Are you more the Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel type?

This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read my Disclosure Policy.

Recently I needed a little retail therapy and headed to the Mall.   I didn’t buy a thing. I just went to get some decorating 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 home 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,

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 each style the merchandise 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 Pottery Barn 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 to 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.

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.

Do you 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 Are Style Ideas 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?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I’ve only shopped on line at these stores. I find more things at craft&barrel I like. I do love all their stuff. A lot out of my price range but beautiful things.

  2. Fun article! Guess I’m a “tweeter” like you. I end up buying my home furnishings at used furniture stores, thrift stores, little out-of-the-way stores, etc. Once in a while I’ll see something at PB or C&B, or similar store & buy it on sale or save for it, if it’s something I just have to have & cant find anywhere else. I did purchase a large set of white stoneware dishes from C& B well over 25 years ago. In all that time I think I’ve only broken one or maybe 2 mugs. Being white, it’s so easy to buy additional pieces that match or look good with the dishes. These are my everyday dishes & have taken a beating but have really held up well. I have no intention of replacing them any time soon and, as I said, they’re so easy to add pieces to that complement. I will continue to get inspiration from PB & C& B, but will also continue to do most of my actual buying elsewhere.

  3. I liked this! You are a lot more sophisticated than me. I’m trying to furnish our empty house and I mostly like Pottery Barn’s non-rustic stuff and Crate and Barrel’s non-modern stuff. I’m avoiding black, gray and white. Wish I could hire you to help me. Thanks for the article!

  4. PB all the way for me. But I do pick up some dishes and kitchen ware occasionally from Crate and Barrel. I purchased the Union Station clock a while back and still absolutely love it. As we are remodeling our kitchen, I have a wall especially built just for that clock. It will be a focal point in our white kitchen. You buy it. You will love it.

  5. Hi Diane – I have followed along on your blog ‘silently’ for a long time. I absolutely love it and until now {I’m catching up on blog reading} I didn’t realize you live in PA and close to the KOP mall. I also live in PA and was right next to the mall over Thanksgiving for my daughters dance competition. WOW….what a small world.

    1. oops…..I’m more of a Pottery Barn Girl – but still like a few Crate & Barrel mixed in. :)

  6. THANK YOU for this post, what a huge sigh of relief! I have recently been struggling with this same issue, trying to decide between the natural rough-hewn neutral look and the crisp clean whites with pops of color. I feel so much better now knowing that it’s acceptable to mix the two and still have a great look! Whew!!!

  7. Diane have you seen this link. I love the Parisian clock at World Market but didn’t want to disturb the cobwebs I am nuturing in my wallet to buy it. So I went on a web search to find a how to make one. I stumbled on this and when I read your post thought you might be interested.

    If I could just luck into one of those huge lottery jackpots and then into a combined PB, C&B, Williams-Sonoma… Santa could stay home this year.

    Merry Christmas!

  8. I guess I’d be classified as a “tweener” too! I love the neutrals with color thrown in as well. We’ve been shopping for furniture for our den/library and want the PB look of the Basic Armchair, but the store near us didn’t have floor samples for us to sit in. I’m not one to spent $900 plus for a piece of furniture I can’t sit in! So we found a similar look (Rowe) at another local furniture store for about the same price. We recently installed a rustic floor, built wall to wall bookcases, painted white with aqua on the back wall, and have a rock fireplace. It’s coming together EXACTLY like I had pictured and I am SO EXCITED! We hope to have the furniture in before Christmas.

  9. Charlie at Attempting Aloha has diy’d the Union Station look alike clock face and sells the pdf templates on etsy. Since I was able to find the Walgreens clocks ($5 each) ($3 each) for Christmas presents and they were huge hits.

    Here is where she posted about it

    Here is the etsy site where she sells the pdf’s (only $3!)

    No relation to her, just a satisfied client who saw your post wanting it for less.

  10. Diane,
    I just found your blog today and have had several hours of sheer delight this morning perusing your posts, falling in love with your projects, and gaining renewed excitement to tackle similar projects in my own home – breathing new life into it. This post about being a tweener – kindred spirits! – you put into words exactly how I feel about my 2 favorite stores which I visit over and over again for inspiration and occasionally splurge on an accessory from. Can’t wait to visit you again and again!

  11. Hi Diane!

    Just wanted to stop by and say hello. Congrats on getting the other wild card spot in the Parade of Homes.

    I can’t wait to see more of your blog and your home. Love the 3-D gallery wall post.. Would love to give it a try.

    Aren’t you just soooo excited? I sure am. What a great opportunity.

    So nice to meet you.


  12. crate & barrel 80%
    pottery barn 20%

    a pottery barn house would be way too drab for me. i need the pops of color. they make me happy.

  13. Haha, i’ve never thought about which one i liked better since they are both so great :) hmm… i definitely think im more of a Crate & Barrel kinda girl… i just love how clean and colorful everything is… just wish i wasn’t such a pack rat so i could get some organization into my life!

  14. I am more of a Pottery Barn girl. I’m like you , I stop in and browse but I hardly ever buy. I can easily duplicate anything they have with treasures I find in thrift stores. My house if full of Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel treasures I have found for pennies on the dollar.

