Nov
16

10 Tips for Buying a Sofa Online

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This post is written in partnership with Lamps Plus. All opinions are my own.

We recently got a new sofa from an unexpected source...Lamps Plus! And we bought it online without ever sitting in it. Do you think we're crazy??? I admit, I was definitely nervous to get such a major piece of furniture without seeing it in person first...but it turned out perfect, and we have no regrets. Being willing to shop online really opens up your options, especially if you live in a smaller city (Spokane doesn't have many of the national furniture chains). Plus, there are so many online-only furniture companies these days, it's definitely worth looking into them. But I know it can be nerve-wracking to get something that expensive online, so I wanted to share my best tips for success!

english-roll-arm

1. Sit in other sofas. We've been thinking about getting a new sofa for years, so every time we go to a store that sells furniture, we sit in a few and see what feels comfortable. Before we even started looking online, we already knew our ideal style (English roll arm) and ideal dimensions (at least 85" wide and 40" deep). If you're looking at a sofa online, go to a furniture store in your city that has comparable pieces, and sit in some sofas that are similar in style and have similar dimensions. Even if they're not the exact same as the one you're considering, it should help you get an idea of whether that depth feels good, whether those arm rests are a good height, etc.

2. Compare the details to brands you know. Besides comparing measurements, you can also compare other product details to brands you're familiar with. Our old sofa was from Pottery Barn, so we literally went through and compared the bullet points for our old sofa and the new one we were considering. Is the frame hardwood? What are the cushions filled with? These details will help you compare the quality across brands, to see whether you're really getting a good deal or just a lesser-quality sofa. For the record, the Lamps Plus sofa we got held up in comparison very well--it has a kiln-dried hardwood frame, hand-tied 8-way heavy gauge steel springs, and a blend of polyester and feather filled back cushions that are channel-sewn for durability.

new-sofa

3. Measure your space carefully. Of course, you'll want to make sure that the sofa you're considering will look right in your room. Grab a tape measure and mark out the height, depth, and width of the sofa. I think it's nice to have something 3D for this, instead of just marking the width and depth on the floor. We used our current sofa, but you could also try stacking boxes to get a feel for the dimensions (including height). Besides measuring the room itself, you also need to make sure the sofa will fit through any doorways, stairwells, hallways, or other spaces it needs to get through in order to reach the room. This is super important, so don't skip this step!

4. Look for real people's photos. It can be hard to envision how a piece will look in your space when all you have is the product photo on a white background. Lamps Plus had a couple photos of our sofa in a lifestyle environment, which helped--but it's even better if you can find real customer photos. Check on Instagram, and Google the sofa to see if any bloggers or designers have posted it.

Buying my dream sofa online (without ever sitting in it first)!

5. Make a moodboard. Ok, so what if you can't find any real customer photos? At the very least, you can make a moodboard with the sofa you're considering and other elements in your living room that will be staying. And Lamps Plus has a "View In Your Room" feature (on the right hand side under the product photo) where you can upload a picture of your room and drop in the sofa to see how it will look. Super cool! If you're considering a sofa from another site, you can do something similar in Photoshop.

6. Read reviews. This is the best part of shopping online...reviews! It's awesome if the piece you're considering has hundreds or thousands of positive reviews--that can really make you feel confident in your purchase. It's also helpful if there are lots of negative reviews, so you can avoid a bad purchase. The tough part is when there are only a couple reviews; it's scary to base a decision on one person's opinion. The sofa we bought only had one four-star review. But I read it and she loved the sofa itself, she just felt like the tracking for the shipping process needed improvement. That's something I'm willing to deal with, so I decided it might be worth the risk. But first, I also looked up reviews for ALL the sofas from the same brand (55 Downing Street). This is also a good tip if you're considering a sofa with zero reviews...at the very least, see if other upholstered pieces from the same brand have good reviews. You can also check the company you're thinking of buying from and see what their rating is from the BBB (Lamps Plus is an A).

Our new linen English roll arm sofa

7. Get a swatch! Most companies offer free fabric swatches for their upholstered pieces, so take advantage of that and order a swatch for every sofa you're considering. That way, you can see which color works best with the other furnishings in your room. You can even test out spilling something on the swatch and wiping it up, to see how easily the fabric stains. I was able to get a swatch for our sofa by chatting with a customer service agent from Lamps Plus. It was easy, free, and gave me so much peace of mind before hitting that "Place Order" button.

