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The Strategist Guide to Shopping at West Elm

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Anyone who has shopped at a retailer with few physical storefronts knows it can be hard to figure out where to begin. There are lots of options that all seem as worthy as the next, but the reality is that products from any given brand are not all created equal. When you shop as regularly as we do, you learn that many brands just do some things better than they do other things. West Elm, with its wide range of furniture and décor, is one of those brands. Its massive inventory needs to be carefully picked through to find gems like mid-century bar carts, down-filled sofas, and linen sheets. Here, we’ve compiled all of the products from West Elm that our writers and editors — plus the interior designers, astrologers, and other cool people they’ve interviewed — have recommended. (You can also check out our favorites at the Strategist Shop at West Elm, where you’ll find curated picks in an easy-to-browse digital store.)

Bedding

West Elm’s bedding comes highly recommended by interior designers and decorators — and its linen sheets are among our editors’ favorites. Former Strategist senior editor Margaret Rhodes described West Elm’s European flax linen sheets as crisp and breathable, without being too scratchy. It has “a bit more of that just-washed-sheets effect,” she says. In other words, “this is dip-your-toe-in linen.” (If you want to cover your whole bed in linen, you can also get a matching duvet cover and shams.)

If you prefer bedding with a crisper feel than linen — at a not eye-popping price — consider this percale sheet set. It comes recommended by Courtney McLeod, founder and principal designer of New York City–based Right Meets Left Interior Design, who says they “are excellent quality for the price,” especially given that they’re made of organic cotton in fair-trade-certified facilities.

West Elm’s wide selection of duvet covers and quilts come as highly recommended as its sheet sets, and in a variety of styles for just about any bedroom. This one, woven from sustainably sourced cotton, has a raised geometric design that adds a nice, subtle texture to a modern bedroom, and it comes recommended by Havenly staff designer Madison Shoemaker.

If you’re looking to create a more opulent atmosphere, Decorilla designer Devin Shaffer recommends this velvet duvet cover. Shaffer calls its crushed (as opposed to smooth) fabrication “avant-garde” and says it gives the duvet cover added texture that makes it a bit more glamorous. Made from a viscose blend with cotton backing, the duvet cover is available in six colors (including blush, regal blue, and golden oak).

This quilt is on the higher end of West Elm’s price range for duvets, but it’s handcrafted, meaning that no two are exactly alike. Designer Rochelle Porter loves that “the pop of color peeks out from under the top layer” of the reverse appliqué construction.

Storage

This over-the-toilet ladder was a game changer for Strategist senior editor Crystal Martin, allowing her to transform what would otherwise be dead bathroom space into usable storage. Martin says this glossy ladder is “well made and sturdy” and spacious enough to hold towels, washcloths, and beauty products.

Professional organizer ​​Laura Cattano recommends this sleek lacquer shelf set that will provide additional storage whether you use it to display décor, store books, or keep your modem off the ground. It’s easy to install and equally chic whether mounted in your living room or bathroom. Depending on your existing look, you can choose from three finishes (brass, nickel, and bronze) and four lengths (two through five feet).

“This is the cart we picture making a whiskey on the rocks from,” say designers Chloe Pollack Robbins and Anna Cappelen. They praise the “simplicity of this mid-century piece” and add that ”the warm walnut is nicely complemented by a touch of brass, so it’s chic but not too glossy.”

If plastic bins strike you as unsightly, Cattano suggests investing in these elegant woven baskets so that “if someone walks in, they see a beautiful basket instead of the toys.” These receptacles have a sturdy frame covered in tightly handwoven rattan peel for a natural look. At 23 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 18 inches high, they’re large enough to keep bulky linens like towels tucked away neatly.

Seating

From $249

Budget- and design-conscious shoppers might consider this end-of-bed bench that’s a favorite of Havenly designer Lauren Cox, who says she loves the price point and slim frame. At 42 inches, it can fit in nearly any bedroom to add a sense of coziness with its sturdy hardwood frame and foam cushion upholstered in twill. In addition to the light gray shown, it’s also available in indigo and graphite.

In a Strategist test, practicality and versatility were the categories that this Harmony sofa excelled in. Interior designer Joslyn Taylor of Swoon Studio, who has used it in many projects, says “it’s insanely comfortable and has great lines.” The Harmony comes in a 32-inch “extra deep” seat option if you’re searching for a sofa that will allow for maximum relaxation.

[Editor’s Note: Most styles and colors will ship in 12 weeks.]

