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.