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San Francisco Shopping: Part 2 – Oakland

By: Anh-Minh Le, decor8 Contributor, learn more about Anh-Minh here.

For the second installment of my series on Bay Area shops, I decided to head to Oakland. Whether your home is a mid-century stunner or leans toward a shabby chic-esque warmth, the Rockridge neighborhood offers plenty of great boutiques for your browsing/buying pleasure.

Starting right around the Rockridge BART station, I made my way along College Avenue towards Broadway. My first stop was actually at Grace Baking, to pick up a cup of tea and a few cookies for my stroll.

Across the street from Grace Baking is the very pretty Maison d?Etre (5640 College Avenue), which is a must for those cultivating a Parisian/flea market look. There are also more modern goods, such as Chilewich rugs and John Pomp glass vases. Towards the front of the store, there?s a good selection of children?s gifts. (I love that Maison d?Etre carries bilingual fairy tales.)

Scout (5550 College Avenue) is focused on the home, garden and travel. Owner Paul Scott Silvera brings back souvenirs from his trips and stocks them in the store. New home accessories, furniture and gift items are arriving all the time. (He also offers design staging services to the locals)

A few blocks down the street from Scout is Rockridge Home (5418 College Avenue) which is larger than you might think when you see the storefront. This place just keeps going and going? All the way back to a small outdoor space, where you?ll find cute birdhouses and other garden accessories. This place stocks things for every room of your house ? from the floor (e.g., Angela Adams rugs) to the walls (lots of artwork for sale).

If you like what you see at Maison d?Etre, be sure to stop in at Bella Vita (5407 College Avenue). In addition to French accents and antiques for your home, the store features lovely paper goods, clothing and accessories.


Swallowtail (5332 College Avenue), with its ever-changing inventory, offers a good mix of antique and contemporary accessories and furniture. Owner Sheri Sheridan has exquisite taste, and it shows in her careful selection of pieces ? some classic (marble-topped tables), some quirky (zebra rugs).

The family-run Form Vintage Modern (5330 College Avenue) specializes in new and vintage Danish and American designs. All of the big names are carried here ? including Alessi, Eames, George Nelson and Vitra.


Strange name, cute shop: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (5322 College Avenue). As the name implies, you?ll find a range of ceramics ? including some collectible pottery.

If you?re the crafty type, there?s one more place worth checking out. Poppy Fabric (which is actually on Broadway) offers fantastic service and selection. When I lived in Rockridge, I came here all the time for cool upholstery fabrics. Every time I visit the area, I get a little nostalgic and daydream about moving back someday?

P.S. The California College of the Arts (CCA) is also on Broadway and they often have campus events. And you can even take courses through the Extended Education program!

Related Posts: Shopping San Francisco: Part 1 – The Mission

Great Oakland tour, a-m! Thanks! – holly

(images from rockridge home, bella vita, form and crown guides)

Posted in guest bloggers, Shop Tours, shopping, travel on April 27, 2006

Shopping San Francisco: Part 1 – The Mission

Written By: Anh-Minh Le, NEW! decor8 Contributor
Learn more about Anh-Minh here.


Hi there! This is Anh-Minh, reporting from the San Francisco Bay Area. Holly has been kind enough to let me take up a little bit of real estate on her awesome blog. So as part of a new series at decor8, I?ll give you the scoop on some of the best design resources around these parts. Whether you?re local or planning a visit, hopefully you?ll find the write-ups to be useful!

Since there are great galleries and shops all over San Francisco, I?ve decided to break things down by neighborhoods. In the first installation of this series, I?m focusing on The Mission District ? specifically, the Valencia Corridor. This is by no means a comprehensive list; it?s just a selection of some of my favorites.

(Other S.F. neighborhoods will be showcased in future posts. And I?m planning to go beyond the city limits and explore the shopping drags of Berkeley, Burlingame and more.)

The Mission

Once upon a time, this was a predominantly Latino area. But, in the late ?90s when the Internet boom happened, the Mission was a prime candidate for gentrification. Now, while still maintaining its roots, the neighborhood has become home to a plethora of wonderful restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques.

Thanks to two fairly new storefronts, the Mission is a great destination for finding affordable local artwork for your home. Local Patron carries everything from jewelry and clothing to paintings and ceramics. But, you must act quickly: This is a temporary shop that is currently scheduled to shut down in late May. Artist-Xchange, while still focusing on local folks, is heavy on art for your walls and ceramics for your tabletops (including the fabulous work of Joanna Mendicino).

Just a few doors down from Artist X-Change is CandyStore, which is sort of like a one-stop shop for all things adorable. You can find clothing (I love local designer Talla?s patterns!), shoes, stationery, accessories, ceramics, pillows and so much more. And yes, the boutique does indeed sell candy ? in vintage glass canisters that are so charming and retro.

