CLEVELAND, Ohio – Jason Orsky and his wife, Jessica, loved everything about their Avon Lake home, except the backyard and mudroom.
When the pandemic hit in March, Jason had extra time. And Jessica just happened to have a Pinterest board of photos showing what she wanted in a back hallway. So he went to work with their young son and daughter, building a boot bench and installing hooks on crisp white board-and-batten walls.
As soon as that was done, his son, Michael, designed a playhouse, complete with a skull and crossbones over the door. The family built that, too.
Now they’ve got plans to transform a room into a pub, modeled after Gaston’s in “Beauty and the Beast.”
“We felt that using this time together would bring us closer and it did!” Orsky said. “The kids are so proud of themselves.”
Plenty of Clevelanders are finding themselves with extra time, cloistered at home, during the coronavirus pandemic. With nowhere to go, they’re embarking on projects to fix long-term problems or make their isolation more pleasant. The increase in home projects shows no sign of waning.
The first round: Gutted bathrooms, gorgeous gardens. See the DIY projects Clevelanders accomplished during coronavirus shutdown
“I think it is more likely a new trend with home taking a different role in people’s lives,” said Fred Miller, president of Consumer Specialists, which is studying the trend. “Nothing in the last 70+ years has had the depth of impact that this pandemic has caused.”
June 2020 saw an increase of 25% in sales at home and garden stores, compared to June 2019, according to Consumer Specialists research.
Miller expects to see growth in the low teens this winter, as people huddle up at home.
Sherwin-Williams attributed the DIY movement to its 5.2% increase third-quarter sales in third-quarter sales. Lowe’s, Home Depot and Ace Hardware have all reported major growth.
In August, Ace reported same-store sales increases of 35.3% and increase in online sales of 493%.
At Chagrin Hardware, which the Shutts family has owned in downtown Chagrin Falls for more than 160 years, people are buying more of everything.
There’s been lots of painting and gardening, “just kind of fixing everything up that they haven’t been able to get to,” Steve Shutts said. “If you a pick a category you’re probably going to see an increase in that category regardless.”
The biggest problem is getting goods to sell. Anything from canning supplies to flyswatters has been hard to restock.
Home improvement could be getting a boost from the booming real estate market, whether people are spiffing up to sell or renovating a new house. Or from people who want to enjoy their home and yard, since they can’t go anywhere else during the pandemic. They may be using their federal stimulus checks to pay for the work.
Cleveland.com readers shared a few projects.
Richelle Frantz took down the dated awning and iron railings, put up new shutters, a new mailbox and light fixtures, all for less than $500. “What a difference this makes,” Frantz said.
John Wallace hired K6 Painting to paint the house and deck. They also redid their bathroom with fresh paint, cabinets and art.
Nicole Fidler said her husband worked with friends for five months on a deck for their century home in Brooklyn Heights.
This winter they plan to tear out a standing shower tub surround and replace it with modern tile.
Steve and Lorrie Kerr renovated their Parma basement to his library for their more than 1,000 science fiction books.