Perhaps you have purchased a book online, or gifts during the holidays for family members or friends. The online commercial revolution has made it possible to buy almost anything on your computer swiftly comfortably — and certainly at better prices than you ever imagined. In less than a decade, half of our purchases will be made through our smart phones. How will this new technological reality affect the physiognomy of our homes? Obviously buying a hair dryer or a book through the internet is not the same as buying a sofa.
Designing interiors without a designer to consult with is not easy, but it is not impossible. Many consumers like to buy what they see out of a vignette in a catalog and tweak the design to make it personal. Others will take a particular design seen in a shelter magazine and try to replicate it. Whether intentional or not, DIY interior designers do exist. To minimize potential and expensive disasters, here are some tips:
Knowing exactly what you need is imperative. The first thing to do is to create a list on your mobile phone.
Look for larger purchases such as sofas, beds or other important pieces through larger department stores, which have more lenient return policies, in case buyer’s remorse sets in or the quality is not what you expected.
Check out portals such as Etsy or Ebay for one-of-a-kind finds that will help give your home a personal touch.
Always seek out others’ opinions and reviews of any particular item. Don’t get discouraged if there is one or two negative reviews. Everyone is different, look out for an overall opinion or trend, then make your decision.
Comparing online prices seems easy, but make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Look for same type of material, place of construction, etc.
Make sure to measure your space and even take some tape to map out the new furniture in your room to ensure a proper fit.
Some online furniture stores offer free white-glove delivery in order to incentivize the client to purchase without a test sit or bed rest. Also ask if there is a risk-free trial period.
Many online stores offer small samples of fabrics and finishes that can be mailed to you prior to purchase to ensure that colors match your decorating scheme.
Finally, while many online stores offer complimentary interior design consultations, I think it is appropriate here to say “beware!” Most of these complimentary services are done to facilitate purchasing more than design help. Some stores may offer a virtual design portal where you can see a version of what your room will look like. Most in-store designers are there for a purpose…to sell, sell, sell. As accessible as online furniture stores are, many consumers still want the personal touch of working with an interior designer, and seek to hire them as a consultant.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla.