This story is featured in the January issue of Seattle magazine. Subscribe here to access the print edition.
Your home is a refuge. It has also become an office, classroom, conference center and happy hour hotspot. And, chances are, you’ve spent some money updating the décor during the pandemic.
Sales at furniture and home furnishing stores across the United States have remained consistent the past three months and are up slightly from a year ago, according to Moody’s Analytics. Sales were strong during the holiday season, as retailers offered a wide array of bargains in order to clear their showrooms for the coming year.
In the Seattle area, the pandemic has been an up-and-down ride. For the most part, business is steady as customers look to refresh their homes.
“I think it’s helpful that a lot of people are working on their homes and continue to invest in their homes,” says Katie Largent, owner of Seattle’s Arden Home. “Sales aren’t what they were pre-pandemic but they’re still healthy enough to keep us going.”
If you’re tired of your old couch, looking to brighten your walls with some art or want a new warm blanket for the cold winter months, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite housewares spots, as well as some professional tips on making your home feel as comfortable as possible.
Located in the heart of Capitol Hill, Retrofit Home offers a selection of contemporary, rustic and mid-century modern furniture and décor. Co-owners Jon Milazzo and Lori Pomeranz first opened around 16 years ago, with an eclectic vibe inspired by a bathroom from their art school.
Milazzo says custom sofa sales have been “on fire” since March, as well as desks and rugs. As many people have begun working and taking classes from home, they’ve been transforming their spaces to be multifunctional, she says.
Milazzo’s tips: Invest in flooring. “Having a rug underneath everything just makes your house feel more homey and cozy. Have just something to walk on besides a hard floor.”
Lighting is also important. “Overhead cans have cold lighting. So have table lamps and floor lamps and lots more subtle light from different sources. I don’t think people always realize that having lots of small light sources is so powerful in making your space feel cozy, warm and comfortable.”
Timothy De Clue Collection
If you’re looking for a touch of luxury, check out the Timothy De Clue Collection, a boutique featuring curated items sourced both locally and internationally. A Seattle-based online retailer, owner Timothy De Clue offers unique accent pieces, dishware, soft bedding and more. Since the start of the pandemic, De Clue says sales for barware have skyrocketed. He’s also noticed an increase in orders for bedding, which is made of Egyptian cotton.
De Clue’s tip: Focus on bedding. “I think get-ting a good night’s rest is very important. So, fresh sheets would be nice; a nice top of bedding and pillows would be great. They really do help you get a good night’s rest. It sounds cliché, but it definitely is something that makes a big difference in your night’s sleep.”
Jacob Willard Home
Jacob Willard Home specializes in the restoration and sale of mid-century furniture and collectibles. Named after owner Karl Hackett’s son, Jacob Willard Home opened in Hillman City more than six years ago. From restoring antique furniture to selling its own, this store specializes in retro style. Hackett says customers increasingly want to restore older pieces of furniture, and the store now has a space focused specifically on custom restoration.
Hackett’s tips: Look at what you have. “People are sitting around the house looking at Grandma’s dining set needing to be refreshed, so they figure they need to take some action. There’s not a lot of choices out there for this kind of work, so that’s been a benefit to us.”
Reflect inward. “The pandemic has changed the way a lot of us live. We’re looking more inward, and more introspective about how we live and obviously, where we live. Take stock of the things that you have, and the importance of home life and making that life more appealing and more livable.”
Owner Lisa Myers describes Capers Home as a “neighborhood store.” Located in the West Seattle Junction, Capers Home was originally a kitchen-ware store, which, over the years, started selling everything from dining room tables, rugs, sofas and chairs. Myers has noticed that customers want to upgrade specific elements of their homes since the pandemic started. She says “layering” items that make homes cozy, such as throw blankets, pillows and candles, are particularly popular.
Myers’ tip: Think soft: “Once you have your basic furniture pieces, whatever they may be, it’s adding in the texture, and that comes from pillows and throws and linens. The word that people are using a lot is ‘soft.’ Touch and feel are really important. To that I would say a rug that feels good, that maybe you can play with your kids on. Something that brings comfort, like a throw that’s kind of fuzzy and feels good. All of that adds warmth to a home.”
Ben Knudsen calls DIGS Showroom in Ballard a “lifestyle store,” offering everything from kitchen to home décor to a kid’s section. Through DIGS, Knudsen and his wife, who co-owns the store, find the “intersection of good design and functionality.” One unconventional item that Knudsen sells frequently is fireplaces.
Knudsen’s tip: Declutter. “I’ve seen a lot of people taking the opportunity to purge. Cleaning, organizing and decluttering can make your space feel more peaceful. Once you do declutter, maybe focus on those few pieces that you really like and enjoy that will make a difference for you. I have had a fair amount of people replacing their sofas. Having a comfortable place to hang out is definitely important.”
Katie Largent’s 2,000-square-foot showroom on Capitol Hill offers custom and non-custom furniture with décor ranging from minimalist table lamps to king-size beds. She also has interior design services via Zoom consultations. Custom sectionals and sofas have been Arden Home’s highest sellers during the pandemic.
Largent’s tip: Be intentional. “Really just spending time thinking about it and being intentional about your space, I think, is step No. 1. A lot of people tend to just kind of settle into where they live and don’t really take that time to think about how they want their space to look and function.”
Yes, it’s a consignment store, but it’s more than just a secondhand marketplace. Co-owner Victor Ghioni says Ballard Consignment is a place where a “fancy furniture store meets a vintage furniture store.” Ghioni lets customers “wheel and deal,” or barter on prices, as well. Sofas sell particularly well because they’re the “focal point” of a home.
Ghioni’s tip: Think older. “If you’re nesting and you want something unique and fun with some color, this is where it’s a consignment Golden Age right now.”
With locations in both Bellevue and Downtown Seattle, Kasala Furniture has become a Seattle favorite during its 34-year history; Seattle magazine readers voted Kasala Furniture “Best Home Store of 2020.” Home office furniture sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic, says Robert Bernard, director of marketing.
Bernard’s tip: Think about texture. “When we think of home, it’s sort of a reflection of who we are and how we go out into the world. When we have to stay at home, we have to bring in some of those things that we get from the outside world, that we’re able to access usually every day and bring them back into the house. I think about all of those little comfort things, like plants and pillows and throws and all of those feel-good things.”
The two downtown Seattle-based Watson Kennedy shops offer more than 14,000 home décor items. Owner Ted Kennedy Watson also runs a blog for those who need home decorating tips. Besides hand sanitizer, best-selling items include original art.
Kennedy Watson’s tip: Think about your senses. “Scent is huge. I think you know you want to have a really great diffuser in your home, and you want to have really lovely scented candles. I think that just instantly makes you comfortable. You want to invoke the five senses. That’s a huge part.”