Designing During A Pandemic

Learning new methods for the Interior Design process

By Barbara Schmidt

We did slow down—and that was good because we were able to look at ourselves and how we fit in the scheme of things. We are a boutique interior design and marketing firm so some time to catch up is always good.

We had one major project on our desk–a remodel of a 4400+ square foot house out on Lake Minnetonka (yes, the lake Prince made famous). We needed to quarantine but the work on this project still needed to go forward, so we found new paths to achieve success.

During Quarantine

Both of us were at our home offices writing, updating, sourcing, and lining up contractors in March and the beginning of April. Only my assistant went to our studio and that was to make sure it was clean of any contamination during that time.

A few suggested activities for anyone would be to perform a marketing audit for yourself or your company, social media campaign planning, and developing a charity program. These are involved activities that usually sit on the back burner because everyone is rushing around working the day-to-day.

Phase One Essential Businesses

As we are working with a real estate agent to remodel this home for sale, we were considered essential. That helped us schedule our subcontractors slowly to come into the property one person at a time to work on the house.

We were able to get bids from our tile installer, countertop installer, plumber, and carpet installer in this manner. We spread everyone out on different days so the air was clean and surfaces wiped down.

Actual Installations

For all our furniture selections we had to source everything online. Stores weren’t open so we looked to big box stores for some of our goods. I was particularly impressed with some of the home improvement stores because they had some product lines that we could get shipped that were very fashionable. We found lighting and mirrors that were excellent quality and superb style that could be shipped safely to us quickly.

We also tried to source some custom-made furniture pieces and were disappointed. Although a lot of retailers said they had stock, it turned out that their shipments were held due to the virus and that was not communicated directly to us. Some factories were shut down as well, but even the retailer didn’t know that. So make sure to call and get the logistics person on the phone, not the sales person. They really know what’s up!

During this part of the process we gave ourselves a few more weeks in our install schedule just in case there were mistakes in shipping. We had damaged goods show up and some stools without hardware, so keep in mind that some slush time is warranted on the schedule.

Outside Your Comfort Zone

It’s ok to be pushed outside your comfort zone–in fact, it’s the only way to grow. For example, in the case of a manufactured home, getting an experienced contact to handle installations of things like a Mobile home roof over can save you all the hard work. We found two subcontractors by reaching out to our builder for resources. Normally we wouldn’t have done that but we needed help clearing the property. He gave us the best contact of this project and it saved us so much time and effort.

We checked in with many of our vendor partners during this time, and we coordinated some product features and learned more about their businesses during our conversations. This was a great learning time for us.

Invoicing and Payments

We were able to use our credit cards over the phone or online for almost everything. We set up Venmo and continued to use Paypal. We did source a few items on Facebook Marketplace that needed cash payments so that required an atm run. Keeping all our records electronically saved us even more time.

Overall the pandemic has slowed our process, but we’ve also had the time to be more insightful and focused in our approach. We’ve had more time to learn and listen. Our new resources have saved us time and money. We are excited for what’s next!

Barbara Schmidt is a nationally published Interior Designer and Marketing Expert known for her authentic storytelling about spaces, places and trends at