Online shopping for your home furnishings only seems to be easy. You imagine yourself lounging in your comfy pajamas on your favorite sofa, finding the perfect deals and good discounts and voila - in one-click your whole room’s decor is purchased!
But in reality, costly mistakes happen more often than we want them to - wrong size, wrong color, damaged shipments, returns and exchanges. A lot of stress and your room is still NOT done.
My clients never have that stress. With my E-Design Service, they get a Design Concept and the Complete Curated Shopping List for a worry-free shopping experience. But there a lot of people who want to shop online themselves. There is nothing wrong with DIY - it's just a matter of preference.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about online furniture shopping from my interior design consultation clients. During the consultation, we discuss the design concept for their space, and usually they're ready to make purchases themselves. But not everyone knows how to do it. I spent a lot of time explaining my techniques and sharing my tips every time during these consultations, so I finally decided to create this Ultimate Guide to Online Shopping to help my clients to buy Furniture and decor online. And today I'm sharing it with you!
No more annoying mistakes and costly returns. This ultimate guide to online shopping will teach you how to shop online for furniture and home decor easy and successfully.
Step 1 - Choose the right store
Not all online stores are equal! To avoid fraud, follow common sense. Choose big, well known reputable retailers. Look for professional and beautifully done websites. Cheap design and a buggy online experience tells you this is not your choice. Also check the physical address of the company. If there is no phone number to contact the customer service, it’s a red flag.
Step 2 - Go TO the store
This is not a tricky one. And yes, we still talking about online shopping, BUT if there's a possibility to see the item with your own eyes, do it! Especially if this is an important piece of furniture like a sofa or a bed.
Our most favorite stores have both physical and online shops. Go to the store – see, feel, try and measure that sofa and be sure that you like it and it fits (have your room measurements with you). Then go home and check the store website. Sometimes, you’ll find online deals and discounts for the same item. And don’t forget the subscription option! Often stores give you the discount on your first order when you subscribe to their mailing list.
Step 3 - Read the reviews
Whether you saw the item in the store yourself or not – don’t forget to read reviews. It’s obvious, but don’t just stop on the store’s website. Google the item for reviews outside this store. Search for customer’s photos of the product. Google the brand, the manufacturer. Search Google for this image (right mouse click on the image and choose from the dropped menu). If the item has no reviews, or Google image search showed that it’s not the genuine image of the product, don’t buy.
Step 4 - Know what your item is made from
Read the materials section carefully. And google those materials you don’t know. This is your method to understand how the item would feel. The picture doesn’t tell that (and sometimes it is even deceiving). Understand the difference between plastic, laminated surfaces, wood veneers, and solid wood. Google the different type of fabrics and how they withstand the use and abuse if you are looking for seating furniture with high traffic. Don’t just rely on item description - do a bit of research.
Step 5 - Color magic
Well, this the biggest surprise in the online shopping world. The actual color is never the one that you see on the picture on your screen. So, if there is no possibility to see the item with your own eyes in the store, then please DO NOT EVER try to match it with “the same” color in your room.
Then what do you do? Look for neutral colors like beige, grey, black, and white – these colors most likely work together well even if they are of different shades.
If you want to buy a bright pink color velvet chair – then make it the star of your room. Make it the focal point. And do not try to match other pieces - instead, look for colors that rather relate and coordinate to the ones you already have. For example, millennial pink coordinates with tropical green, ink blue, and atomic tangerine.
Step 6 - Measure the room
Do not eyeball anything. Please take the measurements of your room and pay attention to the sizes of the furniture and decor items you are buying. It is always good idea to mock up the size of the piece with masking tape. Just tape the perimeter of your sofa right on the floor. We do it all the time in our design work. Also it’s a good idea to make a virtual plan for your room and play a little bit with it – here is a quick and easy to use Room Planner for you.
Step 7 - Choose shipment and delivery options wisely
There are usually 2 types of delivery: door-to-door and curb-side. Be aware of the delivery cost and weight of the items you order. You don’t want to be stuck outside of your apartment building with a heavy sofa you can’t move.
The best option is white glove delivery – it usually costs extra – but you’ll have an absolutely worry free shopping experience. They deliver, bring it in, unpack and assemble, all in white gloves literally.
If you buy extra big items, make sure they fit through the door – here is a good Guide How to Measure Furniture and Clearances from Urban Barn.
Step 8 - Guide to online shopping: Returns
Most online furniture stores accept returns but you usually have to pay for shipping yourself. We do not ever want this to happen with our online purchases, especially with huge furniture pieces. That’s why you should follow the previous steps carefully in order to avoid returns that could be costly and tedious.
Whenever you are on a shopping spree online – please remember this guide to online shopping – it will save you a lot of time and money!
If you have an avid online decor shopper among your friends, save him/her as well and share this ultimate guide to online shopping with them!