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From Our Furniture Files

In the vast world of online furniture shopping, our contributors share their favorite rapid-fire tips to minimize the overwhelm.

Auction Websites

Familiarize yourself with auction websites, Facebook Marketplace, and your local vintage furniture spots.


Wayfair has a feature that allows you to virtually view the product in your room. Use it!


Order swatches when available, and then spill, smear, and step on them!


Mix high- and low-budget items — higher end for items that get more use and need to be better quality.


Favorite larger websites to buy from right now include Crate and Barrel, Burke Decor, Anthropologie, and DWR.

Painter´s Tape

Map out all the furniture with painter’s tape to see how it will fit. Try to stack objects over the tape to the height of the furniture you’re considering, so you can actually feel what it would be like to walk by it.

Coffee tables

Coffee tables should be between half to two-thirds the overall length of the sofa. Any shorter, and people at the sofa ends can’t reach them. Any longer, and they make it tricky to sit down.

Slow down

Buy your items slowly! This way, you curate a beautiful collection.

End tables

When ordering end tables, you typically want the table height right about where the sofa arm is. Too high or too low and it’s awkward to use.

Buying a Sofa

>The first step in buying a sofa online is deciding how many people you want to seat. For three, you need an 84- to 96-inch sofa.

>The average sofa-back height is 34–38 inches, and the overall depth is about 35 inches.

>Look at the interior, including seat depth (average is 22 inches).

>Consider your intended use and adjust: Is this sofa for lounging? Go a size longer. Do you have short legs? Find a shallower seat. Love throw pillows? Pick something deeper.

Buying a Dining Table

>For the best fit, leave a three-foot walkway around the perimeter of your table. Map a three-foot strip around the room’s perimeter; the remaining square footage is the maximum table size.

>Keep in mind that the typical dining table height is 30 inches; the standard for counter dining is 36 inches.

>When deciding on the number of chairs, remember to keep 24 inches between each place setting. Measure from the center of one chairback to the center of the next one.


(Originally featured in Family Room, Issue 23)

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