Rich People Gotta Upholster Too

While I am on vacation with the girls for the next week my very good friend Sarah Brown will be your guest host. Sarah blogged at Que Sera Sera for over ten years but currently writes at her Tumblr, Damn Gina.


A few weeks ago, the UPS deliveryman rang my bell and hand-delivered to me a huge stack of Restoration Hardware catalogs weighing about eleven pounds. As far as I can recall, the only thing I have ever purchased from Restoration Hardware was a tiny wind-up robot stocking stuffer in 2001. I had a friend in college who used to work at RH and while I haven’t been inside one in a long time, I remember them as a sort of West Elm-ish store, where you could buy fluffy towels and $18 bottles of fabric softener and oscillating fans that looked like WWII propellers, but also space pens and tiny wind-up robot stocking stuffers near the register. Opening one of these hand-delivered tomes revealed to me this was no longer the case: Restoration Hardware is now officially uppity as hell.

These suckers came with a piece of paper introducing themselves as RH: OUR ANNUAL SOURCE BOOKS, featuring 4 LIFESTYLE BOOKS plus 9 CATEGORY BOOKS, with the whole other side explaining how UPSing me eleven pounds of catalog once a year displayed OUR COMMITMENT TO THE ENVIRONMENT. So now I can’t just put them directly into the recycling bin, I owe it to snarking to (spend five minutes with a steak knife trying to) slice these babies open and see what bullshit awaited me.

And lo! A veritable fuckton of bullshit awaited me! 

There are separate books for tableware, lighting, bath, linens, and small spaces, which are great if you’re decorating your pied-à-terre in Buenos Aires or Antwerp, and who among us isn’t. My friend Danielle and I added up what it would run me to buy the cheapest thing we could find, kitchen cabinet pulls for $16 each, to replace the ones already in my small Brooklyn kitchen: $272. Obviously I am not in the market for or creating a budget to redo a kitchen, so who knows, maybe the rest of my generation has the savings and experience to nod sagely at this number and say, “Eh, that’s not bad,” but all I can think is do you know how many Old Navy V-neck t-shirts I could get for $272?

The Baby & Child book illustrates how to decorate a nursery if you are Marie Antoinette, or someone who hates colors. For the same price as my monthly rent, you can own the Belle Upholstered Crib, and then why not throw in some washed velvet bedding for $140? Remember, this is for an infant who is guaranteed to defecate all over it, so I’d go with Prairie instead of Lilac. The Baby & Child book also doubles as a great Poncy Name guide for nouveau riche parents who’ve previously only considered Warby Parker frames and streets in SoHo as the sole inspiration available to them for baby names. Sure, you’ve thought of Sloane and Waverly, but what about Airin?

There is an entire catalog of Leather, and I’m not gonna lie: if I could afford it, I’d buy every chair in there. 

But the best is the Objects of Curiosity book, which is full of faked collections of objets d’art for boring rich people who don’t have enough personality to come up with an actual collection on their own, featuring items like Sculptural African Antelope & Springbok Horns. You got me there, rich people: I wouldn’t know how to draw a springbok if requested by a child, but I do know that restaurants in Brooklyn stopped hanging antlers on their walls in 2007.


Other tired old design trends featured were old globes, historic maps, giant letters, and coral. But my favorite was the Rare & Unusual 1920s German Light Bulb Voltage Tester Bar. For only two grand, you can store your bourbon in Not the Death Star! Not racist enough for you? How about the collection of Curious German Carnival Noses, reproduced from turn-of-the-century German carnival molds? Restoration Hardware, do you not employ someone to say “whoa, whooooooaaaa guys, maybe this is not a good idea”? Because I am available. You can pay me in any bottles of $18 fabric softener you have left in a warehouse somewhere. And maybe one leather armchair. I’m not made of steel.