Never before in the history of the home office has this space been so much in the spotlight.
It’s no longer just a random area where you file your bills, dump off your mail, and display all the books you swear you’ll read one day.
The home office has become, for many in this era of pandemic shutdowns, the main office. Which means a lot of people these days are buying office furniture—and more likely than not (thanks to COVID-19) they’re buying it online.
Don’t get us wrong, buying office furniture online has its perks. You can shop all of the best stores without ever leaving your couch, and you don’t even have to worry about how you’re going to get it all home, since it ships right to your door.
But shopping online has its share of pitfalls too, some of which you might not see coming.
We went to the experts and asked some of our favorite interior designers about the mistakes people make when shopping for office furniture online. Here are the most common blunders to avoid.
1. Overlooking dimensions
You may think you know what size office furniture you need for your space, but unless you’ve pulled out the measuring tape, you probably don’t.
“One major mistake consumers make in selecting home office furniture online is overlooking dimensions,” says Lisa Davenport, founder and CEO of LDD Interiors.
“Take a moment to actually measure the space you will be using the furniture in. More often than not, consumers assume they understand scale and space, but even seasoned designers measure twice and order once.”
She adds that one often overlooked measurement is space behind the desk, which is important to “allow a desk chair to freely and comfortably move in and out of the desk.”
2. Incompatible pieces
It’s not only important to choose pieces that fit in your space, but also pieces that fit with each other.
“A desk chair with arms is a comfortable, popular option when people are shopping for a home office. However, they do not always fit under the desk space due to confines of either the desk height or a pencil drawer,” explains Shawn Kronen, founder of Kronen Design Co in Atlanta.
“Be sure you check all of the dimensions of the chair and the desk you are selecting, to make sure they are compatible.”
Interior designer Heather Higgins of Higgins Design Studio agrees.
“One of the unfortunate mistakes made when shopping online for home office furniture is the size of the desk chair,” she says.
It may be too large “for the size of the desk and the overall office space,” she says.
“The scale of the space and its furniture need to work together to prevent it from looking awkward.”
3. Prioritizing style over function
Of course, you want an Instagram-worthy office space, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice having a home office you can actually work in.
“Forgoing performance for pretty may be the biggest mistake we can make,” warns Erin Baird, senior interior designer at Hoefer Wysocki.
She gives the example of an office chair, which she says is the most important investment you’ll make in this space.
“An ill-fitting chair can cause neck and back problems, discomfort, and fatigue, which can reduce productivity. It may take a few tries to find the right chair with an online consumer vendor,” she says.
“As an alternative, I suggest going direct to a reputable commercial office furniture manufacturer. While these task chairs may be more expensive, leaders in the that industry offer chairs that are durable, ergonomic, and have longer warranties.”
4. Looking for the best deal
Everyone wants to find a great deal when shopping for office furniture online. But according to Baird, this may be a trap.
“There is a balance between budget and quality, and if you’re after the best deal, the quality of the product will probably suffer,” she explains.
“Keep in mind that furnishing a home office is an investment. Functionality, productivity, and physical comfort are as important as aesthetics. Take your time, do your research, and read reviews.”
Remember that if you buy the cheapest pieces and they have to be replaced in a year or two, you’re not really saving any money in the long run.
5. Lacking overall cohesiveness
You see a gorgeous desk on one website, and a beautiful bookshelf on another. They look as if they might go together—but do they really? What exact color was that desk again?
Julie Arnold, an interior designer at J. Raine Design, says one of the biggest issues she sees when homeowners buy office furniture online is that the finished room lacks cohesiveness.
“If you’re shopping online, I suggest making some sort of document showing pictures of all the furniture you’re buying with dimensions,” she suggests.
“I can always tell when a piece was an afterthought or a quick buy that was not accounted for in the beginning planning stages.”
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