The Shocking Truth About Restoration Hardware

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Sometimes when I start to write one blog post, it becomes apparent that the subject matter I was intending to write about morphs into something else.

I had intended to carry on with this exquisite Florida home (and I will–) by the beatific and immensely talented Summer Thornton. However, I got just a leeeeetle bit side-tracked by a massive road-block.

 

gallery-thornton-living-room-1 house beautiful
What is it Laurel? I don’t see anything wrong?

What you don’t like the coffee table or the fact that the sofas don’t match?

 

No, it’s neither of those. It’s the sofa.

It’s from Rip-off Hardware. Oops sorry. I mean Restoration Hardware. And since they pretty much stopped selling HARDWARE, they’ve shortened the name to RH.

restoration hardware flatiron district

 

I don’t know what happened and don’t want to jump to conclusions. The sofa looks fine in Summer’s room. And this in no way is meant to disparage her or her work, because I admire her talent immensely.

 

However, I need you to listen to this very carefully.

 

You are not to buy a sofa at Restoration Hardware.

 

And frankly, probably nothing else either except maybe sheets. You can get your sheets there and maybe a framed print of the Flat Iron Building.

 

Oh wait. No. Forget the print. Even that is a piece of crap in my opinion.

 

Hey, why so bitter, Laurel? I LOVE Restoration Hardware!

 

You do, huh? Well… I did too… once upon a time……………………………………..

 

………… between 1987 and 1991 I lived catty-corner from the Restoration Hardware store across from the iconic Flatiron building in New York City.

flat iron building

photo taken in the 1920’s – source unknown

The flat iron building erected in 1902 at 22 stories tall was considered quite the skyscraper in its day.

Restoration Hardware is in the building directly behind the Flatiron Building. An Italianate structure, it was built in 1862 and was one of the first commercial buildings constructed in this area.

I lived in the building underneath the Budweiser sign; only it wasn’t that building. They tore that one down and erected a modern high-rise apartment building, Madison Green, circa 1981. My future husband lived there when I met him in 1986.

flat iron district - restoration hardware - madison green apartments

Via Googs maps is a birds-eye (duh) view of the Flatiron, Madison Green to the right and Restoration Hardware; a high-end home furnishings retailer.

They got that part right. The furnishings are very expensive.

 

 

daytonian in manhattan - mortimer 001

This is how I remember the store looking – photo: Daytonian in Manhattan

and I have fond memories of going in on occasion or just walking past.

 

Restoration Hardware got its humble beginnings in California back in 1979. (coincidentally the year my husband and I moved to NYC). It’s growth was rapid and by the spring of 2001, there were over 100 branches of the chain.

The store had its ups and downs and at a low point, they brought in Gary Friedman, the president of Williams-Sonoma in 2001 to rescue it. He is the current CEO. (although there was some uhhhmmm… trouble he had in 2012 that caused him to “step down” for a few days.)

To Mr. Friedman’s credit, he never finished college and took a job working as a stock boy at the Gap and worked his way up to the top position. That’s admirable.

He obviously, brought renewed life into the brand which survived the recession of 2008.

And then… something happened. It happened about two years ago.

 

rebecca-roman-pic via Forbes Restoration Hardware Catalog mountain

image via Forbes

photo: Rebecca Roman

Remember the onslaught?

I recall receiving my 17 pound bundle and thinking they must be barking mad. We have a recycling bin adjacent to our mailboxes and there it went immediately along with the other junk mail.

restoration hardware catalogs deforestation

This couple wrote a very funny satire on the best uses for the Restoration Hardware attempt at deforesting the world.

I remember shaking my head and thinking– who’s paying for all of this?

(you know the answer to that one)

This massive renovation was occurring at the same time at the Flatiron store.

FPE-Restoration-Hardware-photo - Matthew Abourezk

FPE Architects

Rebranding okay, but black? On the other hand, the darkness suits them.

Yesterday, I found out that CEO Gary Friedman has put his California home (well, one of them) on the market for 10.5 million.

gary friedman home selling for 10.5 million restoration hardware

via the Wall Street Journal

Hmmm… you don’t suppose he charged all of that Restoration Hardware stuff to the business?

Well, if he did, did he deduct retail or wholesale?

Because if deducted wholesale, I can tell you that he furnished this entire room for maybe $1,500. Yes, four ginormous sofas, coffee table, dining table… chairs… lighting…

Don’t believe me?

Fair enough. I didn’t believe me either.

That is why I did some digging.

 

And it didn’t take me more than a couple of minutes to uncover the shocking truth about Restoration Hardware’s “high-end” furnishings.

 

I mean, everyone knows (or should) that it’s cheap Asian crap.

 

But just HOW cheap is it?

 

I found many sources on the internet that carry either the exact products sold by RH or at least close enough that RH could make some adaptations to make it their “own.”

These sources are all in China and they are all selling to ANYONE, not just furniture dealers. It’s the same stuff and often you can purchase only one of something. Yes, the price for one of something is more than if you buy in bulk, but even those prices are a fraction of the retail price RH is charging their customers.

Now ARE these the exact pieces sold by RH? Probably not. They might very well be knock offs. But it shows how much the same or similar products are selling for.

Example Number One from Zhongshan Xiaohui Lighting Electrical Appliance Co., Ltd.

 

zhongshan xiaohui lighting in china - restoration hardware

Three pieces of this or more are available to anyone for $79.00/each.

Did you hear me? SEVENTY-NINE DOLLARS???

 

restoration hardware wine barrel chandelier

Or– you can purchase it for only $1507.00the ***member’s*** deeply (gag) discounted price at Restoration Hardware.

Even if I bought only ONE of these from China, the price is still only 1/10th the price of the Resto piece!

 

What’s that about a membership at Restoration Hardware?

 

Well, for a 100 bucks a year, one (sucker) can get a 25% “discount” off of the full “retail” price of $2,495.00. (Hey, that’s far more than 25% but they are having a “sale” right now.)

 

Here’s what Resto has to say about their finely crafted $79 chandelier from China.

“Captivated by the timeworn beauty of discarded old French wine barrels, designer Rudi Nijssen reimagines them as a chandelier. Handcrafted from reclaimed French oak staves and hoops, the openwork design – inspired by the French Empire form – is at once rustic and refined, organic and elegant. At home indoors and out, it proudly bears the marks and imperfections of salvaged wood.”

Reclaimed French Oak Staves???

Oh, I’m laughing so hard, my side is hurting.

Sure, after they’ve been rescued from a Chinese landfill.

FPE-architects -Restoration Hardware-photo - Matthew Abourezk

Here’s our $79 salvaged, refined beauty marked up 3,000% at the newly renovated Flat Iron Store.

Think that’s an isolated piece at Restoration Hardware?

You already know the answer to that one too.

 

chinese crystal orb chandelier

Would you prefer to pay $185.00?

prod691013

or the amazing deal at Restoration Hardware of $1,282.00 deeply discounted off of the retail price of $1,895.00

I mean, they have to pay for all of those trees and printing somehow? Right?

Now, is it possible that the lighting store is ripping off RH?

Yes, it is.

But there are dozens of vendors who carry this light fixture or else it’s very close and the price is a lot less.

Edwards-8-Light-Crystal-Chandelier-RL8049-32AB

Here’s one a similar Wayfair chandelier for half the price of RH.

There are hundreds of manufacturers in China. And sure, sometimes they change some of the details, but often. nope. What You See Is What You Get. WYSIWYG.

For example:

restoration hardware sconce for one dollar in China

Gosh, they didn’t even bother to change the image. But wait. It says that they sell FROM ONE DOLLAR/Piece???

Is Restoration Hardware paying ONE DOLLAR? (probably not that low)

What are we paying?

180 marked down from 249

A whopping bargain at RH for $180 marked down from $249

sputnik chandelier for 99 dollars from China

Do you like Sputniks? This is from $99-$130

restoration hardware sputnik chandeliers

It’s more like the one on the right but no matter. The prices range from  $746-$1195

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 1.41.56 PM

Do these look familiar?

These all sell for from $6-13 a piece. And BTW, they have an SSL certificate. In plain English, it means they’re legit. Not that I’m recommending them; I’m not. I do not recommend buying from a source over seas unless you know what you’re doing and know the company. Furthermore reports have it that these ads are a sham. So buyer beware.

restoration hardware caged sconce 156-209

$156 – $209 at Restoration Hardware

restoration hardware sconce 121 - 165

$121 – $165

Oh, I could keep going, but you get it and I have better things to do with my time.

Can you get other Restoration Hardware items from China besides lighting? Yes, I’m sure. And you can also get far better deals for the same stuff on Ebay. It’s usually about half the price that RH is selling it for.

restoration hardware bed sold on Ebay for half the price

Like this bed for example.

 

 

And that’s my primary issue with Restoration Hardware.

 

They are touting themselves as a HIGH END purveyor of home furnishings and it is anything but. It is cheap crap from China.

You can tweet that. :]

 

But there’s another disgusting problem that is really behind this expose and it’s this.

 

Not only are they screwing the public, they have cheated many loyal designers who shop there for their clients. People like me. (well, not me. I don’t shop there). Only now, Restoration Hardware is giving the designer discount to EVERYONE! And that just plain sucks. It’s rampant greed at it’s finest.

 

However, these shoddy business practices appear to be catching up with them.

 

Restoration Hardware’s stock quote for the last five years.

 

restoration hardware stock tumble 2016restoration hardware stock tumble August 2016

 

I hear from my fellow designers that they have had nothing but problems with the quality of the furniture.

And they aren’t alone according to Consumer Affairs. Out of 43 ratings, 33 gave them one-star.

Furthermore, RH is still foisting this garbage on us.

 

prod2430249_av2

We already went through this abomination in an old post about the best sofas to buy.

prod2430249

A detailed shot to hi-light the grotesqueness.

sheerling sofa restoration hardware 16295 - 12221

A Polar Bear for only $12,000 or $16,000 if you’re too shnoop to pay the 100 bucks a year.

Gary Friedman. Photo by Ian Hanson

The simple truth is ______ you fill in the blank.

I think I’ve made it very clear how I feel.

 

I want people to buy quality. And while I realize that not everything can be made in this country, a lot of my vendors ARE producing a quality product in the USA and selling it for an appropriate margin.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

I’ll return to our fabric and furniture offerings on Sunday.

 

To end on a far happier note. The fabulous artist, Allison Cosmos from Sunday’s post, discovered it and sent me the most darling note today. And she told me that she’s going to be unveiling some of her prints at Zoe Bios Creative  at the next High Point Market. I will definitely be adding those resources to Laurel’s Rolodex.

Oh my stars! I almost forgot. We do have three winners of the contest and two of them have come forward to collect their prize, but I haven’t heard from the third one. I’ve sent out two emails. I’ll give her another day or so and then I will go to the next person on the list.

I used random.org to randomly pick the winners. Everyone was assigned a number and I told it to pick 3 numbers and the numbers connected to the names were the winners. Then, I realized that I better have some alternates, so I did it one more time and picked 3 more.

Hearty Congratulations to Susan S., Aubrey T. and Suzy K.!!! (who I’m waiting to hear from)

xo,

Laurel-e1443573876689

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  • Laurel Bern - August 17, 2016 - 1:32 AM

    Hi Robin,

    Sorry to hear that about the drapes. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - August 16, 2016 - 7:56 PM

    O. M. G. I’m not actually SO surprised, I know there’s a BIG markup–but WoWza!
    Do they really need to make their whole years profit off just 1 or 2 items?!?
    On the UP side–I do like to make my own knockoffs of their stuff for REsale–at a fraction of the price of course! ; D
    Thanks for another greatly informative post–
    CatherineReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 16, 2016 - 11:21 PM

      Hi Catherine,

      Of course, importing has other costs associated with it and those very well are not the same products, but they might be.

      I just discovered that RH is private labeling several fixtures by Visual Comfort and sold at Circa Lighting and other vendors.

      But the price is well UNDER the vendors who are selling Visual Comfort lighting.

      That’s also not right.

      ReplyCancel

  • Jayne - August 15, 2016 - 10:24 PM

    Hi Laurel. I discovered your blog a few months ago, and I am enjoying it tremendously. Thank you for pointing out the ridiculousness of the RH catalog tonnage, it was extremely off-putting to me. That Gary guy might be a marketing genius, but the first time I saw his picture in some glossy magazine, I felt compelled to check my local SO registry website. He did save them from disaster in ’08 possibly, but that was about the the time I ordered bed sheets from them. (I’d ordered them before with pretty good luck.) Anyway, the sheets came and as I was preparing to wash them I was shocked to discover the fitted sheet was completely split in two. Horrified, I called RH and they promised to send an entire new set. I was happy… until the new set arrived with exactly the same problem. That has never happened to me from any other bedding source and it broke the spell of all that lush photography. I appreciate all the varying comments on this subject but I would like to say that one reason your blog is so enjoyable I think, is that it is a lovely place to go and dream, leaving the strident world behind. When I was growing up outside Owensboro, KY, in the 1970’s and 80’s, our home was heated by propane gas. We had a huge gas tank, artfully concealed behind some bushes of course, and every fall, the Gas Man would come out and fill “er up. Every year the price went up, and my dad wanted to pay to fill that tank just once a year. He built a big, black iron wood-burner in our basement to help with heating the floor of the house. At the time he was working as a chemist at a distillery and he brought home many truck loads of bourbon barrel staves that we used in our stove. Talk about sweet smelling smoke! Perhaps RH should think about going into the firewood biz the next time they stumble on some French oak barrels! Thank you again for this, and all the other GREAT posts.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 16, 2016 - 12:18 AM

      Hi Jayne,

      What a lovely, sweet comment and story of your childhood on Owensboro. I don’t know if you know, but I was raised in Evansville, IN. We left when I was 15 in the early 70’s.ReplyCancel

      • Jayne - August 16, 2016 - 1:07 PM

        Yes, I did read that in another post featuring a picture of the McCurty(sp?) Hotel. Thank you again Laurel for such a wonderful blog. It really gives a lift to my day!ReplyCancel

  • Monika Hart - August 15, 2016 - 2:05 PM

    I’ve purchased RH hardware, upholstery and case goods and never had any quality issues. No cardboard backing, no flaking or discoloring of the hardware. Like most American furniture manufacturers many of their products are made overseas but that does not necessarily mean bad quality. Unless you have a large budget it’s difficult to find good quality and stylish US made products. Room & Board is the exception, although their product line is leaning more towards mid-century modern.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 15, 2016 - 4:10 PM

      Hi Monika,

      I’m glad you’ve had a good experience. The issue is not that the furniture is made in China or anywhere else. It is that it is not high-end.

      And it is a very specific look that is not to everyone’s taste. They don’t expect it to be. But often people think they like it when it doesn’t suit their space or lifestyle.

      As an interior designer in this business for 27 years, I can tell you that I work with dozens of vendors who are selling an excellent product and for the same or less than RH.

      And I’ve heard too many stories of quality issues. But again, I’m glad your experience has been good.

      I want RH to succeed, but as I’ve said, not at the expense of my colleagues and other vendors.

      Yes, some of those vendors need to try harder because I feel they fall short in the marketing department.

      We’re not selling plumbing parts. And that’s the thing that RH understands better than almost everyone else!ReplyCancel

  • jennifer - August 14, 2016 - 4:03 PM

    Thanks for this revealing and entertaining post. I recently noticed the same phenomenon whilst shopping online for bathroom decorative hardware (towel bars, tp holders, hooks). It is almost certainly the case that the same three factories in China are manufacturing the hardware that gets rebranded here in the states and sold at wildly varying price points. While many people recommend Ginger accessories, I am suspicious of the high price – which is exactly what I felt about RH accessories, which are reputed to be high quality. I’m curious if you have a go-to reco for simple and well-made bathroom hardware? Or … would that be available in your Rolodex ;-)? Warm regards.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 14, 2016 - 7:27 PM

      Hi Jennifer,

      Do you mean knobs and towel bars or do you mean faucets?

