Are you in the market for a piece of furniture? Buying furniture has become a whole lot easier as more and more manufacturers have put their furniture styles ONLINE for everyone to see and buy, not just designers (who charge a markup).
There are many pros and cons for buying furniture online. These tips will help you to combat the cons of buying furniture online. And if you don’t live in a city with all the big retailers, online might be your only option.
Follow these tips to get the best results with your online furniture purchases. Consider looking at this checklist before you buy anything.
Look At Return Policies First
No one wants to return a piece of furniture but sometimes it’s unavoidable. It costs a fortune to return furniture. UPS and Fedex have oversized rules. This means there is a large up-charge for any box greater than 25 inches. That couch you got delivered for FREE may costs hundreds of dollars to return if you don’t like it.
If it’s possible to buy from a store that has a location in your area, this can make it easier to return a large piece of furniture. Be sure the store you are buying from allows you to return the piece to their physical location. Also, be sure and hold onto the all of the original packaging if you think there is any chance you will want to return something. They won’t accept your return without it.
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, you can’t return anything unless it is still in its original condition. You should also keep your receipt. If you get something custom made with a custom fabric, you probably can’t return it.
Stores with great return policies include:
- Article – Article sells modern style upholstered furniture and case goods. You can return something for any reason, even if you just don’t like it for only $49.
- Ikea – At Ikea you can return things for up to 365 days but you have to get it there yourself. It would be virtually impossible to return case goods that you have assembled, but you can return upholstered furniture or things that don’t require assembly. You must have your original receipt and the original packaging.
- Wayfair – Wayfair allows returns for up to 30 days, but you have to pay the cost to ship anything back. It must be in the original packaging.
- Overstock – Overstock’s return policy is also 30 days but you have to pay to ship anything back yourself.
Consider assembly requirements
Assembly is the downside of online furniture. It’s not a big deal for something like a sofa or a table, but anything with drawers or doors can take quite a bit of time to assemble. For example, a dresser can take 2 hours and lots of frustration to assemble.
I assembled these MALM dressers by myself in about 2 hours, even though it says it’s a two man job. Be warned that if it says it takes two people, there’s probably a reason. I damaged my dresser trying to do one step that really did require two people.
If you aren’t good at assembly, you can pay someone on Task Rabbit to put it together for you. There are lots of folks on there who specify that they can assemble furniture.
Understand the delivery options
Many times when they say delivery, they only mean to your doorstep or curb. If you live in an apartment with stairs, you will probably not get it hauled up the stairs. They will deliver it to the entrance to your building.
White Glove delivery is something to consider. This means that they will not only bring it all the way inside to the spot where you want it to go, but they will assemble it for you in many cases. Crate and Barrel does this without paying extra for some items. I purchased a daybed and they brought it in and assembled it for me at no extra charge.
If possible, be there when your furniture is delivered because that’s the best time to determine if there is any damage. You will probably have to be there anyway because they might not bring it inside.
It can be hard to purchase a couch you’ve never been able to sit on or a dresser where you’ve never been able to open and close the drawers. It’s important to read the reviews for this kind of feedback. Focus on the reviews that are about quality and not the angry reviews about late delivery, which is often out of the retailers control.
If there’s something you are considering buying, someone may have written a review off the retailers web site about the item. For example, if you want the Sven Sofa from Article, put that into google plus the word review. You would find this blogger who had owned this sofa for two years and reviewed its durability and comfort.
measure three times before you buy
It can be really hard to judge the scale of a piece of furniture online. My advice is to measure the space three times before you buy anything.
If it’s a big piece like a dining room table or a sofa, I also like to put a piece of newspaper or packing paper on the floor that is equal to the size of the item to see if it feels right. Can you easily walk around the paper? Leave the paper in place for 24 hours so you can get a feel for how much space the item you are buying will take up.
get fabric samples for upholstered furniture
Fabrics can look really different in person, especially neutrals. A grey might have a blue tint to it, or it might have a warmer yellow undertone. It’s hard to see these things on a screen.
Since you will probably have this piece of furniture for years (even if you don’t think so) it is worth it to order a sample of the fabric in advance and see how you like it.
Best places to Buy Furniture Online
Article – As I mentioned above, Article has a great return policy. They have a great selection of modern furniture, everything from sofas and chairs to dressers. These are just a few examples of pieces from Article that are in their lower price points.
- Conan table – comes in several sizes and finishes. The one pictured here is only $599 and it’s 75 inches.
- Mod chair – This chair comes in six colors and it’s $399.
- Envelo dresser – This dresser is $549
- Sven sofa – comes in 3 fabrics, plus leather for a little extra. I like the grey and it’s only $899.
Ikea – Ikea has really great price points and a great return policy. You have to assemble most of the furniture, but the quality is good IF it’s assembled correctly. I especially LOVE their sofas which can be purchased with a very tailored slip clover.
- Ektorp sofa – This sofa is only $499 to $599 depending on which fabric you choose. There are six fabric choices and you can remove the tight fitting slip cover and wash it.
- Hemnes wood dresser – Ikea’s case goods are great if you assemble them carefully and you have lots of time to assemble them.
Ballard Design – I love Ballard’s quality and I’ve had great luck with online purchasing. They also have good sales, if you have your eye on something and you wait a few weeks you can usually get it for 30% off. I like their beds, tables and case goods.
Crate and Barrel – Crate and Barrel can be pricey, but he quality is excellent and they deliver to the spot where the furniture goes.
Wayfair – Wayfair has every style and type of furniture. They also have a great filter where you can narrow your search quickly to specific size, shape, finish, color and styles. For example, say I’m looking for a dining room table, rectangular, 60 inches long, black finish, modern style. It can really cut down their massive selection into meaningful choices.
Overstock – I really love Overstock for rugs and blinds, but they have furniture, too and their customer service can’t be beat. I’ve been surprised at the quality of the things I’ve received from Overstock.
Target – I really like some of Target’s smaller case goods and their accent chairs. The prices are great and they stay up with the current trends.
Walmart – Walmart has recently added a lot to their furniture selection, especially if you like farmhouse or traditional styles.
Why Buy Furniture online?
It sounds like a lot of negatives to buying furniture online BUT there are some amazing advantages as well. The first advantage is the giant amount of selection. You didn’t used to be able to see all the fabrics, sizes and styles unless you had a designer.
The other huge benefit is price. Being able to buy online has made it so much easier to tell if you are getting a good deal. Speed is another huge advantage. If you are buying something that isn’t custom it can be at your door in a matter of days.
Next time you are in the market for furniture, don’t be afraid to buy online. Just follow these tips and you’re more likely to have a good experience with your online furniture purchase.
Before you go, if you enjoyed this you might like to read this guide to selling used furniture online safely.