How creative is Restoration Hardware design?

cheryl clendenon

Owner and Lead Designer at In Detail Interiors
My name is Cheryl Kees Clendenon, a California transplant to Northwest Florida. Been in the interior design business for 14 years and learn something new every day! This blog is about the day to day running of a design business and the crazy clients, silly subs, vexing vendors and exasperating employees! Join us for the ride!

Latest posts by cheryl clendenon (see all)

NOT VERY!

Now I am just saying it once and for all: I am O-V-E-R all the Restoration Hardware burlap sack and rusty iron era of design. Old, torn, ripped, flour sack linen with french words all over them and rustier-the-better splintered tables….WHEN did we get this insane fascination for all things French especially their flour sack upholstery and pillows in a language that most of us cannot even read??? These ridiculous pillows could be saying something we may blush over! Who would know? And for gawd’s sake they are not even comfy to lean against much less put your sweet head on if you decide to take an afternoon nap on the sofa!

The deal is once this look becomes so prevalent that EVERY single manufacturer at the HIgh Point Furniture Market has some obligatory token of the “look”…it is O-V-E-R for me. Does anyone call this design? Original? Even good looking??? Was it ever?

So a good looking linen sofa?

The "farrow" by Robin Bruce

Yes. With french writing pillows? No.

With some great accent colors or even if you prefer the softer side of the linen/burlap/white look…some subtle earth toned shades….YES YES YES! Throw a bit of Romo fabrics on a linen sofa and now that is some good looking STYLE!

Soft and subtle…all Romo fabrics

Linen infused with color to give life to the room! Romo “Pippin” collection

True antiques mixed with real age showing? Oh yeah. Of course Restoration Hardware has some great pieces too and some accents that I love and some of the simplicity of design elements are intriguing to mix with other more sassy pieces.

A little bit of rust and burlap can go a long way…but not in MY living room. Full disclaimer though: I do currently have a fab but REALLY old table from the late 1800′s that serves as my coffee table. Can’t beat it up and can dance naked after a couple of kir royales and not worry it will break…..oh, TMI.

So a pandoras box to be explored further in next post….do YOU think this style of “design” is innovative? creative? Or just trite and trendy? See below pix for my answer to trump the Restoration Hardware look!

Oooo la la….Let’s talk FRESH here! Not French!

Romo fabrics from Delaware collection. Who cannot love this?

Weeeelll maybe a bit more color and a bit more retro… But one of my faves I had to sneak in! Love the curtains!

19 Comments to "How creative is Restoration Hardware design?"

  1. I’m with you… I love your Romo fabric selections much more than the French burlap…. but then I am older than 33. The younger consumer is still in love with French and any other burlap it seems. Yup, trite and trendy, but that is where Restoration Hardware feels the money is I guess. Love your blog :)

  2. Ha – I guess that’s it – I too am just past the age to appreciate sack-cloth and ashes as decor. I’ve had a post about it on the back burner for a while…but you say it so well!

  3. This is when you roll out that old, old line about beauty being in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, but I very much agree with you, Cheryl. Personally, I grew up poor, and we had lots of broken down furniture, because I’m the oldest of five children, and my parents had to make do with whatever they had. Later, as a bachelor starting out with a low-paying job and an empty apartment, my first dinette set was one of those with a Formica table and cheap upholstered metal chairs. It cost me $70 in 1968. And all the rest of the furniture I was able to purchase at that time was equally cheap.

    Looking at this, um, stuff brings back memories I don’t want to have! It’s like that trend of wearing jeans that have deliberately had the knee torn out. Looks pretty slick on one of those impossibly thin models, I suppose, but if you were a kid who endured the embarrassment of wearing that sort of thing to school because your parents had to wait until the next payday to rectify the situation… Well, I do wear jeans now, but they do NOT have holes in them!!!!!

  4. well at least I know I am not alone! Thank you for kind words Ms Pillowthrowdecor! And Sarah and Joseph, always appreciate you weighing in….guess we will be old and NON trendy together! I mean really….though…isnt anyone else tired of it all???

  5. I was shooting the showhouse room of a Florida-based designer for Traditional Home a few weeks ago and he absolutely went off of the new Restoration Hardware look. He said in the Palm Beach store they have painted the walls black and all the furniture is grain sack linen. This is a look that translates well in certain areas of the country, but not Florida. It’s called mass-marketing though. It’s the same thing you can get anywhere in the country at any time. More than anything I think it is important to explore your own personal style and not allow yourself to be shopped to.

