How to Shop Online for your Home (with confidence!)

Friends and family often ask me where I source the items that I use to decorate and furnish my home, and express doubt and hesitation when I tell them the answer: I shop ONLINE!

If you have ever wondered how in the world you could possibly decorate your home or buy new furniture with items you find through online retailers (like Amazon, Target.com, Wayfair, One Kings Lane, or World Market)- here are 5 guidelines that I use to shop online with confidence for my home.

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In a hurry? Grab these tips in a cheatsheet download ;) 

 

1) Mind your P's and Q's (Policies and Questions...)

Anytime you shop online for furniture or decor for your home, make sure you understand all of the policies set up by the retailer, and review any FAQ's that they have posted (Frequently Asked Questions). 

For example, Amazon Prime offers free shipping and returns, BUT not everything you can buy on Amazon qualifies for these perks. Target has minimum purchase order totals before you can get free shipping, and some items may be returned to a physical store (others might not!). Wayfair offers free shipping on all subsequent orders within 30 days of a large purchase, so pay attention to your timing if you have big plans for a space that you plan on furnishing through Wayfair! 

Check the shipping and return policies carefully, you won't regret it. You might regret having to pay shipping costs for a furniture return that you didn't plan on. I always try to get free shipping and returns if I can!

Also- the FAQ section is a great resource to learn more about an online retailer. These are (typically) the questions most asked by customers, and they have tried to answer as many for you in one place to make your shopping experience as easy as possible! 

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2) Have a plan before you start shopping

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One of the hardest things for me about shopping online is the sheer quantity of design choices that I have to choose from. In a store, there may be 10 different options if I need a blue pillow. Online? I have 325,469 options for blue pillow....

It can save you some serious time and wasted energy if you have VERY specific items that you are searching for, and have these items written down BEFORE you dive into your shopping expedition. 

If you have a compete design plan in place for your room, you can use the size/shape/texture/color/style of each item you need to help you filter through the "endless" options you will find online, and narrow it down to the perfect one for you!

3) Set realistic expectations

I know there is a good chance that my online purchases MAY not be completely perfect when they arrive. Be sure that you are using your best judgement and that your expectations are realistic when you are ordering home furnishings online. 

There is no 100% accurate way to match colors or textures when you are ordering from an online retailer, so there is a chance that your purchase may arrive less than you thought it would be. 

Remember the 1st guideline: know your policies before you shop! 

Making returns and exchanges is a very real part of my experience shopping online, which is why I always try to use retailers that make returning and exchanging products SUPER easy on the customer. I have received broken furniture, incorrect orders, and items that were the complete wrong color- which is probably the reason I am so passionate about knowing your policies AND I'm a stickler for free returns! 

SIDE NOTE:

Don't be afraid to pick up the phone! If something isn't right, (broken, the wrong item, or was completely misrepresented online) call Customer Support! 

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I had a loveseat delivered with a broken leg, and after a quick phone call- a complete replacement piece was shipped (for no expense!). Instead of giving me any hassle, the customer service representative was very helpful, understanding, and kind. If anything is wrong with your online shopping experience: call to talk to a REAL PERSON. They can be so great!

4) Get to know your tape measure

This may go without saying... but dimensions are one of the most important elements of shopping for home furnishings and decor. If you need a new couch, you shouldn't just waltz into a furniture store and order a $2,000 couch without first making sure it will fit in your home!!! (Right?!?!) Well, I know it happens, and it's not awesome. So, listen up.

Almost an extension of #2 (Make a plan), be sure to have specific and accurate dimensions of your room and of the items you need to buy before you start drooling over the newest sale event at Joss & Main. Home furnishing specials are designed to get you to buy on an impulse....  BEWARE.

For small items, measure a piece of string or find a similar object int our home that is the size of your purchase. It is difficult to visualize 

For large items, use tape (blue painter's tape or masking tape) to outline the size of your furniture in the space where it needs to live. You may be surprised to actually see how large (or small) that tufted loveseat appears in your home.

In my family, we have very tall people (my husband) and short people (me!) who have different preferences for seating furniture. Shallow couches and chairs are not comfortable for everyone in our home, so we are always aware of the cushion depth for chairs and sofas. 

Some dimensions to consider: 

  • Height (overall; seat height; back height)

  • Length (overall; seating area length)

  • Depth (overall; seating area depth)

  • Note the difference between overall length, and functional length (cushion size of a sofa cushion, for example)

  • Find out if there is a standard height for items (the difference between counter-height and bar-height barstools)

  • Interior dimensions for storage furniture compared to the items you need to put there!

5. Be prepared for Some Assembly Required

For larger items that you purchase online, pay attention to the fine print about how many shipments are included and what type of assembly may be required to put the furniture together. 

Pieces like sofas may come in 3-4 large pieces that fit together, with cushions packed separately. Tables often arrive with legs unattached so they ship in a flat box. My loveseat (the broken one!) came as the backrest with two legs attached, the seat, and two more front legs that needed to be screwed in. Many come with the necessary parts and tools included (often an allen wrench and screws/washers) as these are the easiest for many people to navigate. 

More intricate pieces like dressers, filing cabinets, or barstools will have more pieces that require carefully following the directions. The dresser in my bedroom took several hours (in between mom-ing!) but it only cost 

Part of purchasing furniture online is accepting the required labor on your part. Some Assembly Required actually contributes to the savings you can find online as opposed to shopping at more traditional brick-and-mortar furniture stores. 

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Good luck on your next home design and decor project! 

Grab a quick cheatsheet of these tips to have handy for your next online shopping spree.

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