I have an issue with online shopping. The process really, actually pains me. I hate attempting to work out if something might look nice on me, based on how it looks on the beautiful model. I hate the amount of time you can stare at your bag at checkout, wondered if you can really actually part with that cash. I then hate parting with that cash, but having to wait for the item to turn up, usually not one the day or time it was supposed to, but just when you happen to have left the house. Even worse, I hate the item arriving, only for me to find that it does not fit, is not the colour I thought it would be and needs to be returned. Do not get me started on returns.
Please excuse my grumbling. I know that you didn’t tune in for this. But these characteristics of online retail are frustrating – albeit, easily resolved. Clothes, of course, can be tucked away or exchanged when they turn up a disappointment. But what about those larger purchases, both financially and physically? And no, I’m not talking about a Celine handbag. I’m talking furniture.
Given that I cannot even decide if a crop top from ASOS would fit me, I cannot begin to imagine how I would cope deciding if a sofa, table or set of shelves would work in my home. This is for two reasons. Firstly: the expense. Furnishing a home is a huge investment, and in the case when buying a sofa or bed that is being made especially for you, how on earth could you stand to hand over your card details without seeing the piece in person?
The second, is the comfort factor. This might sound like a small thing, but I spent a lot of time being dragged around interiors stores by my parents as a child – and we sat on many items of furniture. The sole reason? Contentment testing, of course. How does it feel sinking down into those pillows? How many of us can we fit on here? Is it going to survive us potentially (probably) jumping up and down on it? I just can’t imagine any soft furnishings arriving, only to discover they aren’t suitable for snuggling up on – and I’m pretty sure they don’t list that rating on any website.
So, yes, the risks are there. But there are, of course, also pros. Obviously, it’s convenient. I can see now that had my parents had the choice, they might have preferred to browse websites from our home, as opposed to bribing we kids with McDonalds to behave whilst they attempted to plan a décor revamp. There is also definitely something to be said for being able to sit down in a quiet space together, in the rooms of your home, and mentally placing items while you shop with all the measurements on hand.
Naturally, there’s a skill to this – and we wanted to find out exactly how to get it right. To do so, we spoke to Oliver Bonas’ Furniture Specialist, Fran Stone, who had this advice to offer. Don’t click without it.
Rule One: Inform Yourself: “When buying a piece of furniture the more advice & insight you can get in terms of what a piece will look like in your home the better,” begins Fran. “At oliverbonas.com each piece of furniture is designed in-house. Because of this, you can view the designer’s sketches with dimensions of every piece, along with gorgeous lifestyle imagery which is super helpful. Not only does this give you an idea of the scale – say a Love Tub in a bay window or an ottoman at the end of a bed – it also gives you really good ideas for how you should style your room. You can also order free swatches from most websites.”
Rule Two: Read the Reviews: “Always take a look at the reviews Customers, Journalists and bloggers,” she continues. “If you want to find out how good the furniture is (especially in terms of quality) it is really handy to learn from the experience of others. You will find everything you need to know, whether it be on the customer service, delivery, or the product itself. Remember, no one will be more honest than a customer!”
Rule Three: Ask the Experts: “Always call or email the company if you have any questions – they will be more than happy to help,” she advises. “As well as delivery costs, you should always ask about the returns policy, you need to make sure you know how to take things back, and you don’t want to be stung with a high return fee.”
Rule Four: Keep an Eye Out: “Finally, lots of companies also offer special services when it comes to furniture, so always have a look,” She finishes. “Oliver Bonas, for example, offers a bespoke service to their upholstered furniture ranges, so you can play designer and create something really special that only you will