8. Comparison shop. Once you've decided on your dream sofa (yay!), do a quick search and see if any other companies sell the same exact piece. 55 Downing Street is a Lamps Plus house brand, so it's not sold anywhere else. But sometimes, you'll find the same sofa from multiple online retailers, so you can make sure you're getting the best deal.

new-linen-sofa

9. Look for sales and coupon codes. This is another great thing about online shopping--it's so easy to keep an eye out for sales and coupons! We were able to snap up this sofa when it was on sale for $799.95...a heck of a deal for a beautiful, great quality sofa. Plus, most companies give you a coupon code for subscribing to their emails, and Lamps Plus also offers some savings for new homeowners.

10. Know the return policy. Not to be a killjoy, but before you place your order, you should also look up the return policy just in case. Some stores may not allow you to return a sofa unless it arrives damaged (especially if it's a custom, made-to-order piece). Or you may have to pay a restocking fee. You also might have a shorter window for returns when it comes to big furniture, as opposed to smaller decor items. Make sure you know what the policy is, and that you feel comfortable with it. Worst come to worst, you could always sell a nonreturnable sofa on Craigslist...but it's better to know what your options are upfront, especially if you're debating between two similar sofas. This might be the deciding factor.

After all those steps, finally you're ready to order! Hooray! We've had great luck with ordering furniture online, everything from our dining table and chairs, to our beds and mattresses. But this was our first time getting a sofa online, and I was nervous about the added question of comfort. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out, and we looove our new Albion Chateau sofa from Lamps Plus. Happy to answer any questions if it looks like this could be your dream sofa too (it's still under $1000)!

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Nov
14

An Easier Way to Make Dinner

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This post is sponsored by HelloFresh. All opinions are 100% my own.

When Ian was born, the company I worked for gave us a gift card for a meal delivery service, and it was honestly my favorite "welcome baby" gift that we received. It was such a lifesaver for those first few months when going to the grocery store seemed like a daunting task, and I didn't have the energy for meal planning and elaborate cooking. With a second baby on the way, I've been wanting to try out another meal delivery service, so when HelloFresh reached out to me I couldn't say yes fast enough. Our box arrived the week we got our first snowfall here in Spokane, so I was also thrilled that I didn't have to drive to the grocery store on snowy roads. Perfect timing all around!

HelloFresh review

I enjoy the process of cooking and I like trying out new recipes and new ingredients when I have time. But I hate meal planning, and it stresses me out to make something new when I'm in a rush (which is pretty much every weeknight). So I rarely ever try new recipes, and instead I revert back to our go-to quick & easy meals...over and over again. That was my favorite part of HelloFresh: all the meal planning was done for me, and I got to try out some new recipes in a really fun and easy way!

Ingredients

There are three basic plans to choose from: vegetarian, classic, and family. We went with the classic plan, and all the meals we got were delicious, flavorful, and super approachable. As for portions, you can either get enough for 2 people or 4 people. Since we're a family of three--and I'm eating for two!--we chose the 4 person plan. Each meal was plenty of food for all of us, and I even had a little left over for lunch the next day. However, I think the portions would be a little light for 4 adults, like if we were having another couple over for dinner. When I cook on my own, I like to make a lot of food so we can eat the leftovers for multiple days (and so I don't have to worry about cooking every night). So I kind of wished that I could have had more left over, but I guess that's a good sign that we enjoyed it so much and we wanted more!

prep

My little helper

My other favorite thing about HelloFresh was that all the meals were really quick to make (each one took under 40 minutes, including prep--which I could do ahead of time if I wanted to). And they each had elements that Ian could help with (like adding tomatoes to the salad), which was fun for him.

Crispy Chicken Milanese from HelloFresh

I'm always looking for more weeknight meal ideas, and several of these recipes are ones that I would make again on my own in the future. The one I took photos of (Crispy Chicken Milanese) was my favorite. Yummy, healthy, and pretty enough for company too! Mine turned out pretty similar to the photo on the recipe card, which I consider a good sign that anyone can do it. :)

HelloFresh review

All in all, the delivery was really convenient, the recipes were easy to follow, and the food was delicious--so I would definitely use HelloFresh again. The biggest deterrent for me is the cost...the 4 person plan is $119.88/week for three meals, which is more than I would spend if I went grocery shopping for the same amount of food. However, when the new baby comes I think it would be 100% worth it to have everything come to my door so I don't have to deal with grocery shopping and meal planning. After all, the alternative would probably be eating out or getting pizza a lot, which is even more expensive (and less healthy)! So I'm not signing up for regular HelloFresh boxes quite yet, but I'm definitely keeping them in mind for busy times of life.

Have you ever tried HelloFresh? If it sounds like something you'd be interested in, get $30 off your first box with the promo code ATHOME30. Let me know what you think!

