Did you get it last week? Were you one of the likely hundreds of thousands of households that received a hulking hunk of paper and ink? Of course I'm talking about the epically substantial Restoration Hardware catalog meant to convince you all that the Internet is merely a phase and direct mail is far from dead. You know, the several volume catalog filled with mass produced and attractively styled furniture and oversized home accessories that has made everyone go squee, have a swoon, get all excitedish...ness...ly, and all that other crap?

The multi volume assault on our home decor senses was no doubt meant to thrust us into a frantic fit of perusal ultimately resulting in an "I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT THAT COUCH THAT CAN FIT 40 PEOPLE!!!!" moment. 

The ironic thing about the above photo is that it's from the "Small Spaces" volume of their collection. As someone who lives in a relatively small space, I think their definition of "petite" might be a little bit off. It's like saying a large French fry container is small in comparison to a Super Size. That "Small Spaces" couch is still too large to reasonably fit in any room in our house.

But that can't be all this catalog...err...source books are meant for. An item this substantial should have much loftier goals, but what? The answer to this question is the result of the journey we've been on.

It all started late last week as an unexpected clack-thud from our front door knocker rang out through our modest home and triggered Lulu's obligatory apeshit barking response. Whether snoozing in a nap or mid bite at her bowl, any knock at our door results in an Usain Bolt worthy sprint through the house that concludes with a launch of her 30 pound canine frame against our salvaged and restored front door. Like a dog doing her best impression of a ballistic missile, her tiny body flies through the air and makes a thunderous impact with the interior of our door, leaving claw mark scars in the surface and my stomach twisted in knots. From the outside of our home the commotion tends to sound more like a large pack of angry wolves than that of a single mid-sized lady dog with peanut sized head and otherwise reasonable proportions.

When this daily event in our home occurs, it can mean many things. Perhaps a political canvasser looking for assurance of votes now fears the wrath of the no doubt 400 pound angry bull mastiff on the opposite side of the door looking for its next human meal. Maybe some a small child selling candy is reduced to a quivering puddle, now believing Hercules, from the Sandlot, takes up residence in our home. Or possibly someone from a religious group is rethinking their decision to knock on a door that very well may be that of lucifer himself, guarded by a pack of vicious beast dogs, saliva made up of the tears of souls already devoured.

Though all are equally likely, this particular visitor happened to be the owner of a hardened stare, unwavering in the face of Lulu's psychotic ways. It was our dependable UPS delivery person. Unfazed by the daunting intimidation of the domesticated beast, our delivery people bring the boxes of bobbles we so eagerly await following the euphoric click of a mouse button several days before.

As I race Lulu to the door in the hopes of heading off her irrational reaction, I think to myself, "Is it a new tool? Maybe some colorful socks and a new outfit? Some nerdy thing I must have that Wendy will surely disapprove of? Perhaps wine (you need an over 21 signature for that, you know)? Oh joy, err, squee I mean, what can it be?!?!"

When I opened the door the UPS man looked back at my inquisitive gaze. With an outstretched arm he extended a large bundle of something wrapped in plastic. He nodded toward his hand with our delivery precariously dangling from his clenched fingers and said, "Got it? It's heavy!"

Heavy?! What had we received in a loosely wrapped packaging that was heavy? It didn't have a box, didn't need a signature, didn't even have the need for protection of any sort. And it was heavy. According to the label on the front, it was actually 17 pounds heavy!

As I took ownership of the unexpected delivery I glanced down at the contents of the package and realized exactly what it was! It was the multi volume 2014 Restoration Hardware catalog of all of the things.

This package of four "Lifestyle Books" and nine "Category Books" is to the mail order catalog what the World Book Encyclopedia was to my 7th grade book reports, seemingly all encompassing with theoretically all of the information you may need for a particular letter of the alphabet. However it's incredibly lacking when your interest happens to be "How does a phytoplankton adapt to its ocean environment when impacted by melting polar ice caps due to global warming from the over production of 17 pound direct mail catalog pieces?" You won't find that anywhere in the "P" volume, and that's why kids today have Wikipedia.

