My Bed Frame Took 9 Months to Arrive — Here’s What I Learned While I Waited

published Jun 24, 2022
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Credit: Sylvie Li

Story time: In 2019, I moved into a New York City studio apartment akin to a glorified college dorm room. An awkwardly narrow, rectangular box shape, the less-than-300-square-foot space was about the width of my full bed plus maybe a few inches. The space was oven-less (but did have a mini fridge), could fit no more than three people comfortably at any given time, and still came with an eyebrow-raising monthly rent. Honestly, I loved it — no roommates, full design control — the total solo-living package.

Then COVID-19 hit. The cozy space I’d been fortunate to rely on for sleeping and hanging out quickly transformed into my space for, well, everything: crammed virtual workouts, Zoom calls hunched over on my loveseat (desk space, what?), and repetitive quarantine meals “cooked” in the barely-there kitchen.

Credit: Blair Donovan
My previous studio apartment.

Thanks to high rental turnover at the time though, I lucked out finding the (oven-inclusive!) apartment of my dreams in fall 2020, with more than twice the square footage for just a slight uptick in rent. It would be my very first NYC bedroom that could fit more than a mattress and box spring, so I knew I wanted to treat myself to a real bed frame, and I had just the one in mind. I checked shipping times and decided to hold off on ordering until after I officially moved in case it came early. With that, I (literally) kicked my old bed to the curb and never looked back.

Rookie mistake. Cue three backorders, one damaged delivery, and unforeseen supply chain issues galore. If you’ve purchased furniture over the past two years or so, I know you know what I’m talking about. What I thought would be a few bed-less nights in my new apartment turned into sleeping on just my mattress on the floor for nine months. The sectional I ordered from a Black Friday sale also shared a similar (but shorter) shipping fate, arriving almost seven months later (luckily, I held onto my previous loveseat). Don’t get me wrong: Furniture delays tied to COVID-19 are incredibly minor in the grand scheme of things, and sleeping on just a mattress for months isn’t the end of the world. When staying home was a necessity though, missing such foundational pieces for so long left me feeling increasingly anxious and unsettled in my own living space.

Credit: Blair Donovan

I know my situation’s not unique; shipping holdups have essentially become the new norm — especially so for big ticket buys — and are showing no signs of easing up in the immediate future (not to be the bearer of bad news). So whether you, too, have been awaiting a new bed for months or even eyeing a piece that’s already touting a 2023 estimated arrival — or just want to take a shot at “slow deco” and wait for the pieces that truly feel right for your space, I rounded up some tips and takeaways from my own experience to help you manage dicey shipping situations and feel more content with your home in the interim. Biggest lesson learned? Don’t throw away any furniture prematurely.

Be flexible with shipping times

My bed and sofa actually fell on opposite ends of the shipping spectrum: The former arrived months later than expected, the latter surprisingly a few weeks early. This goes to show retailer delivery estimates are just that — estimates — so manage your expectations accordingly. If your order is replacing an existing piece of furniture, don’t make my mistake; hold onto that item until you’ve at least received a shipping confirmation email.

If you’re planning on selling your existing piece to make room though, I’d suggest posting it on a rebuying site or social media about a month or so before your proposed delivery. This gives you plenty of time to get in touch with potential buyers and coordinate a pickup, rather than being forced to list at the last minute for super-low prices, especially if your order happens to arrive early. It’s also worth noting here that a backorder shouldn’t be a shopping deterrent altogether. If there’s a piece you love and/or have been saving up for, I promise it’s probably worth the wait (*writes from beloved couch*).

Credit: Jason Rampe

Source secondhand from resale platforms

During my nine-month phase of borderline sleeping on the floor, my friends berated me for not buying a cheap bed until my actual one arrived, but I stand firm in my decision to wait it out. Had it been a less bulky, conventionally less expensive piece of furniture though, I would absolutely advise otherwise. In fact, one of my first new-apartment purchases was a small white tulip dining table, which wouldn’t ship for a few weeks. Desperately in need of some sort of surface to work from and eat on ASAP, I bought a cheap card table from Amazon as a temporary stand-in. Albeit not the most glamorous solution, it did the job perfectly and folded up to fit against the back of my closet… because yes, I did keep it for potential future use.

For even more budget-focused options though, resale sites or “no-buy” groups can be a gold mine for well-priced secondhand pieces that can serve as decorating placeholders. Browse Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or AptDeco for moving sales and discounted hand-me-down styles, or even join your local Nextdoor group to stay up to date on nearby listings and giveaways. I’ve also seen larger cities, like New York and Chicago, with dedicated “curb alert” Instagram accounts, where submissions of discarded furniture and decor up for grabs get shared. The best part? Anything you buy or pick up can easily get re-listed when you’re ready to part ways, and you can recoup some money.

Don’t toss; find new spots

To that end, don’t rush to get rid of anything… period. Take a cue from my card table situation: If you end up buying a piece of furniture solely to swap it out later, consider not only keeping it (if you have the space, that is) but repurposing it elsewhere, especially if its given resale value isn’t high. Using a temporary nightstand? Convert it into a living room side table. Long-awaited over-the-dresser mirror finally got delivered? Hang the stand-in somewhere in a hallway or entry to draw more light into the area. A leftover chair can have a second life tucked in a corner to house a stack of books or a pretty basket. Moral of the story: Smaller understudy pieces have major potential to coexist with their new counterparts, and you may come to appreciate them more styled in a different spot.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Look into furniture rental companies

For any need-now home essentials (say, ahem, bed frames), increasingly popular furniture rental platforms like CORT, Feather, and Fernish offer short-term pieces on a subscription basis. There’s appeal here not only in the modern, high-quality selections and flexible pricing, but most companies also offer free assembly and delivery/pick up, a huge perk for larger furniture items you wouldn’t get by shopping secondhand.

Prices feel fairly comparable across the board, but know that the longer your desired rental duration, the cheaper the monthly cost is for each item. To get the most bang for your buck, I’d truthfully only consider going this route if you’re already facing at least a six to twelve month wait for a sofa or dining room table and need a stylish fix, stat. One extra advantage of renting is you can try certain investment pieces out before you buy them, particularly if you’re shopping from a rental company that stocks something you’re already thinking about purchasing. You may fall in love with a piece and finally be ready to shell out the cash for it, or, on the flip side, living with something might expose its pain points, keeping you from making the costly mistake of buying it.

Embrace decorating (and re-decorating) slowly

My apartment’s still far from “finished,” although sometimes it’s hard to not feel like I’m racing against some nonexistent design deadline I’ve created for myself… as if there’s this invisible pressure emanating from any still-blank walls or unused corners. That brings me to the concept of slow decorating (or “slow deco,” as we’ve coined it here at AT): While the movement is rooted in designing sustainably and intentionally, patience makes up the core of its ethos. In this case, backorders can be a blessing; being forced to style your space at a leisurely pace means more time to hone your interior preferences to seek out the most joy-sparking pieces, whether you’re a short-term renter or long-term homeowner. All in all, it’s okay (nay, encouraged!) to have empty areas.

This piece is part of Go Slow Month, where we’re celebrating taking your time, taking a deep breath, and taking a step back from it all. From deliberate design ideas to tips for truly embracing rest, head over here to see it all.