      Did you know that Resto bought up Waterworks?
      ReplyCancel

      • jennifer - August 14, 2016 - 9:15 PM

        Hi Laurel, I meant towel bars, tp holders, hooks — not plumbing fixtures. And no, I did not realize that Resto bought Waterworks …ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - August 14, 2016 - 11:03 PM

          I like Perrin and Rowe but Kohler is good. There are others as well. ReplyCancel

  • Alice - August 14, 2016 - 1:31 PM

    This is a great post, and one I think you could do on any number of stores. I have been really disappointed in the way Restoration Hardware has gone in the past few years, where everything is gray and oversized and overpriced. Sometimes I think they have forgotten they are a store, not a gallery. I went to the Boston location and the building is stunning but they had a very narrow slice of their products on display and almost none of the “hardware” (paint, switchcovers, etc.) available to view. Their kids section made my blood boil; the $3000 leather sofa for your kid made me murmur “Comes the revolution…”

    One thing I would point out, though, about the furniture is the pricing. I am in the market for a leather couch and the Lee Industries version of one that RH had came out at $8000+, nearly 3x the price of the RH version. I understand that Lee may be better quality, made in the USA, etc. but I just can’t spend $8000 on a couch. Sometimes the difference in price is worth not having a couch that will last forever.

    Thanks again for all the great work you do on this blog, it is one of my favorites.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 14, 2016 - 2:12 PM

      Hi Alice,

      $8k for the Lee sofa in leather? hmmm… hmmm… That sounds like full mark up and you can get it for less. But don’t bother. Go to the Comfortable Couch Company. http://cococohome.com – you can get a totally custom chesterfield made in the USA for a lot less than RH! And they’re beautiful! Their website doesn’t do the furniture justice.

      But that’s where a lot of companies fall short that RH doesn’t. Marketing. But, they’ve gone to the opposite extreme and fallen way beyond what it is.ReplyCancel

      • Ramona - August 14, 2016 - 4:01 PM

        COCOCO looks fabulous!!! I might have gone this route if I hadn’t gone Hickory Chair. Fabulous source.ReplyCancel

  • Robb Whittlef - August 13, 2016 - 5:54 PM

    Laurel-

    Your post popped up on my Facebook feed via someone that must be a subscriber and felt it was worth a read…and actually a response.

    As someone that as been in this industry for well over 25 years and not only owns an interior design firm but who has designed literally hundreds of products for Restoration Hardware ( among a range of other retailer/wholesalers at all levels) and was creative director for one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the World (based in Vietnam yet supplying a majority of the top level of American home furnishings market) I would love to offer another perspective to what you have written.

    To label RH in the way that you have is, in my opinion, is a little like blaming Whole Foods for the fact a conventionally grown apple they sell is more than it is at… say.. Target.

    This is not a one to one equation…

    It never has been… nor, in my opinion, will it ever be ( and trust me I am a big fan/have designed for Target too)

    And to look at a “picture” to determine it’s “margin structure” from the outside of any company is, in fact, just that…looking at it from the outside.

    Without actual hard data to back what you are proclaiming.

    For in reality, what you quote as fact is…in many cases, 100% incorrect.

    That I actually DO know as fact.

    For example…you note the wine barrel chandelier at Restoration Hardware. Having actually been in France with Rudi to purchase and load up the truly vintage French barrels ( which were then deconstructed into staves) I bore more than one bruise from that labor of love. And from that pick up we drove more than a few hours to numerous European workshops where the chandeliers were actually made for RH. This is actually fact. Furthermore, without a platform like RH, those artisans would never have been able to make a living doing what they love in…and maintain an family run craft that, at times, was 2 to 3 generations strong.

    This is but one example of what could be page upon page that I could give to you of actual fact related to what you stated above.

    Design development costs. Royalty agreements to artists.. Construction methods. Retail environments. Travel costs. Procurement of environmentally concious materials. Prototyping.

    These are things that factor into any product and its pricing.. Or don’t.

    For with a little more research, you would see that lighting is actually one of the categories in which patent protection does not exist…so the Chinese vendors you are showing are actually ripping off many of the original designs of the true artists…the ones that RH gave a platform to from which they built a living for their families.

    For if you authentically want to see an industry change…how exactly does singling out a sole retailer actually accomplish that goal?

    And as a responsible journalist and designer …if you are going to look at one company to make a statement about their impact on an industry…should you not first acknowledge the state of the industry prior to that company’s entry into the market?

    As a consultant for numerous levels of the retail landscape, I could unbiasedly argue that RH has been the single largest influencer of elevating the design knowledge of the buying public (domestically and internationally) and, in turn, forced an entire industry to once again invest in a consumer shopping experience in the physical World.

    In addition, the look and design they brought to the US market (whether curated or created) launched an entire redirection of the wholesale home furnishings industry which inspires residential consumers to hire interior designers to get “that look”.

    Furthermore, the traffic that an RH store or other design inspired leader ( plug-in: Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Crate and Barrel) drives to a mall location has a significant ripple effect across all other retailers in that location…which is well documented by traffic flow patterns when the move to an outside location.

    Does RH manufacture overseas? Absolutely.

    But so does 90% of the rest of the furniture industry…let alone retail in general.

    And on the same manufacturing worktables across the Globe that RH’s items exist are also some more mass retailers as well as some most expensive home furnishing brands in the global marketplace..

    Again…I have been to these places ( let alone headed them) so I know this as fact.

    So…I am pro Restoration Hardware. Yes.

    I am also pro a vast number of other retailers and wholesalers…like Prada, Gucci, Bally, the brands of the William Sonoma family, Armani home, Ralph Lauren Home, Modern History, Dwell, Four Hands, VanThiel, Lilian August and countless more that ALL manufacture around the globe…including the fact that each and everyone of these listed manufacture goods in China and the balance of Asia…and provide a “premium” product to the market.

    So instead of directing blame to them for something that has been the basis of retail for the last 1000 years… I choose to look at them for what they…as any other retailer should be..as a great marketer.

    Which is, in fact, exactly what you are… by putting “The Shocking Truth about Restoration Hardware” as the title of your post.

    For to define any thing in business or life by an isolated element without investing the time to truly access it’s globally integrated context has become an achilles heel of media and sadly a societal norm.

    But we all must do more than that…and we must be better than that.

    Having a voice in social media is a huge gift ( that no doubt takes endless effort and more energy than anyone, other than someone in it, could know) but it also comes with true responsibility. You obviously have tremendous talent and a great passion for the industry…yet my challenge to you would be to consider how it could be used to actually elevate what you deem an inherent weakness in the global industry rather than call out a single player unfairly.

    For that, in my opinion, actually just devalues us all.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 13, 2016 - 6:26 PM

      Hi Robb,

      Thank you for your very detailed explanation. I’ve answered some 150 comments and that is just here. And in those comments, I explain some points that you brought up and what my main point is which was lost on some individuals. Therefore, I’m not going to repeat that here.

      The title is meant to entice people to open up the post. It worked. :]

      Quite frankly, I wasn’t sure that anyone would be that interested.

      My aim with this blog is to educate, entertain and open up a dialog for the greater good of all. And by All, I mean Restoration Hardware too. I want them to succeed, but not at the expense of my colleagues.

      There’s a lot in these comments. And I’m afraid that much of it supports my assertions in terms of the quality of the furnishings. If that is the public’s perception, then perhaps it’s of significance? Besides here I’ve heard from dozens of people who’ve had a bad experience with RH. Surely, the company is aware and is working to create a brand synonymous with quality as well as integrity? Because at the moment, the jury has concluded otherwise.

      Most of the brands you mentioned in the home furnishings industry are not portending to be high end.

      It is as if the gap suddenly started selling their torn, faded jeans for a thousand dollars a pair and then built an exquisite hotel in which to sell them in order to elevate their stature.

      For years, Restoration Hardware was a brand which was known to be affordable and charming. At least I thought so. I wish that would come back. But if it wants to be a luxury brand, then something else needs to change IMO.

      Again, thank you Robb for taking the time to write your perspective. ReplyCancel

      • Greg - August 13, 2016 - 8:41 PM

        Just because most American companies choose to outsource manufacturing to Asia doesn’t make it right. Just like most of America is obese, doesn’t mean I should be too. Our company took a stand and decided to build here. Others can do the same. We talked with Ethan Allen and they, for the most part, build here too. I respect that. Keep it local and the locals will benefit. Give money to foreign companies and it’s gone.

        Our government is at fault. They promote it. I’m sure they are getting all kinds of kickbacks and donations to line their pockets. Free trade is great, but not when the factories that are producing most of our purchased products don’t follow our standards for employees, or our standards for food. China will do anything for a dollar, they are worse than Trump.ReplyCancel

        • Ramona - August 14, 2016 - 4:34 PM

          Ethan Allen quality is quite poor for their price point. I have quite a bit of EA in my home. I bought gorgeous floor lamps from them at a high price point because I simply loved the style. Imagine my surprise when the made in China label arrived. They are very sturdy but the finish is flawed and I haven’t been able to find someone to redo it. I am in less than ideal location for furniture refinishing.

          I seriously considered a EA couch before I began researching online. When I found out they did not do 8 way hand tied anymore, I nixed them.

          Some casegoods may be quality, but not the ones with backs. They have cardboard on the back. Mine, about 25 years old, certainly does. Also, when I bought that chest, the in house designer emphasized EA keeps its lines for a long time, so I could come back and buy other pieces. Guess what, within a year or so, the line, which I loved, was gone. I couldn’t get the other pieces I had decided I wanted.

          Good thing in the end because I subsequently learned that I was paying top price for a mid level quality. Now I have a aniline dyed green chest I cannot match. My taste has changed anyway, so I am considering refinishing the chest. It did convince me I love aniline dyed wood.

          I was comfortable enough with EA to buy fabric with which to reupholster a great Craigslist find of French bergeres buy a top notch manufacturer.

          So, buyer beware all the time.

          My Hickory Chair couch in white, bleachable Sunbrella is both gorgeous and more comfortable than my expensive mattress.

          I really value designers like Laurel who want people to find quality at a fair price point.

          But I digress: please don’t attack China as if the country doesn’t have serious problems. If American manufacturers asked for quality products out of those factories, the Americans could get them.

          Chinese leaders need to plan for their billion plus population; they need to feed and water them. This is a matter of survival. Do I support the regime? Absolutely not, but my aware Chinese students understand the looming problems are dire.

          American businessmen like Trump are the problem. They always seek maximum profit for inferior products. As others on this thread have personally attested to: one can order any level of quality in Asia.

          Now as far as hiring Americans and creating American jobs, this is a critical issue and very complex. We all need to live lightly on the earth. This means the American worker and consumer needs to change his/her ethical stance. Purposefully create and consume excellent products at a fair price point. Mostly business executives are to blame, but Americans who do a poor job, e.g. a cutting my lawn (and in my case, the workers are American), and consumers who want to redecorate every 7 years with more poorly made junk have their ethics wrong. These people may go to church, but they haven’t learned what it means to be responsible human beings.

          Sorry to go on, but your posting hit a number of nerves. I have a lot more to say on these topics.ReplyCancel

          • Laurel Bern - August 14, 2016 - 7:29 PM

            Hi Ramona,

            I have a dear friend who said to me years ago… “Oh, stop making sense!”

  • Katberine - August 13, 2016 - 3:37 PM

    Loved your article! My daughter is living in Malaysia for two years and has foun that between there and the surrounding countries she has travelled to that the furniture you can find rivals anything at Pottery Barn, RH, etc. and is dirt cheap. She also says you can find someone to custom make anything you want with just a picture and very little money.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 13, 2016 - 3:45 PM

      That sounds terrific Kat. What about getting it back over here? That’s what makes me nervous. I do know from experience that one should hire a custom’s broker; it’s going to be expensive to get it back, but maybe worth it?ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - August 13, 2016 - 11:24 AM

    I want to say that your honesty in this post makes me want to hire you for a long distance consultation.

    Gary Friedman is the epitome of what is wrong with American business practices. He may be clever, but he is not smart. Customer satisfaction needs to be the number one evaluation point for executives of all stripes.

    Someone should do a dystopian tv show dressed in RH ripoffs which places people living in huge warehouses dealing with decrepit furniture breaking all around them. Parts falling from 30 foot high ceiling light fixtures, people unable to keep their cafeteria style tables clean; others being hurt from splinters. Sofas seats falling flat to the floor when hapless post apocalyptic residents just try to rest for a few minutes. I’ve read of the sofas collapsing just like this.

    Anyone remember James Cameron’s “Dark Angel”? That setting would be perfect.

    And grey, grey brown, black and more grey. Depressing in the extreme.

    Enough to send us all to the loony bin.

    RH sent me those catalogs after I purchased a toilet paper holder. I started drooling, but the more I looked, the stranger everything appeared.

    Deconstruction is for literary theory and avante guard architecture. Deconstructed furniture not only looks uncomfortable, it looks dirty.

    Ripping off vulnerable Americans is a hellish thing to do. I have an online friend who insisted on buying RH dining room table, chairs and rug. A lot of us tried to dissuade her, but she honestly felt they were the best choices for her. Since she does not use that room 99% of the time, I expect the furniture will last a good long time. I am not so sure about the sisal rug.

    The former employee who commented here had a lot of good things to say about the general accuracy of your analysis but wound up accusing you of a vendetta. Heck. I feel the same and I haven’t even been personally ripped off. Neither do I have a direct stake in the design industry, except as a hapless customer.

    RH is just one story among hundreds of thousands concerning selling overpriced junk to unaware Americans.

    Unfortunately, even those of us who are aware get ripped off over and over because choices for products we need almost on a daily basis are limited to non-existent. I would like someone to make a spray bottle mechanism which doesn’t break long before its time. I am willing to pay a premium price to have a plastic mechanism which lasts. Heck, we can’t even get quality plastic pump gizmos for our pricey bathroom soap and lotion dispensers. Try replacing them. It is almost impossible as the fancy and often expensive bottles have different size threads. Anyone have a source for either of these products?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 13, 2016 - 2:28 PM

      Hi Ramona,

      Thank you for such a heart-felt well-thought out comment.

      What RH does better than anyone else is marketing. They know exactly how to play on the emotions of their customers. They know how to make people think that they like their furnishings and not only like them, NEED to acquire them!

      One tremendous lesson we CAN learn from them is PRESENTATION. I learned this in design school. Presentation is everything and yet so many brands fail to understand this. They may have a fabulous product but if they can’t convey that, then it’s not going to work.

      Basically, most of us, whether we realize it or not, are insecure. And I will whole-heartedly put myself in that category.

      But I have found that people often really want to be told what to do and to feel secure that what they are doing will be met with approval from others.

      Every time I write a post, I take a little gulp before I hit “send.” Even my little monkey on mail chimp is programmed to sweat profusely as he’s waiting for me to hit the button.

      It always makes me laugh and reminds me that we are all in this together. I figure if people don’t like what I have to say, then they don’t have to read it!

      I don’t know Gary Friedman and I don’t know what goes on inside his head and heart.

      What I DO know is that for a time, he brought this brand from the brink of disaster into an immensely successful company.

      He’s definitely a visionary. And in some ways, I think his vision has merit. (although, not sure if it’s appropriate for home furnishings) However, I do feel that some egregious mistakes have been made. And I’d like to think that they happened unintentionally.

      But we all make them. I started this website/blog in 2012 and 7 months later launched a little online home furnishings boutique. Oh, it was so, so pretty and I was immensely proud of it!

      I had, had this dream for years and decided that it was high time to just do it and that one thing alone made me proud of myself.

