Philadelphia Inquirer Feature, Buying Furniture Online

When comfort is king, buying furniture via the internet is scary.

Whether it’s a sofa that you’re going to be lounging on day in and day out, or dining chairs where you hope to one day entertain again in comfort, there is no substitute for kicking the tires and doing what we here at down2earth interior design like to call the “sit test.”  We usually advise our clients to purchase these items from vendors with showrooms, even though we’re pretty open to making internet purchases for other types of items.

Photo credit: Rebecca McAlpin | Classic Mainline Home

Yet, when all the stores had to shut down during COVID-19 stay at home orders, visiting design showrooms was simply not an option.   Furthermore, many homeowners were home A LOT more, and when they looked around, they may have noticed that some of their existing furniture was just not serving them well.

So, if you’re nervous about going to a showroom, but really need some new furniture, what can you do?   The Philadelphia Inquirer did a piece addressing just that question, and interviewed d2e Design Director Amy Cuker about how to avoid some of the pitfalls of online furniture sourcing. View the article >

Amy’s suggestions of online furniture shopping include:

  • Find online vendors who offer a full refund for 90 days, even on custom sofas. Joybird is one such vendor. Returns and Exchanges Policy


  • Order rugs in a small, mat size (usually about 2’ x 3’) so you can see it, touch it, and even smell it (we’ve had a client get a rug that just reeked) before committing to the big size. If you love it, return the little one or keep it as a walk off mat at an exterior door, and then order it in the large size that you need.
  • Read the reviews.
  • Read the fine print: make sure the material is what you think it is.   We worked with a client wanting to purchase a butcher block table, and we thought we’d found the perfect item.   But when we dug down into the specs, it became clear that the butcher block was only paper laminate made to look like butcher block.
  • Order samples and swatches. Color rendering on a computer screen is notoriously inaccurate.  Many vendors will send these for free, or for a small fee that can be refunded when the sample is returned.  This allows you to make your interior design decisions with the most accurate information possible about the color and texture of your design elements.

Of course, before you get to all of that, it’s important to do your homework about what you’re really looking for.   Our sofa buying guide may be a good place to start, click here to view.

Photo credit: Rebecca McAlpin | Fort Washington Home

And you can find article after article from the New York Times about the same topic.  Here are a couple:

New York Times Sofa Buying Guide > 

New York Times Shopping for Sofas >

Happy furniture shopping, and remember, you can always reach out to us for interior design help – we do virtual consultations now (learn more >) as well as  in-person ones!

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