10 Tips for Buying a Sofa Online


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!


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.


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! 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 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.


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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