      Just one not-so-little problem. NOBODY and I mean, NOBODY was reading my blog or landing on my website. I had it all backwards. Its not here anymore, because the entire thing blew up in an update and it would’ve cost me a couple thousand to get it fixed. It wasn’t worth it.

      My point is that it was a lesson I learned.

      We will see what happens in the coming months and years with RH. I have high hopes that they can turn some of this around. They did it before.

      I just don’t want to see my fellow colleagues and vendors getting burned whether intentionally or not; being successful IMO is not about hurting others in the process.

      Well… back to tomorrow’s blog post!
      ReplyCancel

  • Diana mclean - August 13, 2016 - 2:00 AM

    All u have to do, if u r looking for quality, is to feel the arm of a sofa or chair. If u feel the wood frame, run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit .
    It’s a pretty storefront, but no guts
    So, if u r brave and strong and not easily fallen for looks but no glory, walk around, smile, and walk out without spending a dime and go to Starbucks to get ur high.ReplyCancel

  • Scott Himmel - August 12, 2016 - 11:03 PM

    I should have used my furniture company’s website , “truexstyle.com”.
    Everyone here is brave enough to tell the truth. Very few people can allocate their resources to truly finely made, custom furniture. But that doesn’t mean you have free license to peddle mediocre crap to people who think they are “getting a great deal” by buying their crap. Their return numbers says it all. All the money in the world cannot really turn a ‘sows ear in to a silk purse’. There are political parallels , but no one wants to go there .ReplyCancel

    • Ramona - August 13, 2016 - 10:53 AM

      I love your silver leafed Astor Bombe Chest. I have NO showrooms, etc. in the boondocks of Michigan. Can I call you guys directly to get a price?ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - August 13, 2016 - 1:53 PM

        Hi Ramona,

        I’m not sure if Scott will see this, but if you contact the company directly, I’m sure that they can help you.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 13, 2016 - 12:29 AM

      Hi Scott,

      Thanks for stopping by! I looked at both of your websites. Gorgeous and legitimately high-end.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy - August 12, 2016 - 4:46 PM

    Ummmm every furniture manufacturers we see at wholesale market does this. Unless you’re buying furniture from local makers, they’re all made in Asia with extremely high markup. Especially all the big box retailers, pottery barn, west elm, target… Same with most consumer goods made overseas. Clothes from gap, jcrew, Anthropologie, etc. I don’t understand how this is shocking. If you don’t want to support corporate consumerism, perhaps take a peek at your household items and closets before throwing stones.ReplyCancel

    • Jeannine | The Small and Chic Home - August 14, 2016 - 3:18 PM

      The companies that come under Williams Sonoma (includes Pottery Barn and West Elm) have moved upholstery manufacturing back to the US (once upon a time, Mitchel Gold and Bob Williams did a lot of the upholstery work for RH and PB).

      They call their facility Sutter Street and it’s in Hickory, NC.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - August 14, 2016 - 3:26 PM

        Hi Jeannine,

        That’s good to know and it makes sense. I can’t imagine how it’s possible to do custom upholstery in the far east and maintain quality control. The problems most likely were costing more than it would to do it here where it can be overseen. ReplyCancel

        • Jeannine | The Small and Chic Home - August 14, 2016 - 3:58 PM

          I think you’re right, Laurel. I know a couple people who bought sofas from PB in the post-MGBW years and they aren’t big fans of PB. I took a change ordering a loveseat at the beginning of the summer (delivery will be soon, I hope!) just because it was going to be made in NC. Fingers crossed!ReplyCancel

          • Laurel Bern - August 14, 2016 - 7:24 PM

            Please let me know how it is. I’m curious.

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 4:58 PM

      Couldn’t agree with you more Cindy. But that was not my point. I’ve probably repeated myself at least two dozen times. The issue is not that it’s made in China. The issue is that it’s pretending to be something that its not. And thereby hurts our industry and especially legitimate high-end vendors who are producing a quality product.

      It would be no different than the Gap suddenly claiming it was haute couture and charging a thousand bucks for a pair of ripped jeans. And then going about building giant emporiums to display said jeans.ReplyCancel

  • Carol Vena-Mondt - August 12, 2016 - 4:05 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    Thank you! Please keep spreading the word about the horrors of RH. There are several other retailers that can be included when it comes to low quality furnishings but few are as avaricious as RH. I am a furniture designer and have spent my career seeking out skilled craftsmen to make my wood and upholstered pieces. I am also an environmentalist so I insist on sources that are environmentally responsible. It is a lot of work and, in the end, costs more than I would like but my clients are usually like-minded once I explain they are getting a product that will last many lifetimes. If they don’t have the budget for custom, I often suggest they go to thrift stores and garage sales looking for well-made brands from the 60s & 70s. Once you get to the 80s, things go downhill. If you get an older sofa, you can count of the frame being hardwood and the springs are probably still good. I always insist on springs in the cushions – just like they used to be. Thank you for your post and please continue to educate the public about good quality, well-made furniture. It is out there!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 4:53 PM

      Hi Carol,

      I always do spring-down too. Always! It is both soft and supportive and the cushion will retain it’s beautiful shape without having to do anything.

      Some of the furniture from the 60’s is way cool with beautiful lines and at human scale, not AVATAR SCALE!

      Thanks for stopping by!ReplyCancel

  • E - August 12, 2016 - 1:56 PM

    Also some of their items are completely impractical. Those great-looking, huge, rustic, rough-surfaced, wooden dining tables? Maybe if you live in a cave or a forest. Imagine wiping them off after serving a meal. Shredded dish cloths. Splinters coming loose. And the crumbs will STILL be in the crevices of the beautifully rustic, rough wood. Vacuum the table? No thanks. Who designs these things? Not people who actually use them in real life!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 4:46 PM

      Well, E… That is precisely a key point. It is a lifestyle built on fantasy; one, where people have 2,000 square foot living rooms that soar up 20 feet high or more.

      That would be nice. Actually, I prefer far smaller rooms. But a 12 foot ceiling would be most splendid!ReplyCancel

  • Sheila - August 12, 2016 - 12:13 PM

    And to add: it really upsets me when I see PB and RH ripping off artist’s designs that they scan from Etsy. I try to buy local or antique/vintage when I can. Sadly, people will continue to shop at RH…
    P.S. I love how y’all say “chesterfield” like a Canadian. It warms my heart!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 4:41 PM

      Hi Sheila,

      Sorry the “Chesterfield like a Canadian” went over my head. I say it because that is the style of sofa that has a big roll arm that is the same height as the back and usually tufted.ReplyCancel

  • Jacqueline L - August 12, 2016 - 12:06 PM

    This article and comparison was great! I completely and totally agree. It’s so unfortunate that so many products are now manufactured in China where the quality and durability are far more inferior to that of products made in the US and other markets. I recently had my condo redone and opted for Mitchell Gold Bob Williams for my furniture because it’s reasonably priced for the quality and style they offer and it’s all made in the USA.ReplyCancel

  • ThatGuyinCa - August 12, 2016 - 11:15 AM

    Can’t believe I am actually doing this but here we go. I am an ex-employee of that “evil rip off-con artist company.” (That was sarcasm by the way). I worked there for ten years at the corporate offices. I have had dealings with that “pretentious” corporate leader (I didn’t work hand in hand with him on a regular basis as I wasn’t THAT high up but I have dealt with him on several occasions). Actually the pretentious label is a valid assessment. I will say he is a very hard worker and knows his shit. Being an ex-employee was by choice so I have no major bone to pick nor do I think I would go back. I have seen with my own eyes the invoices for some of the products you listed in the article and the prices you listed are less than even Resto pays. Also I was a little shocked to see someone in the design industry support the knock off/counterfeit industry. That wine barrel chandelier you posted, the designer of that product gets a piece of every one of them that Resto sells. I know this for a fact as I’ve calculated and processed the payment. I will absolutely agree that Resto is priced way high. Way out of my range. Even as a (decently compensated) employee in a higher than an entry level position I still couldn’t really afford their stuff even with 40% off. I stayed away from the sofas and chairs. But the bedroom sets i have from them (purchased back when they doing more of the dark cherry type stuff) are built like frickin tanks. I just moved and I hated every minute of hauling that stuff cuz it is fricking HEAVY (and can take a beating)! The patio furniture is more than legit as well. I’ve got some of the Klismos chaises and those things still look great. Excellent lines too. Like anywhere, Resto has good and bad. And like anything, you can buy cheap knockoffs that generally aren’t built to the same quality. And yes you can find someone locally who can and will reproduce something for you and probably at a better price, but then it wouldn’t be a “brand” item. There are two types of people who buy Resto stuff. 1.) those that are wealthy (I mean really wealthy) where the prices are nothing to them and 2.) those that when they invite you to a BBQ and serve you a burger make sure you know that it isn’t a regular burger but rather it’s made with only grass fed beef. I will say some of your critique is valid but it is obvious you have some type bone to pick as your blog post crosses from choose this over that to more of an assassination piece. I also was in involved in the catalog. Those things are not cheap to produce. A lot of people who get them actually keep them as coffee table books. There was a lot of negative press regarding the “masonry stone” they sent out. Personally, I think it’s a waste of money but they are high end so the catalog must be high end. And I get why they do catalogs. It’s a way to present the entire product to the customer (it would take an astronomical amount of clicks in front of a computer to see the entire product line). I can say that the masonry stone catalog actually saved them a little money and used less fossil fuel to deliver all at once rather than one catalog per month. Resto actually made sure that all the trees that made the paper were from sustainable forested sources (that was a pain in the ass to do I can attest and made the catalogs a little more expensive to produce). In the end it didn’t matter anyways as they still got slammed pretty hard. I will say there is one really valid point when slamming them, an example would the trestle table built with wood salvaged from a support beam of a 150 year old distillery or whatever. Yeah, the original! Not the one you will be buying. All that said there is no denying Gary is a visionary who took a company from nothing to the top of the heap. He has certainly transformed retail and made a retail real estate footprint valid again. I never begrudged him his pretentiousness as his accomplishments are pretty stacked. I will NEVER forget during a company wide meeting to discuss performance and future direction he was mic’ed up. If you have ever met Gary you know he cares about how he is perceived. Anyways, between his speeches he needed to use the restroom and forgot to disengage the mic. Everyone in the auditorium (close to 1,000 employees) heard the stream hitting the water and the flush. It was funny as hell and the entire auditorium burst into laughter. His face was so red with embarrassment when he came back out the walls at the back were glowing red. I was surprised that he took it in stride. He “wore” it well. Don’t know why I responded to this article really as I have “no skin in the game.” I thought some points were valid but in all like I said previously this is OBVIOUSLY a negatively biased article. don’t get me wrong, there are some outlets that ride Resto’s jock so something in the opposite direction is fair but this seemed just a little to personal for you. Like there was some type of revenge being served. I only saw this as someone I know shared it on Facebook and I was interested to read it. Not really a follower of fashion or design. I’m a lazy boy, type of guy anyways.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 4:39 PM

      TGIC,

      Thank you. However, I am in no way advocating the purchasing of anything in China. It was exercise to show similar or the same items that are sold for an absurdly low price.

      And yes, of course, too good to be true. But my point which was missed by some people is that much of what is sold if not all is not the exclusive high-end product it is portending to be.

      Who copied who is of no relevance. Although it is quite well-known in the industry that resto has copied others. But that is common-place in this industry.

      But most importantly this company has hurt my colleagues and our industry as a whole. A brand built on an obvious lie is not one that I have much respect for. I did years ago, but it changed and then so did my high opinion.

      Other than that, I have no personal gripe. I don’t shop there; never recommend it to my clients. I’ve heard too many horror stories in recent years.
      ReplyCancel

  • Debbie - August 12, 2016 - 10:02 AM

    Fabulous article. Almost purchased a sofa from them a couple weeks ago. Just couldn’t bring myself to pay those prices. Went with crate and barrel. Sofa being delivered tomorrow. Hope we made a good decision.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 4:19 PM

      I like Crate and Barrel and it’s not trying to be something it’s not.ReplyCancel

  • Kristy - August 12, 2016 - 8:29 AM

    I’ll start that I wholeheartedly agree with you that you probably aren’t getting the quality or bargain you think you are from RH, especially with the suppliers and examples shared… but just to toss it out there (and I know you did way more research than I did and am sure you know more) but intellectual property theft in the APAC region, especially China, is extremely common and IMO ridiculous… do we know if they are truly supplying their inventory that way or were there designs, etc. stolen? Either way, I don’t shop there but it felt like that piece of the puzzle wasn’t addressed.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 10:23 AM

      Hi Kristy,

      It’s been addressed numerous times in the comments. Not that I expect you to read all 250 something of them. The exercise was to demonstrate that Chinese furnishings are cheap. And yes lots of companies steal from each other, including RH. That’s been a complaint for years. Often they’ll change a small detail. It’s quite commonplace in the furniture industry. After-all, a chair is a seat a back and and an arm. There can only be so many variations.ReplyCancel

  • Valarie Edwards - August 12, 2016 - 1:58 AM

    Earlier this year I pledged not to buy anything made in China. Now I love moo shu as well as the New Yorker but everything falls apart which means it must be replaced with other equally poorly designed crap. So these days I stick to picking up well made American pieces from the thrift stores that are a couple decades out of style. It may look mismatched but I know it will stand up. BTW appreciate your honesty. Takes courage kiddo to speak truth these days.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 10:20 AM

      Hi Valarie,

      I found an old vintage very small wing chair at a flea market and picked it up. 70 bucks. I had reupholstered in white cotton duck. It’s beautiful and sits sweetly in my bedroom. They just don’t make furniture like this anymore!ReplyCancel

  • Valarie Edwards - August 12, 2016 - 1:51 AM

    Laurel; I’m so glad you wrote this post. There’s a bed I’m swooning over but I’ll look elsewhere now. I did find a use for those catalogues though. They make a decoupage project!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - August 11, 2016 - 11:54 PM

    I found this article about the head of RH. Is it just me, or does it sound as if he is blaming his employees for RH loosing customers.

    http://fortune.com/2016/02/26/restoration-hardware-ceo-memo/ReplyCancel

  • Dennis - August 11, 2016 - 10:47 PM

    Yeah. The sofas…. The names and I had fallen in love with a Chesterfield at RH. Loved the style and had even places an order. The $5,000 had given my wife and I some buyers remorse so we started looking for other options. We found the Comfortable Couch Company in North Carolina. they made us a custom sofa in our choice of fabric for 1000’s less than RH was selling their imported garbage for. Beautiful sofa made by me hardworking folks in NC? I bought an enormou, leather, IMG backed chair to go with the new couch. http://www.cococohome.com are some really great folks, with a wonderful design studio.ReplyCancel

    • Alice - August 14, 2016 - 1:53 PM

      The website is actually https://www.cococohome.com/; the one you posted (ironically) goes to a Chinese website! Probably not a coincidence 😉ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - August 14, 2016 - 2:02 PM

        I fixed the link in his comment Alice. Thanks for letting me know.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 12:58 AM

      Hi Dennis,

      I also purchased a beautiful Chesterfield from them for clients a few years ago. Totally custom. Made here and for a lot less money. hmmmm… ReplyCancel

  • Vivian - August 11, 2016 - 10:39 PM

    Thank you this article. I own a furniture and design store right around the corner from RH on 20th street and we actually custom make our sofas and upholstered pieces in California by master craftsmen. We help customers design their dream pieces. However when we try and explain why our pieces are superior in quality than RH even though priced less, they look at us like we are crazy or liars. I guess destroying millions of trees to produce those catalogs worked to brainwash people into thinking that style is actually fresh and on trend. I could go on and on about it because it’s frustrating as a small retailer trying to offer customers and designers quality, it’s hard to compete with a bohemoth like RH. If you are ever in the hood, stop by and we can drink to our mutual hatred. keep on spreading the truth.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 12:57 AM

      Hi Vivian,

      It looks like a lovely shop. A drink would be lovely.
      ReplyCancel

  • Katherine - August 11, 2016 - 10:36 PM

    You might have been in my kitchen tonight as we discussed the broken bar stools (only two years old) that we bought from Restoration Hardware. We are not an active household with a gaggle of rough and tumble kids jumping on things, so for items to be broken or worn is odd.
    For our newly renovated home we bought three items [thank heavens it wasn’t more] from RH. Bar stools and bistro chairs with cane seating – bar stools hardly used and now needing to be repaired. Repair cost is the same as what we paid for the stool.

