Lifestyle Vs. Real Life: The Seductive Lie That Is Restoration Hardware

More of my first world problems, this time I complain about my table that got a giant crack in it for no reason and whine about how no one cared
Publish date:
September 6, 2011
style, Design, first world problems, cat vomit

Do you buy into a lifestyle? I do. My lifestyle is: " We own a lot of authentic modern furniture by Knoll and I'm sick of not having anywhere to sit so I want to supplement these items by buying faux antique furniture but not real antique furniture because I have an irrational fear of bed bugs."

There was a time when we wouldn't buy anything that wasn't modern. But then we got sick of our house looking like a page out of the Design Within Reach catalogue and seeing our nice authentic junk duplicated and sold on "contemporary design websites" where you can buy a knockoff Corbusier lounge chair along with a resin statue of a black panther and a reproduction Patrick Nagel print of a porcelain skinned woman brandishing a fan with sensitively airbrushed nipples.

Plus we have kids and pets, two of the most destructive forces in nature. I needed to broaden my scope to include furniture that could handle a house with kids, cats and dogs. And all the spilling, sticky fingers, drooling and flopping that entails.

One year ago, I bought a flatiron dining table from Restoration Hardware for my kitchen. The table seats six, it's industrial-looking but cozy, and when I shelled out $1,000 it DID NOT have this disclaimer in the description: By their nature, unsealed salvaged wood planks may be somewhat uneven, and may cup or bow slightly over time, further enhancing their rustic one-of-a-kind character; cracks may be present.

OK, so I can get behind all that. I like the idea of rustic items looking more rustic over time. But nowhere in the description are the words, "You should never have liquids near the table" which is what I was told when I called the company a month after receiving my table, when my daughter spilled a half cup of water on it.

It should simply state: Warning: This dining table is not to be used for actual dining.

People usually eat on dining tables.They consume food and beverages on them. My kid spilled a bit of water, I blotted it up the best I could, we all went to bed and the next morning

I woke to a GIANT seam running half the length of my table, where the wood had bowed badly resulting in a huge bulge of a crack. I couldn't even set a plate on the table.

So I called Restoration's customer service and the person gave me an email address where I was to send photos of the damage. I sent photographs and was told that they couldn't see the damage.

I fired back a snarky reply and was told that the only thing they could offer me was the number of the manufacturer where I could see if I could pay them to fix my table. And they informed me I should never have liquids near my table.

Now, I know I know, this is all so "first world problem" and most people don't have a grand to shell out on a table but hey! I used a coupon! I work hard for my money! So hard for it honey!

And if I'm gonna spend a pile of bills on a piece of furniture I should be able to have it last a very long time. And for a dining table to be used for dining. Which means things get spilled on occasion and I should be able to give my husband a glass of wine that is not served in a sippy cup.

So with no help from the lovely people at the Restoration Hardware company, I did what any normal person would do. I spilled a bunch of water on the tabletop and flipped that bitch over. I waited 72 hours and prayed.

And my magic trick fixed my table. We are now very careful with it. We keep a tablecloth on it at all times. We keep small children, the elderly, and anyone who has consumed more than one cocktail away from it. We plan on getting it sealed with something as soon as we figure out what that something is.

The flippant, unhelpful level of customer service I received made me sort of scowly at Restoration Hardware. So when I received my gigantic 600-page Vogue September issue-sized fall catalogue in the mail yesterday, I didn't beg my husband for this cool zinc desk (I really need a desk).

or a beautiful new sofa or even this cloche with babies in it! Oh my God I need this cloche with babies!

I flipped through the catalogue and felt sort of sad. I don't want to spend money on furniture that is so delicate I can't even use it for the actual purpose it is designed for. And as much as I badly want a Restoration Hardware chesterfield sofa, I'm scared I'll own it for a month and a seam will rip and the company will inform me their couch is not to be used for seating.

I'm all about quality. I'm OK with saving money to buy something I want that I can own for a very long time and not have to replace. My dining table is fine for now, but I doubt it will be something I can hand down to one of my kids when they get their own place.

And as much as I love the faux industrial lifestyle Restoration Hardware hocks, I can't get behind a company with such shoddy customer service.

So instead of buying their reproduction Arne Jacobsen Ei chair in leather, I'll stick with the authentic one I own. As soon as I clean the cat puke off of it.