As we’ve entered lockdown again, I’ve been messaged for help on how to shop confidently online when buying items for your home. It can feel overwhelming, causing stress and anxiety, because you can’t visit shops, you can’t see the colours, you can’t feel the textures and you can’t visualise the size of items. So, how do you make the right choice from a picture online? And, most importantly, how can you ensure that things will fit into your home and look lovely? Here are my top tips to help you find the right items and make an informed choice when looking for the perfect pieces for your interior.
There are design steps that you can follow to help you make a more informed choice about what you buy for your home.
STEP 1: MAKE A LIST & DO YOUR RESEARCH
It sounds so obvious, but this step is often overlooked. Most often, you’ll pop to the shops and take a look around, then come home having bought something on a whim, only to find it doesn’t fit or it’s not the right colour, so you take it back and start again. It’s far more efficient on your time, energy and budget if you take a little time to plan for what you need.
As I’m writing this blog, my dishwasher has broken and is unrepairable so I need to buy a new one (online) today and get it delivered as soon as possible because I hate washing up. My old Bosch dishwasher has been very reliable in its 10 years (the average lifecycle of a dishwasher) so I’ll probably go with the same supplier, but I also need to check that their reputation hasn’t degraded over the years. You can do this by looking for testimonials or reviews on the item you’re looking for.
Before you search the reviews, put together a list of what you need AND what you don’t need. For example: I need a family sized dishwasher with a couple of temperature settings, but I’m not fussed about it having a timer because I never use that functionality. Also, I need an integrated dishwasher so I’m not bothered about the colour or finish because it’s inside a cupboard.
Make a list of the size and colour that you need, and any special features. This list will make it easier and quicker for you to evaluate similar items whilst online shopping. It also helps you stop feeling overwhelmed because you’re discounting items that don’t corresponded to your list of needs and wants, so your search is more focused. Your list might include:
- size (height, width, depth)
- pattern (stripe, floral, plain)
- fabric choice (cotton, velvet, chenille)
- material (wood, metal, glass)
- arms/no arms (for chairs and sofas)
- automated or not (for chairs/sofas/curtains/blinds)
- how many people do you need to seat (sofa/chairs)
- open shelving or closed cupboards
- special needs (kids = rounded corners, fall down = soft floor, wheelchair = smooth floor, difficult to grasp items = levers for handles, asthma/dust allergy = roman or roller blind)
STEP 2: GET SAMPLES
When shopping online, colour can be greatly distorted. When you look at the photo of an item on your phone, a tablet or a computer, the colour changes because each device has a different colour calibration. That’s why something you buy online doesn’t always look how you expected it to once it’s in your home. The colour on the screen isn’t always the colour of the item so, wherever possible, get a fabric sample or a swatch.
Even if you’re buying an item from a shop, where you can see and touch it, I’d still recommend a swatch so that you can check out the colour in your own room before yo place the order. For example, a sofa that’s showcased under showroom lights can look very different once it’s in your room. You have a different light to that in the showroom, so the colour can change once the sofa’s in your home.
If you get a swatch sample, whether it’s for sofa fabric, wallpaper, paint, curtains or flooring, you can see how the colour, pattern and texture work in your room before you splash out and buy the item.
STEP 3: CHECK THE RETURNS POLICY
When buying items online, particularly for large or expensive items, it’s important to check the returns policy. Will they come and collect it free of charge or do you have to drop it off somewhere? The faff of taking things back is off putting, it’s takes far too much time and can be quite exhausting, so make sure you review and are happy with the returns policy before you click ‘buy’.
Where possible, you could just buy one item before you get the whole set. For example: just buy one dining chair to see what it’s like. If you like it then buy the rest of the set, but if not then you’ve only got the one chair to return.
These are my steps to help you shop confidently online:
- If you make a list and have a clear idea of what you’re looking for then that will help you feel less daunted by the thought of shopping. If you check out testimonials and reviews then you’ll feel more confident about the item that you’re buying because it’s not just a random choice and others have liked it.
- If you get a swatch of the fabric or colour then you can see it in your own room and feel assured that you’re buying an item that suits the light levels in your home. You’re not blinded by the dazzle of the showroom.
- If you checkout the return policy then you’re prepared for what to do if you don’t like the item and have to send it back.
If you need more help and guidance then get in touch and I’ll find the perfect item for your home. I go shopping all the time so I know what’s available, where to go and what will look fabulous in your home. I’m always here to help and guide you.
With lockdown, we can work together remotely with my DIGITAL INTERIOR DESIGN. It’s an affordable way of creating a design for your space without me stepping inside your home.
Enjoy your online shopping,
BIID Interior Designer & Interior Styling Expert