The Pottery Barn Factor

by statia on July 19, 2007

I’ve FINALLY started getting around to ordering our furniture and looking for accent pieces to tie into, oh, I don’t know the entire first floor.

The majority of the general population want their house to look nice. Everyone wants their house to reflect their taste, save for the few that buy a house to serve as a veritable dumping ground for their shit. Most of my taste is pretty clean lines. Classic, contemporary-ish, I guess. I would say I like what’s kind of popular. Which means that I get a hard on, every time I walk into stores like Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and Restoration Hardware. Which is why those stores are raking in the cash and the CEO decorates his house in not Pottery Barn, but more like expensive one of a kind furniture, individually hand crafted by old school Italian furniture makers who carve the wood with their old weathered hands.

The problem I have with liking stores like that, is that all the furniture looks the same. It’s like garanimals for your home, and I really don’t want my house to look as if a Pottery Barn catalog threw up in it. Having a few pieces from these stores is one thing, but having my house look exactly like the neighbors, right down to the same damn “Raleigh Side Table” and “Sloane leaning bookcase,” kind of creeps me out. I need some uniqueness. I haven’t really taken to collecting too many “home accessories” or knick knacks because 1. I don’t really like clutter, and 2. having rented all of my life, I really didn’t want to have to move it every time I moved.

Anyone have any sort of unique place to suggest? We’ve been doing some looking on our own too, but most of whats around here is the same shit you’d find in every other store. I should probably add that we do a lot of pictures and art. The Meester is an arteest, so we do have some stuff that’s original, and I also have some of my own photos that I’d like to get framed, but I’m also kind of keeping my eyes open for one of a kind sort of stuff.


Annastazia July 19, 2007 at 7:24 pm

I’ve always loved World Market. Don’t know if you have one of those where you are, but they seem to always have a rotating selection of unique and ethnic stuff.

blacklightblue July 19, 2007 at 9:36 pm

Oh honey, baby, darling… get your fine self to MANHATTAN where they have stores full of taste and style and super unique shit and stay OUT of Pottery Barn. For most of it anyway… you are far too special and unique to surround yourself with crapass furniture made-in-china. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Read House Beautiful to start… lots of good ‘where to get shit’ tips in there… also checkout for alllll kinds of cool shit to put in your domicile. Be sure to click on all the links on the right. Will take you to home decor wonderlands… have fun!

Divrchk July 20, 2007 at 5:12 am

World Market is good as well as West Elm. Maine Cottage also has fabulous things.

Also? I’ve found that it takes years to get the look that you want. Just always have your eye out for the unusual item that strikes your fancy, even in unlikely places. I never understand design shows that fill a room in a house with furniture and art all in a day or two. I feel that art is something that should mean something to the owner and collected slowly over time.

My parents dining room table is from an old barn door and made at local furniture store. It is gorgeous. Combined with simple, elegant upholstered chairs and the look is sleep and clean but homey and useable. Again, it just takes time.

Chris July 20, 2007 at 5:13 am

I got nothing except, as someone mentioned, World Market. We actually have a bit of furniture from that place and it’s pretty good stuff!

savvy July 20, 2007 at 5:18 am

blech… Pottery Barn. The catalogs are nice, but completely bland and lacking in pizazz (which is why they are so popular). Try shopping for antiques. You can get some beautiful antique furniture that has clean lines, solid builds, and beautiful finishes. And it’s usually cheaper than Pottery Barn. The bonus is that antiques keep their value, where Pottery Barn just goes out of style.

mac July 20, 2007 at 8:01 am

I second the suggestion for West Elm. That’s where my new livingroom furniture is coming from.

I also hear Material Culture is pretty great – it’s on Wissahickon Avenue.

Dooneybug July 20, 2007 at 8:19 am

Hmmm…I know nothing of shopping furniture from high-end anywhere as I could never afford it. We always find ourselves at the furniture outlet stores (it’s new stuff but mass produced). I guess if you’re looking for original, unique pieces without paying out the ass, I’d suggest estate sales, yard sales, craigslist, etc. You may find some gems there, you never know!

Your comments on Pottery Barn reminded me of Phoebe from Friends, the show where Rachel was room-mating with her and kept buying Pottery Barn furniture but lying about it being century old items she found at a flee market. :)

DD July 20, 2007 at 9:34 am

I am much like you in that I love how Pottery Barn does up their rooms in the catalogs, I can’t get over how yes, it all looks the same and that the pricing is grossly inflated.

This is why my living room is empty aside from a couch, loveseat and TV (in a very nice TV cabinet). For two years I have been looking for a coffee table and end tables but it has to be “perfect” since it will have to be there for many, many years.

I actually love antique stores for unique items of focus. With your current location, you should be able to find some great accent pieces in some greatest-kept-secret stores.

Deltus July 20, 2007 at 9:59 am

Have you considered lawn furniture?


Seriously, though, if you want to individualize your home, have the Meeester paint murals on the walls.

Lenni July 20, 2007 at 10:19 am

The furniture outlets in Morgantown. It’s a bit of a drive, but they definitely have some unique stuff, its not expensive, and they usually negotiate too.

