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Ask my close friends how many times I’ve moaned that I hate my own taste in furniture and they’ll likely respond that the limit does not exist. I recognize it’s ironic to dislike my own taste, but it’s true: my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and I somehow always fall in love with pieces I can’t afford.
You’ve got style, but it’s still developing, and you’ve got money, but not as much as you’d like. Throwaway buys are no longer conscionable, but deciding which products to invest your precious money in is quite the puzzle.
Once you hit your mid-twenties (and no, my hands absolutely aren’t shaking typing that), shopping for just about everything is hard. You’ve got style, but it’s still developing, and you’ve got money, but not as much as you’d like. Throwaway buys are no longer conscionable, but deciding which products to invest your precious money in is quite the puzzle. Lately, I’ve aimed to buy fewer, higher quality basics, which has been feasible for clothes, shoes, and beauty products. Furniture? That’s another story.
In all honesty, when I challenged my internet browser with a bevy of variables like a modest budget, elevated style, homey feel, and semi-portable design while shopping for a coffee table, I semi expected Google to just generate a blank screen. Instead, I met Russet, a new line of elevated home basics.
Elevated Basics… That Are Actually Affordable
As a TQE editor, I’m very familiar with the direct-to-consumer-anything elevator pitch: rethink design, deliver convenience, and cut out the middleman for more affordable pricing. Unfortunately, I’ve found that while furniture makers have mastered the first two points, the latter hasn’t quite been addressed in the wonderful world of home design. Yes, many DTC furniture brands exist, but for the most part, they’re still super expensive.
Russet founder Stephanie Rales launched her line to fill this gap: “You shouldn’t have to drain your bank account when you move from one home to the next, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality or design either. That’s where the journey began.“
First Up: The Champ And The Sidekick
For now, Russet offers two products online: a coffee table, The Champ ($165) and a side table, The Sidekick ($75). Each is crafted with an FSC certified plywood core and solid wood veneer. Available in a very light wood, medium wood, and black, the tables are composed of five (The Sidekick) or six (The Champ) planks of wood that interlock and require no nails or screws for assembly. The brand does, however, recommend using its Rubber Mallet (which comes with The Sidekick but is an added extra for The Champ at $8) to really pop things into place. Supposedly, it’s as easy at 1-2-3 to unbox your table and get it to a useful state.
Thoughts From A Furniture Assembly Failure
I had the opportunity to try my hand at building and using Russet’s Champ coffee table to see if it really is that easy. In full transparency: 1. I suck at building furniture, 2. My table was delivered to my AC-less apartment on one of LA’s hotter summer days, and 3. I didn’t order the rubber mallet that’s highly recommended for assembly. With those variables working against me (mostly #3), I’ll have to admit that getting my Champ assembled was slightly harder than I imagined.
While figuring out where to place each piece was beyond easy and I highly appreciate the no-tools-required element, I did need some extra oomph to pop each plank of wood into place so that the top of the table would line up and slide into place. A handy friend helped by using a towel-coated hammer to get the job done (for the record, I wouldn’t recommend this -- just order the mallet!)
Way To Go, Champ!
Once assembled, I’ve enjoyed having The Champ in my space tremendously. “Elevated basic” is the perfect descriptor for the coffee table -- while simple, the table is sleek and minimal in an upscale way. It’s a wonderful, supportive piece to incorporate into just about any design style. Plus, its durability means it should last as many pieces around it receive upgrades -- while remaining relevant and functional at the same time.
“Elevated basic” is the perfect descriptor for the coffee table -- while simple, the table is sleek and minimal in an upscale way. It’s a wonderful, supportive piece to incorporate into just about any design style.
In terms of size, the table isn’t huge: at 41”x20”, it can hold dinner plates for myself and one friend, or a few homey knick knacks. The table’s bottom floor (aka second shelf) has storage for any articles that can’t or shouldn’t fit on the tabletop. All in all it offers enough surface space for the necessities, then leaves plenty of room in my floor plan for other furniture and entertainment pieces.
Design (Actually) Within Reach
Committed to offering beautiful, functional pieces accessible to all, Russet has plans for expansion. While Rales couldn’t offer too many details, she revealed that we can expect a few new products this fall: “Whether you live in a dorm, an apartment, or a castle, there will be something for you.” On top of that, the brand plans to assist with the entire home design process at some point. For now, I’ve got my eyes on a Sidekick (and its complimentary rubber mallet!), but stay tuned for updates -- as the brand expands, I’m excited to watch my collection of furniture-I-actually-like grow, too.
5 More Reasons To Love Russet
- Quality and design: Russet is designed to place optimism and elegance at the heart of every home. Plus, it’s no-tools-required assembly is a huge relief.
- Durability: Made with an FSC Certified plywood core and solid wood veneer, Russet pieces are built to last.
- Affordability: At $165 and $75, The Champ and The Sidekick won’t break the bank.
- Sustainability: Currently, Russet uses FSC Certified wood and avoids all single use plastic -- and the brand’s site has an open forum for feedback on how they can improve.
- Growing and evolving: Russet intends to roll out more products and services and continue iterating on quality, design, and sustainability as it grows.