    The Laney wood kitchen table – with treated barn boards that warp.
    And the Salerno Streetlight lantern – lovely…. until I woke up one morning and saw it hanging by the wire. The lantern weighs about 80 pounds and it was hanging by the wire only. It has a long [sharp] finial on the end – it would kill someone if it fell. My husband and I got up on the ladder and managed to get it down without falling off or dropping the lantern. I just wanted to let it fall to the ground and not try to save it – it was nerve racking.
    And our options to get it back up – and btw keep some of our investment in the piece, not return it to RH – no, they don’t stand by anything. We took it to the light restoration company who did all of our lighting except for this giant mistake purchase – and for another $600 we had it repaired.

    Yes we were fooled by the look. Never again.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 12:51 AM

      Hi Katherine,

      Sorry for all of the problems. It’s certainly no fun.ReplyCancel

  • Julie Hammond - August 11, 2016 - 7:58 PM

    I recently went into a new RH outlet that opened in our area. These facilities are just regularly lit spaces with no adornment. It took about 2 minutes to recognize the poor quality of their products when viewed without the smoke and mirrors of their stores. I feel like I need to wear one of those headband lights when I enter their regular ‘galleries’. BTW I love your blog and was one of your early purchasers of your Rolodex. I don’t however know how to receive the updates. I have sent several emails to your site asking. It still have not received an answer. That’s OK I am sure you are pretty busy with excellent posts like today’s. How do you update the rolexex?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 12:38 AM

      Hi Julie,

      I answer every single email I get! It is possible that the emails went to spam.

      Oh wait. I just checked. I wrote you on July 27th. Maybe it went to your spam. I’m going to forward it to you just now.

      I’ve only sent out one update last December. There will be another one probably in November.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 12:43 AM

        Oh wait again. You gave me the same email twice and said it was your old email. That’s what happened. Let me see if I have the new email somewhere. If not, hopefully you will see this and send it to me.ReplyCancel

  • Areli - August 11, 2016 - 7:09 PM

    I loved this blog post. I’m a 3rd year interior design student and I have thought this about RH for quite some time now. It actually saddened me when a “high end” hotel I worked for designed a new boutique coffee shop and spent hundreds of thousands on RH furniture and lighting.
    I’ve also noticed this trend with Willams-Sonoma which now doesn’t shock me to see RH with the same CEO pulling the same crap.. You can buy many of the same things (brands and all!) from Williams Sonoma at World Market for a much more reasonable price. When it comes to decorating, especially staging a kitchen I much rather pay $10 for a fake marble cheese board than $60 for the same thing at Williams Sonoma. (That was a real example there!)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 12:30 AM

      Hi Areli,

      Thanks for all of that and good luck with your studies!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Chatelain - August 11, 2016 - 7:08 PM

    I haven’t gone to RH for a number of years. They used to be so much fun with their oddball cleaning supplies and Christmas gifts. Now it’s just depressing. Everything is grey. Why go to a funeral home?ReplyCancel

  • Ellie - August 11, 2016 - 6:55 PM

    Whole heartedly agree Laurel!!
    I considered a sofa from RH and did some research to find that customers have been very disappointed with their sofa purchases! Also I have seen many, many second hand sofas for sale from RH which look terrible after just a year or two. Will not be buying from them.ReplyCancel

  • ttp - August 11, 2016 - 6:30 PM

    what about pottery barn?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 11:09 PM

      PB has maintained a consistent brand image and is not trying to be something its not.ReplyCancel

  • Jan - August 11, 2016 - 6:29 PM

    Thanks for the post. How did you search to uncover the lighting you shared?ReplyCancel

  • Laura - August 11, 2016 - 6:25 PM

    Dear Laurel,

    I agree with you completely. Back in 1997 (when I was young and innocent) I fell in love with the vintage, Arts and Crafts feel of the old RH. I purchased a lichen green velvet sofa. The love didn’t last. That sofa looked like garbage (or Oscar the Grouch) within two years. Although, I don’t think that I was fleeced quite as badly back then as RH customers are now. Also, why is that man featuring his photograph and “words of wisdom” in the catalog so much. That really turns me off. So pretentious.ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne Stephens - August 11, 2016 - 6:22 PM

    Laurel, while I’ve never bought from RH, I have imported goods from China. It’s a ROYAL pain — such a pain that I changed my business model to eliminate buying from China.

    First, to get the low prices shown on their site, you often have to purchase hundreds or thousands of units. Then, the shipping often costs more than the product itself. Lots more. And the prices posted often are meaningless.

    You never know if the factory advertising an object has actually ever made it; many suppliers post stolen images to communicate the idea that they could make it if you are gullible enough to let them learn on your dime. Since they’ve never made it, then they may hit you up for $thousands extra for what’s ubiquitously called a “mold” charge.

    Before buying from Alibaba, I’d be sure to look to see if you can buy the item from an Amazon seller since much of what is sold on Amazon is made in China.

    So, the reality is that a light fixture advertised on Alibaba at $1 would actually cost lots more. You’d only get the $1 price if you placed a large minimum order, which might be hundreds or thousands of units. And that’s IF they honor their website prices or minimums, which few do.

    The next step would be to get actual quotes, because prices shown on the website are usually loss leaders, which would be illegal in the U.S. In actuality, the $1 would only apply to a very large order. Need 5000 light fixtures? Sure, you MIGHT be able to get them for $1 ea., not including freight, which could easily double or triple the price.

    Of course, even if the supplier quotes a price and you pay 30-50% upfront, quite often Chinese suppliers will later come back with some bullshit reason for raising the price and won’t ship unless you agree to pay their new price. Chinese businesses don’t have follow anything like US models of ethical business practices.

    Simply the fact that they are advertising products using stolen images should tell you that something is wrong.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 11:05 PM

      Hi Suzanne,

      Yes, I agree. There’s no way that you could get a light fixture for $1 unless it was in mass quantities and then still have to pay a hefty shipping charge.

      I ordered once from overseas– Paris. A gorgeous antique armoire that came wrapped in tissue paper. Here’s the blog post that tells all about the nightmare.

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/2014/01/29/kitchen-design/

      Oh, and I never saw a penny to take care of the repairs. Lesson learned.ReplyCancel

  • Lee - August 11, 2016 - 5:38 PM

    I generally don’t leave comments, but just have to respond to your assessment of RH. Unfortunately I have to agree that the quality of their furniture has declined over the last couple of years, but it’s not China’s fault and you probably didn’t mean what it sounds like. They are only producing what RH wants, which of course is a win win for the company, they are pocketing a lot of money. I have a RH Belgian Track Arm Sofa in a sand Belgian linen that I just love love and have know complaints with the construction. I’ve boughten hardware, rugs, lights and outdoor furniture and have know complaints and I really don’t feel that I paid too much. So back to China, my daughter and her husband lived there for four years and had my granddaughter there, I spent months at a time in Shanghai. You can have whatever your heart desires to be copied and made by hand there, the (highest quality or low)they are such hard working people and live very meagerly but are happy for the most part.
    I had Roman shades made in a off white linen for my entire house for 1200 dollars! Compared that to US price for Hunter Douglas for one large window was 650. Wonder where Hunter Doughlas blinds are made. Want Louboutin shoes copied that can be done, but anyway I could go on and on. I am 63 and still have my first sofa, a Harden Chippendale Camelback, it’s been recover a couple of times. So just want to say China is not the problem, we are in The good old USA!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 11:01 PM

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Lee. That’s my Mom’s name. :]ReplyCancel

  • Ellen - August 11, 2016 - 5:25 PM

    My husband and I have been called it “Frustration Hardware” ever since we made the mistake of ordering our window coverings from there. The in-store ordering process took a ridiculous amount of time and we were not told until after we spent over an hour with the sales associate that most of it was on back order. After we invested all the time (including our previous visits to look at options), we decided to order anyway. It took over a year to get all of our window coverings and hardware and it came in so many different increments, I couldn’t even tell you if we got everything that we ordered. That was the last time I shopped there.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:57 PM

      A year? Can’t say it hasn’t happened to me. But it’s very rare in placing thousands of orders over the years.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - August 11, 2016 - 5:22 PM

    Laurel, thank you for confirming what I have now discovered to be true of RH. We purchased one of their rugs–jute and wool. Within just a few weeks of receiving it, the jute began to break from normal wear, so much so, that I contacted the company. Of course they wanted to exchange it for another rather than give me a refund. I chose an indoor/outdoor style. Big mistake because mine is nothing like the ones made 4 or 5 years ago. My rug is really thin! Also ordered a blanket (throw) for the end of the bed. It has unraveled in several places. And finally, our big purchase was the linen down sofa. I PRAY it holds up! I am grateful for your thoughts about RH and will sharing them with many of my friends!ReplyCancel

  • Lia - August 11, 2016 - 5:14 PM

    Laurel, thank you for this post. I didn’t realize this at all, but Restoration Hardware is waaaaay out of my budget anyway. I have tweeted, facebooked and shared your post as many places as I can to properly inform others. No business should be so outrageous with their markups. Again, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • vicky - August 11, 2016 - 4:27 PM

    I held a fortuitous coupon in my hand at around the time they rolled out the ‘amazing’ 25% deal. Was considering a dining room table and had actually printed a hard copy so I had record of the price. I cancelled the entire thought when I walked in to purchase and noted the prices had GONE UP around 30% the day before the rollout. Is that even legal? People were lined up at the counter like they were giving away free ice cream!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:44 PM

      Hi Vicky,

      Oh my. It’s probably not illegal, but it’s certainly unethical IMO. ReplyCancel

  • Natasha Lovas - August 11, 2016 - 4:16 PM

    Thanks so much for giving your honest opinion. I agree wholeheartedly. I use to love their actual hardware, lamps and curtain rods. Now all I see there is pretentious crap and snooty salespeople. Sad!!!ReplyCancel

  • Jamie Sildar - August 11, 2016 - 3:28 PM

    Love your post abt RH. Ive always wondered if I was the only one who thought RH was an over inflated ripoff. I was living in NY when they opened. I was also renovating a prewar on 66th St and I wanted either authentic hardware ( door. Knobs, cabinet pulls, etc in brass). I ws so dissappointed by what they were offering which were, even then, cheap looking repros for ridiculous prices. Of course, as you know, the store was considered COOL and everyone was looky looing in the store…including my ex husband. Lots of there junk ended up in renos in SOHO and Tribeca! There was nothing I could buy and eventually found an amazing store on Jane St that had repros that were a very high quality for just a little more than the CRAP at RH. Im so glad youre exposing tthem and letting others know there are affordable options if they search the internet. Great job!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - August 11, 2016 - 3:11 PM

    This is great information. I’ve been drooling over a spuknik light for soooo long!!! I know where to do down thanks for the down low!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:30 PM

      Hi Kim,

      Again, I’m not advocating actually purchasing from a Chinese company and should’ve said that in the post. It may not be as good a deal as purported, but do your homework. There are lots of vendors who carry them!ReplyCancel

  • Shari Kline - August 11, 2016 - 2:54 PM

    Laurel,
    I absolutely LOVE that you did all the legwork on this post – and you are absolutely correct. Except for one thing. The linens they are selling are marked up too. Ok, yes, I design and manufacture high end linens and yes, I am irritated that designers don’t consider linens for their clients until the very last minute and then they are forced to go to places like RH because they have them sitting on a shelf waiting for them. Not special. Not unique. Not worth hiring a designer to buy them for you.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:29 PM

      Hi Shari,

      Except for the occasional bed skirt and custom duvet cover, or coverlet, I rarely have done lines because my clients don’t want to spring the $$$ to pay for custom. And like a lot of other things, it’s possible that the quality of the linens was better a decade ago. Not sure.ReplyCancel

  • Abby - August 11, 2016 - 2:53 PM

    I could not agree more. I worked there for a hot second after working at a REAL high end gallery where we had fabric and cushion core option to offer our clients. I went from working with real high end and custom furniture to RH. In the middle of the day they would have to “plump” up their sofas to make them look good. All I have to say is, if your calling yourself high end, then no need to plump your sofa up after an hour of your store being open.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:27 PM

      Hi Abby,

      Righto and I wrote that in response to someone’s comment about the cushion fill. A “cloud” sectional with some 6-8 big heavy cushions. That’s a lot of fluffing to maintain that cloud-like feeling!ReplyCancel

  • Tina Shark - August 11, 2016 - 2:40 PM

    Laurel – ok we were just about to spend over $10,000 on our what we thought dream sectional. Hoping it would last us a lifetime considering the cost.

    Now I have second thoughts on spending this amt. Any ideas as to where to shop is appreciated.

    TSReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:25 PM

      Hi Tina,

      I think that everyone furnishing their home should hire a professional to help them. You don’t have to spend 10k to get a high-quality gorgeous sectional.

      I wrote Laurel’s Rolodex to help designers and design enthusiasts to source furniture. You can read more about it here if interested. https://laurelberninteriors.com/laurels-rolodex/ReplyCancel

  • nicola - August 11, 2016 - 2:13 PM

    Hi Laurel, thanks for having the strong point of view to publish this little back story on RH. I have been a design professional for 15 years, but for those not in the trade, there is all too much smoke and mirror, and not enough consumer understanding about mark up & sourcing. My first hand experience with the RH brand left me much wiser about the large scale rip off artistry at work. I worked for a beautiful art/design/wine tasting destination, Maisonry in Yountville, Napa Valley. It was a lovely ivy covered stone building, with olive grove gardens,great art, great wine and a highly dedicated staff. After 10 years of cultivating an extrordinary clientele,we hosted visitors from all over the world. then, Mr Gary Freidman and the owner happened to become buddies, and before long it was announced a deal had been made. In early 2015, RH assumed ownership of Maisonry. How much did the former owner lose in translation? Too much to know, but it was a sell out of the worst kind. A new RH lifestyle gallery would be built next door. Now, Yountville is a sophisticated little wine country village, but this was radical commercialization. Mr. Friedman had recently finished building his 10 million dollar RH concept residence in nearby St. Helena. It was a full blown take over and make no mistake, Mr. Friedman is not unlike the Donald Trump of the furnishings industry. There was indeed collateral damage and many of the original employees left at news of the impending buy-out. Soon, RH types were showing up and changing out the furnishings and art, the once unique destination of Maisonry Napa Valley lost it’s soul and a corporate superficiality took it’s place. Soon, the Napa lifestyle concept would be taken to RH galleries across the country. Or would it? I wait in earnest to see how much RH will assume as it’s ‘original concept’ — the reality is more about burning through consumer interests until the next new thing comes along. It’s another disillusioned tale, I’m afraid. I will always love my Napa, but a little less of Yountville’s tawdry end of town these days.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:16 PM

      Oh Nicola,

      Thank you for sharing this sad tale. And yes, that’s what is missing.

