My Best Online Shopping Tips for Home Items
These days, I buy a majority of the items for our home online. The possibilities really are endless and it’s a heck of a lot easier to surf the web while watching Netflix than to spend a day heading out to stores. But how do you make sure you’re finding the right pieces for your home when you can only view them on a computer or phone screen? Today, I’m sharing my best online shopping tips with you!
I know, I know…it can be scary to actually press that “Submit Order” button. But I’ve had a lot of positive experiences buying pieces online and I want to give you the confidence to shop for your home FROM your home!
The Search for the Perfect Piece
The search for the perfect piece is usually the most time-consuming process when it comes to shopping. First, I figure out exactly what type of item I need, including the color, shape, material, etc. You can read a bit more about my process in this blog post. It usually involves a lot of staring at a room, moving things around, and envisioning the options in my head. Whenever I get that blank stare going, Finn knows the wheels are turning up there…
Start with Google
Once I have the keywords figured out, (for example, “round black side table”), then I type that into Google and see what pops up. I’ll often go to the “shopping” tab in Google where I can sort by price, material, brand, and more.
I don’t often shop directly from here, but it gives me a good sense of the retailers that carry an item I want and often introduces me to brands I didn’t know about before.
As I mentioned in this blog post, I also love using the Google Lens feature. I believe it only works with the Google Chrome browser and I typically do it on my computer, but I believe it can work on the phone too! Simply right-click the image and hit the “Search Image with Google Lens” button.
This page popped up with similar versions of this table. This is a trick I use to figure out where a piece is from, if I find it on Pinterest without a source, or to find cheaper alternatives to an item I already like! I’ve had a lot of success using this tool.
My Favorite Online Retailers
Here are a few of my go-to spots when online shopping. Some of these have storefronts, but I often just browse from home instead.
- Anthropologie ($$$): Unique pieces, but often with a higher price tag. I go here when I want an eclectic piece of decor and I adore their candles, but I wait for sales!
- World Market ($): Global and boho look at a good price point. I always like their outdoor furniture selection and I got Rory’s chandelier from here.
- Crate & Barrel ($$$): A lot of our furniture (like our couch) is from here. They have high quality products that last.
- CB2 ($$): A bit more modern, masculine, and contemporary with a lower price point than Crate and Barrel.
- Rejuvenation ($$$): Love the traditional pieces they carry and really adore their vast lighting selection. (Our kitchen pendants are from there.) Oh, and I buy lots of hardware here. Their prices are definitely at higher end of my budget.
- West Elm ($$): Mid-century modern furniture and good accessories and textiles.
- Wayfair ($): Robust collection of products at lots of different price points. You have to do some digging, but I’ve found good items here, like my platform bed.
- Amazon ($): Most of my rugs are Loloi and I buy them through Amazon. Again, you might need to dig a bit to find the good stuff, but it is possible!
- Urban Outfitters ($$): Yes, they sell stuff for the home. Unique pieces with many of them renter and small space friendly.
- Pottery Barn ($$$): Traditional and farmhouse style. I especially like their bedding and pillows.
Check Similar Items from a Retailer
Once I find a piece that I like from a particular brand, I will use the search function within the website to find and compare items. For example, when sourcing items for my most recent Reader SOS blog post, I was searching for cute twin-size beds.
Even if I see an item that is WAY out of my price range, I’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!
Before I ever click “Add to Cart”, I always, always, always read reviews. This helps me weed out any poor quality products and some reviews even include pictures of the item in a real-life space. I’ll admit, I’m not the best at actually writing reviews myself, but I sure do love reading them. Hearing from a real person, just like me, always gives me a bit more confidence when buying.
It’s important to note what other customers share about the true color, quality, size, assembly, and more, 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 me, but they’re definitely something I consider when making my decision.
Of course, it’s important to check the dimensions of an item before buying. Online photos can be deceiving and I’ve been duped into buying something that’s the wrong scale because I didn’t take the extra two minutes to grab my tape measure.
But don’t just check the dimensions for furniture. Be sure to whip out that tape measure for kitchen items and home decor too.
Finn is notorious for buying things that are either way too small or way too large. For example, he purchased these “juice glasses” from Amazon and when they arrived we died laughing. They were huge!!!! If you’d believe it, this glass actually fits an entire bottle of champagne! A bottle! Yes, we tested it and rolled on the floor with laughter at his mistake. We actually ended up keeping the glasses and they’re now our big water glasses for when we’re really thirsty. Ha!
Read the Return Policy
Okay, this is key. Always read the return policy before you buy. Since you can’t see the item in person, you want to make sure you can always send it back if it’s lackluster in person. This is especially important for big-ticket items because you don’t want to pay the price of shipping it back to the store if you don’t absolutely love it.
I feel like rugs are always difficult to figure out online, so I’ll usually buy the smallest size (a 2×3 or 3×5), so I can see the rug in person before buying. I’ll then keep the small rug as a doormat or ship it back, which is a lot easier than shipping back a 9×12 rug!
Make a Mood Board
Finally, my last step before buying is to add it to a mood board. I shared my step-by-step process for mood board creation in this blog post. It’s through the free website, Canva, and I do this for just about every room I work on. Even if you’re only ordering something kinda small like my recent side table, you can create a mood board with the other items already in the space to ensure it will work out.
Favorite Items I’ve Purchased Online
I’ve purchased most of the items for our house sight unseen. Yep, I’m brave like that…haha. Here are some of my favorite online purchases.
- Our platform bed
- Every rug in my home…my living room rug (olive/charcoal), main bedroom rug (9×12 in natural/sand), and Ellis’ nursery rug (moss/salmon)
- Our hallway chandelier (This was a lot bigger in person than I imagined – ours is the 29″ – but it’s stunning and worked out perfectly!)
- Ellis’ crib and Rory’s crib
There are so many others, but these are really my favorites from around our house.
Do You Have Other Online Shopping Tips to Share?
Those are just a few of the steps I take when online shopping. Now, more than ever, people are furnishing and decorating their homes all from their computers. I’d love to hear some of your online shopping tips! Let me know what I’m missing.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.