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  • Writer's pictureErin Hackett

How to Buy a Sofa on the Internet - My Five No-Fail Rules!

Let's face it, we buy everything on the internet these days. But sometimes, I'm not alway sure that's a good thing. A few years back, I bought some dishware from a large retailer who will remain nameless. When it arrived, the plates were in a thousand pieces. I was surprised and a little angry, if I'm being honest! How did they not have better shipping protocols that could get dishware to a customer in one piece?! When I took my broken dishes to the store to return them, I expected the associate to lament alongside me. Instead (I will never forget) she took one look at my box of broken dishes and said, "Wow, you're a brave woman to buy this kind of thing online!"

I was speechless -- she was blaming me?! Why did this company SELL the dishes online in the first place?! Fortunately, I'm not the kind of person to lose my cool on a retail worker. Instead, I politely asked why her company sold such items online if they couldn't ship them safely. She seemed to understand, and helped me find replacements for my broken pieces. Regardless, this lesson has stuck with me over the years. And the reality is, just because something is sold online doesn't mean it should be.

Take sofas, for instance. There are hundreds upon thousands of sofas available for purchase on the internet. It does not take a logistics expert to understand the enormous effort it takes to ship something of that size and weight, not to mention the near impossibility of returning one if doesn't work out. While it might seem like I am about to advocate that sofas are one of the many things that shouldn't be sold online, I'm actually not! It just takes a few extra steps to be an informed internet-sofa consumer. Below are my no-fail rules for how to buy a couch on the internet!

  1. First and foremost, you need to buy a sofa from a trusted source. If you want reliability, this is not a time to make a purchase from a boutique e-commerce shop. If at all possible, stick with the big names in retail furnishings. My favorites for sofa purchases are Crate and Barrel, Arhaus, West Elm, Pottery Barn, CB2, and Restoration Hardware. (Bonus: if you live in a large metro area, there's a good chance you can test out your sofa in person, even if you do ultimately have to custom order it online.)

  2. The exception to this rule would be to purchase from a trusted, vetted e-commerce shop run by an interior designer or interior design firm. Designers have a reputation to uphold, and they aren't likely to go around souring that reputation by selling crappy furniture on the internet. I have many favorites in this area, but my current top five are McGee & Co, Scout and Nimble, Burke Decor, Shoppe Amber Interiors, and LD Shoppe.

  3. No matter where you buy your sofa from, check the reviews! When buying a sofa online, reviews are key. If there aren't any, that's not usually a good sign. Let's say you find a sofa you love, it's from a trusted retailer, and you think you HAVE to have it...but there are no reviews. Well, you're in a tough spot! However, the other option is to go to that retailer's Instagram page and look through their tagged photos. If you scroll long enough, you might get lucky and stumble upon someone who has posted about the exact furniture item you are considering. I have gone so far as to DM people and ask for their feedback. Hey -- if their account isn't private I figure, why not? Worst that can happen is that they ignore you, and best case scenario you get valuable feedback from someone who's already living with the item you want in their own home.

  4. Know your sofa basics. In this post, I wrote about the different types of sofa constructions, as well some helpful tidbits on how to choose the right fabric (I also have an entire instagram highlight dedicated to "sofa school"). If you know what makes a quality sofa and fabric, you're setting yourself up for success.

  5. One word: swatches! I won't use the word never, but it would take A LOT for me to order a sofa online without first ordering fabric swatches. If fabric swatches are available, get them every single time, no exceptions. Occasionally, a retailer won't offer swatches on a sofa, especially if it's only offered in one fabric option or if it's marked down due to being discontinued. This can be a great way to find a sofa at a discount, but puts you in the tough position of not being able to vet the fabric before buying something that's almost impossible to return. If I were in this scenario, I would ONLY pull the trigger if I could find MULTIPLE -- and I'm talking dozens -- of customer photos of the sofa in question. I would want to see it in different lights, in different settings, and being used in different decor styles. If I felt comfortable after doing an extensive amount of vetting, I may still pull the trigger but I would lower my expectations and know that my design direction might have to pivot if the sofa arrived and was different than I had pictured it.

And there you have it! Follow those five steps, and I can all but guarantee you won't end up regretting your sofa purchase. To boot, I've rounded up a few of my favorite sofas on the internet right now. I can unequivocally say that I would purchase any of these -- they have been extensively vetted using my criteria listed above. Now, grab a cup of tea, curl up on your couch...go find the sofa of your dreams!

Sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

...And a few more, below!

*Affiliate Link Disclaimer*

As you probably already know, when I post links to products they are usually affiliate links. This means I get a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase something through one of my links. Every product I share is something I love and in many cases I've bought for either myself or for clients. It's one the ways we keep HHS running, and why I'm so grateful you choose to read my blog! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for shopping with me and leave me a comment below to let me know if you're enjoying your purchases!

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