Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This really irks me...

Restoration Hardware is peddling antique unbound "book bundles" as objets de art. Firstly, I despise the idea of buying books as purely decorative items. Certainly, bindings and covers can be -- and even should be -- beautiful (see the new Penguin Classics series HERE), but I'm a firm believer that books you display in your home should be books that, you know, you've actually read and enjoyed. Secondly, the idea of filling your shelves with packages of mistreated, long forgotten literary works to achieve some monochromatic, industrial "style" strikes me as incredibly sad.

Salvaged Wood Kitchen Island ($2695) + {Reproduction} Vintage Barstools ($295)

On a related note, can Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Wisteria, etc. just stop with the "found" and "antiqued" furniture and accessories? I'm all for vintage and antique, but can't we just buy real vintage instead of faux? Decorating your home with items that look like they have history (but in reality either don't or, if they do, said history has no particular meaning to you) strikes me as incredibly fake. 
Burlap sack turned tablecloth, for a mere $69
I don't really understand spending the big bucks just to decorate your home with discarded soda boxes and burlap. I know that many antiques are (quite rightly) expensive, but why is 50-year old trash suddenly a design statement worthy of a mark-up befitting its newfound trendy status? If you're going to decorate with inexpensive, "humble" materials, then the prices should reflect that. It's like buying a plain white tshirt for $100: just plain stupid. Beyond the absurdity of these prices, the idea of elevating the ordinary and everyday (of the Great Depression!) to designer status strikes me as bizarre and even a bit condescending: We aren't poor, we just decorate like it.

On a final note, prices and subtext aside, the Belgian/industrial look is just too damn depressing for me. I'm a big fan of gray, but we've taken the whole gray, linen, limed wood look way too far. A piece or two here or there (or gray walls) is one thing, but when its thrown altogether (as staged by Restoration Hardware in particular), a monochromatic color palette in gray tones makes a room look like it's had all the life sucked out of it. When used en masse, gray is just as blah as beige. Where's the joy?
Lest you think I've got something against the big name retail stores (which I really don't -- much of my own home is filled with PB, RH and C&B), here are two items that I'm drooling over:

I adore the quatrefoil shape of this mirror. And, while I think I'd prefer the frame's finish in something a bit more glamorous (silver leaf, perhaps), I don't even mind the weathered zinc. As it is though, I'll be waiting for this piece to go on sale before I consider making the purchase.

I was absolutely shocked when I saw this chandelier in the latest Pottery Barn catalogue. It's so chic! So Pieces, etc.! The red faux coral is the perfect hit of color for a breakfast room or den. I'd maximize the beachy feel of it by pairing it when blues and turquoises -- and speaking of turquoise, wouldn't this be fabulous if there was a turquoise version? [Are you there, Pottery Barn? It's me, Averill. Bring back your Summer 2008 collection!]

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