I’m on a quest to find my perfect couch without having to sell my car in order to afford it. It’s been a long process, full of heartbreak and frustration — and it’s been entirely online.
Shopping for a couch via the internet may seem like a stupid thing to do. After all, this is something you, your family, and your guests are going to be sitting on (or crashing on) for years. Getting a little face-to-face (or butt-to-cushion) time seems pretty crucial to the process. But if Casper and Leesa can sell you a mattress you’ve never lain on, why can’t it work for couches?
Rob Royer started Interior Define in 2014, right around the time Casper launched. The Chicago-based company has a store in the city where you can try out the various couch models, but most of its customers buy online without lounging on on a sectional or putting their feet up on an ottoman. “We can see this with the customers we speak to every day that consumer behavior in general is shifting online, even for higher-priced goods like a sofa,” he told Digital Trends.
Getting a sample of fabric swatches sent to your home is encouraged, and Royer explains that Interior Define tries to convey the comfort level of the couches in the product descriptions: The Sloan and Maxwell are both $1,700, but the former is standard softness and the latter has a softer sit. There are over a dozen styles of couches, but you can customize the length, fabric, and legs. This also solves two issues I’ve seen browsing on other sites: You can actually get a 360-degree view of the couch in every fabric, and opting for the navy velvet doesn’t add an additional $300. All the fabrics cost the same. “The process of buying a sofa, whether that be in a traditional retail environment or more importantly online, is just a really difficult experience for the average consumer,” says Royer. “And we felt like there was a huge opportunity to improve that.” As the company works to improve its online customization module, he says customer service commonly fields requests for tweaks and changes to the furniture.
Interior Define isn’t the only company in the custom-couch business. On BenchMade Modern’s site, you can customize the length of your sofa down to the inch. It can even make your couch in 24 hours, for a $270 fee, otherwise it will take seven days. Choosing a premium fabric adds both money and time to the order. Curbside shipping is free, while white glove is $200.
While BenchMade makes its furniture in Los Angeles, Interior Define’s manufacturing takes place in China, thus making the turnaround on its furniture eight weeks. Both companies say they don’t use flame retardants, which can be toxic, in their fabrics or cushion fillers.
What happens if you don’t love your couch now that you see it next to your fern? Interior Define gives you 14 days for a free return and a year to send it back with a restocking fee. You get 30 days to return your BenchMade sofa. It’s not quite as long as Casper’s 100-night trial, but it should let you get a feel for how nap-worthy the couch is.
Still, Royer understands how furniture hunters might still be hesitant to put such a big purchase in their online shopping cart. “People want to be comfortable with every aspect of something like a sofa, because it plays such a significant role in your home and how you interact with friends and family in your space,” he said. So if buying a sofa online is still too much of a stretch for you, this may be the time to note that both sites also sell chairs.