I took to Instagram to let the world know what we had just received. Still shocked by the mass of the...mass, I hoisted it onto our table and began reading the single sheet introductory insert, ironically shocked that they didn't make it a book unto itself. The majority of the contents of this "Welcome to our Catalog" note was more of a justification for our receipt of this monstrosity than anything else.

Perhaps if the introduction must defend what is to follow in the unsolicited mailer, and then close by stating that "it's really not that egregious onslaught on the environment it appears to be," we're getting off on the wrong foot. Let's take a step back.

Hi, I'm Alex, nice to meet you.

Oh hi there, I'm a giant multi volume carbon neutral catalog made with tons of recycled stuff so that I'm 100% and totally environmentally friendly (pay no attention to the UPS driver behind the curtain with the planes, trucks, gas, and whatnot) with lots of expensive stuff that doesn't have a chance in hell of fitting anywhere within the 15 and a half foot wide brick row house you call home. Though you seem to be living like a space starved peasant compared to our target demographic of 5 bedroom and 6,000 square foot manor houses, I hope there's tons of stuff that will make you all loose in the wallet because you can't resist. Maybe a bit of bath hardware? I know you like that, you ordered some from me years ago and haven't even installed it yet. You just keep it in the basement and stare at it occasionally. And best of all, I was shipped right to your door so you don't have to be inconvenienced with all of that hard hard typing of the wwws and the .coms. on our Internets (but you can also download me in an app). Now just find a little spot in your already packed house and proudly set me down for display. When you have a spare few hours, why don't you thumb through me and figure out what you simply can't live without. That'd be great!

Sorry, secondary introductions are almost exactly the same as the first, no matter how hard you try to get off on the other foot. That's the thing about feet. You only have two and the other one physically can't be very far from the first.

Rather than allow ourselves to continue the wasteful circle of catalog life by dropped the whole shebang into the recycle bin, still wrapped in its sarcophagus like plastic cocoon, we're going to truly embrace the intent of reuse and look for some alternate purposes for this mound of professionally bound pulp. Here are a few ideas we've come up with to make the most out of this unsolicited gargantuan direct mail piece.

1. Step Stool

Need a boost to reach that top shelf? Look no further than the patent pending Restoration Hardware Catalog Step Stool. This hunk of recycled paper will extend your reach just enough to be moderately more useful than it is while sitting in the bottom of a recycling plant. Reach for the stars with the RH Step Stool.

2. Dog Agility Tool

If you have an overly rambunctious dog that's looking for that unique outlet, this catalog can act as an obstacle, leaping point, or even a podium on which to stand after a victorious romp in the yard. The limits of its uses for your dog are only set by your dog's imagination (so it's likely limited to running around, on, and over, as well as some chewing).

3. A Horrible Pillow

Ever feel like your pillow is just too comfortable and want to know what the rest of the developing world feels like when they're sleeping? Besides simply abusing the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag, you can throw this catalog under your head and you'll feel the level of discomfort that you've been searching for.

4. Vehicle Lift

Need to do a little work on your car but don't want to acquire lift ramps or fiddle with your car's factory rudimentary jack? Just toss the catalog on the ground and run it over with your car. It'll give you those few inches you need to easily slide under your vehicle, and you'll be doing it in Restoration Hardware style!

5. Home Security Device

Some people keep a baseball bat handy under their bed to thwart a would be intruder, but this catalog will do just the trick in a smaller footprint. If you hear an intruder, just grab the bulk package and ready it for launch. A direct hit with 17 pounds of solidly bound paper will surely knock a thief out. After you call the police you can even thumb through the catalog while awaiting their arrival. I mean, you stopped the robber from stealing your money, so now you can look at stuff you might want to buy with it.

6. Fix a Broken Step

Embracing the true "Restoration" spirit of the store's name (hey, someone should, right?) you can place the catalog near a broken step to "repair" the issue. Our brick step near the back door has been destroyed by the garbage truck constantly running over the bricks, and now we're left with a broken corner. This catalog is just what the house doctor ordered. Now that the catalog is in the right place we don't have to worry about that broken step anymore.

