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.