A New Look at Home

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Eclectic style dominated fall fashion runways, and now two home-furnishings giants are applying a similar, offbeat and personalized look to everyday items like upholstered sofas and margarita glasses. With the launch of its new website, cb2.com, Crate and Barrel is taking the "look what I found" approach to shopping for home furnishings and accessories. The lifestyle site, designed with graphics based on international travel signs guiding shoppers through eight categories including "live," "eat," "work" and "party," sells a random mix of modern furnishings like boldly colored sectional sofas ($389-$599) and entertaining essentials like tiny square wasabi plates ($2.95), in addition to trendy books, games and aromatherapy products. The site also keeps visitors abreast of compelling cultural and design happenings, such as the Air Guitar World Championships and the Frank Gehry pavilion in Chicago's Millennium Park.

For shoppers with more traditional tastes, the upscale kitchen outfitter Williams-Sonoma is expanding into other parts of the home with Williams-Sonoma Home, a new catalog featuring furniture, lamps, linens and tabletop accessories with a European look and premium price points.

"We felt that whole market was underserved," says Dave DeMattei, president of emerging brands at Williams-Sonoma. "It was time to explode out of the kitchen and out of the bed-and-bath department." (Williams-Sonoma Home will replace the Chambers catalog, also owned by the Williams-Sonoma company.)

"The idea is for the product to feel like found objects," says Stephen Brady, senior vice president of design at Williams-Sonoma. "Like you've traveled to Europe and found things in the flea market and brought them home with you." That old-world feeling shows up in everything from custom upholstered down-filled sofas ($3,000) to hand-embroidered Italian linens ($60-$495). Best sellers so far include a crystal-block lamp (about $295) and fringed cashmere throws in colors like cayenne, chocolate and sage (about $295). Customers can also log on to a partial ecatalog and order custom upholstery. Look for a full Williams-Sonoma Home website in spring 2005--and retail stores next fall.