Here’s the thing – where I live, home fashion stores aren’t great. There are a few well-known stores, but the kids options are lacking and the styles are mainly traditional. Online shopping brings the entire design world to your doorstep wherever it might be. With nearly infinite options, competitive pricing, great shipping rates and return policies, I don’t think anyone should feel like they can’t have a truly personal and well-designed space.
One of the smartest things to do in order make the online shopping experience more efficient and you, a more confident online consumer is to request samples. Just like the pros do!
It takes time to develop the knowledge of which online retailer has free shipping, faster shipping, free returns or free swatch samples. For example the free swatch option is not always on the first product screen. With The Land of Nod you have to open the Details section on the product page where the option is listed at the very bottom.
Just don't be afraid to contact via live-chat, customer service e-mail or call them up and ask, "Do you offer swatches or samples?"
Not sure how that crib bedding will look with shade of lavender paint you picked out for your nursery? Or if the $15 a square foot hand-scrapped, solid hardwood flooring is as light as it shows on your screen? Then order a sample, heck order several! If you are ordering a decor item made of any type of fabric, upholstery, leather, rug, flooring or specific finish be sure and check with the online retailer to see if they offer swatch samples. Some are free and others are available for a minimal fee. Most ship them to you for free so no need to worry about incurring any shipping fees.
The other reason swatches are key design tools is that they are super convenient for bringing around with you while you shop at various actual "brick & mortar" stores for additional items.
A few online shops that offer swatches & samples
Serena & Lily bedding, decor pillows, rugs, drapery & upholstery
The Land of Nod bedding, rugs, drapery & upholstery
Restoration Hardware bedding, drapery, rugs, upholstery & furniture wood
Anderson Hardwood flooring
Joann Fabric & Craft Store fabric & upholstery
Dwell Studio upholstery
West Elm rugs & furniture
Crate & Barrel rugs & furniture
Potterybarn rugs & furniture wood
Loom Decor fabrics & upholstery