      Soul.ReplyCancel

  • Carynia - August 11, 2016 - 2:04 PM

    Great post Laurel! It would be so helpful if there was a source list of retailers offering good quality, stylish and affordable furnishings–as what’s a homeowner to do when looking for reasonably priced basic pieces like sofas, dining or coffee tables, etc., especially if not living in an urban area where more choices are usually available. Many of us are faced with having to choose something either from local furniture stores often featuring mediocre styles, or perusing options available in catalogs/online like Pottery Barn, Arhaus, Mitchell & Bob. How does one know what’s of reputable quality and worth the price (without breaking the bank) for the average homeowner wanting stylish options? A list of furnishings retailers with ratings, reviews (and warnings!) would be so awesome!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:06 PM

      Hi Carynia,

      Well… what you are describing does exist. Right here. It’s Laurel’s Rolodex

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/laurels-rolodex/

      Now, there aren’t ratings, but when I have something to say, I do about many of the vendors. Also included is a price-point code and a link to the company’s/vendor’s website. There’s a lot of other information too, but you can read about it by clicking on the link if interested.ReplyCancel

  • Tommy - August 11, 2016 - 1:53 PM

    Everything you are saying is probably true. Having been involved in the design and antiques business for 20 years, I’ve seen a lot of RH shenanigans. Sadly, they are not alone in their deceit. These practices go on throughout the industry from the small dealer all the way up to huge retailers. I have found that a good decorator can pay for themselves by identifying fakes and cheap crap and steering their clients away. Thanks for the great article.ReplyCancel

  • Ken Roberts - August 11, 2016 - 1:53 PM

    Chinese manufacturers show photographs from everywhere and claim to manufacture the same thing for a fraction of the price. This goes for housewares, clothes and shoes.

    When you get these items you realize there is a vast difference between the photograph and reality. I’ve been burned several times by being lured into that trap. Its been my experience that these manufacturers will do and say anything as long as you pay them. They are not looking for repeat business.

    If these are the same manufacturers, then they will not be for very long.ReplyCancel

  • Monika - August 11, 2016 - 1:49 PM

    Ha, love that you made this post! I was in the Arteriors warehouse a few months back to do a customer pickup and there were tons of boxes with RH on them…ReplyCancel

  • Barbara - August 11, 2016 - 1:40 PM

    Wow – the past few years I’ve found RH style to be both dull and pretentious, sort of faux Belgian on steroids. I sure didn’t know about their sourcing and mark-ups! I’m not a designer so I don’t purchase home furnishings all that often; when I do, I look for American manufacturers, large (Lee Industries) or small (cheers for Julie Neil’s beautiful lighting made here in New Orleans), or antiques at auction. If you’re not too down on “old brown furniture” a real Georgian mahogany piece in good condition is solidly made and cheaper than lots of new case goods.
    Laurel – thank you so much for your great research and reporting!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:00 PM

      Hi Barbara,

      I love brown furniture! Mixed with painted pieces. That’s always been my signature style.

      Your description is perfect!ReplyCancel

  • Richard Banks - August 11, 2016 - 1:39 PM

    my upholster showed me a stripped RH dining chair he was having difficulty recovering the wood frame was split joints coming apart the fabric was holding it together
    you should see built from ground up WeHo store wtf
    Gary’s house is on the market
    Gary is into branding merchandising not product quality as are people who buy crap
    Gary plans to next branch into hospitality resort spaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:55 PM

      Hi Richard,

      Actually, yes, that’s what the stores look like. They look like trendy, posh spas. All that’s missing is the pool, hot tub and the mojitos. lol ReplyCancel

  • Jenene Horner - August 11, 2016 - 1:35 PM

    This is an awesome article a few fellow artisans were just sharing how all if the Magnolia Home furniture came from China and they touted that readily on the pieces. And are charging big bucks. It’s a shame how an American tv show become iconic because of repurposing and fixing up homes yet their line of furniture is all from China.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:52 PM

      Oh wow! Well, it’s not uncommon. Thanks for sharing Jenene.ReplyCancel

  • Gail - August 11, 2016 - 1:25 PM

    I purchased about 8,000 worth of outdoor furniture from them four years ago, against my better judgement and the advise of one of my similar vendors whose wholesale would have been about 5,000. I have outdoor furniture from the other vendor that has been sitting outside all year for 12 years, looks like new. But I fell for quick delivery and a close enough cost. A year later, the fake plastic rattan look had turned green, but only some of it. I was told it was the nature of rattan. I explained that might make sense if it were actually rattan. They replaced the three green pieces of my eleven. A couple of years later, all RH furniture literally exploded after four years. I called the company and without a question they sent replacements. Thy knew of the problem and had corrected it with the vendor. I guess my eleven pieces also ended up in the landfill. With a markup as high as you have explained, they can afford to replace pieces for those of us who bother to complain.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:38 PM

      Hi Gail,

      Yes, all of that is figured into the markup, but if it’s excessive, it can be a problem, of course.ReplyCancel

  • Doug - August 11, 2016 - 1:10 PM

    Laurel,

    Thank you for the information. I have many comments and thoughts on this subject BUT I must say the one thing that jumps out at me most. We are in the age of “I want it now”…..perhaps you did but I didn’t see it.

    Have you actually ordered anything from these Chinese sites? Did you receive it? AND How long did it take and how much did it cost to ship? I know China very well and I’m sorry to say that an image they have clipped from the RH site and the actual product they provide may not necessarily match.

    Please keep in mind that the money RH spent to photograph this merchandise to a level that it has become appealing. If you pulled up a chinese site that had an image of the same item on a dirty factory floor, would you say it the same thing? I’m guess you may know BUT will the hundreds/thousands of the client we all here from agree?

    RH should be commended for creating a style that our customers aspire too. I dare say Made in the USA companies have had the chance to put this product out there on there own but they didn’t. RH gambled the first time with all of it and now the USA companies do “versions of”.

    I do agree with much of what you say but……the rent in a building next to the Flatiron or the massive stores they create (all of which are appealing to us as consumers) has to be paid for somehow. Can we really blame RH? Why not shoulder some ourselves. If you filled a strip mall location with the same product and style….would they have the same interest? I doubt it.

    Thank you for reading and thank you again for the article. It is certainly worth the discussion.ReplyCancel

    • Jeannine | The Small and Chic Home - August 14, 2016 - 3:55 PM

      ” dare say Made in the USA companies have had the chance to put this product out there on there own but they didn’t. ”

      Independent stores and design professionals can get you a Belgian linen Chesterfield (probably with a more appropriate scale than the one at RH!) that was made in the USA, but they aren’t going to set up a shop in a mall or ship you a 15 pound catalog. RH did a brilliant job marketing themselves, but they are not unique.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:35 PM

      Hi Doug,

      Thanks for all of that. I don’t disagree with you at all. But… the stores were nice before they turned them into palaces!

      The only thing I disagree with is that I do not aspire to this style at all! The architecture of the buildings they are in, yes! But the furniture. No.

      In fact, it’s a testament to my mantra that what is needed in a room is not what’s in it or the paint color; it’s the architecture of the room.

      Give me a soaring 20 foot ceiling with exquisite old floor to ceiling windows, pilasters, coffers, dentil moulding, wainscoting, a pale scrubbed herringbone floor, etc. and I’ll show you a room that you could put bean bags in, and it would be sumptuous!

      Presentation IS everything!

      And yes, there are many companies that need to spruce up their photography. It is that important and I agree that they are hurting themselves by not having clear, beautiful images of their wares.ReplyCancel

  • Edward Miller - August 11, 2016 - 1:10 PM

    Well, even if you can buy one of those massive sleigh beds for $1 from China, how much is going to cost you to have it shipped to your home in North America? I’m not being sarcastic. I actually want to know. Isn’t it possible the cost at Restoration Hardware is actually lower than the cost of having one shipped from China?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:28 PM

      I wouldn’t order a bed from China or anything else, but I can say that RH’s shipping and handling fees are also very expensive. ReplyCancel

  • Merrie - August 11, 2016 - 1:07 PM

    I stopped by an RH outlet a few years back and spied the large round black table they’d recently brought into vogue and I’d been lusting after for a few years. Then I got up close and saw the chip in the side. Grey with a layer of white then matte black paint on top. Pressed paper? Not even particle board but a dense cardboardy looking substance. I dug a fingernail into the underside and it went right through. Wth? And even on clearance the table was over $1500. I walked out and never went back. At least with Ikea, I know if I’m getting wood or particle board and pay accordingly.
    I see on the RH website they’re selling “salvaged wood” furniture made from wood out of “100 year old” buildings in Great Britain. Or more likely from pallets found in the back of the grocery store. I’ll let you be the judge, but I highly doubt Brits are going about selling off their barns to RH.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:27 PM

      That Merrie,

      Is MDF board and yes, it chips and it’s white and it’s a material that’s not to be used for furniture – EVER! I lost thousands of dollars a few years ago due to unscrupulous vendor who made custom furniture for my clients using that vile stuff. It arrived badly damaged and instead of seeing a beige color underneath the red paint, it was white! Very upsetting. ReplyCancel

  • AP - August 11, 2016 - 12:39 PM
    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 8:45 PM

      Hi AP,

      I would love to read that, but it says I need to subscribe and there’s a fee for that. At first it said I could sign in with FB but that didn’t work. I even tried putting the headline into a search to see if it was somewhere else. ReplyCancel

  • Marie - August 11, 2016 - 12:36 PM

    As a drapery workroom owner, I have been asked on a number of occasions to re-work, hem and/or iron panels from RH. It almost always starts me off on a rant about the s*** products that they are selling! AS you might imagine, I fight an endless battle with people buying their ready-made panels for $$$$$ because they think they are a good product. In truth, I can usually create a much nicer CUSTOM product at or below their price point if given the opportunity. Granted, we custom people don’t facilitate the immediate gratification clients, but if you really want quality, we’re there for you.
    Thanks for putting this out into the universe! More people need to be aware of this type on nonsense.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Belf - August 11, 2016 - 12:31 PM

    Laurel, Thank you so much for posting this article. I have been victimized by Restoration Hardware many times, but NEVER AGAIN! I am sure there are other “high end” stores that do this very same thing. Thank you so much for sharing. I am a faithful reader and learn so much with each post.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 7:29 PM

      Hi Linda,

      I imagine that you’re right on that count. And sorry that you had a bad experience.

      I always feel badly. I want everyone to be happy. I want RH to thrive, the Chinese to thrive, us to thrive, but this business model isn’t working for me.

      And when I say “me” I mean I don’t like what they’ve done to this industry that I love!

      It doesn’t feel loving. It comes across as something else.ReplyCancel

  • Robert Petril - August 11, 2016 - 12:22 PM

    As an industry insider. I can testify that this post is completely factual. And it’s so great that it’s being said!ReplyCancel

  • Jj - August 11, 2016 - 12:22 PM

    Hi,
    I think that a lot of these images you have found are China knocking off RH. I’m not saying the quality is excellent or try are not upcharing but just worth pointing out. also, a lot of their lights now are currently being sold by Circa, especially the Aerin brand and I am sure others but haven’t spent much time looking into it…i hope you will look into it!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 7:25 PM

      I am sure they are knocking them off. The exercise was to show approximate price points for merch coming from China.

      Of course I have no idea what vendors RH is using or what the manufacturers are doing.

      But the money to build these monstrous (but actually very cool in an excessive way) showrooms has to come from somewhere. ReplyCancel

  • Tricia Heliker - August 11, 2016 - 12:20 PM

    I read all previous comments and I’ll just say, “What they said.” An aura of “high-end” and “must-have” merchandise is often a signal that savvy shopping is a required.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa D. - August 11, 2016 - 11:46 AM

    Dear Laurel,

    It wouldn’t be fair to ask you where you shop for furniture, but with so much merchandise out there that is manufactured so cheaply, without any regard to quality, can you tell us what you look for when you are purchasing furniture/furnishings?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 7:22 PM

      Hi Lisa,

      To be fair, the majority of my clientele is not super-high-end.

      Manufacturing cheaply is not necessarily an arbiter of poor-quality. And make no mistake, many times, in order to save my client a buck or provide furnishings in their price-range, the quality has not been quite as good as I would like it to be.

      And I have had issues with a company where everything was made in this country and they were bought out and started making everything out of MDF board. It was a bloody nightmare! (I think they are out of business now – thank God!)

      But I look for companies who stand behind their product and take pride in it. ReplyCancel

  • SJT - August 11, 2016 - 11:14 AM

    This is America,
    You don’t like it …don’t buy it. Do we live in a Nazi society now where we dictate what people do or how they make their money?
    More power to him…if someone has the money to purchase any one of his items, good for them!
    There is no difference then Channel, Hermes,RL, or any of the other manufacturers who have made great success in the good old U.S.A. Is that not what this Country has been founded on?
    How do you know what he does with all of his fund? Perhaps he is charitable and gives allot back.
    We as a society need to stop dictating peoples worth and what they do. If you don’t like his practices, don’t buy or patronize the store.
    I highly doubt you would like people asking you how you arrive at the fees for your services or paint advice.
    As Americans we are too caught up in everyone’s business, mind your own, you have free will, use it!

    As a designer myself, I NEVER want anyone to question how I arrive at the pricing on my merchandise or services. If someone can find cheaper and they like it…go for it. I hope they see my integrity and value, but the day people start telling me what I can and can’t charge is the day we start to live in a communist, socialist society.
    While I understand your frustration Laurel, Restoration Hardware is hardly the only business to practice this mark up….and I am sure you purchase from any one of them.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 7:17 PM

      Hi Stephanie,

      Of course it’s a free country! Thank God! But I’d prefer it if you’d save the political rant for your own blog. Thanks.ReplyCancel

      • Kiyoko J - August 11, 2016 - 7:55 PM

        I’m with you, Laurel. The politics belong on other blogs, not here. I come here to get AWAY from all the rhetoric! By the way, you are my new favorite, favorite blog, and I’m so pleased to see you doing well. My heart leaps to my mouth when I see you posts in my email- really! Keep up the great work!ReplyCancel

  • Greg - August 11, 2016 - 11:10 AM

    I’ve been watching the RH rise to power and the take over of Chinese products. I love some of RH’s styling, but yes, the quality is not what it used to be. In there defense, much of what is on Alibaba is stolen from them. The Chinese vendors steal their photos and pretend they are theirs. Or an American company has a China factories make something and that factory sells the same thing out the back door. That’s the risk you take when you go to Asia. Expect them to rip you off as it’s part of their culture (no seriously).

    But in my opinion, it’s mostly cheap Chinese junk. Our designs do get stolen all the time. I have to police Alibaba regularly as they steal my photos too. We make stuff here in America. It’s expensive to do so and pay people fair wages. But you can have reasonably priced American products if you try.

    Thanks for pointing out to everybody the pricing for Chinese crap. I see it all the time since I have to visit that terrible site. I’ve written a few blog posts on the subject, see the link below:

    https://www.retro.net/2016/06/the-systematic-copying-of-american-products-in-asia/ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 7:04 PM

      Hi Greg,

      I’ll look forward to reading what you wrote. I’m copying the link right now into my browser. And thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

      It’s a tough business!ReplyCancel

  • sheree bochenek - August 11, 2016 - 10:46 AM

    It is impossible to purchase 1 item from China– unless you’re willing to pay for an empty container ( the size of an apartment), customs fees, wait 3 months for delivery…..and make sure you are dealing with a broker who speaks good English, or you may be in for a surprise….ReplyCancel

    • Suzanne Stephens - August 11, 2016 - 8:15 PM

      In theory it’s quite possible to buy one item from an Alibaba supplier without paying for an empty container, as many products are shipped from China via air cargo or air express.

      However, most Alibaba suppliers don’t stock any of the items shown on the site or they stock just a few to sell as samples. Usually they only manufacture mass quantities of items as special orders.

