25 June, 2014

Website Buyer Beware

By Lisa Peck, ASID
I like to say I learn something new everyday. As a professional designer I have broad knowledge of interior materials, finishes and furnishings. And there are always new options coming onto the market. Staying fresh and incorporating these options into our work at LiLu Interiors is one of many ways we keep our work relevant.
As I left Minneapolis for High Point market this April I was filled with anticipation, we had scoured websites and catalogues with the goal of using this market to check out the best of the new lines available to designers. We used the photographs in the catalogues and websites to "pre-screen" the new lines and had carefully planned to visit only the best resources to be efficient with our time at market. And when we started touring I re-learned a lesson I already knew but the reminder was welcome.
Photos in catalogues and websites can be deceiving! Products are carefully groomed, styled and perhaps even photoshopped to look better than they are in reality. We all know this applies to models but when we look at a sofa in a catalogue we expect the reality to match the picture.
At market, we found that some of the sofas that looked gorgeous in the photos were poorly tailored with seams that meandered along in a lazy river sort of way. Comfy, soft pictures of welcoming sectionals were really hard as rocks and couldn't be sat on for long. Dressers with clean lines and up to date finishes had drawers with paper thin bottoms and poor glides. The color of fabrics and finishes was shocking, fuchsia on the web looked like little girl bubble gum pink in person. Some of what we had pre-selected was excellent quality and met or exceeded our high standards. We took careful note of which lines and products would be a quality we want our clients to live with and which we're disappointing.

Here's the lesson, buying from websites and catalogues without a complete understanding of the quality of the line and the factors that influence quality is dicey business. You can't believe an image, it could be an empty promise. Know in our resources is still an important part of our job and protecting our clients from the mistake of purchasing poor quality items that won't perform well over time is critical. For the homeowner who is going it alone in furnishing their home the take away is to go out into the world and shop where you can touch, see, and feel to avoid painful disappointment.