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Saturday, April 21, 2007

San Francisco Sources.

•timeless treasures•

As promised, here are a bunch of my favorite spots around San Francisco that I like to shop and some places I just like to spend timing visiting. Most are boutiques and vintage shops I'd much rather frequent than the giant and dreaded mall-o-generic. Over in my own Pacific Heights neighborhood, I always visit Timeless Treasures for vintage letters and unique gifts. This place is what I like to call 'Alphabet City' and owner Joan is a wonderful hostess. I also love Paper Source when I'm jones-ing for cool stationary, beautiful cards, ribbon and wrapping papers. Zinc Details has super hip accessories for your home and they also continue to rotate local artists' work on their walls, which I always love seeing. It's like shopping in your favorite local art gallery.

• zinc details•

Over on Polk Street, from Filbert to Sacramento Streets. there's a batch of lovely new shops popping up, as well as my favorite old standards. Swallowtail being one of the latter, carries the most unique vintage furniture and accessories around. If I owned a shop, this would be it.


Mascara Vintage, Picnic and Bella Cose all have great vintage clothing and home accessories. They're all small, mom & pop type shops that carry local designers' new work as well as cool flea market finds, which is my favorite kind of business to support.


Just over the hill in North Beach (our own Little Italy) is the one of a kind shop Aria. They carry just about everything you never knew you were looking for. Owner Bill Haskell rounds up the coolest, and the oddest of oddities and there's usually some melancholy French music drifting in the air. This is just a wonderful old shop to linger in after a cappuccino at one of the many Italian cafes nearby.


Rae Dunn's wonderful ceramics can be seen in the ceramic gallery Verdigris that she co-owns and operates, located in San Francisco's infamous Cannery Building. I love her simple and very modern zen looking pottery work.

•rae dunn•

Over in always hopping Hayes Valley there's some great little boutique shops I frequent. Lavish, Flight 001, Friend and Rose and Radish are all really great for gifts, unique art and fun decor finds. For vintage and funky furniture I stop in Zonal, and always Propeller for beautiful modern furniture, lighting and accessories and also because the owners love to feature emerging designers (and they're also really nice!). Alabaster is just plain gorgeous eye candy everywhere you look.


•And some must-sees off the beaten path•

The Alameda Flea Market • It happens every first Sunday of the Month. It's huge, so wear your comfy shoes, dress in layers and have some of the kettle korn they serve there. It's really good. But, bring your own cup of coffee-to-go. That's just me being truthful - do not wait in the coffee line while many of the treasures to be found pass you by. It's just not up to par with the stuff here waiting to be seen and grabbed. Half of my apartment is furnished from here and there are some really good bargains to be found. I hardly ever miss this flea market and I never wait in the coffee line.

• alameda flea market •

Take one of the old trolleys to the The Ferry Building Marketplace. This historical San Francisco landmark built in 1898 was the gateway to every immigrants' and sailors' arrival in San Francisco. It has now been converted into a gourmet's paradise. Wine tasting, amazing Ciao Bella Gelato, fresh fruits and vegetables, a meat market, the Cowgirl Creamery for the best cheese on the planet, The Slanted Door for the best Vietnamese food ever, gorgeous pastries and cupcakes at Miette and killer fish tacos and tamales at Mijita. It also hosts a local Farmer's Market every Saturday and Tuesday afternoon. It's a really fun afternoon of tasting, eating and I find it always inspires me to hunt for the best and freshest ingredients to take home and prepare my own favorite dishes.

• san francisco ferry building marketplace •

Lastly, just take a walk anywhere in San Francisco, as it is a city for walking (it's only 7 miles x 7 miles). Maybe start on Russian Hill for beautiful views of the entire bay from the Golden Gate to Tiburon to Berkeley and beyond. From there stroll on down Macondray Lane. This the famous lane in Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, one of the original indie films (Parker Posey & Laura Linney are both in it) based on decandent life in 1976 San Francisco. A good one to watch before visiting, for the clothes and hair if nothing else.

• macondray lane •

It's been so much fun being here. Thanks again Grace for having me and your warm hospitality. I hope you'll all visit San Francisco soon, and if you do I'll hear you had a great time visiting these favorites of mine. And trust me, skip Fisherman's Wharf. You'll be a much better visitor for it.

xo, Victoria

Friday, April 20, 2007

Almost at the end.