7. Correct a Wobbly Table

We're very excited to have a new outdoor table set, but the tree roots have really made the backyard's bricks wonky and our table significantly wobbly. Using the Restoration Hardware catalog as a shim, we now have a table that's less wobbly, and a great looking way to accomplish it. Thanks Restoration Hardware!

8. Cat Food Stand

Ever feel bad for your cat and how far he has to dip his head to eat? Me too! With the Restoration Hardware Catalog as a booster seat for your cat's food and water, your feline won't have to experience any of that unwanted and annoying cat neck and back pain. Just pop their food on the top of the catalog and your cat will meow with joy. This is especially good for geriatric cats or cats that tend to be cranky...so pretty much all cats, really.

9. All-In-One Home Gym Solution

Love looking buff and shredded but hate going to the gym? This bundle of papers can be used in at least 300 different positions to ensure a heart pounding and muscle pumping workout. Whether you're using it as a bench for dips, stool for calf raises, or as your weighted resistance for arm curls, bench press, tricep extensions, or leg raises, this catalog is sure to give you a mediocre workout that will make you wish you had just taken the few minutes extra to go to the gym. If you're looking for that perfect home gym solution to justify your actual gym membership, look no further than the 2014 Restoration Hardware catalog.

10. Looking Sophisticated

Nothing says "I'm baller" like buying everything in your house from a single catalog, and even if you haven't done that you can spread the 2014 Restoration Hardware catalog out on your coffee table to show that you are considering the possibility of being just that baller. Forget nice coffee table books full of interesting and colorful photos that highlight your interests, Restoration Hardware has professionally staged all sorts of home and lifestyle scenes that can show everyone just how sophisticated you'd prefer to be if given the budget, opportunity, and home size. Just fan out all of the volumes and you've got yourself a real klassy like display that says, "I might be just that baller, yo!" Add some bubbles for effect.


Note: Using the catalog in this manner after using it in all of the above scenarios may make you look less sophisticated since it will largely be destroyed.

I hope some of these ideas can help you overcome the possible assault on your senses that is the Restoration Hardware 2014 multi volume carbon neutral catalog. We like Restoration Hardware as much as the next smug yuppie hipster twee bloggers, and we've bought quite a few things from their store since we purchased our home, but we can definitely handle our purchases either through the store or online. However, it was much easier to shop in store before they replaced our local Restoration Hardware with an H&M. Don't even get me started on that one.   

Okay, now that I've rigged up some sort of pulley system and I've somehow hoisted this massive catalog into our recycle container, I think it's in its rightful location in our home. 

I think I'll also be going online in a few minutes to opt out of future catalog mailers from Restoration Hardware, though it means we'll lose out on so much versatility in future annual shipments. I thought it was bad last year when we received a three volume set. But you know what they say, bigger is always better...right?

Do you have any alternate use ideas we didn't think of that you'd like to share with us? I'd love to hear/see some of your repurpose thoughts.

Comments 35


Kate 'Katya' Viar
5/30/2014 at 2:04 PM
I know, how ridiculous was that? I also love that they make so much rustic looking furniture out of reclaimed wood, but the scale is so large it cannot fit into older homes it goes with so well....
6/13/2014 at 11:50 AM

Enjoyed- my sentiments exactly. Have always had a love/hate relationship with RH, now it's OVER. Another use? Did you watch that last episode of Game of Thrones? Would have made a very handy projectile to have used in the catapults in the defense of Castle Black!
; )

Kevin Mlutkowski
5/30/2014 at 2:04 PM
A+ post!
7/14/2014 at 2:05 PM

So late to this one.

I snarled, curled my upper lip in disgust... at the catalog as it sat on my front stoop after work.

Then I thought about it.

Horrible marketing, awful abusive use of resources, yes... yes...

Yet we are talking about it, no?