      Some products can be purchased in small quantities from Alibaba’s sister site, Aliexpress.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 12:49 AM

        Hi Suzanne,

        Good to know! I wouldn’t order anything from any of them as I’ve said a few times already.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 7:02 PM

      I would think that you’re right Sheree. I wouldn’t advocate for anyone to buy anything overseas unless they know what they’re doing! But I think some of this works differently. Not sure. ReplyCancel

  • Joyce Toler Collins - August 11, 2016 - 10:42 AM

    This is not news to the original “concept” designers who are the creators of this “LOOK”… the vintage/junk repurpose artisans. Their work is stalked and copied at the local artisan shows & markets by “scouts” from RH, Pottery Barn, and other big box buyers…. then they find an Asian factory to reproduce it on a mass scale. It has been proven before… but who pattens original work any more? It is a gamble and perhaps a complement… but a sorry one.ReplyCancel

  • Steve - August 11, 2016 - 10:39 AM

    Well written and well researched and all true.

    Here is a blog based on one of our customer’s experiences buying one of RH’s Chesterfields. He ended up with one of ours.

    https://www.cococohome.com/chesterfield/a-review-of-a-restoration-hardware-cambridge/ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:39 PM

      Hi Steve,

      I love your furniture and you are in https://laurelberninteriors.com/laurels-rolodex/ and I said some very nice things about you guys!

      I’m sure you don’t recall, but you made a custom chesterfield – a nine-footer for clients of mine in Scarsdale about 4 years ago and it is splendid. The clients are super happy! ReplyCancel

      • Steve - August 12, 2016 - 8:36 AM

        Hi Laurel,

        I do recall working with you. Actually we recently had a wonderful customer from Chicago who found us through your rolodex who had been renovating an historic home in Asheville NC. She and her husband ordered some great pieces. I cant wait to see pictures. Thanks for sharing yours.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 10:24 AM

          Hi Steve,

          That is so cool about someone finding you through my rolodex! Love that!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 6:59 PM

      Hi Steve,

      I love your furniture and you are in https://laurelberninteriors.com/laurels-rolodex/ and I said some very nice things about you guys!

      I’m sure you don’t recall, but you made a custom chesterfield – a nine-footer for clients of mine in Scarsdale about 4 years ago and it is splendid. The clients are super happy!

      Hold on… I dug up a not-great-pic, but maybe it’ll jog a memory.
      https://wp.me/a3VFXx-5j3ReplyCancel

  • Paula Van Hoogen - August 11, 2016 - 10:29 AM

    Dear Laurel, 2 years ago, we visited Atlanta’s new RH store ( with valet parking no less).
    As we progressed through the 4 levels of mostly dark & gray depressing room set ups we FELT a creepy sort of gloom come over us. My husband & I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
    I used to love going to their cheery, light glorified “hardware” stores with a plethora of helpful little gadgets & furniture. But this experience was not at all the same store.
    I, and I’m certain many others — (though I skipped down here to not be influenced by other responders) — are grateful that you exposed this charleton. Let’s just be direct here. Extortion is stealing.
    Thank you for TRUTH Laurel!
    PaulaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 6:29 PM

      Hi Paula,

      Ya know you hit on something. If they had just closed their doors and opened them up as a brand new company, called Elitist Galleries, then we would know what to expect. But yes, it’s confusing when almost overnight our sensible brand morphs into something completely different.

      And that might be the problem?

      Although their marketing of the products is very clever and the showrooms are amazing. But to me, they are not homes, they are like over-grown, trendy hotel lobbies.ReplyCancel

  • Christine March - August 11, 2016 - 10:28 AM

    Laurel, as so often happens, your post about RH made me laugh out loud while being hugely informative. I had NO idea. Not a clue. Thanks for serving up that excellent piece of interior design investigative journalism. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 6:25 PM

      Hi Christine,

      Us humans is funny creatures. Glad you’re laughing!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Gordon - August 11, 2016 - 10:12 AM

    Hi Laurel – Let me play devil’s advocate about this subject. Is it possible that RH designs a piece, has it manufactured and photographed and then thousands of Chinese manufacturers make knock-offs to sell at their low, low prices?

    Before I sign off, thank you, Laurel for all your fabulous design advice that you share on this blog. We are downsizing to a brand new condo, and your expertise is invaluable to me.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 6:24 PM

      Hi Susan,

      Yes, they are all knock-offs. RH also knocks off pieces from other brands. And there’s overlap with a lot of the items sold with many vendors.

      And thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Bowen - August 11, 2016 - 10:07 AM

    Wow! I guess I have to admit to you that I am one of the suckers who have fallen into the trap of infatuation! I do love their styling – especially as I am working on another beach house right now. One item I can’t get out of my mind is their new “Cloud” sectional…need to fill a 13×15 media room – alternative suggestions to plopping down a whopping $19k for a leather sectional!?!?! I love your blog and especially your quite candid comments and sense of humor! Thank you for sharing resources!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 6:22 PM

      Hi Elizabeth,

      The Cloud series definitely has that cool California, Holly Hunt look. but the cushions are down and that means constant fluffing in order to maintain the “cloud.”

      Most of my clients don’t like to have to do that. I always recommend a spring down fill. Everyone LOVES it! For something like this, that’s a thinner cushion, it could be a foam core and down.ReplyCancel

  • Shawn - August 11, 2016 - 9:50 AM

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have been ranting about this myself. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only designer sick of this BS. Unfortunately, RH has brainwashed people into thinking they are the end all in high-end design. Great work!ReplyCancel

  • Libby - August 11, 2016 - 9:38 AM

    Great job of consumer reporting! Thanks for following up so thoroughly when your BS detector went off! Lighting, especially fixtures, has always seemed like a big rip-off. Thanks for exposing it. It’s a dilemma, too, as so many styles date quickly. There are so many elements in play: style, taste, scale, appropriateness. Plus, there are safety issues: structural and electrical.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 6:07 PM

      Hi Libby,

      Yes, they must comply with standards.

      As a designer and a blogger too for that matter, one of my objectives is to steer people towards designs that are classic. That doesn’t mean stodgy or stiff. In fact, what a lot of people call traditional is NOT traditional. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not traditional.

      Furlow Gatewood, Bunny Williams, and the young Mark Sikes are doing traditional. You can’t tell when it was done. I love that!ReplyCancel

  • Sandy - August 11, 2016 - 9:33 AM

    You R.O.C.K! Love your posts!ReplyCancel

  • Paula - August 11, 2016 - 8:53 AM

    Hi Laurel!
    Love your blog and have been reading forever, but first time commenting 😉 RH used to be a favorite years ago – their bedding and furniture were fabulous. Their couches were made by Mitchell Gold and were quality. I can’t believe how far downhill they’ve slithered. I love their knobs and pulls and the “Asbury” knob is still a go-to fave for bathroom vanities. I recently spent over $1500 on new hardware (Strande in polished chrome) for my kitchen cabinets and it’s money down the drain. The finish is terrible and not holding up. Nor are their products particularly design friendly. I have 6 sets of the Dakota rods from years ago and have recently installed bamboo blinds behind the drapes. They don’t make a bracket with an extension that accommodates any kind of shade to go under the rod. I had to have brackets custom made to match the finish by your drapery rod source from the rolodex! Great people! On another note – you know how overpriced their stuff is when you can get it for 40% off their already marked down price at their outlet stores. I got counter stools for $79.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 6:03 PM

      Hi Paula,

      Right, none of these source can do custom brackets. But great that you connected with my peeps. They are truly amazing and I’ve been very blessed all of these years!

      And yes, RH upholstery was made here; not sure exactly when the shift occurred. I don’t know why they decided to go in this direction. ReplyCancel

  • Gina - August 11, 2016 - 8:50 AM

    Wow, wow, and wow! Thank you for this information. We’re deep into building our dream house and I recently splurged (after paying $100 for the privilege) on TWO of the gorgeous orb chandeliers. $800/each. Now they’re just a bit less gorgeous. I feel stupid because I’m actually a decorator! A newbie, but good Lord. Thankfully I’ve never suggested anything from here for a client or I’d feel worse! I even have your Rolodex!!!! UGH! One thing for sure, RH sure knows how to visually stimulate each of us with their displays, right? Their stuff is stunning. Thanks so much, Laurel. You are fantastic!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:43 PM

      Hi Gina,

      Yes! They are geniuses at marketing. Brilliant! And the stores are gorgeous. But who has a living room with a 25 foot ceiling and 10,000 square feet? They look more like the lobby of a very stylish, trendy hotel.ReplyCancel

  • Rose DiNapoli - August 11, 2016 - 8:40 AM

    Laurel – Thank you for this informative and funny post. I just posted a link to it on my shop and personal FB pages.

    I knew RH was a rip off and have personally experienced their horrendously poor customary service on numerous occasions. For years when asked by friends and clients for my thoughts about purchases they wanted to make at RH, my warnings were meet with skepticism. You have given me credibility and now I know how they can afford those catalogs!

    Love your work.

    Rose DiNapoliReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:41 PM

      Hi Rose,

      And the ostentatious “Galleries.” I didn’t even know about them until I was sent a video of the Greenwich Gallery. (you have to say gallery not showroom or they get very uppity)

      You can’t believe the expense they went to, completely gutting a huge post office. All i can see is $$$$$$$$

      Yes, the stores themselves are beautiful, but the money has to come from somewhere. ReplyCancel

  • Susan hendrie - August 11, 2016 - 8:27 AM

    Awesome and eye opening article. I had a hard time understanding their pricing. As a retired designer workroom I applaud your frank opinions. The catalog was just ridiculous. I actually find their offerings depressing. Thank you for keeping us informed!ReplyCancel

  • Fea - August 11, 2016 - 8:24 AM

    Great post, Laurel. Have you ever bought anything through Alibaba? My web searches have taken me to that site in the past for a variety of objects, but it always seemed like a shady foreign re-sell site to me, and I’ve never had the guts to actually give them my credit card number. You can certainly find lots of look-alikes there (or I guess even the original product, as you are saying?!), but sites like that scare me. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:38 PM

      Hi Fea,

      I might’ve one time. A rug and it was fine. The vendor was very helpful too. Of course one is taking a chance. But isn’t it that way with just about everything?ReplyCancel

  • Christine Pajonas - August 11, 2016 - 8:07 AM

    Yikes…just purchased all my outdoor furniture from them (have their outdoor stuff at three houses). The aluminum set is light weight and stylish and going on 6 years of light use in TX. The aged teak set was garbage after the first season in CT..splintering, rotting, etc. The wood umbrella ropes shredded away. The current set just received for CT, white aluminum with fabric straps, in very light weight aluminum. A bad storm will blow those babies away for sure. So why did I order them for a third time??? Well, for $27,000 I was able to furnish three outdoor areas for my extra large extended family (3 round tables with seating for 18, long sofa, four chairs, four chaises plus cushions). Again, very stylish is the key. I shopped McKinnon and Harris and Janus et Cie with my Landscape architect (my first and second choices), but the prices even at wholesale with a 20% design fee to my landscaper, I was looking at $125,000+!!! My husband gulped and told me forget it….just replace the furniture every few years…this is after a complete house renovation with additions. So what would have been my alternative for high style? Wish I found an alternative. Dealing with RH is a joke. Their cushion inserts rot away after two years despite excellent care. This time they held up my order waiting for a back ordered coffee table, but finally convinced them to break up the order. On a good note though, half the cushions sent were Perennials rather than the cheaper Sunbrella one’s I ordered!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:37 PM

      Hi Christine,

      Yes, they are using Perennials now which is a good product. You sound like a most educated consumer!
      ReplyCancel

  • Robyn Maitland - August 11, 2016 - 7:42 AM

    My damn phone put in an invalid email for me. Would you mind switching that last response ‘s email for me? My Siri drinks, I swear. And when she and my autocorrect get together it’s a par-tay!!!

    Thanks. Hope you’re well.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:34 PM

      I did to the other one Robyn, but I don’t think it matters.ReplyCancel

  • Robyn Maitland - August 11, 2016 - 7:39 AM

    Thank you, Laurel for publishing this. I have been trying to talk people off the ledge about rh because it is junk (not even junque) and believe it or not…the fine people of Kentucky have called me a snob because of my NYSID degree. Maybe those of us who have graduated from there aren’t snobs, but just plain ol’ smart. I’m showing this post around to them, if you don’t mind.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:32 PM

      Hi Robyn,

      Thank you so much and yes, please share! I went to NYSID too. I didn’t end up graduating, but have 3 years worth of credits!ReplyCancel

  • Debra Martin - August 11, 2016 - 7:05 AM

    I have RH Belgian Linen drapes, but waited for the super duper clearance sale + 25% off to buy them. I do think they’re very nice and probably worth the highly discounted price I paid. I, too, recycled the catalog without even looking at it. And I, too, wondered, who prints catalogs nowadays . . . and why would you?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:30 PM

      Hi Debra,

      The one thing I didn’t say in the post is the one thing they do brilliantly is presentation. The photography is stunning as it should be. I’m often amazed at how one vendor can sell a product and it looks horrible and another vendor can sell the same thing and it looks amazing.

      Photography. As for the ostentatious catalogs? Well, they go along with the ostentatious stores that they’ve spent 100s of millions renovating.

      They are obviously catering to the very well-heeled who want instant “high-end” decor. I just hope that they have at least a 16 foot ceiling!ReplyCancel

  • Barbara Fox - August 11, 2016 - 6:38 AM

    Very true as far as Restoration Hardware….I will have to give them a plus for their towels and sheets…The towels last years and there are good sales….

    I find Circa Lighting the best place for quality but the truth be told, I don’t trust many furniture reps….ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:26 PM

      Hi Barbara,

      Good to know about the towels. Several people have said that. I’ve gotten some nays on the sheets too. I always thought they were okay.

      I also like Circa Lighting. The wholesale division is Visual Comfort and yes, a lot of that stuff is made in the far east too.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - August 11, 2016 - 5:27 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    I’m no particular fan of RH either, especially lately. The sea of beige combined fake “antiques”/”collected” stuff makes it so painfully obvious it caters to people trying to buy the impression of having a personality or design aesthetic but without the interest to collect anything of their own or the guts to commit to a unique style/color/decor. Basically sums up everything wrong with popular interior design in last 10 years… The towels I bought from them several years back have held up pretty well though….I digress…

    The one question that popped into my head as I read the post is how are you sure that RH sources from China, as opposed to Chinese companies making cheap knock-offs of popular RH styles (same as they do for many designer brands)?

    Love your blog!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:24 PM

      Hi Catherine,

      I’m not sure. There are hundreds if not thousands of companies. I do not know where RH gets their products. But a lot of companies sell some of the same or similar items to RH.

      The idea behind the exercise was to show what some companies are charging which is very little compared to the retail price. ReplyCancel

  • Sarah rideout - August 11, 2016 - 5:12 AM

    WoW I feel like I am about to get beat up for saying this but I have had positive experiences with RH. I bought 2 side chairs for less than $300 and the same chair was $599 on other sites. I am not deluding myself of the origin of said chairs but they fit my need and were priced right. I have also had good experience with their linens: sheets and quilts. I made a return of a side table and they took it back and refunded me with no shipping charges or questions. I understand about the markup but having never bought anything directly from China I don’t know if you can return it or heaven forbid in the case of lighting if its substandard wiring or a counterfeit UL label know if you have any recourse. That being said I would never purchase a sofa or chairs from there because I want it made in the US! Thanks Laurel for the post. You’re the best.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:22 PM

      Hi Sarah,

      No, conversely, I’m happy if you’ve had a good experience. I want that!

      And I’m not advocating buying directly from China. I probably should’ve said that. I was attempting to give an idea of what things cost. ReplyCancel

  • Sébastien N. A. Lefèvre - August 11, 2016 - 5:12 AM

    Masters of Smoke and Mirrors do Mesmerize and Enchant but When the Smoke Lifts they Greatly Deceive.

    I admire your raw honesty Laurel – Great post and great subject!

    I personally found RH goods online at wholesale price about a year ago and I came to that same conclusion, I was furious. I immediately stopped selling their goods. I was completely done and tossed my Designer Account into the bin which in itself was a grand illusion.

