The future is now, and it comes with free two-day shipping. As we turn ever more from brick-and-mortar stores to the convenience of 24/7 online shopping, it’s easier than ever to find exactly what you want to furnish your dream home. But furniture shopping is a little different than ordering a book or a coffee mug. To get the most bang for your buck (and avoid some major headaches), you’ll want to avoid these online furniture shopping mistakes.
Try this experiment—grab your phone and hold it up next to a desktop monitor or laptop screen, then look at the same photo on both devices. Chances are good that the colors will look different even though it’s the exact same image. The same goes for purchasing furniture online.
If possible, ask the furniture seller for a fabric swatch of the upholstery before you buy. You may also be able to find additional photos on Instagram or Pinterest to see the piece in various settings. Whatever you do, don’t just assume that the shade on your phone will be the precise color of the furniture you receive. That’s just setting yourself up for disappointment.
Too Good to Be True
So that leather sofa, the one that’s $199 plus free shipping? There’s a good chance it’s gonna be a big ol’ mess. Buyer beware, especially when it comes to online deals that are just too good to pass up. Cheap imports, knockoffs with stolen photos, and other sub-standard home goods are all floating around online, just waiting for buyers to fall for their tricks.
There are also plenty of tales online of buyers who thought they were purchasing a full-sized chair or dresser for dirt cheap—only to find out it was sized for a child, pet, or even dollhouse! Always check the dimensions online and then use a ruler to compare them to your space at home.
While most furniture assembly horror stories involve Swedish flat-pack giant IKEA, many pieces purchased online will require you to put them together once they arrive. Doing so allows manufacturers to save money on shipping, but at the cost of your headache once the item arrives. If you have trouble putting together a simple Lego set, then assembly a piece of furniture using multiple tools and confusing paper instructions is probably not the right choice for you. In that case, look for a delivery service that includes on-site assembly.
One final tip—if you do decide to brave the DIY assembly route, make sure that you build the piece in the place you plan to put it. It’s much easier to move individual components around than to try hauling the finished furniture into position after it’s built.
Obviously, delivery is the top concern when buying furniture online. Some sites will offer free shipping, but make sure to read the fine print. Do they accept returns? If so, are there restocking fees? Who is responsible for the cost of shipping the item back to the seller? In the case of discount or clearance items, returns are usually a no-go. If you’re stuck with a piece of furniture you hate, you’ll either have to learn to live with it or spend additional money to paint or reupholster the piece.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to avoid these online furniture shopping mistakes in the future, but we’d love to hear your stories about great successes (or hilarious failures) in the comments.