West Elm has come back. Both in that they are back in the city, opening their first new store in the District since closing an underperforming Metro Center location in 2009, but also in terms of really reinvigorating the design and style of the homewares chain.
The Williams-Sonoma Inc subsidiary debuted in 2002 to considerable excitement. They were positioned as a bridge” brand for those who wanted something more upscale than IKEA, but not as expensive or “mature” as their sister store Pottery Barn. Everything came in the then-essential espresso wood finishes and blocky shapes which would go on to define so many apartments across the country.
However, at some point a few years ago – around the time they opened the Tysons Corner retail location – it seemed like the brand had lost a bit of its way. Designs had leaned hard to the faux-ethnic and zebra-print and too many core pieces from shuttered Williams-Sonoma brand Hold Everything were awkwardly folded in to the West Elm range.
The newest location of “affordable modern” furniture and homegoods chain CB2 opens in Georgetown on Saturday, April 30th. This is the ninth location for the Crate & Barrel offshoot and the first in the Washington area.
Catering primarily to a younger demographic with a bright, modern style, CB2 keeps prices considerably lower than its sister chain and makes a point to scale furniture for more compact, apartment-sized living spaces.
‘Fausti Mobili – Lago Point XL a terni’
courtesy of ‘Design Conversation’
So, you need furniture. You don’t have a lot of money, but even so, you’d like something a little nicer than the disposable Swedish particleboard options of Ikea. That can mean only one thing: Consignment!! You’ll probably have to travel a bit, though. But that’s okay, right? You’re going to need a truck anyway. Consignment is also good for your carbon footprint; it reduces the need for additional furniture to be recycled, keeps what you buy out of the landfill, and items are generally consigned locally, so even transportation is minimal. It’s an environmental triple-win.
Tom and I needed a dining room table shortly after we got married. Oh yes, we had hit Ikea, but due to the weird, narrow shape of our dining room, had pretty much struck out. Nothing that we liked would fit. So we wandered around a bit at a consignment shop, and found what we non-hyperbolically refer to as The Perfect Table. Slightly narrow, with pull-out leaves that nearly double it in length, it fits exactly into our space with room to sit around it, and expands easily for our frequent dinner parties. Why do I wax poetic with the details of a table that by definition, you can’t buy because we’ve already bought it? Because it’s an example of the glories of consignment furniture- that table that someone else got rid of, probably because it was too small for their new dining room, was the absolute perfect thing for our needs, and it’s high quality, and probably better than we would have been able to afford brand-new. (We bought chairs to go with it an an open-air antiques market, but that’s another post.)