Recreated Vintage: What do you think?

I am admitted Restoration Hardware junkie. I love just walking into their stores and running my fingers longingly over their goods (that sounds dirty!). Their designers and buyers are really on trend as they reinterpret vintage designs into more practical iterations suited for modern life. I lust after their sofas and case goods (even though they are way too big for my house’s scale)

That said I notice that their store has become more and more filled with items that are straight up reproductions of display items you might spend years hunting down in flea market and estate sales. And not only are these reproductions, but they are priced at quite a healthy number to boot. While stumbling upon the real deal might prove pretty tough, this somehow feels wrong to me. I don’t know why – I have no objection to reproductions in general and I’m all about DIY knock offs.

Eyeglass moulds / Book Press / Scale / Trunk

So what do you think of this trend of recreating something old for mass production? Am I the only one who is bristling?


  1. I'm iffey on it.  I think that finding the originals is way more awesome, has a story behind it instead of a price tag and nothing more, and rescues a piece of history while doing the whole "reduce reuse recycle" thing.

    But display items at the stores were starting to look really ugly for a while there.

    Nope.  I'm with you.  It makes me bristle!  Go buy the original, darn it!  Otherwise, it makes you look phoney and pretentious.

  2. I to am a Restoration Hardware obsessed girl! 
     I guess buying the new guarantees that it will be in great shape, almost ;).  But there is just something about find that one piece and making it your own.  All the history behind it is amazing. And also knowing that not every single person will have that exact same piece, just about makes it worth it! That and my grandmother would probably kill me if I bought something from there and it wasn't an antique!!!

  3. "Whoa! What an unique item, I love this! Where did you find it? How old is it?"

    "I love it too! I got it at Restoration Hardware... what a deal, $240 for four of them! They're brand new. You can get them too, here's the catalog."


    But then again, I don't have the dough to spend $240 on a piece of decor... for some people, it's a good deal... I guess?

  4. Tracy@cbdesign8:53 AM

    I agree. It feels sorta wrong. It's manufactured authenticity. I think it's because items like this are supposed to have a story behind them. A conversation piece. There's no story here. That said, I still drool over 90% of the other items at RH!

  5. ramblingrenovators9:28 AM

    I was thinking the same thing last night as I looked at their $195 vintage sports team photographs, almost identical to the $65 one I picked up at a local antique store last month. That sense of manufactured history irks me. The beauty of old things lies in their dings and scratches, the worn finish and tarnished patina. This has none of that, none of that intrinsic value. I think if it was old-looking things being sold at prices like you would get for the original (like thrift or vintage store prices) than it wouldn't bother me as much.

    They are cashing in not on the quality or uniqueness of their product - but on the fact that acquiring an original authentic piece can be time consuming. The price RH is charging is not for the thing itself... they are capitalizing on the market's need to consume here and now. That just seems really opportunistic to me.

  6. the powmill ( Chris )9:28 AM

    I am with you on this one . Trends tend to devaluate those unique things - not in the sense of money- but in the way they become so 'seen' that they become trite...common place longer unique.

  7. Lavenderandlilies10:10 AM

    I don't mind it if it makes the item more accessible but I agree that there's something fake about making something that is supposed to be vintage available to masses.  Hope you are doing well. 

  8. Janette@the2seasons.com10:28 AM

    My nephew is a professional basketball player in the NBA, and they just did their last house completely in Restoration Hardware.  Then, he was traded, and they have to sell that house and will sell the furniture with it.  I'm with you.  I think the hunt is half of the fun of having something REALLY vintage.

  9. Gloria Fox10:33 AM

    RH has some cool stuff, not gonna lie.  But I'd rather pay that much for the real thing than a fake. 

  10. I'm with you.  Isn't the thrill of the hunt still important not just opened up Catalog A and ordering it?  

  11. Cottageandbroome1:37 PM

    I love the eye glasses. At Pottery Barn they had a similar theme going on last fall and I got a great pair of wrought iron eye glass frames to top off my magazine stack. The moulds are a great find!

  12. I don't like them either. They are fake and it loses all of its purpose if it's made to look old, but not really old. I love old items because you know they've withstood time, they have history associated with them - most often histories we know nothing about, so they are items of wonder with stories to tell. These new things are just fake and posers. 

  13. The recreation itself doesn't bother me as much as the price tag. 

  14. Although many of us don't have time to scour flea markets for unique finds, I do think that this RH stuff is cheating. It's sort of like buying a new pair of jeans that already have holes in them. I'd rather have something that has aged naturally.

  15. Sharon5:01 PM

    I'd rather have a nice looking mass-produced reproduction than have to settle for modern-looking hardware if I can't find actual antiques in my price range or in the quantity needed.

  16. Jill Stigs5:11 PM

    It reminds me of the "Friends" episode where they were trying to tell Phoebe the apothecary table was authentic, but Ross also had it from Pottery Barn!!  :)

  17. I used to love Restoration Hardware.  It was a great place to find classic, will-look-good-forever furniture, great towels and bed linens, and simple, well-proportioned hardware.  Now, they've jumped on this vintage-y, obsessed-with-Scandinavian-design bandwagon, and they jumped too far.  I think their weathered wood furniture finishes are sub-par, especially for the prices they charge.  Who really wants their entire house to look that boring?  Plus, their collections of bath accessories, continuing the classic theme, are such an obvious contrast.  At the moment, I would only go there for the design books they sell, and maybe the wool throw blankets!

