The Non-Basic Interior Design Source I Don’t Want to Share But I Will
Working in interior design, I was always aware of this kind of like odd progression that furniture brands expect you to move through, a conveyor belt of furniture stores for different life stages that felt sort of inevitable. Like the game of LIFE, an inevitable and capitalist march toward a questionable destiny that you might have chosen yourself but also that the game might have chosen for you.
Excuse me, I guess furniture makes me a little nihilistic. But in a cute way.
Here’s a rough and highly non-scientific analysis of the furniture-brand-phasing-continuum.
PHASE 1 (“New Adult Furniture”): You start at IKEA, schlepping cardboard sofa boxes twice your height, and buying $7 LACK tables that are too tall for a coffee table and too wide for an end table and too short for a food table. You augment with some well-chosen vases from Target, maybe a hand-me down rug, a wall hanging from the Urban Outfitters sale. You sit on your slip-covered sofa and eat Annie’s mac and cheese out of a gray Scandinavian bowl, and look around at your domain with pride. I have arrived. I am adult. At this phase you also wear a lot of Zara and thrifted one-of-a-kinds, and you might still have some Ann Taylor in your closet from your first job interview.
PHASE 2 (“I Am Sophisticated”): You get a raise, or a new apartment, or move in with a serious partner (of the platonic or romantic varieties), or some other adult-y life event happens, and you look at your 5-year-old IKEA couch and your too-tall too-small tables, and decide it’s time to “invest”. After all, you are indeed “adult” now. You use “quotations” and have “insurance”. It is “time”. You still love IKEA, and some of their pieces stand the test of time, but you deserve an upgrade. You’ve been so good!! And so, you buy your first West Elm thing...maybe a real desk chair, or an actual nice nightstand from CB2, or a couch that comes with (*gasp!*) delivery! You pair it with some cheeky vintage items from the local secondhand shop, because you are both creative and thrifty. You look around your zen den with appraising eyes over an artisan mug of peppermint tea, and deem yourself quite grownup. You have also discovered TheRealReal at this stage, and your closet has the occasional Isabel Marant or Margiela piece hanging next to your Zara and your Target stuff. You still wear thrifted stuff because you’re still awesome.
PHASE 3 (“Actual Grown-Up”): Not every millennial will ever reach Phase 3, which for me is a loosely defined blur of Crate & Barrel, Room & Board, and maybe Restoration Hardware, a beige existence that is only truly available to people that don’t have student loan debt and that live in homes bigger than a shoebox. I know these mythical creatures exist, but I don’t really know any. Also I hate beige. I assume everyone who buys all these things also spends a lot of time saying golf words, and probably no longer thrifts. I don’t really want to reach this phase, TBH.
I’m decidedly a Phase 2 person, and I spend a lot--perhaps too much--time ogling things at CB2 and West Elm, imagining my apartment with a concrete dining table and a fringe chandelier, or imagining my nightstands playing host to twin monkey lamps, or envisioning my living area with a fuchsia rug.
But lately, my old standbys haven’t been doing the trick.
Lately, when my eyeballs need some fresh and saucy design inspiration, I head to a different source.
My favorite source.
A source I hate to reveal to the internet, because now everyone will know where to get cool things at affordable prices and my secret reign as the queen of finding non-basic interiors things will be cut short.
But reveal it I shall. I’m that generous. Seriously, I’m amazing.
My. Secret. Favorite. Source. Is.
I know...WHAT?! After all that buildup, I’m sending you to a tween design brand?!?
I’m just about 32, so I’m supposed to be a Phase 2 grown-up now. But SPOILER ALERT. Age limits and phases are dumb and boring and we don’t need them, for clothes or furniture or makeup or hairstyles or literally anything else! Except maybe driving! Age limits are good for driving!
I got distracted. Back to Pottery Barn Teen. Ahem.
