I’m a Gen Xer. And, like legendary boombox-totin’ Gen X hero Lloyd Dobler, I’m habitually skeptical about buying pretty much everything. Buy a couch online? No way would I ever make such a major furniture purchase without getting the chance to sit in it, touch the fabric, and just be with it for a while.
But I also love Mid Century Modern design, and shopping online is often the best way for me to find those ‘just right’ furniture styles I love.
Last summer, I set out to create a stylish, comfortable outdoor living room pandemic-era socializing. I refurbished some castoff patio furniture and scored a turquoise oval rattan lounge chair. But I needed a comfortable centerpiece that I knew I couldn’t score in a thrift store. So I went online and purchased a convertible outdoor sofa and end tables from Joybird.
I’ve enjoyed the heck out of my outdoor living space. I’m even lounging on my online-sourced couch right now as I write. I love it so much, I want to upgrade my sofa seating in my indoor living room. Here’s what I’ll do to scout out a Mid Century Modern couch online.
9 Tips for Buying a Couch Online
1. Define Your Style
I love what I love, but I’m not always sophisticated enough to know what to call it or where to find it. Joybird‘s site is the perfect design coach. Check how this handy tool, which helps you name and define your signature interior design style. Simply select pictures of the rooms you love most to get the insight you’re looking for.
2. Consider Color
Consider your wall color and other pieces in the room. Is your grey paint more cool, or more warm? Choose upholstery that meshes well with your color palette and won’t fight for attention or look disjointed in the room.
3. Get Real
Fantasy: My living room is all about sleek sophistication. Everyone in it is sleek and sophisticated. They sip clear liquor cocktails, nibble mixed nuts, and trade Algonquin Round Table-grade witticisms.
Reality: My living room typically contains a raucous passel of teen and young adult males. They guzzle Mountain Dew, gobble pepperoni pizza, and vie for Madden 21 supremacy.
Before I even start searching, I’m wise to recognize reality and seek out sturdy builds and easy-care fabrics. Luckily, Joybird has some options that also score high in those areas and on sophistication. #winning
4. Size Up Your Space
“Use painter’s tape to tape off the dimensions of the space where you’d like to put your new couch,” suggests Valerie Whipple, manager of design services at Joybird. That way, you know the height, width, and depth you’re looking for as you hit your favorite sites to browse.
TIP: The design tools section on Joybird’s site offers 3D room templates and floor plans to help you clearly visualize their couches and other furnishings in your space.
5. Consider Your Own Dimensions.
Do you have a mid century modern style couch or chair in your house that feels especially comfortable to you and the people who live with? Is there a couch or chair at a friend’s house you always call dibs on when you visit? Quantify what it is about that piece that makes you feel comfortable so that you can search for similar dimensions online. Measure features like seating depth and arm height. Most online furniture retailers supply measurements like these in their product descriptions.
For example some mid century modern sofa styles are so low slung that they don’t offer optimal back support for tall people, observes Atomic Ranch contributor Kris Christensen. If you or your housemates are tall, measure how far up above the seat you’d like the back cushions to go.
Similarly, if you’re petite and like your feet to touch the floor easily, carefully measure the dimensions of a couch that feels just right and search for similarly-sized sofas. That way, you can trust that you’ll buy a couch online that feels like a perfect fit.
6. Read Online Reviews
“A bit of research into the company you’re purchasing from is a great starting point,” Whipple says.
When you buy a couch online, online reviewers are your new best friends. To feel optimally confident, seek out pieces that have several reviews. Don’t just glance at the star rating. Dig down into what customers have written to learn details about comfort, fabric, the company’s delivery processes, and more.
7. Study Customer Photos
Sure, professionally-styled photos are inspiring, but I’m most comfortable buying a couch online if the site also posts customer photos of the pieces I’m eying. Seeing photos of the couches you’re considering in real-world homes helps you feel more confident about your choices as you narrow down your options to find the couch that’s just right.
8. Order Swatches
“Photos can’t tell the whole story of upholstery,” Whipple says. “If you have the option to order samples or cuts of the fabrics you’re interested in, it’s worth the time and low cost to be sure.” Joybird even offers free sample swatches as part of its online design services.
I ordered Joybird’s free sample swatches, and they came neatly bundled into three inspiring color palettes: “Bohemian, Globalist, and Mid-Century.” I also got a handy little booklet with selection tips and great little photos for my mood board.
“Being able to see the colors and fabrics IRL makes all the differences,” says John Goodpasture, an mid century modern furniture fan who purchased a couch and a chair from Joybird earlier this year. You can hold the swatches up to the paint colors in the room, and see how well they complement the colors in your other pieces or in your artwork.
9. Put Those Swatches through the Paces.
“Rub the fabric on your pets to check for pet friendliness,” Whipple suggests. “Or drip some coffee or juice on it and follow the care instructions to test for stain resistance.”