At first, online shopping for furnishing your home seems easy. You might imagine yourself comfortably on your sofa, in your pyjamas, finding the best deals on all the items that you love and before you know it, you’ve got furniture and furnishings for your entire house that you love.

If only it was that easy. As anyone who’s ever used online shopping for furnishing their home will tell you, costly mistakes tend to happen more often than we want them to. And when you’re shopping online, you might be better positioned to take advantage of deals, but your risk of getting the wrong size, wrong colours, or wrong materials increases. And that’s before items are risking being damaged in transit or you have to arrange a return because an item simply doesn’t look as nice in your room as you thought it would when you saw it online. It can be a lot of stress, and your room still isn’t furnished.

Thankfully, it’s not all bad. Online shopping is still the best way to find more options for furnishing your home than you would on the high street and most of the time, you’ll get a better deal as well. We’ve put together some tips to keep in mind when shopping online for items for your home so that you can improve your chances of only purchasing the pieces that you’re actually going to love when they arrive.

Take Measurements

The importance of taking measurements of any rooms that you are looking to furnish before you start shopping online cannot be stressed enough. There’s nothing worse than ordering a large item like a sofa, a table or a bed only for it to barely squeeze into the room when it arrives or look ridiculously out of place because it’s too small. Any good online furniture retailer will always list exact measurements for the items that they sell, so having room measurements to hand will make it easier for you to choose the right ones for you and visualise it in the room too.

Don’t just take measurements of the room itself, but also of any specific areas that you want the furniture to go in. If you want to put your corner sofa in a certain corner of your living room, take measurements of that area so that you only pick ones that are going to fit well. Measure your bedroom before deciding on the size of the bed that you want; a queen-size bed sounds tempting, but not so much if it’s blocking the door. This mattress size guide from Mattress Next Day can help you figure out which size is best for you and your room. Mattress Next Day also has a wide range of mattresses to choose from for every bedroom size.

Browse the Shops

If you’re shopping online at stores that have a physical location too, it’s always worth paying a visit to see the furniture that you are considering in-person. Sometimes, an item might look brilliant in a photograph, but when you get to see it in the flesh, you realise that it’s just not for you. While you don’t have to buy anything in-store, browsing is a good way to get an idea for what you want and you can try out items like sofas and beds too. Even if you don’t end up ordering from the stores that you visit, if they sell items that many other retailers have in inventory, this makes it easier to find discounts online since you know exactly what you are looking for.

Check the Returns Policy

It’s easily done; you get excited about a product for your home that you’ve found online and bought it straight away without checking the returns policy. But when you get the item, you change your mind about it only to find that it can’t be returned for free. Now you’re out of pocket because you’ve got to fork out to return the item. While you might forgive return fees for some items, the last thing that you want is to be paying them all the time; they will quickly add up if you buy a lot of things online that you end up sending back. In addition, some returns policies specify how long you have to return the item and if you don’t check and keep the item for a few weeks to see if it matches with other furniture – and it doesn’t, you could end up being stuck with an item of furniture that you don’t want or need.

So, make sure that you check the returns policy and make sure that you are okay with it before you buy any furnishings for your home online; any reputable eCommerce site will make it easily accessible – you can usually find it in the footer of the website.

Read the Reviews

Professional photographs and well-written product descriptions can really make an item of furniture sound a lot better than it actually is when it shows up on your doorstep. So, whether you’ve seen an item in the store or not, don’t forget to read the reviews of it. Even if you know what something looks like and you like it, you’ve got to think about performance too. A sofa that looks lovely isn’t going to be much use to anybody if you fall through the seat after a few days. Don’t just stop on the store’s website when reading reviews, either – Google the product to find independent reviews and try to find some customer photos of the product if you can.

Know What Your Product is Made From

It’s a good idea to spend some time reading the materials section carefully when looking at the product descriptions and search for any materials that you don’t know. Not only will this help you make sure that you don’t end up buying products that might go against your ethical beliefs, but you’ll also be able to avoid getting anything that you could potentially be allergic to. And, of course, understanding the material will help you better imagine how the product is going to feel and decide whether it is right for you. Take some time to research so that you understand the different types of fabrics and the difference between plastic, solid wood, wood veneers and laminate surfaces.

Getting the Colours Right

One thing that you’ll probably learn quite quickly is that the actual colour of the item is usually never the colour that you see on the screen. So, if there’s no way that you can go to the physical store and see the colour with your own eyes, don’t try to match it with the same colours in your room; it’s probably never going to happen. The best way to get around this when shopping online is to look for neutral colours that have a good chance of going with just about anything like black, white, beige and grey. But that can get a little boring, so if you do want to inject some colour into your room, buy furniture or furnishings that can become the focal point and buy other items in coordinating colours rather than trying to match them up.

When shopping for home furnishings, going online means you’ve got a wider selection to choose from and a better chance to take advantage of deals. But it can also have its pitfalls, so keep these tips in mind to find furniture that’s just what you wanted.