Over the weekend I needed a little retail therapy and headed to the King of Prussia Mall. I didn’t buy a thing – just went to get some inspiration and to see what was new at two of my favorite stores -Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel.
If you have ever browsed through their catalogs you know how desirable everything is you see photographed on the glossy pages; being in the actual stores takes you to another level of inspiration – it is more visual and tactile – all of your senses are awakened – smells – in the way of home fragrance – sounds in the way of hip music playing in the background – your mind goes into overdrive, plus the lighting accents everything just perfectly –you feel like a kid in a candy store.
If I never visited the actual stores and just saw the merchandise they carry from flipping through their catalogs – I would tell you I lean very heavily to Pottery Barn, but when you visit the Crate & Barrel store – you get such a better feel for their look and lifestyle image – the catalog sometimes makes their merchandise look too sterile, but in the store –it is more homey and appealing.
I took my camera along and took a few shots to share with you. I always carry paper and a pencil to write down or sketch ideas that I see - usually ones where I say to myself, “Oh, I could make that for a fraction of the cost”.
Both stores have lots of white, brown and similar elements, but put it together in totally different ways.
In the grand scheme of things – Pottery Barn is warm and homey and Crate & Barrel is cool and edgy. I fall right in the middle of the spectrum. I call what I like the Pottery Barrel or the Crate Barn look. The rough hewn versus sleek and clean lined. I am a “tweener”.
Both stores used to carry similar merchandise – I remember shopping at PB in NYC years ago and picked up a stack of placemats on a display that were all tagged with Crate & Barrel price stickers. I showed the guy behind the register and he laughed and took them from me and told me that happens a lot as they come from the same vendors. Crate & Barrel has changed more over the years creating a more modern aesthetic.
What is not to love about this display when you first walk into Pottery Barn? It is warm and inviting. Standing over it makes me want to have a party. I find myself salivating and want to take everything home, but when I really look at it – it’s too brown for my taste. Too staged – a marketer’s vision selling desire and evoking a feeling that has me seriously considering plunking down $50.00 for a pillow. Don’t get me wrong – I love this, but have learned to step back and see what elements really speak to me and then try to take that aspect with me and create it for a lot less in my own home. I adore the neutral feeling and calming style the Pottery Barn look inspires, but I need more pops of color against my neutral backdrop to make me happy.
You can sure find more color over at Crate & Barrel. Here is what you first see upon entering the store – still a neutral backdrop – but clear and vivid color pops everywhere. Ohhhhhh I love the interest that color provides.
Only at Crate & Barrel do warm colors like orange and yellow look cool- and I am not just talking about color warmth – chic cool, too. There are brown accents here just like over at Pottery Barn in distressed wood, but here it radiates energy. Where Pottery Barn is more – serene.
This wall sums up what I like – light walls, white trim, baskets and color pops. I wish I could afford to buy it all, but I can’t and in reality would have more fun doing it my own way finding bargains at discount stores and creating my own look using the ideas I see displayed in these stores as a starting point. I can see what works and what doesn’t and take it from there to make it my own.
I love the color rimmed white plates all lined up here at Crate&Barrel, but I would pass on the chairs – too trendy, modern for me. Add some Pottery Barn chairs to this display, a set of big chunky candles, and a bottle of red wine – I’m serving up dinner and you’re invited.
Here is table display of white dishes at PB – love white tableware, but would add purple or pink flowers to add more color contrast to the table. Both stores have lime green as the accent color – can you say – trend?
Lamps are like adding jewelry to a room – they can make or break the look. I adore the rough hewn shade against the shiny turquoise base on this pair. They look too “cool” on the white bases, but put them on a sideboard from Pottery Barn and I am hyperventilating with excitement. Ya see what I mean – I am a “tweener”.
Here we are again at Pottery Barn – beautifully neutral, calm, and serene. White, brown, and green. I love the feel, but if I was going to stay and put my feet up I would add some thoughtfully placed color pops that my aesthetic craves. See that basket under the table on the bottom right of the photo. I want to add some of the Crate and Barrel colorful pillows in there. Love this silvery lamp and the white slipcovers, but how about adding a nubby colorful throw across the back – now we are talking. How about the dark wood sofa table. I would take away the brown tray and add a gold or silver one to add contrast and shine against the wood table and the plaster urn. I am a “tweener” for sure.
You can see white slipcovers here at Crate & Barrel just like over at Pottery Barn, but here with a lime pillow… I love – but I would like the table to be more like the one over at Pottery Barn. I don’t like this lamp, but add the turquoise one or the silvery one at PB and you will find me squealing in delight.
Mixing two colors against the white – ahhhhh I am home.
This is how Pottery Barn does decorative accessories.
A little different take over at C&B. This looks like something Donna over at Funky Junk Interiors could whip up in an afternoon.
Pottery Barn has more displays to evoke buyer’s emotions. They teach you how to use their merchandise in pleasing ways.
Where Crate & Barrel sells simplicity and organization, I want a little of what each store is selling – lifestyle.
Here is what I scribbled in my notebook. I love these tall vases at Crate & Barrel. If you are like me you know that they can be purchased at Michaels using a 50% off coupon for a fraction of the cost that they sell for here. Literally throw in some reeds – also found at Michaels and you got the look for a whole lot less – perhaps even adding your accents – stones in the bottom, different color reeds. Even though I love to get ideas from these stores, I much prefer to stumble upon something interesting at a local boutique or a quaint shop I visited while on vacation. To see how the shop owner used their own style to create the look is the epitome of a delightful shopping experience for me. I love these two stores, but I do not want them to define me, my look, or my pocketbook.
I have been going to these stores for about 15 years and have only bought two things – Honestly – actually one, my hubs bought the alarm clock as a Christmas present a few years ago. I bought the votive holders a few summers ago. I love white faced roman numeral clocks and candles. Buying them was a way for me to feel the empowerment of owning a piece of the lifestyle these store evoke in my own life. It is thrilling to walk out of the store with a logo bag stuffed with pretty tissue paper to make sure your newly bought piece of lifestyle gets home safely and in style.
Do I love these stores? – that would be a big YES. Can I afford these stores? – that would be a big NO. Do I want to copy every little detail? – that would also be a big NO, but I am happy that I have them nearby to stop in and browse for some free inspiration every now and then. Finding ways to achieve my style by taking away bits and pieces from these two powerful forces in decorating helps me keep my style fresh and alive. To me there is nothing worse than a room that is decorated just so and then is thought complete. Rooms need to evolve and being aware of trends helps you to tweak from time to time keeping your rooms fresh and appealing. Staying aware of trends in lifestyle is what I come away with after an afternoon spent browsing at Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel.
This clock is something I have had my eye on for a long time – I truly love it – it is not a whim, so I know if I save for it and buy it I will have it for a long time. It’s not going to end up in next year’s yard sale. I would love to find it for less, but in the meantime I am saving up and hope it goes on clearance. If you know of any great resources for a clock like this – do tell.
What look do your prefer – Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Ballard, another retailer – or are you a “Tweener” like me?