Rugs

This handcrafted rug is available in eight different sizes (including round options), making it easy to select the correct dimensions to “ground the room, and make everything look more unified,” says interior designer Lisa Gilmore. You can expect less shedding (and therefore, less vacuuming) thanks to nylon yarn, which is known to be both durable and low-maintenance.

From $40

“Natural fiber adds the perfect amount of organic texture to a space,” according to Modsy lead stylist Tara Smith, who loves the “chunky weave” of this customizable sisal rug. The choose-your-own-adventure element is the wide range of dimensions, including 17 widths (from two to 16 feet and two round options) and 12 lengths (from two to 13 feet). It’s available in a classic warm tone or more modern-looking chrome and muslin colorways.

This doormat is favorite of prop stylist Cat Dash, who likes that the traditional coir (a natural fiber made from the outer husk of coconuts) has been upgraded with a “fun half-circle shape and a Memphis-inspired dash pattern.” The navy stripes appear surprisingly neutral and help camouflage dirt.

Tables and desks

Rachel Schwartzmann, founder of the Style Line and CONNECT(ED)ITORIAL, owns this sleek Carrara-marble-topped coffee table and frequently recommends it to clients for its compact size. At 48 inches across, it won’t overwhelm small living rooms, but it still offers ample storage. While Schwartzmann uses the lower shelf for books, it’s a convenient space for stashing anything you want out of sight but easy to access (like remotes or gaming controllers).

Photo: retailer

For comedian Sarah Cooper, this pop-up storage coffee table is so much more than just a place to put up your feet. Because the top hinges open to reveal an inner compartment, it’s conducive to multifunction use. Cooper says, “You can eat very comfortably on it while you’re watching TV. It’s also perfect if you want to sit on the couch and work on your laptop.” Cooper is such a fan of this piece that she says “this is one thing that we will have until it breaks and then we’ll buy another one exactly like it.” You can order it in all wood or mix materials and incorporate a marble slab.

Christopher Stevens, interior designer and founder of Tipper Studio, recommends this 30-inch desk for clients who have small spaces. “Petite dimensions and a pleasing wood finish combined with ‘go with anything’ black metal accents make this a great choice for a variety of more laid-back décors.” It’s constructed from mango-wood and includes two drawers for corralling all your belongings.

For a place mat with extra personality, Alana Grim, co-owner of the now-closed Brooklyn vintage furniture store ANGL, suggests these fringed, handwoven numbers. These circular mats are made of rattan and sisal (resilient, easy-to-clean fabrics for outdoor dining and messy eaters). You can choose from white, black, or gray to match them to your tablecloth or dinnerware.

Curtains

Sheer curtains “provide the ability to allow natural light into a space while still allowing privacy,” according to Modsy designer Megan Huffman. She recommends this pair, which features a subtle crosshatch pattern that adds a bit of texture. If you like the look of sheer curtains during the day but also want to keep light pollution from coming through at night, Huffman says these can easily be hung on a double curtain rod with a pair of thicker, more opaque blackout curtains.

If you’re looking for more privacy or less light than what a sheer curtain provides, this jacquard curtain is Decorilla design expert Devin Shaffer’s choice. Shaffer says the panel’s raised pattern, which is made with metallic threads and kind of resembles tree bark, reminds him of the outdoors. While noticeable, the neutral-colored pattern is still subtle enough that it won’t overwhelm a room, he adds.

Curtain rods are often metal, but this wooden rod adds a softer edge, according to Huffman, who says this rod would work in a bunch of different décor styles, including mid-century, traditional, modern, and rustic. Featuring brass-finished mounting hardware and finials (included), it adds just the slightest bit of “glam without going overboard.”

Lighting and décor

Photo: Retailer

This is the go-to lamp for set decorator Kimberly Fischer because of its elegant look: “I’ve used it many times. It’s classic, and the shade isn’t too white-white.” It has a slim profile and a flat bronze-finished base that allows it to fit in tight spaces next to chairs and sofas.

Andi Morse, founder of Morse Design in Atlanta, likes the unique shape and shimmery look of this tray, which “has a very high-end feel for the price.” Morse uses it to accessorize her living room, as “it looks good on anything and everything — leather, wood, grass cloth, even an upholstered table.”

West Elm Faux Potted Rubber Tree
From $134
From $134

Faux plants can often give themselves away with over-vibrant greens, but this rubber tree’s thick, textured leaves and red undertones have a more realistic appearance. Depending on your space, you can choose from a height of 68.5 or 39 inches. It doesn’t come with a planter (it arrives in a plastic pot), but the retailer has plenty to choose from.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

The Strategist Guide to Shopping at West Elm