People are buying fire pits, pianos to prepare for the second COVID-19 wave

Real Estate

As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, with the threat of a second wave looming, many New Yorkers are feathering their nests in preparation for a winter spent largely at home.

Major retailers and local design shops alike have noted a shift in consumer demand with the changing of the seasons.

Yes, toilet paper and Clorox wipes flew off the shelves in March, followed by a mad dash to set up work-from-home spaces. Fitness equipment and bicycles also saw national shortages.

But now, people are focused on winterizing and organizing their abodes, rounding out their kitchen equipment and adding decorative items that spark joy or calm the nerves as they hunker down for the long haul.

Here’s a look at the hottest items that are already starting to sell out with the cold season approaching.

Outdoor fire pits

OUtdoor fire pit from Lowe's.

Backyard patios, terraces and even fire escapes are coveted commodities for city dwellers. Now, those lucky enough to have one are transforming their outdoor space for colder climates, adding a fire pit or other heating solution, said a spokesperson for Lowe’s. The home-improvement retailer carries a wide variety, from a small steel wood-burning fire pit by Garden Treasures ($59) to a faux-stone gas fire pit with a tabletop by Allen + Roth (above; $399).

Cozy sheets

For many, cozying up for winter means creating an inviting nest in the bedroom. “Updating sheets, comforters or throw pillows is an easy way to have maximum impact on an important space for recharging,” said Lindsey Zborowski, design manager for Wayfair Professional, the business-to-business arm of the home-goods online retailer. A sateen 300-thread-count cotton sheet set ($198) and the “Topanga” cotton blanket ($228) by California brand Coyuchi have sold particularly well on the site.

Design-forward office solutions

Wayfair Callison Genuine Leather Task Chair

At the MoMA Design Store, with locations at the museum on 53rd Street and in Soho, Emmanuel Plat, director of merchandising, has noticed “customers investing in functional products to upgrade their at-home routines.” The shop’s acrylic, colorblock side table ($195) and Poppin file cabinet ($269) have been backordered through late November and early December, while Danish brand Hay’s collapsible storage bins ($6-$30) in a rainbow of pastel colors and sizes are selling out fast. “With people spending more time at home, [they’re] looking for fresh ideas to improve everyday moments through good design,” Plat said. On Wayfair, Blu Dot’s “Dang” file cabinet ($559) is nearly sold out, while 17 Stories’ stylish “Callison” leather chair (above; $719) and Upper Square’s “Babin” height-adjustable standing desk ($409) are in high demand as people continue to perfect their home workspaces.

Multi-cookers and Dutch ovens

7-Quart Cook Central Multicooker

More than ever, tis the season for comforting stews and soups. At-home cooks are doubling down on the kitchen with new multifunctional appliances, like Cuisinart’s three-in-one multicooker (above; from $129.95), which can brown, sauté, slow cook and steam. “Families are looking for efficiency and the ability to have leftovers for meals later in the week,” said Mary Rodgers, Cuisinart’s director of marketing communications. Specialty kitchen and appliance store Sur La Table, with a location on 57th Street, has also seen an increase in cookware sales, especially items by Le Creuset and Staub that are designed for braising and preparing soups and stews.

Dishes for the long haul

At Fishs Eddy, an emporium of kitschy kitchenware near Union Square, owner Julie Gaines has noticed a shift from tourists buying souvenir-type gifts to New Yorkers investing in stacks of her sturdy diner-style dishes and mugs that “literally last forever.” She reports new mother Gigi Hadid recently stocked up to hunker down at her farmhouse in Pennsylvania.

Coffee essentials

Wayfair Nespresso Vertuo Next Premium Automatic Espresso Machine by DeLonghi

As more people are trading their coffee-shop habits for at-home java rituals, Plat said MoMA Design Store’s “out-of-this-world,” super-automated, bean-to-cup “TK-01” espresso machine by Terra Kaffe ($775) is a dream item for serious coffee lovers. On Wayfair, Zborowski says Nespresso machines (from $135) are a hot commodity.

Joyful decor

Bole ERoad Textiles Suri Pillow
Bole ERoad Textiles

From playful tableside lamps to pops of color in soothing textiles to meditative, art-inspired objects, people are seeking decor that infuses joy and a sense of well-being into their homes. Top sellers at MoMA Design Store include Hoptimist’s funny, figurine-like “Bumble Lamp” ($150), the minimalist, magnetic “Heng Balance Lamp” ($25), a smiley-faced “Everybody” tissue box by Dusen Dusen ($35) and a Calder-inspired “Birds in Harmony” mobile ($30).

Hana Getachew, the designer behind Bolé Road Textiles, whose pieces are designed in New York and hand-woven in Ethiopia, says she’s been pleasantly surprised to see clients “welcoming color into their spaces.” While neutrals have typically been her best sellers, the cheerful hot pink, blush and tangerine print on her “Suri” decorative pillows (above, from $255) for the bedroom sold out in a flash. “People are yearning for joyful, bright, uplifting pieces,” she said.

Her clients are also sprucing up oft-neglected bathrooms, as her colorblock “Karo” bathmats ($65) and bath sheets ($99) are seeing higher demand than usual. “They have a really great feel compared to terry towels,” she said.

Games and musical instruments

Roland Kiyola Piano
MoMA Design Store

Puzzles, games and musical instruments are now top sellers at the MoMA Design Store, as people seek fun ways to pass the time at home together, according to Plat. A $200 luxe edition of Scrabble, made of solid maple wood with a rotating board, is on backorder until late October.

And for space-challenged apartment dwellers with a yen for the piano, the MoMA Exclusive Roland “Kiyola” piano ($4,299) is a low-profile, high-tech option that’s seen increased interest.

House plants

Matt Schechter at his plant nursery in Queens.

Plants are one of the easiest and most effective ways to cheer up an apartment during the doldrums of winter. And Matthew Schechter, owner of Interior Foliage Design in Sunnyside, Queens, has seen more customers buying cactus lately. Looking to a future beyond the coronavirus, Schechter has an optimistic take on the popularity of the low-maintenance plant: “People are going to want to do stuff when this is all over. They’re going to want to leave their apartments for two or three weeks without worrying about their plants.”

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