    Yes, I would love to walk out of Pottery Barn with bags full of goodies, but even with both me and my husband working, that’s is not going to happen, but I love walking in the store. The smells, the colors, the music…HEAVEN! I often leave Pottery Barn and head to The Salvation Army. Sigh…Sally’s is a world away but you cannot beat the prices!!!

    I would love for you to do some Pottery Barn knock off tutorials. I am amazed at your creativity.

    Love your blog Diane!

  15. I am most assuredly a tweener. PB leans to the more traditional, earthy people while C & B is for the more modern and edgy. My decorating style is pretty eclectic, so shopping at both is fun. Throw in a little Anthropologie and Pier I and call it a great shopping day. I love that all of these stores are in one mall near me. Shop sales and clearance and the quality makes up for the higher prices.

  16. Hi Diane,

    I really enjoyed this post. I’m more of a PB girl and have bought numerous pillows, a wall lamp, and some of their bedding, but the furniture pieces I have from PB are ones I bought on Craig’s List. We have a lovely store in Naples, Florida, but unfortunately no outlet. Their decorating seminars are fun…. going there periodically to” just look” is inspirational.

  17. I worked at C & B for a couple of years out of college about 20 years ago. PB did not have as many stores then so I didn’t know much about it. I loved and still love that C&B covers so many functional items with finesse. The Basics department was ideal for people just starting out- affordable, simple, clean lines, utilitarian. Also, loved all the cooking gadgets in the Cookwares Dept. Still have pans that I received from vendors when I worked there. The secret to affording Crate & Barrel is schtickle. When people return things, if they can’t be resold, they are put in the back for employees to purchase at bargain prices. I bought a Krups double brewing coffee pot that worked great for $10. Some of my best baskets have come from there. Don’t know if they still have schtickle- but it was fabulous. Actually let me bring home some of my very small paycheck.
    Very clever post. PB and C&B are ideal for inspiration, then I hunt on how to make it happen within my budget!

  18. I lean towards PB, but like a bit more color. I’m an IKEA girl at heart (you have to go on a weekday-NOT a weekend) though. I do love to look through the PB and C&B catalogs (when they make it to me-I KNOW someone in the APO[Army Post Office] is swiping my catalogs and getting all the good ideas).
    BTW, I have a small clock just like the one to the left of the big clock you love in your photo. Seriously, JUST.LIKE.IT. I bought it at a German home store called Depot for 10 Euro (about $13). Depot is kind of like a mix up of PB and C&B, but with much better prices. Maybe that’s why I like it!

  19. I am so a tweener! I love PB but always crave more color. Right now World Market is my favorite, somehow I always seem to find great deals there. My pillows are from CB and I paid less than $10 each. I might cry when they wear out though because I can’t afford to replace them at normal CB prices.

  20. “Crate Barn,” I love it! To be honest, Pottery Barn vs Crate and Barrel was a huge, huge question when my fiance and I were deciding where to register. We finally decided together that Pottery Barn was it–and then caved and registered at Crate and Barrel three weeks later! Now we’ll have the best of both worlds!

  21. Diane, great post! I am a C & B girl mostly. I got my catalog today and just swooned. I was surprised at how little color they had in this new one tho. I really love the nature they always bring in AND I love that I have an outlet close by. I don’t buy much at these stores either, but love to browse. I swear if I ever win the lottery, they have my business.

    By the way I may have seen a clock very close to that one at World Market, another great store!

  22. Between the two, I lean toward Pottery Barn. I love the warm, homey look.

  23. I prefer PB over C&B, but I was in C&B not long ago to buy a shower gift and saw lots of things I liked. I’m a tweener, like you, except I always say that my style is where Ballard Designs intersects Pottery Barn.

    I love this post, btw. It makes me want to go shopping.

  24. I love Pottery Barn and love getting ideas there. I love their pillows and have a ton of them. I just went with my daughter to the PB outlet yesterday and have learned never to buy much at the regular store when a lot of it is at the outlet at a discount.

  25. hmmm. I love both with a little Cost Plus World Market and Z Gallerie thrown in…..
    sometimes I go to Home Store for some hands on inspiration mostly because I hate going into a mall where PB and CB are located….

  26. I’m a tweener also, but I’ve never actually bought anything at either store. I prefer to bargain shop at other stores for similar looks. But those white dishes! They made my heart skip a beat!

    1. Hi Bethany-

      My heart does the same thing when I see white dishes – I have to remind myself that I have cabinets filled with them and don’t need anymore.

  27. I am totally a pottery barn person, howeever, just for s&g i went into restoration hardware last week. Ick. Waaaaay overprriced and all the same oatmealy color…

    1. HI Courtney-

      I went to Ikea too, but it was so crowded I could not hardly walk around and didn’t get any photos. I bought a bedside light there for $10. I love their lighting.

  28. I wish I could take each of those pictures and just turn it into my own home, LoL….I’m a sucker for anything decorating.

  29. Diane….that was about the best store tour I have ever seen…love all the compairisons you pointed out…..I think I am in between anything and everything. Thanks for the post!

  30. I think I am more of a PB gal with a few C&B moments thrown in. Thanks for the “tours”. I have not been to the King of Prussia stores since I lived in PA in the early 1970’s (as a young girl) …Diana

    1. Hi Diana-

      As you can imagine the mall has changed quite a bit – it is huge – two malls linked together and lots of stores surrounding it now. Where did you live?