beginning of the project. I basically say, ‘We can either go big, or you can wait for your home’—meaning we can order custom upholstery with my trusted workroom and pay the associated costs, or we can order more budget-friendly, semi-custom items from companies like Hickory Chair or Lee and be prepared to wait (and wait and wait) for them. For the most part, I now plan on two rounds of installations, or sometimes even three: the initial round with the items that I can safely vouch for—either custom or in-stock—and then the second and third round for items where the lead time is completely up in the air. It’s really all about knowing your vendors and not making promises you can’t keep. As long as expectations are managed at the beginning, my clients tend to understand.” —Chauncey Boothby, Chauncey Boothby Interiors, Rowayton, Connecticut

Maggie Dillon
Maggie DillonCourtesy of Maggie Dillon

Temporary fixes
“The current shipping and production delays have forced us to get creative and find short-term, partial install solutions that are suitable for both us and the client. Designers never want to leave a client with a room that feels unfinished, and it’s not helpful when installation days are rescheduled time and again. To combat this, I’ve started to find ways to fill in the gaps while we wait on that last piece to be received. Recently, I purchased an affordable pair of armchairs from Cost Plus World Market for my client to use while we wait for their custom ones to be completed. The shipping delays have required me to think way (way!) outside of the box while also realizing that everyone in the industry is doing the best they can.” —Maggie Dillon, Maggie Dillon Interiors, Raleigh, North Carolina

Elle Cole
Elle ColeCourtesy of Elle Cole

Getting creative
Supply chain issues have forced us to pivot in new ways by finding local manufacturers who can produce furnishings in a shorter time frame. Rush jobs are not ideal, because it leaves a lot of room for mistakes. But when lead times become 20 weeks out, you learn new methods of operating and tap into unconventional resources. Managing client expectations is a high priority, which is why we’re diligent in tracking our orders and updating our clients on the status of their furnishings. That said, it’s become all too common for our projects to have furnishings that lag or miss the deadline. To ease client frustrations, we’ve done partial installs. We’re not big proponents of this practice, because you miss out on the wow factor, but sometimes it’s necessary for the project.” —Elle Cole, Elle Cole Interiors, Dallas

Meagan Camp
Meagan CampCourtesy of Meagan Camp

Staying flexible
“Immediately upon the noticeable delays in shipping and lead times, we started receiving valuable feedback from our clients, who encouraged a shift in our install policy. We now have an open dialogue with our receivers to install in two, three and four different scheduled dates depending on what has arrived. While installing pieces over time rather than all at once does open unnecessary conversations with clients who are unable to visualize a finished space, this shift does provide a temporary solution to a very unpredictable situation. This shift also shows our clients we are creative problem-solvers and are able to adjust with the times—although, we’ll still draw the line at having items shipped directly to our clients’ residences!” —Meagan Camp, Meagan Camp Interiors, New York

Leah Alexander
Leah AlexanderCourtesy of Leah Alexander

Dial up the style
“Unfortunately, the days of full-fledged reveals are on hold, replaced by multiple install days to avoid holding things with shorter lead times hostage while we wait for things with super long lead times. Most clients understand this, but some of the surprise and delight is lost in the process of gradual completion. It’s important to me to [offset that] by making the styling allowance go a little further.” —Leah Alexander, Beauty Is Abundant, Atlanta

Joy Rondello
Joy RondelloCourtesy of Joy Rondello

Offer options
“Our installation schedules are very much determined by when major pieces arrive. In cases when there are major pieces arriving much later than the rest of the items, we alert the client and offer solutions: Keep the original installation date and use placeholder pieces, or move the installation date to coincide with the late-arriving pieces. Most clients are very understanding, and we have yet to install with placeholder pieces due to shipping delays.” —Joy Rondello, J+ Studio, Seattle

Lauren Lowe
Lauren LoweCourtesy of Lauren Lowe

In with the old
“In normal times, we can usually install 85 to 95 percent of our items at one time, and we love bringing in accessories and a few final layers to make the spaces feel more complete. These days, we are having to break up our installs into two or three major deliveries, with the last install usually reserved for upholstery and accessories. We are definitely using a lot more antique and vintage items, as well as repurposing old pieces [with new] upholstery to bypass those long lead times.” —Lauren Lowe, Lauren Elaine Interiors, Atlanta

Homepage photo: Chauncey Boothby designed this child’s room at the height of the pandemic using a mix of in-stock and custom pieces. | Photo by Read McKendree

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.