|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
Assembled in U.S.A.
From Imported Components
Restoration Hardware, Inc.
15 Koch Road
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(Meets North American Standard)
This Company In Brief
Restoration Hardware, Inc. started business as a company selling vintage hardware for residential restorations. It has now been recreated as RH, an upscale home decor retailer selling through its own website, through catalogs and through over 100 retail stores of various kinds. It offers very little actual hardware among its wares, but does sell some unique upscale restoration faucets for the bath assembled in the U.S. by Brashtech, Inc., Masco's metal fabricating company that also makes faucets. It does not sell kitchen, bar or prep faucets under the Restoration Hardware brand.
The legend is that frustrated at being unable to find vintage hardware to restore his old house in Eureka, California, Stephen Gordon founded Restoration Hardware in 1979, expanding its one store to over 70 stores by 1999 using capital raised at an initial public offering in 1998. The rapid expansion eroded the company's profitability. It was rescued in 2008 when it was bought out and taken private by Catterton Partners which, by closing stores and increasing catalog and internet sales, boosted earnings to the point that it could again be taken public again as Restoration Hardware Holdings, Inc. in November 2012. The Delaware company now trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Mr. Gordon is no longer active in the management of the company.
The primary operating entity appears to be Restoration Hardware, Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Restoration Hardware Holdings, Inc. Other subsidiaries include RH US, LLC which owns most of the intellectual property (trademarks, copyrights, etc.) of the related corporations, Restoration Hardware Canada, Inc., Restoration Hardware International, Inc. and Michaels Furniture Company, Inc., all of which are headquartered at the same Corte Madera, California address.
Although the company started out as a seller of vintage decorative hardware, it has de-emphasized hardware and become more a furniture and accessories store — an upscale combination of Pottery Barn and Pier One — under the guidance of sometime CEO Gary Friedman. Mr. Friedman worked his way up at Gap and later became the CEO of up-scale retailer of Williams-Sonoma. He joined Restoration Hardware in 2001 when it was near bankruptcy and is widely credited with turning it into one of the nation’s most successful high-end furniture retailers. Decorative hardware is still part of the Restoration Hardware line, but is no longer its core business. In consequence, the company has largely outgrown its original moniker, Restoration Hardware, and is busy rebranding itself as merely "RH" — a process that is still ongoing.
RH still sells through retail stores, which it calls "galleries", mostly on the coasts, and is, in fact, in the process of building more of its upscale stores. As of the date of this report its owns 85 galleries, 28 outlet stores and has inherited 15 Waterworks retail sites in the U.S. and U.K. It also conducts business over the internet and through catalog sales. Its current catalog is so large at over 3,000 pages and 17 lbs. that it had to be divided into thirteen separate "source books". Because most recipients of the mailed catalogs will not order anything, catalog experts have calculated that the cost to the environment of generating one order is 340 lbs. of paper. One would expect the environmentalists to complain loudly about that, and they have.
It maintains six websites, two primary sites: www.rh.com and www.restorationhardware.com, and three special interest sites: www.rhbabyandchild.com, www.rhteen.com, and www.rhmodern.com as well as the website of the recently acquired Waterworks company, www/waterworks.com.
Unlike retail sources such as whose store brand faucets are merely assembled collections of ready-made faucets bought from various faucet manufacturers, the faucets offered under the Restoration Hardware nameplate are designed for and exclusive to Restoration Hardware. We don't know where they are designed, but suspect that Brasstech (see below) has a major role in the process. They are for the bath only. The company does not offer kitchen or bar faucets.
RH also sells faucets. Lefroy Brooks does make kitchen faucets, but RH sells only the Lefroy Brooks bath collections which includes faucets, showers and accessories.
In 2016 RH acquired and sold through design studios in the U.S. and U.K. We expect to see Waterworks faucets and other wares showing up in RH stores in the very near future, probably as stand-alone collections insie RH galleries.
The company catalog says that Restoration Hardware faucets are assembled "in Germany from U. S. components". Not true. In fact, the faucets are assembled in California (which, for the benefit of RH catalog writers, has never been a part of Germany) by Brasstech from faucet components obtained primarily from five large Chinese manufacturers. Very few, if any parts in a Restoration faucet are made in the U.S. The only components sourced from Germany are cartridges made by Flühs Drehtechnik. (See the Newport Brass review for more information.) Why Restoration Hardware feels it is necessary to misrepresent the origin of its faucets, we don't know. But, it merely makes the company look dishonest.
Brasstech also handles the company's parts service — a call to Restoration Hardware Technical Support (1-866-417-5207) actually puts you in touch with Brasstech support — a smart move since Restoration Hardware is spared the chore of keeping, cataloging and distributing faucet parts.
Restoration Hardware's association with Brasstech has caused some confusion. The fact that Brasstech assembles and finishes the Newport Brass line of faucets has lead some to conclude that Restoration Hardware sells Newport Brass faucets. Not true. While it appears that Brasstech does the actual design, prototyping and assembly of Restoration Hardware faucets, the two lines are distinctive with no overlap that we can find. Many of the faucets in the two lines are similar, but we can find none that are actually the same.