Susan July 20, 2007 at 10:30 am

one word: IKEA

sarahbchicago July 20, 2007 at 11:03 am

I know what you mean about avoiding a cookie-cutter decor, even if it is as attractive as C&B, PB, etc. I think part of the trick is to buy pieces from several different stores. I’m a fan of furniture from Room and Board, because they have lots of different styles that you can mix together, modern, retro, traditional. I have a round walnut coffee table from them, with a steel base, a cherry dining room table,leather dining room chairs, and a platform bed.

Have fun decorating your new house!

jesser July 20, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Well we have gotten pieces from all over the place. We did IKEA at first, but now we’ve mostly gotten rid of that except for my JERKER desk that is rock solid … plus, how can you get rid of something called the jerker? Anyhoo, all of our unique pieces we made ourselves because we’re dorks like that, except for our bed which we bought from a local (to Madison, WI) artisan for way less than a comparable bed could’ve been made. Plus, he crafted it to our insanely deep mattress’s specifications. So maybe check out a local craft fair or there’s always, I suppose.

Camille July 20, 2007 at 7:51 pm

We were lucky in that we found a locally owned furniture store where we used to live that had all handmade furniture that was classic & clean. It was sort of expensive, but it was real wood, solid, and handmade, and we knew it would be with us forever. We found we wanted an entry table to match but they didn’t have one the size we needed, so we designed it and they made one for us.
Oh, so back to you ;o) maybe you can dig around and see if you can find something local vs. big.huge.corporate.

Brandi July 21, 2007 at 12:08 pm

My suggestions have already been done…World Market, West Elm, Ikea. The only new ones I would add to that are Storehouse and Z Gallerie. Also, not sure if Danish Inspirations is just a Houston thing, but they have some neat stuff too.

Have bought a house a little over 2 years ago, I can assure you that it will take a while to piece things together. Our house is always a work in progress.

Brandi July 21, 2007 at 12:08 pm

My suggestions have already been done…World Market, West Elm, Ikea. The only new ones I would add to that are Storehouse and Z Gallerie. Also, not sure if Danish Inspirations is just a Houston thing, but they have some neat stuff too.

Having bought a house a little over 2 years ago, I can assure you that it will take a while to piece things together. Our house is always a work in progress.

Brandi July 21, 2007 at 12:09 pm

sorry for the hiccup! :)

Some Girl July 21, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Design Within Reach has some really nice pieces, mostly modern with a twist. The have a leather recliner that is based on the first class cabin for airlines. It’s the most streamlined recliner in the world and every time I see it in the store I sit down and pretend I own it. A girl has to dream.

robyn July 21, 2007 at 10:32 pm

One of these days I’ll be able to consider IKEA as something other than upscale to my budget. I guess I have to stop spray painting my hand-me-down furniture first though. ;-p

Linda July 22, 2007 at 8:27 am

Blacklightblue is right…go to Manhattan and find some kick ass furniture. Go check out the catalogue for Pottery Barn online…and eyeball the descriptions of most of their wood pieces. They’re MDF (medium density fiberboard) with a veneer overlay. Not quality furniture for the most part. You might also consider that there’s a lot of furniture makers in North Carolina that specialize in old fashioned techniques/styles/finishes. You might find a Pottery Barn knock off that’s actually solid wood there?

As for me, I mix up French antiques, arts & crafts period stuff, and a bit of Ikea thrown in. My house is more eclectic than “tied together”. What I like about buying antiques is that when you’re tired of them, you can usually resell them for what you paid for them, or more if you bought wisely.

shanna July 23, 2007 at 6:56 am

If you aren’t opposed to used furniture, start checking flea markets, garage sales and resale shops. You can find some really nice furniture at these places and usually it is older pieces that people want to get rid of because mom or dad or grandma died and they don’t want that “old junk”. I have found stuff that was in pristine condition and other stuff that needed a bit of work. Not sure how handy you are, but I taught myself how to reupholster stuff, not hard at all if you have a staple gun and a hammer. Sometimes you can have it redone for less then buying something brand new and then you know that the frame is going to stand up to a little boy jumping and climbing on it for the next few years. Good luck and if you want to discuss, feel free to email me.

ewe_are_here July 24, 2007 at 4:46 am

It’s IKEA central over here, everyone shops there.

I’ve been picking yo second hand furnuture here and there dirt cheap…second hand charity shops and such…. I have refinishing plans for the pieces in all that spare time I have. snort

Faith July 24, 2007 at 2:55 pm

Oh, ok Phoebe. Perhaps an apothacary table from the days of yor aren’t exactly your fave, but I like all that stuff. :P

Seriously, I just don’t go to other people’s houses, and that way I don’t see that all of our furniture is the same! Voila!

I think you got some pretty good suggestions from previous comments. Except for the Ikea suggestion. Unless one is nearby you, the shipping is likely to cost more than the item is worth, I’d think. I dunno…they won’t even ship to Kansas. Bastards.

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