The people guiding Restoration Hardware have cojones--I'll give them that. The company's leaders radically changed the look and the feel, raised prices, and switched to larger-scale furniture. All this in a recession when Americans are finally buying smaller homes with less square footage.

Counter intuitive brilliance or just plain stupid? We'll see. I went to the store in the Galleria in Edina today. On a Monday afternoon, it was packed and customers weren't buying towels or knobs. They were special ordering big ticket items. Maybe the store was busy because today is the last day of the "spend $500 and get $100 off'" sale.

The new look is masculine and Ralph Lauren-ish. Most of it is handsome, well-designed stuff that is.....made in China. Still, the Oviedo leather chaise ($1,995) and the Mayfair Trunk Secretary ($2,995) are stunning. The secretary is a brilliantly designed trunk that unfolds into a desk/office. Paneled in vintage cigar leather, it would make me want to spend more time in my home office. 

The store's former departments are replaced by vignettes. Maybe you'll find towels next to the Oviedo chaise if the color matches the leather. If not, maybe they have have them in back. The knob wall has been replaced by a smaller display case at the registers. The reed diffusers and other scented accessories? I didn't see them.

They might still be in the redesigned store somewhere, but the new look is much darker, er, moodier. I will probably get used to it, but remember how brightly lit the old store was?

I can understand why the store needed to change. It was virtually unchanged in the last decade with one exception--more and more merch was made in China. Same price point, but often lower quality.

Sometimes I think if RH offered a lifetime warranty on its goods it could justify the prices, but on furniture, I think I''ll keep looking around for something similar in style but smaller in scale and easier on my budget.

Any other Restoration Hardware fans feeling just a little bit abandoned in the new store?