As new owner picks up pieces of custom-furniture e-tailer Interior Define, thousands of customers remain in limbo

Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

When Cherilyn Church took the plunge in May and bought a $5,700 sectional from Interior Define, the Chicago-based custom furniture retailer, she envisioned it as a dream centerpiece for her home.

Choosing everything from the size and color to cushion fill, she financed the purchase and began making monthly payments, waiting for a promised November delivery. Fifteen hundred dollars, eight months and a boatload of excuses later, Church is still waiting for her couch to arrive.

“This is the biggest furniture investment I’ve ever spent,” said Church, 46, of Gilbert, Arizona. “I was really excited for this piece of furniture, and it’s just been an absolute nightmare.”

Church is not alone. Thousands of frustrated Interior Define customers have been waiting for overdue furniture orders placed last year, navigating a succession of evasive company missives blaming everything from port congestion to supply chain issues.

For some of those customers, their shipments may finally be coming in, thanks to a new owner. Others, however, are days away from becoming couchless creditors of the insolvent former owner.

Launched in 2014, Interior Define carved out a niche as a direct-to-consumer custom furniture retailer, leveraging its e-commerce site and a handful of bricks-and-mortar stores to build a loyal customer base and plenty of industry buzz. Backed by new venture capital funding, Interior Define rapidly expanded during the pandemic, growing from five to more than 20 retail stores.


Its expansion plans were derailed last year amid supply chain issues and shrinking margins. By summer, the company was unable to pay its overseas manufacturers and logistics providers, leaving its furniture orders in limbo and thousands of customers, many of whom had paid in full, waiting in vain for delivery.

The delays generated increasing backlash on social media, where Facebook groups formed to vent and compare notes on the unfulfilled furniture orders. Behind the scenes, Interior Define was in dire financial straits, desperately seeking additional funding and on the verge of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, sources familiar with the situation said.

In late December, running out of cash and owing about $26 million to secured creditors, Interior Define chose to liquidate through an assignment for the benefit of creditors — a bankruptcy alternative that bypasses the courts.

Enter Denver-based Havenly, a rival direct-to-consumer home furnishing company, which bought the Interior Define brand and some assets Dec. 29, hoping to fulfill outstanding orders before thousands of Interior Define customers became creditors.


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