Buying furniture and accessories online can be rewarding if you find exactly what you are looking for at a great deal. However, it can also be daunting, especially if you are considering making a large investment such as buying a sofa online. You won’t be able to sit on the sofa, feel the fabric, look at how it was constructed, or determine comfort level. Online retailers do their best to provide as much information as possible about the product they are selling. However, it’s very difficult to depict an item accurately, especially when it comes to selling an item online. Most photos depict colors differently depending on lighting and exposure. Some photos show the furniture and accessories in a designed room to give the user a sense of what it might look like in an actual home. However, every space is different depending on how much natural light there is coming through the windows, floor material, wall color, wall coverings, window treatments, other existing furniture or accessories in the room, size of room, lights, color temperature, ceiling material, and so on. All these factors will affect how the item will look in your own space and it won’t look exactly like the photos you see online. Don’t just rely on the pictures. So what do you do if you are thinking about purchasing furniture online? Here are a few things to consider.
Read as many reviews as you can from other people so you can get a good sense of the quality, color, assembly, materials, etc.. of an item before you buy. If there aren’t any reviews of the item you are interested in, try searching for the item’s name on Google. Some online retailers give each item they sell a unique name, but don’t provide who the manufacturer is. It’s still possible to find the exact same item online. Try and google the item’s name given by the online retailer with the color you are interested in. If that doesn’t work, try googling description and materials. If you can’t find any reviews about your item, consider looking at other products with reviews.
Color is really difficult to determine accurately, especially with online photos. For example, area rugs are extremely challenging to purchase online specifically due to color accuracy of photos. Many online stores post multiple photos of furniture and accessories in different angles and in a decorated space to give the consumer a better sense of what the furniture looks like. However, photos depict colors very differently depending on lighting and exposure so don’t rely on what you see. Read the description of the item and definitely read reviews. Many times, people will describe the color of the product more accurately than the listed description and some people will post photos of the product in their own home or office which will give you a better idea of what the product really looks like in a room.
Sometimes, it’s hard to see the the size of an item even if there are dimensions listed. Scale is like color, don’t rely on what you see. Read the reviews. People will mention everything about the product from the colors to the size to the materials and they will also post photos so you can get a much better idea about the scale of an item. I recommend measuring your space and use blue painter’s tape to mock up the size of an item in your space that you are interested in buying online. If there are no dimensions listed for the product, you can call the website’s toll-free number to ask a customer support representative to provide you with the actual measurements.
As with color and size, it’s difficult to determine the quality of a piece of furniture from online photos. Read the description of the product, the specifications, and reviews. Look for information about durability, construction, materials used, and cleaning instructions. Keep in mind that furniture companies choose their wording carefully. For example, wood veneer or wood composites come from wood pulp or synthetic materials, and furnishings made from these materials will be lower quality than furnishings made with solid wood. Some online retailers offer fabric swatches either for free or for a small fee. If you are thinking about purchasing a sofa or lounge chair online, definitely get fabric swatches if they are available so you can see and feel the material before making a large investment.
Some furniture and accessories don’t come in one piece. A lot of times, they need to be assembled. Read the reviews. People often mention whether or not the item is easy to put together and be honest with yourself about your skill level and comfort level assembling furniture. Sometimes, an item may arrive with missing parts or some of the holes aren’t lined up so it can be challenging to put together a piece by yourself. Ask a friend to help or hire a handyman to assemble it for you,
Returns and Shipping
If you found a piece of furniture online for a great deal, you still have to take into account shipping cost plus applicable taxes which can significantly increase the price. Plus, there are different kinds of shipping – curb side or white glove delivery. Curb side delivery is where the item is dropped off at your curbside or at your front door. You are responsible for moving the item inside. White Glove is a full service package where the delivery driver brings the item inside and sets it up for you. It can be expensive but if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of bringing the furniture inside yourself, then this might be a good option for you. Also, check the retailer’s return policy. If a site has strict return policies such as charging a re-stocking fee, a complicated return process, don’t allow for returns at all, or require customers to cover the shipping cost (which can get costly for larger items), look for another site that has more flexible return policies. Many stores give customers at least 30 days, but some offer 45 or 60 days to return items.
If you do your research, measure your space accurately, and read reviews by other people, you’ll be able to purchase furniture online confidently. A lot of my clients have bought furniture online and are happy with the end results. If you need help selecting pieces online that fit your existing room decor or need interior design assistance, please contact me!