Restoration Hardware, tweaked and slightly humbled, is planning to finally open its new home furnishings gallery in Boston Saturday.
After the store’s March 6 launch party was shut down by city safety officials because of overcrowding, the retailer, branded as RH, had to make a number of modifications to pass inspections at the historic 234 Berkeley St. building that previously housed the upscale clothier LouisBoston. Changes included removing decomposed granite that looked like sand on the third floor and taking down window drapes and bed canopies because they did not meet fire codes, according to RH creator and curator Gary Friedman.
“Some of this seems a little unusual. We have the drapes in stores all around the country that are treated with fire retardant and I’m not sure why it didn’t pass here,” Friedman said. “But we were scurrying around to take down hundreds of yards of drapes to make sure we passed.”
Friedman said the delay was unfortunate, but not too surprising given the complete overhaul of the building. He also apologized to those who came to the pre-opening party — branded on Twitter as #restorationnightmare — but couldn’t get in or thought the space was too crowded.
“The cover of the invitation said ‘This ain’t no tea party,’ and we were expecting to have a full house and have a fun party. This wasn’t supposed to be hoity-toity with rich people,” Friedman said. “People have their own perceptions of how crowded or not crowded it was. A lot of people had a good time. I had a great time.”
RH spent about two years completely renovating the landmark building, including removing auxiliary mezzanine levels and pedestrian elevators, to open up the 40,000-square-foot space and make the original vaulted ceiling visible from 70 feet below.
The centerpiece — and one of the biggest complications – is a traction and counterweight elevator with a steel-caged glass cab inspired by one in the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles.
The third floor — described as an indoor conservatory and park — features RH’s outdoor furniture and trickling fountains. A 14-foot-long antique Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley wine bar will be used to sell customers California vintages by the glass — once the store receives approval for its liquor license.
“Anytime you do anything in this world, there are people who love what you do or who ignore what you do or hate what you do,” Friedman said. “At the end of the day, we believe this is not only the greatest expression of our brand, this store will show against any retailer in the world.”