    I am not surprise their shares are tanking as they are grotesquely gouging and taking people for imbeciles. It is a perfect formula for a complete disaster so I see very tough times ahead for RH which will be very well deserved.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:35 AM

      Hi Sebastien,

      I have heard talk of a Williams Sonoma – RH merger. Oh, I hope not! But they have recently acquired Waterworks which makes me terribly sad. and I think there’s another formerly classy operation, but I forgot which one. ReplyCancel

      • Patriciann - August 11, 2016 - 5:23 PM

        Merger???? Oh please, no, I work for their West Elm branch and LOVE working for WS. Been through too many mergers in my career, getting too old to deal with all the drama…ReplyCancel

      • Sébastien N. A. Lefèvre - August 11, 2016 - 4:35 PM

        Hi Laurel,
        A very sad day was when Kohler purchased McGuire Furniture. I could not believe John McGuire would take that direction, I was floored – Soon will be gone the days of proudly owned family companies who had control over craftsmanship and quality. I believe there will be a return to old values but will I see it? Probably not as greed is taking over this World and I believe there is a long road ahead before we all wake up.

        On a separate note, I am not sure you read this article: “This Retail CEO Just Compared His Company to a Burning Building” – Guess who that is?ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:53 PM

          Hi Sebastien,

          I always thought that was a bizarre merger. But I think Kohler is a terrific company. My mom used to live about 40 miles away and I went to the factory once. And it’s also family-owned, I believe.

          I think as long as there are people, greed will exist. It’s just the way it is…ReplyCancel

  • Deb - August 11, 2016 - 3:48 AM

    Laurel….Thank you for posting this! I thought I was the only one that was confused about their “new direction”. I used to love to browse at RH and purchased a number of lamps that I still use (they were very reasonably priced back in the day). I’ve also used their cabinet hardware and just purchased some for a remodel I’m doing. I placed my order at one of their stores, since shipping is waived if you order at the store rather than online. Except that they’re no longer called stores, they’re “galleries” (seriously?)…..I was even corrected when I referred to it as a showroom. And they no longer have checkout counters….the sales people walk around with laptops and have to awkwardly hold them or uncomfortably bend over a low table to place orders. It all feels so contrived…..I wish the old Restoraion Hardware was back!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:33 AM

      Hi Deb,

      The original was charming back in its day. Oh well…ReplyCancel

  • Emma - August 11, 2016 - 3:31 AM

    I don’t doubt at all that RH stuff is vastly overpriced and lower quality than one would expect for the price.

    However, it is fairly well known that China creates and sells knockoffs of practically everything. All of the details in the product photos that look slightly off from the Chinese version to the RH version are because they are knockoffs and it shows. Some of the Chinese sellers will actually use the original designer’s photograph of the item to advertise, but send you the substantially cheaper (and crummier) version of the item when you order it. Despite this photo stealing practice breaking both U.S. copyright and truth-in-advertising laws, there is little or nothing that one can do to stop them. If a Chinese seller lists the item on Amazon and gets caught using a stolen photo, Amazon can force them to take the photo or the listing down, but that’s about it.

    Additionally, U.S. truth-in-advertising laws mean that RH can’t say something is made of old French wine barrels (or whatever) if it isn’t. So that chandelier may fall apart on you, but the French wood is really French. Next time you try to “expose” a company for something, you might want to make sure what you’re saying is actually true.ReplyCancel

    • Patriciann - August 11, 2016 - 5:31 PM

      I have to agree with Emma on this, I’ve seen this happen on the fashion end as well. It has been widely reported that the Chinese will lift the original photos to post on AliBaba having no real product to sell. They wait to see if there is a demand THEN they try to figure out how to produce it.

      On a more local note, store buyers will often attend regional craft fairs, buy pieces that interest them, then take them to China to knock off, without giving proper credit, or preferably a licensing deal to the original crafter. They count on the original artist being small and unable to defend the case in court.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 10:59 PM

        Hi Patriciann,

        I don’t know how these people sleep at night. They feel entitled to screw others over? Is that it?ReplyCancel

    • Laura - August 11, 2016 - 12:33 PM

      Emma is correct. I don’t know where RH manufacturing occurs, or what their costs are, but the Chinese copy everything and send substandard versions that look nothing like what is advertised. I don’t see evidence of anything but this here.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 7:36 PM

        I don’t see any evidence, period. So can’t say one way or the other. The exercise was to show an approximate price-point for the same or similar products coming out of China. And it’s also impossible to say who copied whom because many vendors carry the same or similar products.

        Resto’s images are better however. That is where they shine like nobody else. Their marketing is brilliant! But somebody is paying for all of that glossy photography as well. No?

        I have reports that RH also knocks-off and copies other vendors. Hell, most of them do.

        Everyone has their version of the English roll-arm sofa and the differences are slight.

        ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:32 AM

      Hi Emma,

      France and other countries also import a lot of their trash to China.

      The problem lies in that RH IS getting their furnishings from China and they are touting themselves as elite and high-end.

      If they stayed where they should be, on a Pottery Barn level, there would be no issue.

      I do not know if the places that I showed are where they are getting their lighting from and did not say so. I doubt that they paid one dollar for a sconce either. But they probably didn’t pay a whole lot more because apparently, that is the going rate. If it were not, then those companies would be charging more too. In fact, based on the retail prices here, they would be charging a lot more! ReplyCancel

  • Donna Leigh Scott - August 11, 2016 - 2:51 AM

    WAAAHHHHH!!! Due to a class action suit I received a letter saying I could have credit up to $10,000 at RH as 1/3 off of any purchase and it expired in March. I had been lusting for a leather Chesterfield for YEARS! YEARS, I TELL YOU! So off I went to RH and basically cashed in (yes, after foolishly “joining” for an extra discount) and bought a petite (meaning not as deep) 7 foot leather Chesterfield. I do love it. And I bought it knowing on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being best, RH leather was a 3. The good news is I found two Bradington-Young leather recliners that match the sofa in a consignment for $700 a piece!!! These are a 5 on the leather scale. Now I want the crystal round thingy floor lamp which I see at Soft Surroundings for under $400 (like maybe $1200 at Rh, I can’t remember) While I have a sinking feeling reading this, I also am happy to know I can keep on the hunt for a look I like. But RH has changed. It’s gotten overly masculine and some stuff is butt ugly…thanks for the info. Even though I’m sure I was taken on the Chesterfield ($2,000, Vintage Cigar), it looks great with the chairs in the room I just painted Quiet Moments (with your blessing). Now back to the hunt! Love your blog!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:25 AM

      Hi Donna,

      Hey, a 10k credit ain’t no slouch. I would’ve done the same!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - August 11, 2016 - 2:19 AM

    Thank you. Never liked them. Never purchased.
    These catalogs are laughable.
    I guess they might become handy if someone’s breaking and entering, because then you can use this huge heavy pile of paper for self-defense.
    I do like some shower curtains of theirs though, and was considering one. Well, now I’m happy I chose something else.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:23 AM

      Hi Jenny,

      I always say that if one really loves something. I mean really loves it, then what the hell. The problem with rh is that so many people (the ones with deep pockets, apparently) are blindly buying like sheep because their friends have it and they don’t have the courage to believe in their own taste. rh has done a brilliant job of buying into those insecurities. Brilliant marketing, actually, but they screwed over their former core client-base. :[ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Moriarty - August 11, 2016 - 1:58 AM

    Puttin’ Resto on Blast!ReplyCancel

  • Dahli - August 11, 2016 - 1:49 AM

    The emperor has no clothes! An RH outlet store is in my area and I walk through sometimes. They sell those “fell off the truck” pieces and overstocks. Most of the stuff is oversized junk. I always try the seating possibilities and feel like Goldielocks trying to find something comfortable. I have bought pillows, pillow covers, and their great towels when discounted from the outlet price. The chandeliers are huge. What a shame — it was a nice store years ago.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:20 AM

      Hi Dahli,

      Yes, it was a nice store and the furniture was reasonably priced for what it is. Of course, ALL retail has a hefty mark-up, but there’s hefty and then there’s this flagrancy.

      Speaking of huge chandeliers, that’s been a trend in the market-place that’s actually downright dangerous. You can’t put a 48″ chandelier over a 40″ dining table!

      I keep waiting for Billy Baldwin’s aesthetic to return. It will. ReplyCancel

      • E - August 12, 2016 - 1:52 PM

        OK Laurel. What is Billy Baldwin’s aesthetic? I feel silly over not knowing, but I am curious and have to ask.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - August 12, 2016 - 4:44 PM

          Hi E,

          Well, maybe I’ll do a post about him sometime. He’s one of the most iconic interior decorators of the 20th century.

          His interiors combine tradition with modernity and are truly chic and timeless!

          Google him!ReplyCancel

  • Christine V - August 11, 2016 - 1:26 AM

    I bought Focoult’s Orb for our new house. I saw it at RH, not having been there for years, and fell in love. I scrimped and saved to buy it while they were building our new house. It looks lovely over the dining room table in our great room. It was a big $ lighting purchase for us. I was so sad the first time Laurel said RH was a ripoff. I felt like I was parading around a channel bag I saved and saved for and everyone else knew it was fake :[ that being said, I still really like it, but was disappointed to see it was made in China and we had some broken crystal. RH sent new crystal and a $200 gift card – kinda tells the markup story there and that I spent too much.

    Thanks Laurel, I love you, but now I’m depressed…lolReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 1:36 AM

      Hi Christine,

      Don’t be depressed. You love it and that’s all that matters! People buy stuff that they think they’re “supposed” to love. And that’s a different matter. ReplyCancel

  • carol - August 11, 2016 - 1:03 AM

    I totally had no idea about RH. I just threw away the huge catalog stack, that I was sent. Didn’t even open it. Never purchased anything from RH. Everything always looked gray and boring to me. Thanks for telling us the truth about their crap.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 1:09 AM

      Thanks for stopping by Carol. Some of the stores are really cool! But sure. Anything can be made to look good with a 25 foot ceiling and 10,000+ sq foot of showroom space.ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - August 11, 2016 - 1:01 AM

    OMG!! Is there a designer blogging award we can nominate you for. I knew their sofas were especially bad and their table finishes are being reported on blogs as very problematic.

    Of course, I knew they were overpriced, but $1!!!

    Many people are convinced this drab aesthetic is classy. I bought something small from them sometime. I think a toilet paper holder. So I have gotten those funny newspaper print encyclopedias.

    Can I have your permission to blog about your blog on another design site? I both want to stick it to the snobs who insist on RH and help those who really don’t know how they are being ripped off.

    This is the most insurrectionist design blog in the history of the innertoobs.

    You are a brave genius.

    This makes me want to hire you to help finish my dining/living room.

    I am totally stoked you have the moxie to do this.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 1:07 AM

      Hi Ramona,

      That is so sweet of you. I did win a blogging award last March! Of course you can blog about my blog! Please don’t lift the entire post! Most people understand that, but someone a few weeks ago, didn’t. And please link back to the original post. I’d be incredibly honored!ReplyCancel

  • Justine - August 11, 2016 - 12:30 AM

    RH is total junk now. It’s all so cheap looking and fake. We found the company in NC that used to make their leather sofas before they sold out. The sofa is wonderful and sooo much nicer than theirs new ones and half the cost. Fantastic post!ReplyCancel

  • Elle - August 10, 2016 - 11:55 PM

    Great post , ‘Let-them-have-it-Laurel”! 😂😂😂ReplyCancel

  • Cathlin - August 10, 2016 - 11:54 PM

    Ha! We bought our foyer pendant from RH. Except we didn’t – we bought the exact same light fixture for a fraction of the price after inspecting images of two seemingly identical (totally identical) pendants. The RH one had better photography – that must account for the price diff? 😉

    However, we do have RH sheets and you can go ahead and remove your stamp of approval there. Maybe my expectations are unrealistic but they’re not particularly old, are well taken care of, get cycled out and I straight up called and asked for a replacement after a year (holes!! Tears!! Fraying edges of pillowcases!!). L.L.Bean or bust (or until I talk my husband into linen)ReplyCancel

    • Christine B - August 11, 2016 - 1:30 AM

      Just got my first set of linen sheets…from Rough Linen. Fingers crossed.ReplyCancel

      • Cathlin - August 11, 2016 - 1:41 AM

        Keep us posted! I saw thesweethome recommends Rough Linen and West Elm, but it’s all wishlist stuff for me right now 🙂ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 1:36 AM

        Hope they soften up Christine!
        ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 1:00 AM

      Hi Cathlin,

      Okay, no sheets either. lol Maybe they were better once upon a time. It’s sad. Right. Glitzy photographs = more justification for inflated prices!ReplyCancel

  • Lora - August 10, 2016 - 11:22 PM

    Laurel, you are very gutsy for saying what is clearly evident. Hope you write a book (or maybe someone did), about how to look for quality in furniture and what to avoid. I don’t mind paying for true quality pieces that are classic and will last. I guess they just don’t make furniture like they used to. I recently reupholstered a sofa and love seat that were over 30 years old (didn’t know if I should), and so glad I did because the upholsterer said it had a sturdy hardwood frame not often seen. The style was classic and came out great. Thanks; shopping name brands doesn’t always mean it’s good quality.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:58 AM

      Hi Lora,

      A lot of the issue with RH furniture, particularly the seating, is the scale. It’s just way off for most people’s homes. It’s fine in a palatial room with soaring ceilings, but not many have that! And who lives like their home is a lounge to sit 30?ReplyCancel

  • bfish - August 10, 2016 - 11:20 PM

    Laurel — that is some outstanding research and analysis there! Yes, you have exposed perfectly their blatant ripoff scheme. Once their prices got out of reach for regular people, plus they tried to sell “inside out” f-ed up upholstery as something desirable, plus that whole depressing monochromatic Belgian style or whatever it was, I completely ignored RH. I do have a nice, simple leather bench with iron legs that I bought 15-20 years ago before they went off the deep end of excess and became hypnotized by their own hype.

    Keep on keeping it real!ReplyCancel

  • Kathy - August 10, 2016 - 11:19 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I have been longing for the RH Equestrian Saddle Chair for years. Years. Is it possible to dig hard enough to actually find the the manufacturer? Thanks so much.

    https://media.restorationhardware.com/is/image/rhis/prod2110396?$PD$&illum=0&wid=646ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:56 AM

      Hi Kathy,

      I don’t know about that one. I googled leather saddle chair and found a company in England but it’s still expensive.ReplyCancel

  • John Lee - August 10, 2016 - 11:13 PM

    Thanks for the gutsy post. They still sell some well-made and competitively priced hardware, such as cabinet knobs and towel racks, but the days are long gone when they stocked quirky hardware items that you couldn’t find elsewhere. Too bad about the direction they’ve chosen to go in. And I’m tempted to say that the people who buy their over-priced crap furniture probably deserve it.