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Nov
07

We Have An Announcement!

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I have been patiently waiting to tell you guys something really exciting...we're having another baby!!! I'm 20 weeks pregnant, due March 25th. We had our anatomy ultrasound on Monday, and found out that little bean is a BOY!!! We did not guess right at all, haha. I've felt pretty different from when I was pregnant with Ian (I was nauseous a lot during the first trimester, and had different cravings) so we totally thought it was a girl. But I'm really excited that Ian will have a brother so close in age! It's going to be fun to see them become buddies. And I'm about to get seriously outnumbered! Oh boy...

Oh boy! Baby announcement

I'm at the fun stage of pregnancy now where I have some energy back, my belly actually looks pregnant (but isn't huge), and I can feel the baby moving regularly. Yay for the second trimester! And I'm SO excited to be pregnant during the holidays, aka the best time of the year not to think about how many calories you're consuming. Haha!

Those of you who remember Ian's birth story might be wondering about my chances of having preeclampsia again. I do have a higher risk than the average person (it's somewhere around 25%), but I've always wanted more than one kid so that's a chance I'm willing to take. We've chosen the hospital in Spokane with the best NICU just in case, and I'll have more frequent doctor's appointments going forward. Obviously I really hope I don't develop it this time, but there isn't much you can do ahead of time to prevent it (they still don't even know what causes preeclampsia). I'm taking a low-dose aspirin every day, which has been shown to help, and we have a blood pressure cuff at home that we're using to monitor my blood pressure.

At this point, we're just keeping an eye on things (at least I know what to look out for this time) and planning for a second baby the same as anyone else would. I'm thinking of switching Ian into a twin bed, so we can use the crib for the new baby, and we're making a list of the things we'll need to get this time around...like a double stroller, an infant car seat (we borrowed the one we used with Ian), and of course I'm gonna shop for some new baby clothes! It's nice that we can probably reuse a lot of the same things we already have, but I want this baby to have some new outfits and toys too.

We're also starting to think of names! It took us a long time to come up with Ian's name, and now it's even harder--especially since we're having another boy. I don't to use any of the names we rejected for Ian, so we're trying to think of a whole new batch of boy names, with the added challenge of finding one that "goes" with Ian.

I can't believe that in March, we will be a family of four! It already snowed in Spokane, so I feel like winter is already here...which means March is, like, in no time at all. Ahhh!

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Nov
06

Our Favorite Kid's Books

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I want Ian to grow up loving books, so I've been reading to him since he was really young. Now that he's getting older, it's been fun to see him start interacting with the stories, turning pages himself, and developing favorites. Except...selfishly, I want his favorites to also be ones that I enjoy. ;) It gets old reading the same book over and over (and over) again, especially if it's kind of a boring story. So I've been stocking his shelves with cute kid's books that have silly storylines and endearing illustrations, to increase my chances. These are some books that hit the sweet spot--fun for both kids and adults.

My favorite kid's books

1. Anything by Mac Barrett and Jon Klassen. We have SIX books from this author/illustrator duo because they are all so stinkin' cute and charming. Titles: The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse, Triangle, We Found a Hat, This is Not My Hat, I Want My Hat Back, and Sam & Dave Dig a Hole.

2. Anything by Sandra Boynton. Short, rhyming, and somewhat educational, these are my favorite board books. We have several, but Belly Button Book is currently my favorite. I think I have it memorized. :)

3. We're Going on a Bear Hunt. This is Ian's favorite book right now, and I especially love the version we have. It has a snow globe on the front cover and pop-up illustrations on every page (Ian loves going "GRRRR" when we flip to the bear).

4. Little Blue Truck. Really cute, rhyming board book that Ian loves because of all the animal noises. There's a good moral in this story too.

5. Anything by Oliver Jeffers. We have several of his books, and they're all silly and fun to read. Stuck is probably my favorite, but I also love Once Upon an Alphabet (beware though, that one's long). The adorable illustrations are at least half the fun!

6. Anything by Chris Haughton. Simple illustrations and sweet stories featuring lovable animals. Titles we own: Oh No, George!, Little Owl Lost, and Shh! We Have a Plan.

7. Home. One of our newer additions, this book by Carson Ellis has a simple concept: introducing kids to all different kinds of homes, ranging from simple to elaborate. But the beautiful, detailed illustrations really make it a winner.

8. Mother Bruce. This is Ben's favorite kid's book. It's a fun story about a grumpy bear who becomes the victim of mistaken identity. Super cute.

Some of our favorite kid's books

What are some of your favorite kid's books and authors? I love finding new ones!

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