The company catalog states that the faucets are equipped with ceramic disk valves made by Flühs Drehtechnik of Lüdenscheid, Germany, considered to be some of the best made, and spokespersons for Newport Brass confirmed that the Brasstech 1-001 and 1-002 stem cartridges are indeed made by Fluhs. We have also been able to confirm this information from import and customs records.
The company calls its furniture and hardware collections "curated", usually a term applied to museum collections of similar or related objects, but it seems to apply here as well. The original design vision was provided by Stephen Gordon, supplemented by on again, off again, CEO, Gary Friedman.
The faucet collection is small, fewer than a dozen sink faucets with matching tub fillers and shower components, but the collections are creative and visually stunning, obviously assembled with a keen eye for style and complement. Styling reflects late 1800s and early 1900s American forms that easily fit late Victorian and Arts & Crafts or Art Deco baths. Some collections are more modern, reminiscent of the Bauhaus school of design and quite suitable for post-war modernist decors, and at least two, Spritz and Sutton, are contemporary enough for any modern bath.
Five finishes are available on most faucets. Our favorite by far is polished chrome — by which we mean brilliant, hand polished chrome. Next in line would be polished nickel, then satin nickel, aged brass and oil rubbed bronze. Unlike some bronze finishes that are , meaning that they will react with the environment and will discolor and stain over time, which is all part of their natural charm, RH bronze is a permanent finish that will not discolor or stain with normal care.
The RH warranty is a limited lifetime warranty to the original buyer that guarantees the faucet cartridge against leaking and against defects in the manufacturing process. Finishes are not specifically mentioned, but as properly applied finishes do not fail, we would consider any failure to be a manufacturing defect. The warranty is not transferable to any subsequent owner of the faucet, and lasts only as long as the original purchaser owns the home in which the faucet is installed. All of these provisions are typical of North American faucet warranties. There are no oddities here.
Shipping charges can be steep for a faucet. Standard shipping charges to U.S. addresses used to be a flat 10% of the purchase price and increase with the price of the total order — in no manner reflecting the actual cost of shipping. Shipping is still based on total price, but is banded to price ranges rather then being a flat 10%. This usually results in a charge slightly more than 10%. Shipping on a $700.00 RH faucet would be $80.00, on a $10.00 order, $4.95, or nearly 50% of the purchase price. To Canada, shipping is even higher — roughly 20% of the purchase price. We have never seen shipping charges calculated like this on a faucet. Most shipping charges are based on weight and size, not price. Restoration Hardware has no free shipping, unlike other sellers that will ship for free after a specified minimum price point is reached.
Technical support, handled through Brasstech, is very good, sometimes excellent, but never lacking. And, since parts inventory is handled by Brasstech, getting parts is not a problem. If you have a technical issue with your Restoration Hardware faucet, we suggest that you call Brasstech technical support directly at the number listed above. If your issue is a warranty claim, it will be ultimately handled by Brasstech, but you will have to start with customer service, and customer support for non-technical issues can be problematic.
The company promises superior customer service:
"Restoration Hardware strives to achieve the highest level of service in our industry. Our goal is to provide our customers with the best possible customer experience. To this point, if we make a mistake, we'll fix it. You can expect nothing but the best in quality and service."The actual customer experience with the company, however, indicates that Restoration Hardware still has a way to go to deliver on its service promise. While customer service problems are still not as severe as in the past, they have not been completely corrected. Our most recent tests of RH's customer service produced reasonably favorable results, and the Better Business Bureau, which formerly rated the company poorly, now rates RH A- on its scale of A+ to F for its handling of 79 customer complaints reported over the past three years. Reviews of the company's service by customers, however, are overwhelmingly negative, according to the BBB. Most relate to failing to issue refunds and refusal to accept returned merchandise, even when the items are defective or not as described in the company catalog.
Our experience is that customer service agents tend to assume that any problem with a faucet is the customer's fault, and must have been caused by faulty installation, abuse or mishandling. It takes considerable discussion with both customer and technical service to arrive at a satisfactory resolution, and RG agents are often brusque and even rude. When we compare Restoration Hardware warranty service to a company that offers top quality warranty support, like the vast difference between first class and other class service is very apparent.
At least part of the problem stems from the company's unusually strict merchandise return policies that often catch buyers unaware. It will refund the purchase price, but not sales taxes or shipping charges on returned items unless the item is defective on receipt. It may also charge for return shipping. Returns must be within 30 days of the sale — a deadline that is strictly enforced even when delivery takes more than 30 days, as it sometimes does. Custom orders, monogrammed or personalized items cannot be returned nor can items sold on closeout or clearance. Custom orders cannot be cancelled or changed.
Keep all of these policies in mind if you purchase a faucet from Restoration Hardware because RH rarely makes exceptions no matter how compelling your tale of woe.
We like the faucets. They are well made — as befits a Brasstech product — fabulously styled, and flawlessly finished. We believe that the price to value relationship is good, sometimes excellent. Plumbers report the faucets are fussy to install with an unusual amount of assembly required, but once installed correctly, the faucets seem to perform without defect.
We also like the technical support provided by Brasstech. What we don't like is the post-sale non-technical support for problems with the faucets. We think the entire warranty claims process is nit-picky, slow and unnecessarily bureaucratic.
American made faucets comparable to Restoration Hardware include
If you have experience with Restoration Hardware faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or leave a comment below.