Months-long production and shipping delays have caused headaches for anyone hoping to furnish a home in a hurry. Quick-ship and local pick-up options (think vintage!) are here to the rescue.

Katy Polsby hallway with vintage furniture CW Stockwell fabric
C.W. Stockwell owner Katy Polsby's home Photographed Matt Sartain
CW Stockwell owner Katy Polsby rehabs vintage pieces with fresh fabric.

If you follow your favorite interior designers on social media, you may have noticed them kvetching about project delays. They’re not talking about routine hiccups in the construction and design process. They’re struggling with months-long backorders for imported furniture, soaring shipping costs, and, in many cases, year-long waits for major appliances. At least one decorator posted a cartoon map of the Pacific Ocean with arrows pointing to cargo ships lingering offshore. You want to know where your dining chairs are, eight weeks after the anticipated delivery date? They could be locked in a shipping container, bobbing along on a cargo ship waiting for its turn at an overstressed port. If you order a piece from a domestic factory, it could be lagging behind on orders because of a sick or dwindling workforce.

One of the ways creative shoppers are filling the gap is with readily available vintage furniture. As a result, companies like Chairish, an online marketplace for antique, vintage, and resale furniture, have seen sales skyrocket.

“In 2020 Chairish’s revenue more than doubled and continued to grow 46% in 2021,” says Anna Brockway, the brand’s co-founder and president. “Two seismic shifts are rocking the home furnishings industry: shoppers’ move to e-commerce and re-commerce, which is easily accessible via our online marketplace” and an increased interest in vintage furnishings, which “deliver chic and one-of-a-kind style, are immediately available, and are kinder to the planet. It’s the antidote to the supply chain crisis.”

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Chairish’s vintage inventory is available immediately. Enter your ZIP code into your search, and find things locally with “free pick up” options. Craigslist and eBay are still go-to resources for patient bargain hunters, but they’re rife with scams, and a site like Chairish offers a more curated marketplace. It also helps buyers and sellers locate reliable shipping partners and makes the payment process more secure.

Online resale marketplace AptDeco, which began in New York and has now expanded to the Bay Area, estimates that 9 million tons of furniture are thrown away every year, and keeping older furniture in circulation is part of the solution for a healthier planet.

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If finding a vintage sofa to reupholster is not to your taste, or beyond your skill set (and time frame, since upholsterers are swamped, too) there are brands selling newly made pieces that are available in a jiffy. Traditional retailers like Crate & Barrel now have a quick-ship option for online shoppers. Just tick the “ready to ship” box for current available inventory. And newer, innovative brands, like Oliver Space, a rent-to-own furniture supplier, can furnish an entire room in a matter of days.

While there are few situations that qualify as a furniture “emergency,” per se, there are moments when you want something in a hurry. Maybe you’ve finally mastered home cooking, want to invite friends over for a meal, and have nowhere to seat them? You’re not alone.

“Our shoppers are still enjoying gathering and entertaining at home,” says Brockway of Chairish. “Searches for sideboards, credenzas, dining tables, and bar cabinets and carts are most popular and we’ve also seen an uptick in tabletop, serveware, and barware sales.”

Here are three ways you can beat the system and find furniture fast.

GO VINTAGE 

APT DECO recycled dining furniture
APT DECO, an online second-hand furniture marketplace in New York and San Francisco, was founded in part to help keep gently used furniture like this vintage dining table and chairs out of landfills.

Courtesy of APT DECO

A simple, sustainable way to get furniture fast is to buy second-hand. Estate sales and flea markets have taken a hit from pandemic restrictions, so sellers are turning to online marketplaces to fill the gap. Chairish is a favorite nationwide resource (Hot tip: Search according to price, low-to-high, for the bargains) with a broad network of reliable moving and shipping companies that can get things to you in a (relative) hurry. If you need something in days, not weeks, focus your search within a hyper-local radius (within 10 miles) and pick it up yourself, or ask for more affordable local delivery. 

One Kings Lane still offers some vintage, ready-to-ship items, though the inventory isn’t as vast as it used to be. Bay Area residents should check out the AptDeco site for resale furniture and up to 70% off from furniture brands like West Elm and World Market. 

Everything But The House and Bid Square are online auction houses that reward the patient and the diligent willing to sift through pages of inventory to find a hidden gem—and then get ready to pounce before bidding on treasures like vintage rugs and grandmillennial-chic porcelain closes. 

Once you’ve found the dining table of your dreams, you may need to have it refinished or reupholstered. Thumbtack provides a great online database of craftspeople like woodworkers and upholsterers who can help.  If you’re looking for fabric, small textile and wallpaper suppliers, like the classic San Francisco brand CW Stockwell, have an ever-changing inventory of in-stock remnants of cheerful prints, which could be a great solution for reupholstering seat cushions, or a small lounge chair. Contact your favorite fabric brand to see what they have ready to go.

SEARCH “QUICK SHIP” INVENTORY

Apt 2B Jasper sectional sofa
Apt2B has ready-to-ship sofas and sectionals in colors outside of the oatmeal-charcoal-beige norm.

Courtesy of Apt2B

If you’re not afraid to keep things neutral and basic, brands like Crate & Barrel and Williams-Sonoma have curated selections of more than 200 quick-ship items on their websites, and have been making efforts to provide realistic estimated ship times for all items. If you’re in a rush, it makes sense to pick up the phone (or click the chat box) to inquire about lead times with a customer service rep. Apt2B has a robust selection of ready-to-go tables, chairs, storage, and upholstered pieces, like a jazzy sectional in bold blue, that all leave the warehouse three to five days after purchase. The company is very proud of its turnaround for custom-made pieces, which can be built and shipped in under four weeks.

RENT, OR RENT-TO-OWN

Vintage Vibe
Vintage art and accessories add one-of-a-kind style to any living space.

David Fenton

If your dream sofa is taking months longer to arrive than you originally anticipated, or if you want to wait for all of the shipping mayhem (and bonkers inflation rates) to settle down before you purchase big ticket “forever furniture,” consider renting. Oliver Space is working to upgrade the rental furniture market by offering contemporary, stylish (no pleather recliners here) options for the commitment-phobic home-stagers, renters, or anyone who needs furniture for a temporary set up in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, and Austin. The company also offers rent-to-own options, if you fall in love with that standing desk and want to keep it forever. Fernish offers a similar service for certain markets in Texas, Southern California, and Washington state. Inhabitr is the best option in and around Portland and Phoenix.


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