When you need new furniture, where do you look? West Elm, CB2, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, and IKEA all offer fresh styles. It used to be that when you wanted to furnish your home, you’d go to their brick-and-mortar stores in person, sit at the table, bounce on the bed, and stretch out on the couch before making your decision.
Nobody has the time for that, but is it really worth it to buy furniture online, sight-unseen?
We recently had a chance to pick out some new furniture for the Reviewed office, so we decided we’d order it from Amazon. The company has a couple of private-label home furnishing brands, and the Rivet and Stone & Beam lines rock the looks of the expensive retailers’ pieces at more reasonable prices.
And Prime users can’t complain about shipping charges—they’re free. Returns are also free within the first 30 days, so we figured it was a pretty low-risk way to see how it all works. We ordered a few pieces and put them to the test in a busy office. Here’s what we discovered:
Amazon's in-house furniture brands
Amazon’s in-house furniture brands include designs for every room in the house, but the styling will vary depending on which label you go with.
Mid-century in style with some industrial flavor, Rivet pieces feature sleek lines, neutral colors, matte metal, and dark wood. They’re affordable and well-sized for smaller spaces.
Stone & Beam
Amazon positions the Stone & Beam collection as farmhouse style, though these items actually lean toward traditional, cozy, and casual—ideal for a family home. Although the items skew slightly higher in price than those in the Rivet line, the prices are still moderate, and the styles are comparable with those at the higher-priced retailers.
We ordered a few pieces from each brand to outfit different spaces around the office.
A small, cozy couch
It may surprise you to hear that journalists don’t always write sitting upright at desks. We have a contingent at Reviewed who prefer to create stories while relaxing on a couch with laptops. We ordered the 64-inch Stone & Beam Genesse Loveseat in Smokey Blue, which looks like light gray in the room. It runs upward of $799, but is frequently on sale for as low as $694.
The couch did well here, with 84% of our staff praising its build quality; soft, smooth fabric; good stitching quality; and balance of softness and firmness in the seat cushions. A couple of people think the armrests are somewhat low and slim, but the main issue is the depth of the seat cushions. They make the couch less comfortable for our shorter friends—when they sit back, their feet don’t touch the ground. The price was judged to be okay for the quality. A colleague who experienced some sticker shock buying a couch in the past couple of years tells us, “I can say that the price isn’t as pricey as some might think.”
Should you buy it?
Thumbs up. The style is classic, the color is neutral, and you if you think this piece needs some pizazz, you could add some with a throw pillow or two.
We chose the contemporary wood-framed Rivet Huxley Mid-Century Modern Accent Chair with Marine Blue linen-textured upholstery. The style would have been at home on the Mad Men set and the curved frame is also on trend for 2019. For symmetry, we ordered two of them.
Only about half of our testers had anything positive to say about the chairs. Since one arrived broken, only one actually made it to the floor. Nobody likes to sit there. One typical reaction, “It’s fine, but it doesn’t feel functional to me. It’s not cozy enough to be an armchair, not upright enough for a dining/desk chair.”
Should you buy it?
Probably not. The upholstery has an attractive color and texture but the frames of these chairs are flimsy and our team thinks the style looks like it belongs in a waiting room.
Round end tables
The little Rivet Meeks Round Storage Basket Side Table, Walnut with Grey Fabric side table was destined for placement beside our new couch. We went with a round style because it was recommended by one of our co-workers who has one at home, and the gray fabric basket looked like it complemented the walnut top well.
Should you buy it?
Yes. Cleverly designed with an integrated fabric basket, the tables are fun and rock extra storage in the baskets. If you find them on sale, get a couple for your living room or bedroom.
A sturdy floor lamp
To illuminate an informal meeting room, we chose the Stone & Beam Modern Farmhouse Adjustable Living Room Floor Lamp. Black metal with a wooden base, the online images made it look very solid and it's even better in real life.
Our lamp came a white, textured shade and a (cheap) LED lightbulb, so we didn’t have to buy either one separately to do the setup.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The lamp got compliments when we first added it to the meeting room and its wood and metal construction is handsome. The masculine style might not be everyone’s taste but a quality floor lamp like this can work in almost any room.
A narrow console table
For those times we serve coffee to meeting attendees, we wanted to get a slim console for one of our conference rooms. We were drawn to the Rivet Industrial Modern Console Table because, with its metal legs and narrow acacia wood top, it looked like it could work in a small space.
Should you buy it?
Maybe. Our original choice didn’t look very special but it works because it is flexible enough to multi-task. Use it in an entryway or as a narrow breakfast bar, and either way, it will fit right in. The original style we chose is now out of stock, but we discovered one that is similar except for the hairpin shape of the legs.
The assembly process
Two colleagues volunteered to assemble the furniture. It wasn’t too difficult, and in fact, it didn’t take more than 15 minutes to put together any of the items. Every single piece of hardware we needed was tucked into the box, along with an Allen wrench. The chairs didn’t require any assembly at all, though one was broken when it got here. Amazon’s customer service was good: The chair went back into the box and was soon loaded onto a UPS truck the company sent over to pick it up.
Our only assembly challenge was putting together the console. It was super easy, however, we didn’t notice that it had a different front and back. There’s a tape attached to fasten the back of the table to the wall for child safety. That was specified in the instructions and we totally missed it, so it was our fault. Since we don’t have any kids in our newsroom, we decided to leave it that way.
Is it worth buying furniture on Amazon?
Amazon offers lots of variety in both the Rivet and Stone & Beam collections, so, as we discovered, you can snag whatever you need for your space. As you order, pay attention to user reviews, the same way you would for anything you buy online. While not perfectly reliable, they provide a good indication of what to expect. You'll find that the furniture Amazon sends you is neatly packaged, and if get a friend to help you put everything together, you can have it all set up in almost no time. If you have Prime, Amazon delivers your furnishings for free and warrantees it for a year.
Returning the furniture was easier than we expected. Amazon lets you send back anything you don’t like for free, as long as you get on that within 30 days. Just put it back in the box, request a return on the website, and they will send someone to your home to retrieve it.
Once you have the furniture you need, sit back and enjoy your new stuff. If you don’t tell your friends where you got it, they’ll never guess it was from Amazon, but feel free to brag. With a little bit of effort, these two brands give you a chance to put together some elevated style at a fair price, with minimal risk if you don't like it when you see it in person.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.