    I agree that buying "faux-vintage" takes all the fun out of creating a home that reflects your individual style.

  18. I don't love it. I'd rather fill my house with authentic treasures rather some over priced reproduction. 

  19. It irks me. I'll be honest. I love my 108-year-old house with its 108-year-old doorknobs. Plus, the prices are ridiculous. If you want to make a knockoff, make it reasonable. 

  20. Add me to the bristling crowd.

    I hate it.  I remember raising an eyebrow and giving the side-eye to Pottery Barn when it introduced its "found" objects line ... if you want vintage, seek it out.  I just don't get it.  

  21. miss t8:39 PM

    It reminds me of an episode of "Friends," The one where I think Rachel buys a faux-vintage apothecary table from Pottery Barn, but tells Phoebe it's real.  ... The Ross buys the same one ... 

    I love the easy find vintage pieces, but I do believe it's a bit like cheating.  Plus, you'll ALWAYS have a memorable experience at a flea market or garage sale ... you can't say that about RH or PB.  

  22. I have to say, I too, was obsessed with Restoration Hardware.  Problem was that their sofas were so massive, I never could purchase one unless I wanted it to swallow my entire living room. Restoration has always been overpriced.  Part of what was great about living in SF only so we could go to the outlet in Vacaville, pick up some great finds, or have the manager keep a lookout for a particular item for me if it came into the store.  

    I love the vintage stuff but I suffer with the same problem.  I remember my folks or grandmother or neighbors having lots of vintage items.  Of course at the time, I just didn't appreciate it or want it in my place.  How I wish I could have it now.  The problem with the mass production is it devalues the whole vintage concept.  No one wants to spend the time to look for items like these but THAT is what gives them their character, their story.  The thrill of the hunt is what makes you truly value it.  RH is just becoming a higher priced PB and I don't want my place looking like one of their catalogs knowing that my neighbors could look exactly the same.  Unfortunately, I'll probably resist the urge until Target or Ikea come out with a less expensive knockoff.  How sad is that? 

  23. Well, I think that recreating something for mass production varies. I guess, business wise, if you want people to run after your product, you produce just enough or create a limited number, you know some people are conscious about the branding and identity. Well, personally, when it comes to vintage stuff, I prefer that I should be the only person who have them at home.

  24. Ashley @ the handmade home9:22 AM


  25. Brookeherd6:57 PM

    The reproductions are for those who aren't creative enough to find a vintage item themselves and re-imagine it in their home.  These are for wanna-be chic people.  Who can blame them though? The look is fabulous! Chic Rooms

  26. I think you just have to look at what does it take for them to create their reproduction, from start to finish including bringing it to market.  And you have to decide if that is something you can financially afford to support, or are you better at rummaging around and being patient to find the real deal.  My son creates reproduction vintage subway signs and bus scrolls -- and he is into meticulous details in what he does.  But then he also tries to keep them priced realistically so that he can afford to make them and folks can afford to buy them.  I think with RH, theirs is an expensive game (I mean expensive for them to play the game the way they do) ... if they can pull it off and get buying customers who they can keep happy, more power to them.   We each just have to stay true to our own sense of what kind of items make us feel cozy and comfortable in our homes.  No bristling for me.


  27. Margaretlima110:49 PM

    Not too keen on it but I have admired some of Restoration Hardware items such as the phones. Never had the heart to purchase them though. I don't like the idea of mass production.

  28. Heather12:47 AM

    I have been a fan of RH for a long time and have several of their pieces scattered through rooms in my home.  I too don't care for the direction they are going in, the price tag is ridiculous and the styling in the catalog is awful.  It all starts to look the same - they should be mixing the found pieces in with other styles.  It all looks like washed out drab.

  29. The Vintique Object9:15 PM

    I am so glad to read this post.  I just received their 500 page catalog (not really, but it is like a phone book) in the mail and looked at it with a mixture of delight and disgust.  Mostly disgust, though.  From the skeezy, blow-dried coiffe of the CEO in leather jacket and dirty looking ripped jeans at the beginning to ma bizarro chandeliers in bird cages, RH has gone off the deep end.  What really irked me in the catalog, however, was this quote, "Antiques are dead."  Or something of the sort.  What? 

  30. MrsLimestone9:19 PM

    Ha. I didn't actually read any of the copy or even notice the CEO photo myself but you are cracking me up.
    That said - I really like the birdcage chandeliers. Actually all of their lighting and hardware are winners for me - it's more their accessories that surprise me.

  31. The Vintique Object9:20 PM

    I just looked, the catalog is 615 pages long!  I kid not.  Talk about excess, which is really the problem here.  Give me a vintage or antique piece anyway.  I'll appreciate the authenticity, the character, and the history.  And I'll save it from the landfill.  That cannot be said about RH.

  32. Soma Pradhan8:28 PM

    I agree that it isn't quite right that they blatantly take off vintage pieces.  Personally, I'm a slave for the find, I love retelling the story of how and when I found this or that. the pieces in my home tell the story of my life.  But now and again you need that "just right" piece and for those that aren't curators {and when you're outfitting a space for someone else} it works.  


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