So, let's all learn a valuable lesson in marketing to the Rich Kids of Instagram crowd:

The nouveau riche love (to hate) this marketing... and perhaps you get a few more purchases because of it.

I personally plan on building 1/16th model replicas of the Capitol out of virgin timber and seal blood and mailing it out to all of DC to advertise my wares.

5/30/2014 at 3:12 PM

Great writing!

5/30/2014 at 5:19 PM

Thanks for the big laugh over my Saturday morning breakfast. And I'm in New Zealand and have no idea what store you are talking about!

5/30/2014 at 5:47 PM

I'm similar to vicki - in Australia, so don't know the store but had a great laugh over my brekky toast so thanks. Got to say I would freak the hell out if that appeared on my doorstep - we winge here that they still produce phone books! I've got a feeling you could use that mass as a dart board with no fear of damaged walls underneath (maybe around the sides). Cheers

5/30/2014 at 7:59 PM

We received the same bundle at our general contracting office and the principals of the firm were appalled! At first I thought it was multiples of the same catalog but then I took a closer look. I've been using it under my desk to put my feet on so they don't dangle all day!

Kristin Richardson
5/30/2014 at 8:39 PM
Love this post! It's absurd. I don't know what to do with these books and I feel so guilty for throwing them out but really I'm angry with RH for being so wasteful. Love the step stool idea except that they're too heavy to move easily! Infuriating! Think I'll go with the home security system idea. At least my anger will help me throw it.
6/1/2014 at 12:53 PM

Thankfully I must have dropped off their mailing list. That's crazy, but you really made lemonade for us. Thanks for the laughs. BTW - nice legs Wendy!

Old Town Home
6/2/2014 at 9:00 AM
Thanks, Kevin!
Laura C
6/2/2014 at 9:31 AM

This is fantastic. Thanks for the Monday morning laugh.

6/2/2014 at 4:25 PM

They lost me as a customer when they stopped making the lovely Arts and Crafts funiture that they offered in the late 1990s. It was in scale to real houses and was well made, though a bit pricey. About the time that I could actually AFFORD it, those lines were discontinued and this oversized, lime washed 'made for your Chateau/small castle on the Rhine/Roman Villa' stuff started - BLECH.

I opted off their mailing list several years ago, thank goodness.

6/2/2014 at 5:20 PM

You made my evening with this post. It asks the questions we have all been wondering since last years' catalogue drop.

What is RH thinking? Has it really expanded its market with both the catalogue merchandizing and the monochromatic, gargantuan furniture it shills?

I miss the old RH, with the folksy cleaning products and gadgets that made great stocking stuffers.

6/3/2014 at 2:48 PM

LOL!!! Too, too funny! Only RH would do something like that. I have to agree with Heather, great writing Alex! You outdid yourself.

6/3/2014 at 10:48 PM

This is one of your funniest posts ever -- really appreciate your staging of the various scenarios on how to use this catalog monstrosity.

We must be on the shit list as we didn't merit receiving the latest bundle, but got a smaller package of RH catalogs several years ago that was about 98% crap (I liked, but couldn't afford, a few light fixtures and lamps).

I'm not, nor ever will be, a fan of the Belgian/industrial/monochromatic/overscaled style of furnishings. The worst thing from those catalogs were upholstered pieces that were missing actual fabric covering them so you could see the innards. I guess that was supposed to be some cool "deconstructed" effect but I thought it looked like someone had WAY too many cats! (Disclaimer: I love cats and dogs and put up with a lot, but totally shredded furniture is beyond the pale.)

6/7/2014 at 12:03 PM

I spoke too soon! After hearing a very loud thud on the porch, I opened the door to find my gift. So far I've looked through 3 catalogs and nothing really appeals. Not a fan at all of their bleached out, oversized, overpriced wares. Haring this new monochromatic look.

6/11/2014 at 2:04 PM

yes, the RH catalogs are absurd! i quickly flipped through all of them and put them in my recycling bin. who has room to store these things all year? the furniture is HUGE, in general, and doesn't relate to my 1924 house. i'm also tired of all the GREIGE.

RH: get over yourselves! your catalogs look pretty good, but could be made better with some splashes of color and the occasional REAL vintage piece. Make them more human and maybe they might stay around my house for a few months. i still have an incredible laura ashley catalog c.1992 that has the most beautifully-styled rooms ever. i think it was shot in roald dahl's country house. everything looks REAL and yet better than my house could ever be. my kids will have to throw it out when i die. let's hope RH gets more feedback like yours!

6/13/2014 at 9:27 AM

I just found your blog through Domino. So glad I did! This was the the first thing I read and I laughed out loud all the way through it.

6/13/2014 at 10:32 AM

Hahaha...I love this post. Made me laugh! You are a fabulous writer. You know...I'm thinking that monstrosity of a bundle would make a fabulous weight for working out the arms!! That is...if you are first able to lift it up!

:) Elle

6/13/2014 at 11:59 AM

HILARIOUS! My MIL just gave us these as my beau and I have purchased our first home (in DC!) and this was just a great funny read! <3

XO Sahra
Que Sera Sahra

6/13/2014 at 3:01 PM

BRILLIANT. Absolutely brilliant. I was appalled by this monstrosity. I wrote in BIG BLACK MARKER - "REFUSED. RETURN TO SENDER"... "THIS IS A RIDICULOUS WASTE" on mine. Took a picture - posted it - and was AMAZED at the amount of comments, shares, etc... and re-shares. Their idea of "Target" marketing is ridiculous. Its more like killing a flea with a cannon, or asking customers to drink from a firehose. LOVED THIS POST. Great job. I can't believe this idea didn't get laughed out of a boardroom. I have NO IDEA what they were thinking. EPIC FAIL.
But your post is an EPIC WIN. Thank you for it!

Jen L
6/16/2014 at 1:25 PM

Thanks so much for this finely written article of suggestions. If only I had thought to open this brick of wrongness to display about my house so as to perpetuate the notion that I am a baller instead of returning it to the store in protest. Not to mention this could make a great brick for yoga. Ode to the possibilities. Thanks for the laughs.

6/16/2014 at 9:29 PM

Thank god I knew what to do with this catalog when it came in the mail today and I love the uses and the photos to go along with it!

6/17/2014 at 10:48 AM

I'm crying...that was hilarious. New to your blog and SO glad I am!

6/18/2014 at 7:28 PM

I upcycle my restoration hardware catalogues into jewelry! Check out my website www.origamigroove.com for some great eco-chic fashion!Alt smile

6/18/2014 at 9:19 PM

The people who took time to organize and return the catalogs had a bigger carbon footprint than the damn books. If this is all you have in life to be up in arms about, count yourself lucky. Of all the things in life to get worked up about, this is among the dumbest.

6/23/2014 at 9:47 AM

Best post ever! Thank you for this. And I'm ashamed to say I want those RH catalogues even the "sofa that fits 40 people" would have taken up my entire condo.

Susan Green
6/30/2014 at 12:20 PM

I only purchase one $20 item from them and it was five years ago. Had I known that my purchase would require this piece of garbage, I would have thought twice about my purchase. I will, undoubtedly, remove myself from their mailing list - TODAY!

7/1/2014 at 4:19 PM

What a waste! It disgusts me. Perhaps they haven't heard of "green".

Judy Hubbard
7/1/2014 at 11:58 PM

I received my hernia producing packet of catalogues today. I have never bought anything from RH . Not my style. How did they find me? Love the suggestions of alternative uses. The face sheet expounding that they are "carbon neutral" is absurd. They should give up using all this paper and use the savings to add to UPS's donations to conservation & reforestation. Then they would have a positive impact on our environment. Thanks for the humor laden photos .

8/5/2014 at 7:17 PM

I'm still laughing...have never purchased anything from RH (who could afford their products?)and have no idea how I got on their mailing list. Love your alternate uses - I plan to use mine as underlay for mulch in an area to kill the grass!

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