Online shopping is one of the greatest modern-day conveniences. Furniture shopping online isn’t ideal, but it is a valuable option for some people. As a young adult moving into her first apartment, I realized quickly how much furniture I needed and how little time I had to purchase it.
Maybe you are like me, and are just too busy to spend a lot of time in furniture stores. Maybe you live nowhere near good furniture store options. Or maybe, you are like my sister and love to find unique pieces online that very few people have. Whatever your case may be, shopping for furniture can be a hassle.
How will it look close-up?
You won’t have an answer to this for sure. Your best option is to read reviews. Still unsure? This is when you have to decide if the piece is worth the risk and hassle of returning. Most furniture designs are pretty standard, so if you are unsure about this particular piece, just look to other brands for similar collections. If the piece is something you don’t see often, and you really want to have, then take the risk. (But please, PLEASE, check the return policy first. If you have to pay a fortune just to send it back, it’s not worth it)!
Is assembly required?
Ordering furniture online often means putting furniture together, which can be a big struggle. If you are ok with having to assemble the furniture on your own, then just make sure to read reviews and the description to see if assembly will be tedious. I have been looking online for furniture and often in reviews I will read about missing pieces or unsteady furniture, and it definitely plays a role in my decision to buy the piece. Another big assembly issue is that people will move into their apartment and try to build furniture with all of their boxes and junk around. Little parts get lost and you can’t figure out why the pieces don’t fit together. If you don’t have enough room to build the furniture, it is going to be a very frustrating process and take a lot longer.
Are you able to pay more to have completely assembled pieces delivered right to your place? If this is a reasonable option for you, I highly suggest doing so. Another option, especially if you buy many pieces that need to be assembled, is to hire someone to do it for you. Just make sure to include that cost in your budget.
Final caution: Please do not order furniture that requires assembly if you don’t have a decent tool-kit. How in the world are you going to build furniture without tools? Invest in a tool-kit before your furniture is delivered. Sure, you can borrow your neighbor’s tools, but you really should have your own if you are moving into your first or third or sixth apartment.
How do I know it will fit?
There are tons of great websites that will allow you to enter the dimensions of the room, and place pieces of furniture to see what will fit. You can even put in the exact dimensions of the piece of furniture that you are thinking of purchasing. This is a great tool to use. I wouldn’t have purchased the furniture online without checking to see if it fit first.
Another “low-tech” tool to check for fit is masking tape. Just use the tape to outline the dimension of the piece on the floor and the wall, in the area where you plan to place it.
(Ed, comment: After you are sure that the piece will fit in your apartment, double check that it will also fit in the doors and stairwells it has to get through first. We speak from experience here — nothing is worse than discovering that the couch or bed will not make the final turn in the stairwell on the fourth floor of a walk-up! Measure twice, buy one, is now our motto.)
As a college student on a strict budget, the greatest perk of online furniture shopping that I have found, is the prices. I have what my dad calls “champagne taste on a beer budget” and so I frequent stores like Anthropologie and West Elm and fall in love with everything they sell, but I can never afford to buy much from them. Instead I use their products to inspire my decor, and then I shop at much cheaper places. When it comes to furniture, I have found a lot of great websites that have stylish pieces at affordable prices. I would recommend:
Buying furniture online is definitely a risk, but it is almost always worth it. I have had great luck with all of my furniture! I also feel that if I had shopped at a discount furniture store, I may have spent the same amount of money as I did ordering online. Meanwhile, I would have had a much narrower selection to choose from and my pieces would have fit my style a lot less. I am thrilled with my online furniture purchases so far and I hope you will be too!