    • Thanks for a great comment! And you are so correct! Mass marketing at its finest! But when Highpoint is awash in Burlap and twigs… Scary! Makes me long for color and texture of a different sort. My showroom is a consortium of color and styles.. For the very purpose of getting people to encourage their own development of style. With our help if needed! Thank you for stopping by!

  6. It’s not that I would say anything from R.H. is ugly (well, okay, maybe some pieces), but none of it is original! All of it is essentially a knock-off of someone else’s piece, but not at a knock-off price. I do love their plush throw blankets, though. :-)

  7. I used to like their stuff more than I do now. It wasn’t always so monkish, was it? My style is not as daring and as colorful as yours, but I am so sick of all beige all the time. And I am all about comfort–no scratchy fabrics!

    Definitely put this in the unhappy hipster category. I don’t want to go home and be morose.

  8. R.H. has definetly “jumped the shark”. It used to be a cute store but once it shifted it’s focus it lost it. Floursack design is just so not design, the “look” is more thoughtless than thoughtful. But you are right how it translates to High Point.

    Your “old” table is classic. Burlap belongs outdoors – like around my shrubs to keep this bitter cold out.

    The Romo fabrics do the trick! They are nice fabrics, in clean colors which can enhance any interior.

  9. Thanks lisa! I soooo agree with you!! I just hung up my new Romo drapes!! Not their usual bold prints but thats on the pillows;)

  10. I am just now seeing this post, but I have to say I couldn’t agree more. I am 31 which should be in their “target” age group… but I have never really liked this recent trend. Cheryl you have TRUE style!

  11. Thank you for such a nice comment Janalin!!

  12. I love this old look of nostalgic furniture!

  13. Resist the Greige Nation!

  14. I like the rustic metal elements on the splintered table.

  15. First off- I think you’re a little opinionated when it comes to design… Bright poppy colors and bold prints are evocative to the late 70′s and not everyone thinks a hippy, flower child room with dazzling pink daisies is beautiful either.. nobody says that you have to go with all burlap or scratchy fabrics, but the truth in the matter is that RH is about creating a memory from a simpler life when we weren’t so consumed by technology and having no time for our families. I like the feeling of coming home and enjoying something that provokes a great memory or something that can make you feel comfortable just by looking into it’s over-tufted, plush self. Honestly, I think you’re a little harsh and the “design” you so lovingly refer to, is hardly more than do-it yourself furniture with cheap fabrics and ugly colors. Maybe you could go hang out at an ikea store and find yourself some discounted, bright and ugly fabric there.

    • Lighten up Josh! Do you work there or something Sounds fishy to me! And you contradict yourself all over the place!

  16. Much like this post, those images you posted are soooo dated!! Which is why the classical, timeless appeal of RH, speaks to the true design. One that is not based on trend or fads like bright colours and patterns most North Americans would run from as many are fearful of colour, patterns and being too trendy. As Josh pointed out, the allure of RH is one that speaks to the masses on a different level. It simplifies the design and creates a warm and inviting space/home that individuals and families alike can drown out the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Far too often, people find themselves being “busy” and not taking time out for themselves and their families. RH, helps people revives the simple life…one where values of people and quality lie prevalent. If you were to actually explore RH, you will see that there is much more to be offered in terms of customizing and creating looks that appeal to all levels of design taste.

    Being in the industry for over 10yrs, it’s sad to see that “romo” is now picking up on things that have been flourishing in Europe for the last 5 years, which I can safely say have not caught on in North America. The images posted, only reflect fickle people, who will likley flip flop or bounce from trend to trend much like the world of fashion dictates in the media. People who are drawn to such ideas will waste more time on impressing other people, to gain self worth and be recognized among peers and family members, rather than being personally fulfilled and satisfied.

    From a business, perspective,  RH is on the right path as they have been in the top percentiles for growth over the last few years when the US economy has continually been tanking–particularly in the design community…Clearly, they’re doing something right!!! Maybe your readers and admires, should look in to the future are they have set a mark that many are trying to keep up with to grow their business ;o)

    • surely you work for Restoration Hardware? Why you think rusty old things are good design is beyond me. I am not sure where you are from but judging from your English usage, it is not an English speaking country. Which is no problem for me. However, your words simply do not make sense. Is this spam? Maybe so. If not spam, I can tell you that you are nuts to think RH style is not TRENDY…of course it is! I like parts of it also..but think a little goes a long way!

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge