If you think that buying modern design online is more of a guessing game than a bona fide way of styling your habitat, think again. If you’re prepared and do your homework (yes, including math), then you can create that original living space that feeds your soul. After all, that’s what modern design is all about.
Six things to think about:
1. Take your time
Buying large pieces of furniture, like beds, desks or sofas, online should never be a snap decision. It’s easy to be seduced by discounts, free delivery and big promises. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you want quality, expect a long lead time. And don’t forget to give yourself a whole load of time to look around.
2. Find your style
Modern design has a certain look and feel, but there are many flavors and incarnations. A classical Herman Miller-inspired theme will feel very different from the fun-and-funky colorways of the Memphis Group. You may want just one statement piece or maybe you’re looking to create a landscape of minimalist sophistication in each room of your house. Whatever you’re looking for (and you may not know it until you see it) your biggest research tool is the internet. Google like a boss to find images that inspire you: use tools like Pinterest to collate your ideas.
Classic Herman Miller grouping
3. Know your home
So, you’ve fallen in love with a Nelson Marshmallow Sofa, a statement piece that needs room to breathe. If you’ve got the space, go for it. But if your living quarters are tiny, it’s a better idea to scale down those statement pieces. The more you understand where you live - how the light changes during the day, which colors work well and which don’t, - the better the final result. Take time to plan and visualize.
Too big for the den? Nelson Marshmallow Sofa. image by Adele Prince
4. Read the descriptions
Once you’ve narrowed down your choice, don’t forget to read the descriptions. What you might think is solid walnut may be veneer - which is fine, but you won’t be happy if it’s not what you were expecting. Never make assumptions. Typically reproductions of original pieces are built using inferior materials and sloppy craftsmanship. This is also an investment so choose wisely. Look at the Eames lounge and ottoman for example. We have customers that purchased them 15 years ago and now they are considered vintage and worth more! The bulk of the classic brands we sell are investment quality, which should not be the only reason to purchase them but it feels nice to know their value will not be diminished within several years of use. If you would have purchased an Eames lounge and ottomans sold by Herman Miller in 1956 it would be worth $10,000 - $15,000 now; of course, this is contingent on condition and wood options.
Screen Shot from 1stdibs.com .
5. Get samples
Online images can be misleading - especially where fabric and finish are concerned. It’s important to get samples if you can. These will help you not just with color, but with texture. That hue of yellow Polder sofa from Vitra might look amazing in a big space but would it give you a migraine in your tiny one-bed apartment. Make sure you check out how the samples look in the evening as well as in natural daylight. Consider fabric vs. leather or synthetic leather. Typically leather and vinyl out last fabric for a substantially longer period. Children and pets should also be a deciding factor in your final decision.
Are you sure? Polder Sofa by Vitra
6. Measure up
Once you’ve settled on a piece, check that its size and shape work for your space and that you can actually get it through the door or up the stairwell. We deal with this issue constantly on Miami Beach where the CA Modern Home retail showroom is located. Most of the surrounding building in South Beach were built in the '30s and '40s with very narrow hallways and low elevators. For a local client, we typically send out one of our delivery people to measure before the order is placed.
To help you visualize in your home, create a life-size 2D footprint of the piece in newsprint, so you can get a real idea of the space it takes up and its impact with the space surrounding it.
Modularity should also be a consideration when deciding on your dream pieces of furniture. Sofas can often be ordered in multiple pieces that connect together instead of one giant frame. Brands such as USM Haller are completely modular.
CA Modern Home is one of the largest distributors of USM products in North America both "quick ship" and "custom designed" pieces. We are loyal to the product because we believe in the quality and ability of our customer to use the piece throughout their life in one form or another. Moving to a new house where your old USM piece will not fit; no problem! We can use the USM Haller Virtual program to deconstruct your current piece and build you something completely different. I bet you can't name any other companies with this type of flexibility.
Will this fit? USM custom bookcase.
As always locals are welcome to visit our retail showroom for a free design consultation. If you are out of our reach, give is a call! We will be happy to help you with any furniture or lighting question you may have.
If you know of any tips or trick to help other online customers, please post them in our comment section. There is always more to learn.