31 July 2008

Trends to avoid

I got a copy of the new Pottery Barn catalog in the mail today. It's the fall preview issue they've dubbed "Best Customer Edition," which is either a marketing ploy to flatter people like me who've never bought anything there or it's an attempt to win my favor. In either case, and I hope it's the latter, it ain't gonna work. That catalog should have been called the "How NOT to Buy Furniture and Accessories Edition." This $900 nightmare is on their cover.

As my old friend Patsy would say, "It looks like a trail of cat sick." And so it does Patsy, so it does. Nobody appreciates a blast of color and loud pattern as much as I do, BUT if you're going to draw undue attention to yourself, make sure you have your act together first. This thing isn't even made well, just look how the fabric pattern doesn't come close to lining up on the different sections of upholstery. There's no attempt to get the skirt to line up with the seat. The bad alignment alone should dissuade anyone from thinking about this chair. In their defense, big patterns like this are hard to pull off on a small chair. That's why they shouldn't have tried.

They get a little closer from a fabric perspective on this one:

This is their Madison chair in a pattern they call Green Ogee. It's an interesting pattern, but it suffers from the same alignment problems the rest of their offerings do. And this thing has a retail price of $1200. $1200 dollars should get a much better-made piece of furniture than this mid-market stuff. Ikea does a better job on their patterned upholstery and the average price of an armchair is $300. For $600 dollars, you can find better stuff at Crate and Barrel. But your best bet without a doubt is Room and Board. Room and Board sells well-made, middle-market furniture that's priced where it should be, in the middle of the market.

For whatever reason, Pottery Barn is insanely popular and is often mistaken for a purveyor of "good" furniture. I'll tell you right now that it isn't. Pottery Barn is a purveyor of popular "looks" and their brand exists to make you hate your life and aspire to the images conjured by their marketing materials. Lies! Cursed lies! You don't need a mass merchandiser to show you what your life should look like. That's what people like me are for.

There is a place for decent furniture and it's not found in chain stores at the mall. Decent furniture is expensive, but it's made well. Well enough to last a lifetime. One of the ways you can spot good furniture on sight is when an upholstery fabric does this:
Hey! Look how the stripes line up!

So if you want good stuff, go to a locally-owned furniture store. You'll get better service from people who make a living wage and who know what they're talking about. If you're looking for moderately-priced reproduction furniture, get thee to Room and Board.

1 comment:

  1. Couple of comments:

    (1) I'm glad you showed us an example of a product where the pattern is matched up (albeit at the end of your posting). Would like to have seen a more complicated pattern example; seems easy to line up simple stripes. And where would such a pattern-matched product be priced? In your beloved "middle-market"?

    (2) Why do you have such zeal for certain companies? i.e. Dwell, Room & Board. Are you paid by them?

    (3) What is cat sick and are you a socialist?


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