I stumbled onto PB Teen a few years ago, and I was shook to the fibers of my tufted throw pillows by what I found. They have some cheesy stuff, yes. BUT. There are SUCH GEMS. Things that look so expensive, so unique. Things that are surprising, and humorous, and joyful.
The last decade or so in home design trends has been clean, minimal, white, woods, an occasional branch, a handmade textile here and there. Generally scandi, generally global, generally mid-century, the interiors equivalent of a linen maxi-dress and a straw hat, or a pair of well worn-Levis and a white button-down. Beautiful, and tasteful, yes.
But a few years ago I got bored, and so did a lot of other designers. These days, I’m pinning maximalism, Memphis-style geometry, figural lamps, odd sculptures, and a shit ton of wallpaper. And I feel like PB Teen just like, gets me, you know?
Like this iridescent lamp. I didn’t know I needed this. I need this. Like I NEED this.
Or what about this metallic suede fringe chandelier? Doesn’t your dining room table need a leather jacket?
This upholstered bed can make your everyday Netflix binge into the equivalent of wearing a ball-gown skirt to Target (something I have done on several occasions proudly).
This LOVE shelf is the perfect combination of camp and geometry, a little sculptural, a little dorky and on-the-nose, a lot of good-old-fashioned fun.
If you want your room to look like your favorite voluminous striped blouse--PB Teen has got you. Just switch out the bedding for a red floral and you can be sleeping in Pandora Sykes’ outfit. And maybe you could like also be wearing the outfit and you could sleep in the outfit IN the outfit, you know? Like a pattern-mixing Inception scenario? Have I lost you? I HOPE NOT BECAUSE MORE INTERIORS TREATS ARE COMING.
Maybe chinoiserie has gotten under your skin (it’s under mine--is there a cream for that?). If so, this mirror is at your service. Pair this with your white MALM dresser and you’re literally ready for an Elle Decor shoot.
Tiny apartment dwellers: PB Teen is your new bestie and is texting you ripe memes as we speak. Check out all this genius extra storage!!!! So much space for fashions!! So much room for activities!!!
And if you’re finally ready to kiss your LACK table goodbye, you could ghost it and take up with this glorious arched enamel coffee table instead. This is could like actually be in an Architectural Digest spread, covered with peonies in bell jars in front of a rust-colored 17th century sofa and flanked by matching 8-foot dalmatian statues, under a glittering cascade of crystal chandelier. But like, it’s from PB Teen, and you could actually have it. Like for real.
And PB Teen tells me things that I need to know. For example, PB Teen told me to give valances another shot. They deserve a second chance. And you know what, PB Teen? I’m listening. I’m about ready to do an entire post on valances now. YOU ARE SO WISE, PB TEEN. WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT YOUR SAGE AND TIMELY ADVICE.
And finally, this sweet and floaty but also heavy and sturdy surrealist little cloud mirror. A pure and lovely object, equal parts youthful and mature, cartoonish but sophisticated, and a welcome addition to the woefully underwhelming world of desk mirrors, which all look the same and are boring and I hate them. (Note: Please read the angry end of that last sentence in a Billy Eichner voice. Thank you.)
That’s just a sampling of the tasty treats that are waiting for you over at the delicious world of PB Teen. Not everything is good--some of it is just your basic suburban tween furniture, and the styling isn’t always as contemporary as I’d like, so just kind of like put on your mental blinders and skip that stuff and dive into a whole new world of Hello Kitty bluetooth speakers...and chic geometric bookshelves...and fuzzy beanbags...shimmer velvet blackout curtains...the best jewelry storage accessories on the internet...marquee mirrors...channel tufted seating…
I’m clearly carried away.
Now that I’ve told you about my obsession with PB Teen, I’ve inducted you into a secret society and you can never tell anyone else. But I’m glad you’re in here with me. I can’t hoard all this goodness just for myself. The world needs to know. You all DESERVE to know.
Go forth and feather your nest, my adult tween birdies. I can’t wait to see what you find.