The Items That Actually Brought People Comfort During the Past Year

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Chances are you spent a good portion of your "downtime" last year mindlessly surfing the web in desperate search of comfort buys. The good news: You weren't alone.

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According to Digital Commerce 360, online sales reached $791.60 billion in 2020, up 32.4% from the previous year. And while weighted blankets, exercise bikes, and tech were among the most popular items people bought during the pandemic, we were curious to see which products and crafts ​actually​ brought people comfort.

"Design therapy, like retail therapy, is a distraction so you're not focused on what's happening or what's not happening. You're shifting your mind to think about something else," interior designer Rayman Boozer tells Hunker. "And if you can get your mind to a place where you can relax, then of course you're going to feel better."

As such, Boozer has seen an increase in clients seeking adjustments to their homes.

"People have changed their perception about what home is in the pandemic," he says. "It went from the one place where you come and change clothes to the place you live your entire life."

While there's been talk about general trends, we wanted to find out what really brought people comfort during the pandemic, especially as we head into the fall and winter months.

Cozy Robes

After getting married in October 2019, Brooklyn-based journalist Joseph Hernandez and his spouse fell in love with Brooklinen. Fast forward to the fall of 2020 and the couple decided to treat themselves to a pair of his-and-his robes from the viral sheet company.

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"By the time fall came around, the darkening days, and still being stuck inside with a stay-at-home order and no vaccine in sight, plus the election ramping up both of our depressions and anxieties were ramping up as well," Hernandez tells Hunker. "I bought him a weighted blanket years prior and joked that I wanted a ThunderShirt for dogs to wear around the house all of the time."

Hernandez's spouse did some research and eventually landed on Brooklinen's Super-Plush Robe.

"It ended up being one of my best purchases because we both got our own and it just kept me cozy all day from making tea in the kitchen to working at my desk," shares Hernandez. "I'm not even a robe person, but there's something about wearing a robe around the house that just feels nice."

Boozy Bar Cart

If you're like many people, you may have dabbled in mixology at the height of the pandemic. Influencer and content creator Aisha Beau Johnson took matters into her own hands by furnishing her space with this Nathan James bar cart.

"Creating a bar for our home has been such a fun process," Johnson shares. "We've been stocking it up with some of our favorite wine and alcohol along with cocktail glasses and a cocktail mixer. It's been really great experimenting with new recipes and doing our own at-home happy hours."

Handmade Mugs

Los Angeles-based writer Jenay Ross found bliss in her blossom yin and yang ceramic mug from From Tree To Sea.

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"It was made by Lauren Strybos, a Chinese-Jamaican ceramicist," says Ross. "I'm drawn to yin and yang. I have it tattooed on my forearm in the form of two coy fish. As someone who is half Chinese, the philosophy resonates a lot with me because I try to prioritize balance and dualism in my life. This mug is a pretty re-imagination of yin and yang with the flowers and two of my favorite colors: yellow and pink. Supporting a woman and POC-owned small business was another thing I was drawn to."

For Ross, the mug is a vital part of her morning routine. "Making a matcha latte is my favorite morning ritual and I drink my matcha from the mug almost every day."

Upholstered Sofas

As for Boozer, he found comfort in reupholstering two of the sofas in his New York City apartment.

"I was alone in my apartment for over a year and it was getting really depressing," he says. "I had these sofas for about seven years in this stock fabric and I never really loved it. I thought I needed to change my perception of my apartment or I was going to go insane."

Boozer contacted Clarence House and selected their Coltrane fabric in a jewel-toned green color. It was an investment, but three weeks later he had the sofas of his dreams.

"It looks like a new place and I'm glad I did it," he shares. "I take pride in the way my apartment looks, it's really important to me. I still want to change a lot of things because I spend so much time here. Everybody has their own process for maintaining their sanity."

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L’Oreal Thompson Payton is a Baltimore-bred, Chicago-based freelance writer, editor, and sometimes blogger dedicated to celebrating and centering #BlackGirlMagic in all she does. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to her weekly motivational newsletter at LT in the City.