Chain Store Chic: Finding Beauty at the Big Retailers

Chain Store Chic: Finding Beauty at the Big Retailers

Catrin Morris
Oct 19, 2010

I think it is safe to say that most Apartment Therapy readers do not aspire to have homes decorated exclusively by big chain home furnishing retailers. You prefer to put your own personal stamp on your decor, building your style from a variety of sources — from upscale boutiques and antique stores to craigslist and local thrift shops. The last thing you want is for your home to look like a 3-D representation of a chain store catalog. That said, most of us (if not all of us) do buy products from these chain stores, whether off the shelf or secondhand. Even if they don't define or dominate our homes, they have a place in them. And for good reason…

  1. They are ubiquitous and therefore convenient and easily accessible.
  2. They provide instant gratification through quick shopping and shipping turnaround times.
  3. They are usually (but not always) good value because they benefit from economies of scale and can keep costs low and prices competitive.
  4. They are a reliable resource for many basics (e.g., the Billy bookcase from IKEA, kitchenware from Crate & Barrel, towels and sheets from Restoration Hardware).

But what about STYLE?

Ignore price and convenience for a moment and just focus on style and aesthetics: What are your favorite chain store products? Is there a chair or lamp that you fell in love with not for its price tag or practicality but because you think it is just plain beautiful?

Some of my current chain store favorites are below. Please add your own!

• Parsons desk from West Elm. I swear this desk was on every page of every issue of the much-missed Domino magazine! $219 - $299.
• From Dansk International made exclusively for Crate and Barrel in eco-friendly acacia wood. Crate and Barrel. $39.95.
• Clemson double pendant from Restoration Hardware. I have always loved Restoration Hardware's lighting. $459.
• Edison chandelier from Pottery Barn, $319. This dramatic chandelier is certainly not standard-issue Pottery Barn!
• Cast iron base tray side table from West Elm. $103.

• Petrie sofa from Crate and Barrel. I own this sofa and sing its praises to anyone who will listen. Clean, simple lines and very comfortable. And a bargain at $1,599.
• Oviedo chaise from Restoration Hardware. I saw something very similar to this (perhaps identical?) in a small boutique in Frenchtown, NJ, and fell in love. Was a bit taken aback to see it in the pages of the current RH catalog (where it is probably the most "colorful" thing for sale in a store saturated in faded oak!). $1,795 and up.
• Pietre knob from Anthropologie. Anthropologie is chock full of little gems like these knobs. Thrift store chic (with new-with-tag prices). $12.
• Urban chair from IKEA. $39.99.
• Battersea sofette from Anthropologie. I have always loved the pillows and ceramics from Anthropologie but this season left me a little cold. I also covet their sofas, especially this one. $3,898.

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