When the coronavirus-led lockdown was first announced in March, not many of us were sure about what really lay ahead of us. Now, even as we near the end of 2020, a lot of us are still counting days to be able to finally step out of the house — to go to the office, hang out with friends and family or to travel, leaving behind our anxieties and worries about being infected.
But in these past nine-10 months, we have reoriented our way of living around the four walls of our homes. We have learned to connect with the world over the virtual medium, to cook and clean, and to work from home on a daily basis. And while doing so, many people have naturally channelled their energies into livening up their surroundings, leading to an increasing interest in redesigning their homes.
Industry experts are also predicting a surge in the online home decor market. The global market for online home decor is estimated at $98.4 billion in 2020 amid COVID-19, and is projected to a revised rise of $348.3 billion by 2027, according to a report published in researchandmarkets.com.
“People have redirected their spending to their homes for chiefly two reasons: First, the home has emerged as a place to live, work, unwind, work out, educate the kids, meet up with friends and everything in between. Needless to say, homeowners are now finding it important to make this space beautiful and functional. Secondly, the money that would have been normally spent on vacations is now being redirected to home-related spends,” Ramakant Sharma, co-founder and COO, Livspace, a home interior design platform, told indianexpress.com.
Many of us continue working from our homes to date even while offices have reopened. But months of continuous working from home meant one could not keep doing it from their bed or dining table. Physical discomfort and related health issues motivated people to look for appropriate home-office furniture as one of the first things to add to their homes.
“The home-office furniture category, especially study tables and ergonomic office chairs grew by 250 per cent and 400 per cent, respectively, in August 2020, in comparison to pre-lockdown levels,” Hussaine Kesury, chief category officer, Pepperfry, said. “Pepperfry’s home-office furniture category contributes about 25 per cent to the overall sales volume, a category which accounted for about 10 per cent of total sales during the pre-COVID times.”
Research argues that decorating the home can boost one’s mental health. So, in a way, home decor may have been a possible distraction or even an outlet for any pent-up frustrations brought by months of confinement at home — like adding a little pop of colour in an otherwise dull lockdown routine. And the current trend is proof. Of late, the industry has seen rising interest in beautifying the house with fancy lights, wall decor or colourful cushions. Rajat Mathur, Business Head, Script by Godrej, said, “We have been witnessing a surge in the sales of home decor, particularly in soft furnishings (cushions, throws, rugs), which has witnessed a 2x growth.”
From what Mathur has observed, more and more people are now opting for bold colours, contrast in rooms and a blend of the contemporary with classic.
Kesury also mentioned, “There has been an unprecedented rise in categories like lamps and lighting, table decor, wall decor and furnishings in order to redo and renovate homes during the festive season.”
Besides, people are now also showing interest in a variety of comfortable seating options like sofa, bean bags, recliners as well as mattresses, wardrobes, dining sets, beds, he added.
Flexible, multipurpose furniture
But, the pandemic has also been a lesson in optimisation of resources, which has reflected in the way people have bought furniture in the past few months. “Before the pandemic, we noticed that homeowners would often stress their aesthetic needs in the first few discussions. We are clearly moving towards ‘function over form’,” Sharma explained. As a result, companies now have been witnessing an increasing demand for items that are multipurpose lightweight, flexible, easily movable or can be reconfigured. For instance, people are now looking at “kitchen breakfast counters doubling as a work desk or study table, easy-to-move furniture in the living room such that space can double up as a play area to balconies that resemble open yoga studios and outdoor cafes and much more”.
In other words, home spaces are re-adapting themselves to showcase a blend of exquisite designs with utility. “Furthermore, as consumers continue to seek items that help in increasing the functional and aesthetic aspect of their homes as well as products with premium designs and superior quality, we are expecting a rise in designs like modular kitchens and wardrobes,” added Kesury.
Mathur stated, “It’s all about experimenting but still keeping it light,clutter-free n easy on the eye. When it comes to furniture n decor, it’s a mix and match of pieces that go together. It’s not necessary for the sofa set to match the single seaters, as long as they match some other piece in the room.”
Meanwhile, the online furniture and interior design industry have shown considerable growth amid the pandemic. “We are witnessing a fundamental shift of demand from unorganised players to organised brands. Moreover, consumer buying and browsing behaviour has become online-first and, in some categories, online-only due to the pandemic. At Livspace, too, we are observing this trend,” said Sharma.
“With home playing a pivotal role and consumers’ growing interest towards furniture and decor products, we were able to swiftly bounce back to our pre-COVID levels, and in fact surpass them by 50 per cent-60 per cent in October,” Kesury mentioned.
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