Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Style for Less: Jonathan Adler's X-bench

I have a few friends and family members who are amazing deal hunters. They spend their weekends combing through the sales racks at their local Tuesday Mornings, Off 5th's, etc. and always manage to come up with something truly fabulous at a fraction of the original cost. While I lack both the patience and the stamina to spend my weekends looking for a proverbial needle in the haystack, I am completely willing to engage in similar time-wasting virtually. I'm a certifiable online shopping fanatic -- and, I'd like to think, I'm pretty good at coming up with a "deal" on the www.

Last fall, after watching a Top Design episode, I decided to scope out Jonathan Adler's online store. [Note: If you're unfamiliar with him, Jonathan Adler is a potter-turned-decorator-turned Top Design judge, and he's a lot of fun. I'd highly recommend both his book My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living and his husband Simon Doonan's column over at The New York Observer.] In any case, while there is plenty to covet by Jonathan Adler, I was particularly ga-ga over his x-bench. It's classic yet still modern and the entire thing is upholstered in velvet -- how lux. Of course, it's also $800. Sadness. I have enough trouble spending that much on a chair, let alone a single bench (and let's face it -- these babies look way better in pairs). Undeterred, I began my online hunt, determined to find a look-alike for a fraction of the cost. And lo, just a few days later I found it at Ballard Designs. I don't know about you, but I don't really shop at Ballard -- it's a bit too traditional (or Gallic) for my taste. On top of that, they don't have a brick-and-mortar store here in Houston and I vastly prefer to check out any pricey furniture options in person before I purchase (even if I end up buying online) since it's very hard to get a sense of scale or quality from a photograph. In any case, Ballard sells a nearly identical x-bench for (depending on fabric choice) $179 - $371. And yes, I said fabric choice. Unlike JA's x-bench (which comes in only two choices in-stock: platinum or natural velvet), Ballard's bench comes in 100+ in-stock fabric choices ranging from solid velvets, linens and twills to stripes, ikats and paisleys. You can even send in your own fabric and they'll upholster it for you. In short, your options are limitless. As with many retailers, Ballard Designs has been running constant promotions and discounts. Back in October when I purchased two x-benches from them (which I had upholstered in a chocolate velvet), I received an additional 15% off, bringing the total cost (including taxes and shipping) to roughly half the price of a single JA x-bench. Because of the time involved in upholstering the benches, it took me about 6 weeks to receive them, but once I did I was incredibly impressed with the quality. The benches were beautifully upholstered -- both the legs and the seat have self-welting on all the edges -- and are also quite comfortable. So if you're looking to add a few extra seats (that can perform double duty as footrests and side tables) to your living room or bedroom, I'd highly suggest checking these out. They're versatile classics that you'll have for years to come. And you'll have the peace of mind of knowing you didn't spend a small fortune on them either.


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