    I’m a new follower, and enjoy your posts very much. Keep it up!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:49 AM

      Hi John,

      Thanks so much. I do like their hardware. But have never bought from them.ReplyCancel

  • Claudia Phillips - August 10, 2016 - 11:05 PM

    Thanks so much for speaking the truth. I’m so sick of the total lack of ethics in so many businesses. And I always thought RH prices were ridiculous!ReplyCancel

  • mrsben - August 10, 2016 - 11:02 PM

    I have never purchased any thing from Restoration Hardware as when I attempted to do so, I discovered shipping charges to Canada for at least the item I wanted, was equal to its cost. Secondly, even using my U.S.A. address for another item and regardless that the Canadian $ was at pare; cost of the item itself would have been at least double in price so needless to say I did not order it either. Also while on the subject; another label that I question is that of Ralph Lauren as purchased a high end reversible comforter only because I loved its fabric and wanted to re-purpose it and could not believe the shoddy workmanship as within a time frame of roughly twenty minutes I had it completely apart which IMO should not have been due to its price tag. -Brenda-ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 12:48 AM

      Hi Mrsben,

      I imagine that Ralph Lauren bought in a department store is subject to the same malady. It shouldn’t be, but that’s how it is. His high-end stuff is nice, though. Expensive, but nice.ReplyCancel

      • mrsben - August 11, 2016 - 9:14 AM

        Spot on Laurel, as it was purchased in a department store (not online or an outlet) however the quality of fabric met with my expectation. -Brenda-
        P.S.: As mentioned previously being a ‘hobby’sewer I was able to create a (Queen size) multi box-pleated bed skirt plus two pillow shams with more than sufficient left over for piped welting that was added to the bed sheets.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 6:03 PM

          Hi Mrsben,

          I’ve great admiration for people who sew. I was one who had grand ideas in my head but executing was an issue. And so here we are…ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - August 10, 2016 - 10:53 PM

    Don’t sugarcoat it tell us how you really feel.ReplyCancel

  • Brenda - August 10, 2016 - 10:51 PM

    Laurel, Your commentary is so true! I just told someone two days ago that RH no longer has merchandise that I care to buy. When they began to change, my interest went downhill. Thought I was becoming very “old fashioned” in my taste. Thanks for the article. Whew!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 11:54 PM

      Hi Brenda,

      I think it’s easy to doubt oneself. I find that most of the things I loved 20 years ago, I still love. ReplyCancel

  • Wendy - August 10, 2016 - 10:51 PM

    Love, love, love this post! You rock Laurel!ReplyCancel

  • Jannell - August 10, 2016 - 10:51 PM

    So true! I like many others got pulled into RH’s clean simple look at a time when few others were selling such. I love the look. But after spending 10’s of thousands decorating my two homes not much has held up. The most recent purchases, a clock, large wall mirror and some vintage velvet curtains were all defectively made. RH sent replacements which had the same issues. Where’s QA? Everything is marked made in China. Not only are they ripping off their core customers, but I can’t image how those workers in China are suffering. Now I know, I won’t be back.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 11:52 PM

      Hi Jannell,

      Well, the workers in China must be working for pennies a day. Sometimes I understand why people in other countries hate us. Not that Americans don’t have redeeming qualities, but it’s this sort of excess at the expense of others that doesn’t sit well with me.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Silverman - August 10, 2016 - 10:44 PM

    I’ve always sat on the fence when it came to RH furniture but will all this info that you just provided, I’ve quickly jumped off. I’ve never actually bought anything there because everything is SO pricey (even with the trade discount) but everything is so giant just like you said. And I’m totally with you on those catalogues. Everytime I get them, I always ask myself “what am I supposed to do with these?” And in the recycling bin they go. What a waste!
    And for the same reasons that you like to buy American, I like to buy Canadian.
    Great post…as usual!!ReplyCancel

  • Betty - August 10, 2016 - 10:30 PM

    I have to laugh at the furniture descriptions from the 100 lb catalogs … it’s like reading from the J. Peterman Catalog (Seinfeld). What a good laugh and an eye opener. I’ve been stalking a local consignment shop lately searching for “that perfect chair” and so many of the pieces are solid, heavy and have lasted years because they are usually made right here in the good old USA and have been in families forever.

    Thanks for the info, as always, it’s always appreciated.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 11:49 PM

      Hi Betty,

      Thanks for stopping by. I love old furniture. Much of it is so cool! Beautiful lines and scaled for humans, not avatars!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - August 10, 2016 - 10:28 PM

    THANK YOU!!!ReplyCancel

  • Dolores - August 10, 2016 - 10:13 PM

    What a great post/expose! I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who feels that way about RH furniture- to me, is just plain ugly, and pretentious- and I always though that their ratty looking soft furnishings were a case of the ‘emperor had no clothes’:-)ReplyCancel

  • RB - August 10, 2016 - 10:05 PM

    I love you.

    I’ve known this for years. Not sure how I picked up on it all, probably years of being in the graphic design business, learning about markups in that world, and having researched various things you become aware that there are a LOT of sources for whatever you’re looking for, be it paper or a couch. Either that, or the stuff from RH (and a lot of other name brand places here in the US) is just so obviously total shyte to the discerning eye… 🙂

    Thank you for mentioning those catalogues. My eyes popped out of my head the days those arrived. Are they still doing that? Good lord, I hope not.

    Cheers.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 11:47 PM

      Hi RB,

      I haven’t seen the spread like that of catalogs in a while. But some people are reporting getting them. Maybe not like 2 years ago. I don’t think they can afford them!ReplyCancel

  • Joyce - August 10, 2016 - 10:02 PM

    My husband and I put Restoration Hardware towels on our wedding registry back in 2007. The towels are quite nice and the colors are wonderful, but that’s the only good thing I can say about that store. The furniture is poorly made and ugly, not to mention that the sofas are apparently intended for people who are 8 feet tall. And, yes, it’s all a rip-off. That huge catalog immediately goes into my recycling bin, too.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 11:46 PM

      Hi Joyce,

      It’s funny, but I haven’t gotten a catalog in a while. Thank God!ReplyCancel

  • Susan - August 10, 2016 - 10:02 PM

    Have you visited the RH in Greenwich’s old historic post office? It is something else . . . and probably will be something else soon. Check it out here –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7fYM630JMs

    He’s a marketing genius. The Greenwich and Westchester shoppers with more money than sense flock there.

    Loved the post! I have enjoyed reading your older posts when you smack RH around a little bit, but this was epic! Forwarding it to everyone I know (and mock) who shop there.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 11:45 PM

      Oh haha! No, haven’t been there. The link actually took me to the Chicago store. You know, these are like lounges in a boutique hotel. But who lives like that? Who has 20+ foot soaring ceilings? ReplyCancel

      • Susan - August 11, 2016 - 1:15 PM

        Not sure what happened with the correct link, but here it is. They did a marvelous job with the old building, but . . . such a shame it’s mostly full of overpriced Made in China crap.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0v34RNOwcNY

        Gary Friedman makes my skin crawl.

        Cheers,
        SusanReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:37 PM

          Thanks Susan. I found it, no problem. I had no idea to tell you the truth about all of that, but my bullshitometer went into over-drive. lolReplyCancel

  • E - August 10, 2016 - 10:01 PM

    What timing! Just last Friday a new RH store opened in Leawood, KS….I stopped by Saturday and as I walked the cavernous building with rooftop garden…I thought, I give it 1 yr…then they can open multiple shops and use it as an event space. And yes they are still printing all those catalogs, they were on a large round table with one person dedicated to replenishing. Loved the article Laurel, you hit the nail on the head..Can’t wait to share your email with others!
    Thanks for speaking the truth.ReplyCancel

  • Kathi - August 10, 2016 - 9:51 PM

    You Naughty girl, Laurel and I love it-the truth is a lot of our fabulous designer handbags are made in china and we are getting the same rip off from so many stores- RH had it coming, because they are so blatant- I loved seeing that Chinese web site with all of the products-my poor daughter bought all of her renovation lights from them for her kitchen and bathrooms-I will be honest, the last time i walked into one of their dark,dreary gray stores on a dark, dreary day, I felt like running out and screaming-It was so depressing! Keep up the good work!ReplyCancel

    • Merrie - August 11, 2016 - 1:27 PM

      My husband was in Thailand a few years ago, walking down the street. A lady approached him, asked if he wanted to buy a Coach purse. He said no, thank you, he didn’t want to deal with customs and fake knock-offs. She said “Oh, no, this is the actual Coach factory” and walked him over to the factory where, if I liked that kind of thing, he could have picked up genuine Coach purses for tens of dollars as opposed to 100s in the states.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 11:33 PM

      Thanks Kathi!ReplyCancel

  • Nataliya - August 10, 2016 - 9:48 PM

    Dear Laurel,
    Thank you so much for opening my eyes! You made my day. No more RH worshiping
    XOXOReplyCancel

  • Lisa D. - August 10, 2016 - 9:45 PM

    Very revealing, Laurel. I’m not a design insider, but I am aware that a lot of what consumers purchase, and what is passed off as “upscale” or “quality” merchandise is really of very inferior quality, and the company has it manufactured in some remote country where wages are abominable and people are paid next to nothing for their labor. Sometime, if you can fit it into your busy schedule, pick up a book entitled “Deluxe”, How Luxury Lost It’s Luster”. I forget who the author is, and the book is about 10 years old, but she writes about the fashion industry, and what she writes is still relevant today.

    Am wondering how you feel about Ralph Lauren Home. I’m sure much of that is made in China also. Many of the clothes are, but I am especially fond of his design sensibility.

    Lisa D.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 10:20 PM

      Hi Lisa,

      Ralph Lauren is also over-priced, but the quality is far superior. And RL is a classy guy and the brand has always had the most impeccable taste. I think he’s done a lot of good for home furnishings industry. ReplyCancel

      • Paula Van Hoogen - August 11, 2016 - 10:44 AM

        I do agree with you Laurel about Ralph. It does seem to be déclassé to love his look, I guess because he made it accessible to the masses, but you can’t get around the fact that his designs for homewares and clothing look so darned good!!ReplyCancel

  • Paula Carli - August 10, 2016 - 9:43 PM

    I always thought it was just me!!! Thank you for all your facts and comments. I am retired, but I an Interior Decorator doing commerical work. A couple years before retiring, I started doing single family homes which could have results faster and I liked the family, pet friendly aspect to furniture. RH was one of the places I would buy an occational sale item for my clients; bedding. For myself, when we remodeled our 1920s house, we bit the bullet and bought all the period hardware from them. But then, about 5+ years ago, they came out with this huge, huge furniture and huge lighting. Massive tables that would weigh a ton and cost way too much. My clients didn’t have houses big enough to put their furniture into it. Let alone afford it. Several times I went into their stores and I was treated badly. I felt like they wanted to see celebrity clients only. I stopped buying or even referencing potential buys to my clients. And lastly, I thought their catalogs photo shoot pictures, one picture on one page a real waste, the over sized catalogs did not show any signs of trying to be eco friendly. I emailed and called several times to have me taken off their mailing list when I retired but I still keep getting it, give it a one two look and then recycled. I am glad youc ame forward as I always thought it was my taste had changed; my experiences alone.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 10:18 PM

      Hi Paula,

      I think a lot of us feel the same way. And that is one of the most wonderful thing about the internet. I’ve been able to connect with my colleagues and it’s amazing how many of us share the same stories!ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - August 10, 2016 - 9:32 PM

    Wow! You’ve opened your readers eyes to a big scam! Thank you for bravely speaking up!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 9:51 PM

      Hi Cynthia,

      Of course, all of the chains have huge markups but Pottery Barn isn’t portending to be high end and offering false discounts. Ugh, there’s talk of Williams Sonoma merging with RH. ReplyCancel

  • Diane - August 10, 2016 - 9:32 PM

    Thank you for this post. I have been saying this for years. So many people are caught up in the great marketing of the products with no idea of the quality let alone the exorbitant mark ups. I have gone into clients houses a few years after they have purchased sofas and can see the “pancaked” seat cushions. Gives me the opportunity to recommend a quality upholstered piece, made in America at a fair price.ReplyCancel

    • carol - August 11, 2016 - 12:53 AM

      I never find furniture USA.made. where can I find it???? Thanks.ReplyCancel

      • Travis Nagle - August 11, 2016 - 1:40 PM

        I was reading this article as well as the comments and wanted to let you know about Stem. I’m the founder of the company, and we make all our pieces in Los Angeles. You can check us out at http://www.stemgoods.combif you’re curious to learn more. You’re right that there are fewer furniture companies building in the US but it’s part of our business model for multiple reasons.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 9:59 PM

          Hi Travis,

          That’s a nice looking contemporary collection and at a great price-point! Kudos to you!ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 1:03 AM

        Hi Carol,

        Most upholstered furniture that’s medium to high-end is made here. Companies like Lee Industries, CR Laine and dozens more. Tritter Feefer makes all of their furniture here. And it’s not hideously expensive. It’s not cheap, but the quality is superb. There are companies who take pride in their workmanship and have integrity too!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 9:48 PM

      Hi Diane,

      I’m sure that chiropractors would disagree with us. Their seating is great for business! lolReplyCancel

      • Diane Bianchini - August 11, 2016 - 9:44 AM

        that’s funny. i see others have commented on the size of the furniture which is another issue. Very deep. I’ve made bunches of lumbar pillows and back pillows for clients who have purchased their sofas (purchased before they met me of course!) Thanks again for having the guts to write about this. I have been throwing around blogging about made in America vs China. Okay if I use some of your info in my blog? I’ll back link as well.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - August 11, 2016 - 6:14 PM

          Hi Diane,

          Absolutely, you may quote with a link back. That would be fantastic. And yes… some of the furniture is very over-scale and verrrrry deep. One sofa I found comes in a depth of 46″! That is a bed! Some people do want that, but you need a very large room to accommodate it or it’s going to look cartoonish.ReplyCancel

  • Sue - August 10, 2016 - 9:30 PM

    Thank you for being bold enough to bring this to light. This company has been under my skin for quite some time.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - August 10, 2016 - 9:28 PM

    Laurel, Thanks for your post! I was beginning to think I was way off base because I am not a fan of Restoration hardware! I purchased a “linen” quilt from RH (paid WAY too much for it) … A total disappointment in the quality- oh wait! What quality? And, I couldn’t return it. So I couldn’t agree with you more! I love your Moxy! Cheers!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 9:46 PM

      Thanks Mary. The world definitely can use some checks and balances. :]ReplyCancel

  • Pam rawlings - August 10, 2016 - 9:25 PM

    DITTO – thanks for putting this out there – oh my I think the same about their products – I miss their store products they carried years ago – pretty lamps and shades – bedding and curtains – they still may have a few ? Good items but overall find the store disappointing and such a rip off for like you says CRAP from China – I don’t bother to darken their door – your blog rocks!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - August 10, 2016 - 9:22 PM

    I’m hanging my head in shame even though no one is here to see it….I took the bait on the membership only to purchase their Madeleine French bistro chairs which made them about $100 a piece. Yes, I was foolish but in my defense I’d been up for 36 hours. You’re right. There is no defense!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 9:32 PM

      Awww… it’s not shameful Mary. They are shameless! There is much in this world that is over-priced for what it is.ReplyCancel

      • Mary - August 14, 2016 - 12:50 AM

        You’re being generous! I was S.T.U.P.I.D.!! But I do like those particular chairs!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - August 10, 2016 - 9:15 PM

    Great article. I don’t even know what to say. I used to kind of like RH pre-2010 or whenever they changed from mostly normal to weird. Not that I ever purchased anything there. Honestly, I’d like to buy my furniture honestly–from a local thrift store (tons of awesome, very high quality, American made furniture) and/or from a “truthful” low cost store like World Market or Ikea. Not ideal, but you can pretty much always recycle it to a young relative with their first apartment or donate it.ReplyCancel

    • carol - August 11, 2016 - 12:56 AM

      Ikea is crap too.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 9:19 PM

      The furniture is so BIG TOO! I mean sure. It looks fine in a huge lofty space. But even their so-called small stuff is big!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - August 10, 2016 - 9:12 PM

    It’s the shipping cost that are crazy. When I buy a mirror at my designer price of $159.00 and the shipping is $199.00 that is where I draw the line. I tell my clients that they change the pricing all the time, so if it’s priced $159.00 for 2 days you better grab it because it will suddenly go up to $199.00. The last two items purchased for clients changed prices within 2 days. I told my contact at RH that I wanted my grievance reported to upper management but doubt that it will change anything.

    Ughhh!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 10, 2016 - 9:18 PM

      Hi Heather,

      I’ve had that situation before and with other vendors too. Especially anything coming from the west coast over here to NY. And correct. They aren’t very helpful and clients don’t understand it either. ReplyCancel

  • Lori - August 10, 2016 - 9:02 PM

    Thank you for writing the truth about RH. I couldn’t agree with you more!ReplyCancel