Tips to Search for Online Decor & Furniture

We get asked quite often if we have any tips for shopping online for furniture or accessories — especially since we’ve made some pretty big furniture purchases online (i.e. Casey’s headboard, B’s headboard, most of our rugs, Casey’s couch, and even some of our large art pieces).

11-bed-pillows-master-bedroomSometimes it’s scary and overwhelming and we second guess ourselves right up until we actually press SUBMIT ORDER but, knock on wood, our experiences have been very positive so far so we remain BIG fans of this option. maggie reveal

Today we thought we would finally get around to sharing the typical “process” we take when looking for new home decor or furniture online (like we did for Maggie’s condo). We hope that these tips will help make this daunting task a little less intimidating. Our approach is definitely not the only way, or even necessarily the right way, these are just the first few steps we take when looking for home decor online so that we can…

1. Narrow down the look of how we want the space to look
2. Find budget-friendly options and compare prices
3. Make sure the pieces we are looking to purchase fit & will hold up over time
4. Not waste a ton of time running around to 100 places only to come home empty-handed (the worst!!)

So without further ado, here are the 7 steps we take when searching and eventually shopping for online decor.

How to shop for online decorGray Chair // Navy Pillow // Pouf // Rug // Couch // lumbar gold pillow // larger, beige pillow // end table // lamp // vase // mirror 

Step 1 – Make an initial mood board: So one of the first things we do when decorating any space is create a mood board to get a “feel” for the room. We don’t always include the exact furniture we plan to use (especially if we still need to find/buy it) but we will include pieces we already have and plan to use if applicable. Our purpose for this first step is to start getting a feel for the room, the colors we plan to work with, and the general style we are going for. This mood board is like a “first draft” of the final product and will probably be adjusted quite a few times before it’s closer to the actual look of the room but for us. It’s a great starting point to keep us on track while searching for online options.

Side note: We plan to write a whole post about how to create these EASY mood boards soon since we think creating these mood boards is such an important step in the design process! We promise that these boards are so darn easy (and free!) to make and are such a GAME CHANGER. If you can’t wait until that post, we use a website called Polyvore. wayfair_online_shoppingStep 2 – Use the search bar to get started: Once our mood board is refined, we usually have a better feel of what we need and what style we’re looking for. This is when we start searching for specific pieces using the search bar and specific filters. In this case, we searched “MID CENTURY MODERN END TABLE”. This narrowed down the search, but at the same time, gave us plenty of gorgeous options to scroll through and admire. To narrow down our search even more, we also use the filters on the left hand side.
shopping_wayfair.15 PMStep 3 – Shop the “similar looks” to find items in your price range: This step is actually one of our favorite parts about online shopping. After we search and find an item that gives us instant heart-eyes, we click on it and get the scoop (like this gorgeous two-toned end table pictured above). <– we are obsessed with it but realized it’s a bit out of our budget. Instead of going back to the search results, we jump down to “similar products other customers viewed” and scroll through those items that are often very similar to the original end table. shopping_wayfair.18 PMThat original $400 end table led us to this gorgeous option for more than half the cost, just by looking at the similar products list. We do this ALL the time to make the process less overwhelming and more budget-friendly. Even if we see an item that is WAY out of our price-range, we’ll still click on it just to see what other similar items it may be linked to. You’d be surprised at what gorgeous items you stumble across… and how much time you save using this method!
wayfair.49 PMStep 4 – Identify Measurements: Once we land on a product that we love and that fits within our budget, we will start reading the specifics about this product. The first thing we check out is the dimensions. Making sure the piece will fit in our spaces is very important (obviously!). Make sure you have your tape measure on hand for this step… we promise you’ll need it! Anyone else feel like when they’re online shopping, they leave their computer like 15 different times to measure a space and visualize the new item?! #GUILTYwayfair.02 PMStep 5 – READ customer reviews: If the dimensions look like this piece is a GO, the last thing we do is read ALL (or a lot!) of the customer reviews. It’s important to note what other customers share about the true color, quality, size, assembly, etc. but it’s also important to note that their expectations, opinions, and priorities may be different from yours (and that’s okay!). Other people’s reviews aren’t necessarily going to make or break the deal for us, but they’re definitely something we consider when making our decision. We also really like that websites like Wayfair & West Elm allow customers to upload real photos of their products within the customers’ homes. We like to check out these pictures for color, size, and general details… helps to see the product outside of the company’s few images and in real homes.

Rookie Tip: It’s also important to check out the company’s return policy. You definitely don’t want to be STUCK with a product you don’t love if things don’t work out. Making sure you feel comfortable with the return policy will give you the confidence to move forward on the purchase without buyer’s regret. This is especially important for big-ticket items, because you don’t want to pay for the price of shipping it back to the store if you don’t absolutely love it. mag mile makeover living room shop the look mood board

Step 6 – Rearrange Mood Board: If we decide after all of these steps that we still really love this product, we will add it to our initial mood board (from Step 1) to make sure it still goes with the look of the original plan. We also like to visualize this new product next to products we already own, which is where the mood board becomes a total game changer. There’s been times we put a new piece of furniture in a mood board next to our current rug and realize the two pieces do not mix well. Much better to find out via mood board than have to return the new product or buy a new rug! maggie revealStep 7 – Purchase!: And if we’re still in L-O-V-E with the look, it’s time to purchase!! Usually at this point we double-check the measurements (better safe than sorry, right?!), double-check our budget, look online for coupon codes, play around with the mood board a bit more, and then SUBMIT ORDER! This is also when we cross our fingers and hope we made the right decision. 😉

A lot of Maggie’s condo (from the photo above) was decorated using products we purchased online from Wayfair. And as you can see from the mood board, we had a pretty good idea of the look/feel of the space before we even purchased anything. When the product came, there weren’t many surprises… more excitement that all of our online shopping homework paid off and that these items were exactly what we expected… sometimes even better!

How to shop for online decor mood boardGray Chair // Navy Pillow // Pouf // Rug // Couch // lumbar gold pillow // larger, beige pillow // end table // lamp // vase // mirror

Bridget and Casey Signature

  • Loveland Lodge

    Great post! I just discovered Polyvore and am using it for a guest room/office makeover and it’s helping me stay on track – so great to have a vision you can constantly refer back to.

    • Isn’t it the best?! We love how it helps us visualize a space. Definitely helps when it comes to planning a space.

  • Lisa Martin

    I love to browse home items online, but rarely end up making a purchase. I just get too worried that it’s not going to work out. But seeing your success with the process does make it seem less scary:) I really can’t wait to find out how to create a mood board! I think that will make a big difference for me feeling more confident making choices for online purchases.Thanks for this post!

    • We are happy to help Lisa! And yes…the mood boards definitely come in handy 🙂

  • Delighted Dwelling

    The best are companies that offer free return shipping… that way you know if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t cost you anything to ship it back!! I wish everyone would get on board with that!!

    • Agreed! Those are the best places to order from

  • Katie

    Definitely need help creating mood boards. Looking forward to that post!

  • Hey Adina,
    Every single product doesn’t have it, but many on West Elm’s site do. You’ll find it under the #mywestelm boxes underneath the product. Mayfair does it as well…but again only for the most popular products.

    Here’s an example

    Hope this helps!

  • Dianne

    Yes please I need help with mood boards!