Splurge vs. Save: Get the Look of Big Brand Furniture Names for Less

  • 01 of 11

    Get the Look for Less

    West Elm Crosby Mid-Century 2-Piece Chaise Sectional
    West Elm

    Copycat furniture capitalizes on that age-old rhetorical question: Why pay more when you can pay less for essentially the same thing?

    Copycatting is a trend that builds on the availability of inexpensive import furniture, coupled with the ease and economy of online home decor shopping sites. Where there is opportunity, there is competition. The copycat trend has spawned countless online retailers eager to do business with you. This is to your advantage, as it gives you leverage to secure the...MORE piece you want, at the best price.

    Furniture that costs enough to vacuum away a month or two of your salary can now be purchased in copycat form for at least half of the full amount.  

    What Are You Getting?

    Copycat furniture reasonably mimics higher priced matching originals. Rarely are these items exact duplicates or of the same quality. In the copies, wood may be lighter weight, foam less dense, selection of fabrics and styles more limited. 

    Another difference is that the copycats are available only from online retailers. As a result, pieces often arrive flat-packed, leaving you to do what normally would have been done in a factory: assemble.  

    Returns are more difficult to make with the online furniture retailers, too. While most do have a return policy (with certain exceptions, like mattresses), you must bear the cost of return shipping.  

    Successful Copycatting

    Understand the Context

    Accept that copycats may not exactly be heirloom pieces to pass down through the generations. These are pieces that satisfy your desires and needs for the here-and-now, and for a few years to come.

    Review the Reviews

    Once you have targeted a piece you like, obsessively scour the buyer reviews. Reviews posted on a retailer's site should be viewed with some care, as the retailers have control over what gets posted or not. Even so, some kernels of truth may manage to shine through. Reviews on independent retailers like Amazon are usually more trustworthy.  

    Aesthetics vs. Comfort

    When you go to a brick and mortar store like CB2, Pottery Barn or West Elm, you can sprawl on the sectionals, fake-sleep on the beds, pound chair cushions for firmness, and perform all sorts of physical tests for comfort.

    By contrast, copycat online furniture retailers are playing a 100% visual game. They know that the item has to look fantastic or it will not get purchased. Comfort often goes by the wayside. This is where buyer reviews come in handy, as comments like "too small" or "too light" are common.  

    Check the Specs

    Transparent retailers list an item's specifications that can help you compare the original to the copycat version. One example is the Pottery Barn Chesterfield sofa and replica Joss & Main Anneliese sofa mentioned later in this article. The Pottery Barn version is nearly twice the weight of the Joss & Main version (205 lbs. vs. 116 lbs.).  While weight does not itself indicate quality, it can point to certain desired features such as denser foam and heavier, more substantial frame structure.

    Are Add-Ons Right for You?

    Options can drive up the final price of your bargain piece. Do you need options like accidental stain and damage insurance, 30-day risk-free refund policy, full repair with no deductible, immediate coverage, and 24/7 claim filing? Wayfair offers this 5 year plan for about $100. Depending on your situation, it may or may not be right for you.  

    Most items are delivered to your door but not beyond. White glove (or in-room delivery) is a popular option. A technician brings the item inside and often upstairs (usually a limit of 2 stories), assembles the piece, examines it for damage, places it in your desired location and removes all packaging.

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  • 02 of 11

    Splurge: Modern Concrete Table

    CB2 Element Rectangular Grey Concrete Coffee Table

    CB2's Element is a concrete Brutalist approach to the common coffee table. For the eco-conscious, the Element is made in a shop in Vietnam that uses no fossil fuels during the production of the item.

    Element Rectangular Grey Concrete Coffee Table, $849, CB2


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  • 03 of 11

    Save: Modern Concrete Table

    AllModern Lipscomb Coffee Table

    AllModern offers this replica of the CB2 table for about $200 less. The Lipscomb Coffee Table is made of concrete and its surface is sealed to prevent staining.

    Lipscomb Coffee Table, $630.99, AllModern

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  • 04 of 11

    Splurge: Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chair

    Original Herman Miller Eames Lounge Chair
    Herman Miller

    An icon of mid-century modern (MCM) style, the Eames Lounge Chair is constructed of real walnut veneer plywood and leather.

    As the name implies, retailer HiveModern focuses on contemporary pieces, from mid-century modern onward. Though it is an online-only retailer, HiveModern is not a copycat source. Rather, it is an authorized retailer for well-known brands like Alessi, Cassina, Flos, Fritz Hansen, Herman Miller, Kartell, Knoll and Vitra.

    Eames Lounge Chair (no ottoman), $4,005 (including free...MORE delivery to door), HiveModern

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  • 05 of 11

    Save: Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chair

    Replica Eames Lounge Chair with Ottoman
    mhd/Manhattan Home Design

    A perfect example of visuals vs. physical comfort: this gorgeous Eames Lounge copycat chair uses what they call "Eco-Leather," which is not leather at all, but vinyl.

    Plywood Lounge Chair & Ottoman, $994 (shipping not included), Manhattan Home Design

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  • 06 of 11

    Splurge: Elegant Plush Sofa

    Pottery Barn Chesterfield Sofa
    Pottery Barn

    Pottery Barn's 86" Chesterfield sofa (linen fabric, Oatmeal color) will add a touch of lush elegance to your home.

    Chesterfield Upholstered Sofa, $2,499 (free delivery), Pottery Barn

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  • 07 of 11

    Save: Elegant Plush Sofa

    Joss and Main Anneliese Sofa
    Joss and Main

    Joss & Main offers this Anneliese 86" Sofa (linen fabric, Beige color), comparable in size and style, but not price, to the Pottery Barn Chesterfield. The Joss & Main version is about 1/3rd of the price of the Pottery Barn item.

    Anneliese 86" Sofa, $659.99 (free shipping), Joss & Main

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  • 08 of 11

    Splurge: Sectional Sofa

    West Elm Crosby Mid-Century 2-Piece Chaise Sectional
    West Elm

    Wandering through a West Elm store is always an exercise in self-control. With so much mouth watering stuff there, it's hard not to max out your credit card limit.

    Their Crosby sectional with left hand chaise in linen is fairly long for a sectional, at 93".

    Crosby Mid-Century 2-Piece Chaise Sectional, $2,698, West Elm

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  • 09 of 11

    Save: Sectional Sofa


    At half the price, Wayfair's Dana Reversible Chaise Sectional by Liberty Manufacturing Co. is a decidedly plainer version of West Elm's Crosby, and it loses 12" in length. But the basics are there: left-hand chaise, real wood legs, poly blend fabric and a choice of six colors.

    The largest online home furniture retailer is the Wayfair group, consisting of Wayfair.com, AllModern, Birch Lane, DwellStudio and Joss & Main.

    Liberty Dana Reversible Chaise Sectional, $1,299.99, Wayfair

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  • 10 of 11

    Splurge: Leather Ottoman

    Ethan Allen Bennett Leather Ottoman
    Ethan Allen

    Ethan Allen's Bennett Leather Ottoman will provide comfort for weary feet at the end of a long day–on 100% real leather.

    Bennett Leather Ottoman, $799, Ethan Allen

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  • 11 of 11

    Save: Leather Ottoman

    Hayneedle Calabasas Leather Storage Ottoman
    Calabasas Leather Storage Ottoman. Hayneedle

    This Calabasas Leather Storage Ottoman is the same size as the Ethan Allen version, plus the top lifts off to reveal a storage area.

    Calabasas Leather Storage Ottoman, $339.91, Hayneedle