Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Restoration Hardware: the gift that keeps on giving

Over the years, blog topic-wise, I’ve considered Walmart a gift that keeps on giving. And while I haven’t done anything Walmart-ish in a while, they remain of interest, and may well appear in Pink Slip in the not so distant future.

But I don’t want readers to think that all I do is use my metaphorical Payless Shoe shod foot to kick the folks from Bentonville.

Nope. More than occasionally, I pull on a metaphorical Ferragmo boot to kick the higher end-crowd. And a repeat offender here has certainly been Restoration Hardware. Whether it’s their pretentious “store as museum” attitude, or the unsolicited (and, frankly, pretty monochromatic and boring) 14 pound catalogs that continue to litter the doorsteps in my neighborhood, RH is an entity that continues to cry out for a good blogging.

Their latest is the introduction of RH Financing.

In keeping with their serene and subtle approach to marketing – no Bob’s Discount Furniture Bob-inator for them; no Bernie and Phyl and their quality, comfort and price; not Elliot Jordan letting his grandkids eat chocolate ice cream on his Sunbrella-covered couch – RH invites us to buy their wares on credit using their very own serene and subtle color palette. No screaming “no money down”. Just tastefully laid out. And – I’ll admit – mincing no numbers when it comes to calculating just what it’s going to cost you monthly, and in total, if you decide, say, to slap $100K worth of furniture on your RH card, and spread the payments over the next seven years.


Am I the only one who thinks that if you can’t afford to RH your digs without paying for it with a seven-year loan, you should probably be thinking of an alternative.

I mean, I’d sleep on a mattress stuffed with dried corn cobs, and eat off a 1950’s metal tray table, before I’d step toe in a Bob’s. And I do find Bernie and Phyl, not to mention their offspring, pretty annoying. But I think Elliot Jordan’s kind of cute. (He actually may live around here. I know I’ve seen him on the street.)

I’m also looking at that $100K figure and laughing.

For the tax filing for my husband’s estate, I have to provide a calculation of Jim’s personal property.

The value of his clothing can be pretty much calculated by throwing it in a ragbag, putting it on a scale, and computing the going rate (cents per pound) for rags.

Our furniture isn’t all that much of different story.

As I sit in our combo living-dining room computing the cost of everything in here, including what’s on the walls and the tchotchkes on the mantel, it barely makes it above $10K, even if I fake up some value for my grandmother’s claw foot table and rickety little desk. Or the side tables from my sister Kath.

Of course, as with our other furniture, it was all acquired over time. The dining room table, chairs, and credenza predate the leather sofa, which postdates the “antique” (i.e., acquired at a junk store) glass-fronted cabinet we store our CD’s in.

I have some very interesting things hanging on the walls, but the most expensive art object is actually the frame for the Achille Philion  poster – An Attraction without a Parallel. We paid $100 for it at an antique/junk store in Vermont a million years ago for . It cost $700 to frame. (Just found one online at an antique poster gallery, and Achille Philionapparently it’s worth a bit more than $100. Weren’t we the clever art investors!)

Anyway, our other rooms are furnished with a similar combination of decent quality, not so hot, hand-me-down, and antique/junk store. With stuff on the walls nicely (i.e., expensively) framed, but not of really high value. (Other than Achille Philion. He rules!)

So, if I can furnish 1200 square feet with interesting, personal, rugged (whatever we paid for it, our stuff tends to stand the test of time, that’s for sure), shabby chic for a grand total of maybe $20K, so could someone else.

Now that’s an awful lot of money, money that most folks don’t have sitting in their checking account.

But it’s really not that hard to start out modestly, buying the essentials and scrounging where you can, and building up over time.

And you wouldn’t have to borrow $100K from RH in order to do live comfortably.

Of course, no one will mistake my home for an RH catalog, or any body’s showroom.

But it really is an “us” kind of place.

That said, when I do some renovating, I will be replacing some of the pieces. Of our three Jennifer Convertible couches, only one is likely to make the cut. And that oversized chair where I’ve read so many books and taken so many naps, well, I think its days our numbered.

I have a budget vaguely in mind, not to mention a style.

Neither the budget nor my personal taste will put me any where near RH.

Not that I’d be tempted to sign up for their credit line.

Who’d want to be paying off furniture for seven years?


A tip of the old chapeau from my sister Trish, who passed this one along to me.

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