The stretch of Valencia between 15th and 16th is where you?ll find two Therapy stores right next door to each other. One primarily carries sofas, pillows and other accessories. The other space is mainly a clothing boutique, with more home accessories and tchotchkes mixed in. Be sure to check them both out.

If you?re in the market for some vintage goods, my go-to in this neighborhood is The Touch. Feel free to haggle with them ? I always do! I picked up my Danish-style coffee and dining tables here, and love them both. (It?s a little tough to find info on this store, so I?ll tell you that it?s located at 956 Valencia Street.) X-21 Modern is another good vintage spot. Be sure to give yourself some time here; the store?s 9,000 square feet are jam-packed.

Every neighborhood in San Francisco has its own history and personality. And in the Mission, you?ll find the only vegan boutique in the city. Otsu is proof that you don?t need to use animal products to make great things. My top picks here include the Little Otsu cards and Chris Duncan?s patchwork birdies.

Other shops worth mentioning: Aldea which also has an online store, Paxton Gate and Rayon Vert (located at 3187 16th Street, it?s more than just a flower shop!).

One of the best things about shopping in the Mission is that if you need a break ? to indulge in a leisurely meal or just refuel ? there is no shortage of eateries here. Mmm? Crepes at Ti Couz? Mojitos at Luna Park?

(images Aldea, Local Patron, Artist X-Change.)

Posted in guest bloggers, Shop Tours, shopping, travel on April 17, 2006

Brookdale Farms

In my coffee + cre8tive post this morning, I mentioned a nearby farm that I frequent for fresh produce and flowers called Brookdale Farms. Visiting the farm is a simple pleasure that I enjoy, especially since I’m a city girl and until now, never had the opportunity to live near a working farm before.

Brookdale Farms

We often enjoy walks through the orchards at night to discuss our day while enjoying the sunset over golden fields. We also pick strawberries and apples on the farm when they are in season, and feed the one and only resident sheep fresh grass. A cute story from last night – I walked over to the farms with my husband to feed the lone sheep. I think that I fed him a little too much grass though, because when we started to leave, he made all these strange sheep sounds and started bucking around in his pen like a little bronco – I guess all the fresh greens perked him up quite a bit. He acted a little nutty. I began to wonder what was in the grass, you know? But it was cute because he was happy and making that connection to an animal is something that I personally find great joy in. It’s beautiful. Even if it’s just a nutty sheep that I’ve nicknamed Charlie.

greenhaus.jpg

faded beauty

Brookdale Farms

Brookdale Farms

Brookdale Farms

Brookdale Farms

Brookdale Farms

Brookdale Farms

Brookdale Farms

If you’re in the New England area and fancy a country drive, why not visit Brookdale in New Hampshire? It’s packed on the weekends with Bostonians looking for fresh air and colorful blooms. Learn more about Brookdale…

I’ve taken a few photos of Brookdale from inside the shop, they’ve just renovated the entire store to include more gift items, so I now have the pleasure of residing near a fabulous gift shop as well as a farm, all within 100 steps from my front door. I snapped a photo of their greenhouse space, which is bare at the moment but in another month, it will transform into a lush humid paradise with wall-to-wall flowers and plants.

I hope all those of you that read decor8 from other parts of the world will enjoy peeking in on a special country store that I regularly shop at, here in my part of the world.

(Photos: Holly Becker for decor8)

Posted in Shop Tours, trends on April 10, 2006

Step Inside Magpie

Christine Liu, decor8 contributor, is back with a review of Magpie. This post contains so many great links, you won’t want to miss it. Drum roll please…here’s Christine!

As Holly has already confessed her love for their paper goods, I went on task to do a thorough look-see of Davis Square gem Magpie, shiny things for your nest. I’ve visited this haven of hip crafts, local art, and vintage collectibles’ only once before, but one visit is clearly not enough. Not only would it be impossible to absorb all the featured items at once, but also the in-stock items constantly change as the roster of artists evolve and as one-of-a-kind originals are sold and replenished. Part quirky boutique and part curated gallery, Magpie is a charming art spot that exudes with creative style and handcrafted energy.

The store, located at 378A Highland Ave in Somerville (just over the Charles from Boston), is a quick walk from the T subway station, and welcomes you from the sidewalk with a flock of friendly (what else?) handdrawn magpies. They encouragingly beckon.

Look for it carefully, as the space is carefully tucked away in a nondescript stretch of neighborhood. However, the moment you enter you find yourself enveloped in a warmly inviting room with all things cute, cozy, and colorful. Everything from retrofitted wall-hangings to painted bread plates happily coexist in this handmade heaven.

