In collaboration with e-retailer Taobao, we follow the home transformation journeys of three homeowners, as they build their dream homes from scratch! From renovating to shopping online for their home, will the result be what they had always envisioned… or better?
This is the second article of a three-part series on Pei Qi's Taobao Home Makeover.
Check out the rest of the series:
Having had a clear idea of what they wanted their home to look, sourcing the right furniture came naturally for homeowners Pei Qi and Zhong as well.
‘Dark wood, mid-century modern furniture. Those were the key elements we knew we were going for,’ says Pei Qi immediately when asked. With their home sporting hints of navy blues and olive greens, darker hues and clean, smooth lines pair splendidly for a look that’s fun and classy.
In the Living Room: 3-Seater Sofa with Ottoman from 林氏木业
Frequently sourcing for decor buys and other items on Taobao, it helped that Pei Qi is pretty experienced shopping on the site herself!
Along with their interior designer Tayllen from Authors • Interior & Styling, we speak to the three of them about their experience and their go-to tricks when shopping on Taobao.
In the Living Room: TV Console from 卫诗理/Visney
About the furniture they wanted to get
Pei Qi (PQ): We were looking for mostly dark wood furnishings, at least for the living area.
Zhong (Z): It was rather instinctive, I’d say. We had a theme in mind, and we just needed to make sure the furniture pieces visually fit into the look.
_In the Dining Area: Wooden Dining Set from 林氏木业
About Pei Qi and Zhong's shopping process
PQ: Zhong and I mainly did the furniture shopping ourselves, but we’d take screenshots and photos and send it to Tayllen to get her ‘endorsement’. On the other hand, I’m basically Zhong’s personal shopper (laughs). I'd do the first cut - identify the items we need for each living space, research and shortlist the pieces, then send him a list - with photos and links - for him to check out and choose one or two he likes best.
In the Service Yard: Two-Door Cabinet from 林氏木业
The benefits about shopping on Taobao
PQ: It’s definitely more convenient than going to physical stores. I can shop anytime, anywhere I want, I don’t have to wait for a store to open! Considering weekends are the only time that we're free, there aren’t a lot of furniture stores that open till late, and we basically have to rush from store to store. There’s none of that when you're shopping online. Although I can’t say that it really saves time, as we actually spent a long time searching and scrolling through stuff or going back to look at things again!
In the Master Bedroom: Wooden Bed Frame from 林氏木业
In the Master Bedroom: Under Bed Storage Drawers from 林氏木业
Z: There's a lot of variety I guess? You get to see a huge range of items at one go, unlike physical furniture stores where the selection is usually limited. Also, you won’t really know what to expect, until you’re at the store. Sometimes, the trips aren’t as productive as compared to online shopping, especially if you don’t find anything you like.
In the Master Bedroom: Mattress from 慕思/DeRUCCI
The challenges they faced when shopping on Taobao
Z: For me? The language.
PQ: Mainly, whether the items are going to turn out like what you see in the photos! There aren’t as many real reviews on furniture as say, clothes or household items, so finding photo references of furniture on Taobao is a little challenging.
We were also a bit wary about items that you can customise, as you don’t know how it will turn out! For instance, you can select different fabrics for your chair, but you only get to see a swatch on the screen, so it's hard to envision how it’ll translate on an actual piece.
In the Guest Bedroom: Fabric Arm Chair from 林氏木业
About their overall experience shopping on Taobao
PQ: For me, using and searching on the site was okay, as I’ve bought a couple of things from Taobao before, and I consider myself pretty savvy in that aspect. But of course, there will always be hits and misses, and certain things won't turn out as nice as expected. Fingers crossed that everything comes out well when they arrive!
Lastly, some Taobao shopping tips!
PQ: Get a reliable forwarder - if you’re buying fragile furniture items with glass, mirrors, etc., always make it a point to let the forwarders know beforehand so they can handle it with care.
In the Master Bedroom: Multi-Functional Mirror from 林氏木业
PQ: You’ll also notice that the way they describe certain items is different - for instance, they use <茶几>, not <咖啡桌> to describe a coffee table. It’s just a matter of taking time to get the hang of things. And while Mandarin is a huge hurdle to overcome to make the most out of the site, you can simply go to any furniture shop on Taobao, copy common phrases or keywords used to describe a particular item, and paste them into the search bar.
In the Master Bedroom: Nordic Mini Bedside Table from 林氏木业
Tayllen (T): Otherwise, you can put multiple similar keywords into the search bar to widen your scope.
PQ: Another way of discovering items is to click the <找相似> button available on each item in the search results. This way, you can see related or similar items in that style.
In the Guest Bedroom: Wooden Drawer Chest from 林氏木业
T: You can also save a picture of an item you like, upload it onto the site, and Taobao will generate a list of visually similar items for you to choose from. From there, you can even see the different vendors that supply the same product, compare prices and check out their ratings.
Next up, it’s the big reveal! We take a look at the final result of Pei Qi's mid-century modern resale flat, complete with all the furniture items from Taobao in. Will expectations meet reality? Read on to find out!
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