Sunday, March 18, 2007

West Elm or Blue Box?

Before West Elm had “real” stores, I used to drool over their catalogs. At the time when they came out in 2002 with their catalog, their style was new, more streamlined than what the other catalog companies were doing at the time. Their colors calming, no floral patterns, and the importance of texture in the materials were apparent. Oh, the fantasy was lovely.

They existed before Crate & Barrel launched CB2 in 2000 as a Chicago-only store; in fact, they were probably the reason for that store.

  • William Sonoma owns Pottery Barn, PBTeen, Pottery Barn Kids, and West Elm.

However, yesterday, I traveled a few miles to Richmond's premier shopping destination, Short Pump Town Center. We are now in possession of the following stores: Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, H & M, West Elm, William Sonoma, Urban Outfitters, etc.

I took it upon myself to check out the West Elm store in person. Well….

I liked the Parsons and Jay desks, which they had sold at their old store Hold Everything, however, just try to open one of their drawers. Just try it. You have to grip the drawer while holding onto the other part of the desk. I also would not trust that laminate to stay unmarred for long and why does each piece of furniture teeter-totter? Not great. Perhaps in terms of design, they are a step up from the Blue Box but their “quality” does not justify their prices being so much higher than IKEAs. Sorry.

I have nothing bad to say about their pillows, rugs, draperies, and bedding. They have great colors, sleek designs, and graphic patterns, but still try to buy them during a sale*.

* Shelter Rule #1
If you love it full-price, you will love it even more when it goes on sale.

However, concerning their furniture, unless I am upgrading and traveling to High Point, NC to furnish my house, I am sticking with vintage finds and the good old “Blue Box.”

Photo credits:,

1 comment:

Cassie said...

I have to agree. I myself drooled over a round three legged kitchen table featured in their catalog. I waited until it was marked down over 50%. It's less than a year old and the veneer strip around the table top is already bubbling. We barely use it.

Also, we ordered a bunch of their furniture for our office and am not impressed.

I'd say IKEA is better.