One of the five owners of Magpie, Dave McMahon, was running the place on Sunday afternoon and couldn’t have been more passionate about featuring the works of independent artists and fostering a strong local community. He and his wife Leah Kramer (the founder of Craftster) and fellow Magpies Simone Alpen, Emily Arkin and Dave Sakowski are also the core that run the Bazaar Bizarre, a modern craft fair that began in 2001 in the Boston-area but has since spread out to include LA, Cleveland, and San Francisco (next event April 22 + 23′ 06). Dave eagerly showed me around (the room is small but holds a lot!) and pointed me towards some interesting works.


First stop: paper goods! Handmade cards are conveniently located right in the front of the store and are coo-worthy spectacular. Dave mentions that the store gets new paper goods almost on a continuous basis, and I find the designs as perfect and delectable as cupcakes. Just a handful of the featured stationery include designs by 1201AM, sugarlily, poppycock, sewing stars, boygirlparty, scraps of paper, and the paper princess. There’s everything from colorful illustration to quirky gocco prints to cards packaged with pages from real vintage recipe books. (My personal favorites are from Susie Ghahremani at boygirlparty, and the pudgy bunnies of sewing stars.) If you’re looking for unique, well-made, and head-turning stationery, Magpie is the place to be.


I’m already tickled pink at the paper goods, though there’s plenty more to see. Moving toward the rear of the store, I espy some cleverly designed dinnerware and ceramics.

I’m completely smitten with these dining accessories by neutrino designs. (If you’re not proximate to Magpie, you can also purchase them online at Art Star.) The clean white lines and simple silhouettes of the pieces are adorned with sporadic geometric details, bold and delicate in fine-tipped orange. At once mod, scientific, and abstract, the design of the series wins on so many levels. I love how the butter dish is constructed so that at first it appears to be a normal white holder. Only until you consume enough butter do you uncover the bright orange designs. A gradual and satisfying reward that makes eating that much more fun.


I still remember these hand-etched glasses from my first visit. Each set hosts an amusingly complementary pair of messages, such as Beauty/Brains, Wild Turkey/Cold Duck, and RBG/CMYK (my pick). They’re beautifully minimalist, with the clear frosted glass and bold, sans serif lettering. Designed by Cambridge-based artist Sandra Salamone, I could definitely see them as a fancy vintage cocktail vessel, or for housing a colorful votive candle. I wouldn’t be surprised if the artist took requests for custom messages… now who’s the creative one? :)


Here’s Dave, looking super happy and modeling one of the hand-painted sushi-themed ceramics by Suzaluna. (How delish to eat sushi atop of sushi!) By the way, he was a great sport and let me take all these pictures for decor8!


When encouraged to pick a personal favorite, Dave was excited to feature the hand painted birdhouses by Ryan O’Rourke. The birdhouses are constructed by Ryan’s grandfather, and then painstakingly designed and decorated by Ryan. Dave adds, “I’m a painter, so I really admire his work. The details…the colors…” The designs are intricate and layered, filled with small illustrative narratives all over the tiny wooden structure. “I love these for so many reasons, but there’s something about the fact that he paints these things that are made by his grandfather. The familial connection, and the handmade process. They’re great!” The birdhouses are fantastically designed, and other than sprucing up your pad in style, they may also become a super-luxe bird loft for your favorite feathered friend if you choose for it to be. Here’s one, smiling back at you.


Perhaps coincidentally, though cheerfully appropriate, there are plenty of bird-themed goods within Magpie. I found the metal rooster sculpture striking in its modern interpretation and recycled materiality. It comes from the hands of Anna Johansson of Anna Built, also active with an indie rock band, the Pee Wee Fist. Anna also creates beautiful jewelry recycled from bits of beer can metals and stunning stained glass. It’s impressive to witness her strength of inspiration from everyday objects.

If you’re in Boston, be sure to drop into Magpie! As I told Dave, one of the best reasons of mine to support local and independent artists is that I feel it’s better to acquire a small number of objects that are meaningfully precious than a large number of generics that are facelessly mass-manufactured. You can definitely sense that philosophy in Magpie, where every object can be traced back to a creative human being. And in a modern world, that’s a beautiful thing.

:::note from holly:::
If you see anything in the photos that you’d like to inquire about, please contact Magpie directly. They are happy to accept orders over the phone with a major credit card.

Magpie also sells my favorite soap dishes in the world by Ambrosia Porcelain. Read what decor8 had to say about them here.

A special thanks to Dave at Magpie!

(photos + text from Christine Liu. Great job, Miss Liu!)

****

Posted in Arts + Crafts, guest bloggers, Shop Tours, shopping, travel on March 30, 2006

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