At the risk of launching “Catalog-gate,” I have to offer a friendly counterpoint to Susan Schoenberger’s recent of Restoration Hardware and its newest advertising tome.
A couple of days after Susan’s piece appeared in the Patch, I opened my front door to the sound of a choir of angels. The most recent RH catalog, too beefy to fit through the mail slot, thumped to the floor from its perch against the door jam.
It is the grown-up version of the Sears Wish Book from my childhood, a feast for the eyes—oh, that glorious spread of light bulbs, the polished chrome fixtures, the linen and velvet! I quickly devoured each and every delicious page, even those of the “baby & child” book (in spite of the fact that my “baby” is 20 years old).
Actually, I used to feel the same as Susan. That is, until I began shopping for a new sofa last year. In my house, I generally get the final word on home decorating purchases, but this one was different. My husband’s need for a napping sofa, a place to fully stretch out on a Saturday afternoon, trumped all. You see, he’s 6’3”, and he has been a “victim” of my furniture choices for our entire 25-year marriage—from the footboard on our bed to my refusal to allow any sort of reclining chair in our decorating scheme. For a man who works as hard as he does, is a stylish sofa on which he can lay in a fully supine position so much to ask for?
Restoration Hardware had just what Hubby needed, and the pages of the print catalog allowed us to peruse every combination of style, size and fabric, a sensory experience simply impossible to achieve on a computer screen.
But what you’re really missing, Susan, is that Restoration Hardware is not the example of greed and excess that you’ve suggested, but is actually a fine model of corporate responsibility: with this catalog alone, it may have single-handedly kept the United States Postal Service afloat for another year. And, perhaps more importantly, this brilliant use of natural materials allows us to maintain our smug, self-satisfied attitude every time we purchase a product made from post-consumer recycled content. In my opinion, that alone is worth the wrenched backs of postal workers and customers alike, as well as the occasional mailbox.
O.k., so maybe in the scheme of the world, napping comfortably isn’t exactly a need. But if we scrutinized all of our purchases using the want vs. need test, the entire US economy would come to a screeching halt—that, and my dear husband would need surgery for his permanently bent knees.
Should you change your mind, Susan, I’d love to meet you at Starbucks with my Post-it marked, dog-eared copy of the RH catalog. We can flip through all of its scrumptiousness page by page. I’ll bet we can even find you that new mailbox.