God, I love West Elm. Trendy but subtle, modern but warm, and -- most important for anyone on a budget -- affordable. (Granted, there have been some quibbles about the quality of West Elm's furniture -- the beds, in particular. But we have a few pieces and are satisfied with the quality, especially given the price.)
Anyway, I stopped by my local outpost last week and saw scads of new stuff I really liked. And I'm especially digging a break from West Elm's standard, masculine "dark espresso" finish with the introduction of lots of fresh and feminine lacquered white. A quick tour of some of the retailer's noteworthy new (and new-ish) offerings:
How fun is the shape of the Octagonal Lamp (top left, $99)? And the minimal-yet-earthy Seeded Glass Pendant (top right, $89) would look striking in a kitchen or dining alcove. The Sphere Pendant (bottom left, $99) is a pretty good George Nelson Bubble Lamp imitation at a fraction of the cost, while the Moroccan-style Lanterns (bottom right, $39 to $69) will bring some exotic sparkle to your summertime patio or deck.
The Round-Back Chairs (top, $199 each) remind me a bit of Hans Wegner's classic Wishbone Chairs, and I love the new white color. The borrow-liberally-from-the-masters theme continues with the Molded Desk Chair (bottom left, $149), reminscent of Charles and Ray Eames' iconic molded fiberglass Shell Chairs, and the Bertoia-like Wire Mesh Chair (bottom right, $229).
I love the fresh "wasabi" color and lattice-like pattern of the Tropical Printed Quilt (top left, $39), and the flame-pattern Ikat Throw (top right, $49) is very of-the-moment. A couple of Sea Life Pillows (bottom, $29 each) tossed on a couch or on a set of chairs brings a hint of the natural world indoors.
Flank a bed or couch with a pair of Concave Drum Tables (left, $129 each, and evocative of the Asian ceramic garden stools that are all the rage right now), or place them at the foot of a bed instead of a bench or in front of the sofa for a coffee table alternative. The Cadman Spine Bookcase (middle, $149) is a close copy of DWR's Sapien Bookcase without the big pricetag, while the Stacked Modular Bookcase (right, $269 to $399) packs a lot of storage and dispay space into an intriguing form.
The Metal Overlapping Squares (left, $99 for 16) can be hung as wall art, or used to subtly divide a large space. And the Stretched Metal Candleholders (right, $29 to $69) will bring drama and verticality to any space in which you place them.
The Curved Leg Side Table (left, $159) and Curved Leg Coffee Table (right, $299) in polished white are fresh and simple but have a soft, feminine roundness to them.
The Faux Shagreen Side Table (left, $99) has a bit of an Asian vibe, and is an interesting departure for West Elm. I'm loving clean white parsons tables right now, and the cute Parsons Cube Side Tables (middle, $149) are hard to resist (I've even seen a set of three stacked into a cool parsons tower). Another stylistic departure is the high-gloss black Mirror-Top Baroque Table (right, $179). I'm kind of over the whole "Modern Baroque" thing, but this is subtle enough to add just a hint of over-the-top glam without being cliched.
One note: With such reasonable prices, it's tempting to buy a set of furniture, or to fill your basket with coordinating accessories. But don't get carried away (at West Elm, or anywhere else for that matter) or your home will wind up looking like a catalog. As with most things, the magic is in the mix.