CB2 Vs. Crate And Barrel: What's The Difference Between The Home Furnishing Stores?

Crate and Barrel has been a frontrunner among furniture and home decor retailers for decades. The company began in 1962 when founders Gordon and Carole Segal were inspired to introduce the simply beautiful and functional houseware they experienced on their European honeymoon to the American marketplace, per Crate and Barrel. It gained wider recognition and popularity in the 1990s, selling a lifestyle to middle-class consumers cutting their adult teeth on home decoration and fashion. 

Crate and Barrel offered a metropolitan take on furniture and accessories that didn't go too far afield with a city or modern aesthetic but was worldly enough to make patrons feel design-savvy and their homes feel fresh and new. The goods are marketed and presented so skillfully that going to a store is a destination activity. In 2002, the successful company launched a spin-off brand called CB2, self-described as cool and edgy. But what's the difference between the two stores?

Their style stories are different

Timeless style and classic design are defining traits of Crate and Barrel products (via Crate and Barrel). The inventory is clean-lined and a little mid-century, which is unsurprising given the 1962 origins, though it is a change from the traditional French pieces it started with, per Home Stratosphere. With staples and foundational pieces that are buildable and adaptable yet sufficiently interesting and made well enough to stand on their own, the company has garnered legions of return customers. 

According to Crate and Barrel, its offshoot CB2 was ideated as the place to go for modern and whimsy pieces. Targeted toward city and small town residences, the designs are thoughtful and high-end in concept. CB2 allows a design-forward clientele to purchase appealing products without feeling they are over-investing. They offer a funkier, more exuberant vibe and purposefully place their few stores in urban locales with a reputation for being artsy and modern-leaning.

The stylistic footprint of each brand is pretty apparent. While Crate and Barrel has its share of trend-forward pieces, its aesthetic has been condensed and rebranded into CB2, making it easier and faster for a specific customer to shop.

Who has the most selection?

Both brands sell a complete range of functional and decorative home decor pieces for each room of the house and outdoors. They offer furniture collections and more eclectic trend-thematic curations. Products include upholstered pieces like sofas and chairs, wooden case goods such as dressers, beds, and buffets, kitchen and dining tables, outdoor furniture, and accessories including lighting, rugs, and wall decor. Additionally, they offer everyday and practical objects like dishes, barware, and small kitchen electronics, per Crate and Barrel. Appropriate seasonal items are highlighted, with patio furniture, planters, and lanterns in summer and holiday decorations, entertaining pieces, and gifts in winter. Given the duration of establishment, it makes sense that Crate and Barrel has a larger selection of goods. In some cases, the products in a particular category are more than double the selection at CB2.

Both companies have extensive e-commerce platforms with gorgeous and organized websites. If you prefer in-person to online shopping, a Crate and Barrel store will be much easier to come by. According to Scrape Hero, there are 110 U.S. locations, with California having the most of any state. Conversely, CB2 has only 24 brick-and-mortar locations across North America, per CB2

Pricing imbalances seem negligible

The pricing for each brand appears to be similar. The Budget Fashionista noted they could find no obvious difference in costs, unlike in the Gap Inc. tiered system, for example, where each sister store has a targeted price point. It's speculated that any increased amount for Crate and Barrel items can be attributed to furniture that is just a little weightier, more frequent use of solid woods, or eco-conscious products featuring more expensive raw materials. But the price differences between corresponding pieces are nominal, most likely from a slight variation in size, whether the item is from a design collaboration or a value or high quantity piece (usually possessing a deeper inventory), allowing for lower manufacturing costs sometimes passed onto the consumer. 

Though you may notice a greater prevalence of discounted items on the CB2 site, Crate and Barrel offers a price match guarantee, per Real Simple. If you find an identical name-brand product at a lower cost from a Crate and Barrel competitor, they'll match it. This is most relevant to those shopping for small kitchen appliances and accessories. In summary, it seems that the variable between brands is mostly a stylistic one. 

Equal services from either brand

The companies provide a full spectrum of services, creating an environment with attentive customer engagement and convenience. The offerings include a free gift registry with additionally suggested favorites, inspiration ideas, and a user-friendly interface for easy and guaranteed-to-please shopping. Crate and Barrel's registry service is wedding-focused, while CB2's is more all-encompassing, mentioning other milestones like graduations and birthdays. Both provide free design services, with in-home, store, and virtual meetings available. They also incorporate photorealistic 3D renderings, 2D space plans, an augmented reality tool, mood boards, and inspiration pairings, per RealSimple

The shipping and delivery pricing tables look exactly the same regardless of brand. Both offer order tracking, though it may be more difficult and costly to ship a CB2 item unless you live close, considering their limited locations. Gift cards and rewards credit cards are interchangeable between brands. The only real difference we could see among the services on offer is that Crate and Barrel has a mobile app, and CB2 does not. 

Responsible design

The brands offer solid wood pieces certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), which The Spruce explains is a non-profit organization certifying the wood and its manufacturer's practices have met rigorous standards regarding environmental impact, sustainable forestry, and social responsibility. It appears that Crate and Barrel offers more of these than CB2; in fact, they have a dedicated landing page on their website enumerating responsible design initiatives and certifications, per Crate and Barrel. They also highlight transparency in sourcing and a commitment to social activism. 

In the Vendor Operations Guide, the code of conduct and requirements for maintaining a business agreement include freedom for workers to unionize, ethical business behavior, and environmental protection. Fur is banned, but they may use leather hides, feathers, and down that are by-products from the food industry. Organic cotton is certified by textile and environmental organizations (via Crate and Barrel). While Crate and Barrel and CB2 follow these restrictions, you will find a larger assortment of sustainably made and socially responsible products at Crate and Barrel. Since the companies run parallel in so many facets, it's safe to hope that CB2 will be offering increased options.

Both brands offer amazing designer collabs

It's commonplace for industries to cross-brand via collaborations, and Crate and Barrel and CB2 do it exceedingly well, partnering with celebrities and designers to create exclusive and limited edition pieces. Crate and Barrel has at least six collaborations currently, including one with interior designer Leanne Ford, per Crate and Barrel. Their Crate and Kids line has teamed up with the Jane Goodall Institute for a vibrant children's line spotlighting animals and nature that Dr. Goodall hopes will ignite curiosity and play, per Fast Company

CB2 is presenting partnerships with designers Lawson-Fenning, with rugged pieces resplendent with Californian sophistication. Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle brand Goop contributes a feminine, art deco-inspired collection. A globally informed Lenny Kravitz line is as luxuriously laid-back as one would expect, and the beautifully delicate mid-century modern Paul McCobb reproductions are striking, per CB2

Both brands feature miscellaneous products licensed by both up-and-coming and iconic designers. They do an amazing job of harnessing the power of creativity and celebrity, but CB2 has the edge here if you're looking for unapologetic, bold design.