March 24, 2012

Dear Restoration Hardware......

I'm officially not mad at you anymore. Let me give you a bit of history about my connection to Restoration Hardware, before I go on my soap box. The picture above is the original Restoration Hardware in Eureka Ca. Now if you want to get real technical here, the very first RH was across the street from this building in a leased location. I remember back in 1982, when I was a college student living in Eureka, I walked into the leased location, and was amazed at all the wonderful goodies the shop keeper had filled his shop with. The founder's name is Steve Gordon. He started RH because he was trying to renovate his Queen Ann styled Victorian in Eureka, and could not find hardware or period finishing for his home. A lightbulb went off, and RH was born.
He did well enough to build the structure that you see above (new building made to look old). After my husband graduated from college, I still had a couple of years to go, so he got a job at RH and was employee number 6! He really hit is off with Steve, and working there was pleasant. Once, I even did the windows for the shop above. We also attended a Christmas party at his beautiful Queen Ann Victorian. To make a long story short, RH was a charming little shop in old town Eureka, with a real neat concept behind it. Steve would fill the shop with items that had a story to tell, weather it was from his childhood, or from artisans with history behind it. In the store, you would see little cards in front of the items that would tell the history behind the item, in his own voice. Also it must be said that in this location, he sold actual wood working tools. It was such a cool place to work. Then he sold the company :( Things changed, and it has been up and down since. It just didn't know where it was going anymore, and at the helm was Gary Friedman, who use to work over at Williams Sonoma (My husband also worked at corporate Williams Sonoma, back when Gary worked there). I think at first, he tried to keep Steve's vision alive, but then things took a drastic turn a couple years ago, and I must say I hated it. As in, what did you do to one of my favorite stores!!! My local RH was painted a dark shade of gray, and filled with furniture so gigantic, that they could only fit in a mansion, and not in a regular house. I haven't set foot in there for over a year now.
Yesterday, I went to get the mail, and saw a huge catalog shoved in my mailbox. I honestly thought it was a phone book at first. You know, the ones they keep giving you, even though no one uses them anymore. This thing was HEAVY when I pulled it out. When I saw the title, I said to myself, here we go again, more gigantic furniture in a gigantic catalog, with nothing in it that I could EVER possibly fit in my living space. Boy was I wrong!
There were three catalogs wrapped in plastic.
In this plastic covered stack, was this smaller catalog, and when you read the first page it starts with a paragraph that reads, " OK we heard you." This got my attention, as I read on further, they finally listened to the customer about the giganticness of their furniture. They have now scaled down some of their furniture to fit in small spaces (more like regular human spaces) with good prices and no compromise on quality.
They have 7 looks, if you click on this picture you can see them I think.
I'm in love with this sofa!! Priced a $1,495 not too bad. Something to save up for, but still doable. All the pieces are gorgeous, and all the different styles really reflect the cities they are inspired by.
I really want this bed!!!!

How many of you got this gigantic catalog in the mail recently? It is pretty drool worthy I must say. I can no longer harbor resentment for RH. Thanks Gary for listening to the people, and moving in a better direction with the store. I think Steve would be proud. Now, could you please repaint some of your store locations, so they don't look like dark caves?!!


  1. I have been boycotting RH ever since my last post about them. I'm happy to see things that i actually like and will have to go to the store and check them out! I still love your story and that your husband was employee #6.

  2. Nicely told story. Boy this brings back memories and makes me hungry for opera alley cafe. Be interesting to see the brand evolve. Steve was w Sundance last I heard.

  3. I am an employee of RH at the corporate level and I must say, the attention to detail, the level of quality, and the desire to make beautiful things is evident. I know that you have a long history with the brand, but Gary really is trying to bring the company to a higher level (and its working). I feel really fortunate to work with people who inspire me daily, and who want to create amazing things every day.

  4. @ Anonymous...I'm glad that you enjoy your job at RH and think the store is going in the right direction. I'm not sure what you are trying to tell me here, but you must understand that since I do know it's original origins, it isn't the same store. In the location in my town, there were a lot of grumbles about the color of the interior. It is SO dark in there when you walk by it looks closed, and not inviting at all.
    I'm happy with all the new things that Gary is doing, but I would lie if I said that I don't long for what it was originally.
    The name Restoration Hardware is now simply just a name, and doesn't evoke what the original intent for the store was in the beginning. Yes, things always change in life, and I'm cool with that, but sometimes things don't change for the better. When the store took on a one note look a few years back, a lot of people had a question mark as to what RH was anymore. This past Christmas was the first time I did not set foot in there, since it just wasn't decorated well. I'm hoping still that the interior of our store gets painted a few shades lighter. Could you give Gary that message?

  5. I restore period buildings for a living but in Ca i settle for something rather more modern to live in on my visits. The shop is now more of general haberdashery than a seriuos restoration store.

  6. @thud Yes it really is just a name now. The original store in Eureka that opened up in the early eighties did have actual items to restore a home, and also sold wood working tools as well, now it is just a fancy furniture store.