Whether you're shopping online or in the store, here's what you need to know.
Don't find the perfect piece of furniture only to have it not fit the space when you get it home. That's where checking the dimensions comes in handy. "Sometimes it looks one way in the store or picture, but in reality, it could be completely different," says , an interior designer based in New York City. Whether you're buying online or in the store, place blue tape in the room (marking where the furniture will be) to see how the dimensions of the item work in the space, Blaustein suggests.
While you want your furniture pieces to complement each other, not everything has to match. "Sometimes people think if it matches it's safe, but it can become too much," says , an interior designer based in Nashville. It's all about finding a balance that works for your space. If you have a traditional , for example, switch things up by shopping for a sleek , Arnold advises. Opposites do attract, after all.
Sure, that sofa may look great on the computer screen or in the showroom, but in your home, it could be a completely different story — especially when it comes to the color. Your best bet: Ask the online store or showroom for sample swatches of the fabric. That way you can get an idea what the item may look like in your home's own . Though some companies may charge you a small fee, you're better off spending $10 for a few samples than being stuck with a $5,000 sofa that's the wrong color, Blaustein says.
While you want your décor to make a statement, that doesn't mean you have to go big with everything. "For larger rooms, some people end up buying a lot of large pieces instead of mixing it up," Arnold says. But not every piece needs to be the same scale. "It's about the relationship of how the large piece works with the other pieces in the room," he adds.
Another important question to ask, especially for apartment dwellers: How will you get the furniture inside your home? You can try reaching out to your super for access to the elevator, Blaustein suggests. Some vendors may also be able to break off certain parts of the furniture – and replace them after – to help fit the item through your door or narrow corridors. Otherwise, you might just have to scrap it. "I had a client who ran into this issue, so we called the moving company," Blaustein says. "They said there was no way it was going to fit, and we ended up not buying it." It's better to be safe than left with an expensive piece you can't return.
While the internet may make it easier to , it also leaves room for more impulse buying. That can be a mistake if you end up with a piece of furniture you hate in the long-run. "I always tell my clients to buy into investment pieces that speak to them and they can live with for a long time," Arnold says. Before rushing into buying a piece, take the time to think about what it means to you and your space. "If you love it, it will work somewhere," Arnold says.
When it comes to shopping for textiles, especially, you're better off going in person. "It's just so hard to tell on a computer screen what the color really looks like," Arnold says. "You might think it looks red but in reality it's watermelon pink." Another thing you can miss online: texture. A chunky or fuzzy rug, for example, could turn out to be a pain later. "They look great, but they can be very annoying when they make it difficult to open a door or move a chair," Blaustein adds. Bottom line: Always judge whether a rug will work in your space in person.
Knowing the height of your desired items can be key to pulling off the perfect design pairing. For instance, most people don't like their to be higher than their sofa, Blaustein says. But if you're a person who likes eating in front of the TV, you may want to purchase something on the taller side. The same problem can pop up with a bed and nightstand if you have a frame that's lower too. It's just another instance where knowing the dimensions can come in handy — and save you from a decorating disaster.
As much as you're tempted to buy that ultra-sleek sofa, it might not be the right fit for your comfort level or style of the room. "In my experience, it's really better to test out seating and take the time to look at the dimensions," Blaustein says. Most vendors offer a standard depth of 36 inches for a sofa, but if you're taller, you might want to opt for something between 40 to 42 inches, Blaustein says. And unless you have a super modern family room, sleeker pieces are probably not the best fit. Ask yourself: What's the use of the sofa? Where will it be located? Who's going to use it?
"One thing I tell my clients is to be open to where the item would fit best," Arnold says. So even if you fall in love with a piece while shopping that doesn't seem quite right for your living room, it could just be a matter of brainstorming a different location in your home that would work better, like the or master . After all, your home should be filled with décor that makes you happy. If you can't buy what you love, what is the point of shopping anyways?