RETAIL RUNDOWN PART II: THE INSIDE SCOOP ON YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP
In the last post, I started sharing my best tips for some of the places I know my clients love to shop. And I loved hearing how helpful they’ve been for you! But, I’ve got so much more to cover, so here’s my second installment on what to grab, and what to skip, at ten more of the most popular home décor stores.
Crate & Barrel: Great Quality, Poor Prices. Crate & Barrel is 35% crap, 65% gold, and they owe it all to their expensive prices. The quality of the items is often quite good (although it can be hit or miss), but there’s just no way to justify their exorbitant price points. Their smaller items — throw pillows, table lamps, tableware, and dishware — are usually safe bets, and their beds are surprisingly well priced. But when it comes to purchasing upholstered goods, like couches and armchairs, let me share a little tip with you: Room & Board uses the same manufacturer as Crate & Barrel, but has much lower prices and better customer service.
West Elm: Half Good, Half Bad. I’m split right down the middle for West Elm, rating them 50% crap, 50% gold. They do a number of things quite well, including their drapes, side tables, accents, vases, and pillows. However, I avoid anything made of wood, because the quality is questionable at best. And while they may be made cheaply, they certainly aren’t priced that way.
IKEA: Don’t Build it Yourself! It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that I rate IKEA 80% crap, 20% gold. The products are often flimsy, cheap, and end up damaged in shipping. Plus, to say their customer service leaves something to be desired would be a gross understatement. But there are some workhorse pieces to be found in their signature series, including the Hemnes, Liatorp, Besta, Bjursta, and Pax. Just remember the cold, hard truth about IKEA — it’s all 100% crap if you don’t invest in professionals to put your furniture together!
Room & Board: Crate & Barrel but Better! Room & Board is also 50/50 on the crap-to-gold ratio. As I mentioned above, some of the pieces are identical to Crate & Barrel, but the prices and customer service are miles better. I love their sofas, armchairs, and chaises — their upholstered furniture is truly golden. But I’d never shop for any wooden furniture here, mostly because it’s all untreated, so it’s incredibly easy to scratch and scuff it up. The rugs and lamps at Room & Board are pretty boring and overpriced, so stay away from those too. Possibly the most disappointing aspect of Room & Board is that they never have any sales!
Macy’s: Their Sales Reign Supreme. And speaking of sales, when you factor in Macy’s discounts, their prices rival Ikea! Overall, I rate them a solid 40% gold, 60% crap. Macy’s is best for basics. Their upholstered furniture is wonderful — the quality is great for what you’re paying, especially when it comes to the sofas and armchairs. The larger case goods are also pretty decent. This is not, however, the place to find smaller items and special furniture pieces. The designs are meant to appeal to the masses, so they won’t provide you with the unique flair that you want from your decorative pieces.
World Market: Hidden Gems Worth Digging For. I’m going to be generous and give World Market a 35% crap / 65% gold rating, because there are some real gems to be found here, but you have to do the work to find them. They have nice dining chairs, interesting TV consoles, pillows, and even sculptural art. But there’s also an overflow of junky items, like boring rugs, nightstands, dressers and cheesy artwork. I would advise against online shopping when it comes to stores like World Market, because it’s so hard to know in advance what’s actually worthwhile — you have to go to the store and actually touch the items. My secret weapon? Read the online reviews! They’re often very helpful and informative.
Restoration Hardware: Good for Showpieces. There are some major drawbacks with shopping at Restoration Hardware, which are what earn it a solid 60% crap 40% gold rating. It’s very expensive, the customer service isn’t ideal, and the delivery process is annoying! The pieces are also oversized, so make sure to watch your measurements when shopping there. Their quality is good though, and they have some really nice show pieces and even authentic artwork that can give your place some added character.
Pier 1: Hit or Miss! Pier1 is about 50% crap and 50% gold. I love the dining tables, mirrors, and seasonal decor that Pier1 offers, but they also have their fair share of awful items. Their upholstered furniture is very uncomfortable, and their lamps and artwork just scream Pier1 — not the most stylish statement you can make in your home.
The Company Store: An Old Favorite with New Concepts. The Company Store was known in the ’80s and ’90s for its bedding, and I would still shop there for foundational items, such as duvets and pillow inserts, at nice price points. It’s best to leave the decorative bedding for another store. But did you know how much they’ve expanded their offerings? I hadn’t until I saw their great selection of lamps and drapes. I haven’t investigated the entirety of what the Company Store offers, but from what I’ve seen, I’d give it a solid 30% gold, 70% crap rating.
Now you’re well equipped to shop like a pro at all the best sources for affordable home décor. But if you still can’t be bothered with the hassle, you can always leave it to the pros. With our new shopping service, we’ll place all of our orders for you, handle any returns, and get you a designer discount at all the best places.
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