Since I'm winding down here on my guest posts at Design*Sponge, I thought I'd leave you all with my gratitude for all the lovely comments you posted and a bit of a source list of my favorite San Francisco haunts (in addition to the ones I've previously told you about). I've had a fabulous two weeks here, and wish I had time to post more (damn that 9-5 job!). I am so honored to have been invited by Grace. She really is my design blog hero.

I hope y'all will visit San Francisco one day and when you do, stay away from Fisherman's Wharf. Instead visit some of the places I will post for you tomorrow. I think you'll find they have a much better San Francisco vibe than any tourist trap could ever give you. It's a wonderful place to live, and to visit. Should you ever plan a trip here, feel free to write me and let me know what you seek. I'll be glad to help. Look for this post tomorrow. I had every intention of posting tonight, but I need more time to give you the list San Francisco, and you, deserve.
xo, Victoria (aka sfgirlbybay)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Behold Art.

One of my favorite resources for inexpensive, yet wonderful and unique artwork is the online art gallery, The Beholder. San Francisco-based curator, creator Suzanne Shade is one of the most soft-spoken, artistic and lovely people you'd ever want to meet. She and I met just about a year ago working on a pro-bono photo exhibit project together and have been fast friends ever since. I completely admire Suzanne's efforts to share the work of various emerging artists on her site, her philosophy being to bring artists and collectors together online, outside the traditional gallery system. These are artists seeking to connect with a larger audience; and collectors seeking new artists. A natural connection.

The Beholder represents a wide range of reasonable priced mediums including photography, drawings and paintings, for first time collectors and those looking to make additions to their growing collections. If you're feeling trepidatious about putting your foot in the collectors' world, they offer seven day trial periods, a brilliant idea Suzanne had, so you can view the art in your surroundings and see how it feels at home.

California Home & Design magazine did a lovely write up on The Beholder back in November. In the article, I really related to how Suzanne described the intimidating feeling one can get from gallery owners on first-time art buying trips. It's this philosophy that inspired Suzanne to create The Beholder online gallery. A place to get your feet wet, learn more about your personal taste in art, and discover some great talent that may have not yet made it to gallery walls. And, all at affordable prices for first time collectors. She provides a fabulous online resource for us newbies to the art buying world.

To see more of The Beholder's new artists and get occasional updates, sign up for Suzanne's mailing list.

The Mission.

Like a lot of cities, San Francisco has its neighborhoods, each one reflecting its own unique personality. There's quite a lot of diversity from one neighborhood to the next here, and just after traveling a few blocks, it sometimes feels as though you're visiting another town, which I just love. Some days you just ask yourself what you're in the mood for and go.

If it's a lazy Saturday and you're not quite not up to the whole wash, blow dry, and getting all gussied up bit, you might head south, over to The Mission, where things are a bit grittier, and it's probably somewhat cool to look like you just rolled out of bed. It's got wonderful old, colorful and vibrant Victorians, funky shops, corner fruits and vegetable grocers and it's full of Latino culture. It's one of my favorite neighborhoods for its food, nightlife and especially thrift shops.

In the Mission I have three favorite stops (four, if you count Taqueria San Francisco for the most excellent and cheap burrito ever). I always hit The Apartment, X21 Modern and Thriftown. Yes, Thriftown.

The Apartment, run by partners Lann Ballard and Lino Beles, is a funky second-hand furniture shop featuring lots of vintage-modern, mid-century pieces at really reasonable prices. The partners are super nice and they just might bargain a bit if you're nice, too. I scored this great end table I found there for a steal. There's lots of wonderful old portrait paintings, vintage postcards, accessories and kitschy finds.

X21 Modern is just as funky, but a bit pricier, mostly because they carry some really, beautiful collectible vintage-modern furniture. But I head on down to the basement, where piled high amongst a ton of furniture, lamps, dressers and who knows what else, are some real gems. On my last visit to X21, they were playing the theme music from Disneyland's Haunted Mansion and I was in Heaven. Talk about a flashback - my parents furniture everywhere and then that music! You can also tour their inventory online by category.

Ah, and then there's Thriftown. What a gem. Pretty much a down and dirty thrift shop, but hey, you've gotta work for your treasures sometimes. This neighborhood, the corner of Mission and 17th Street, is a tad edgy, unless of course you like hookers and drug dealers with your bargains. But, it is a fun adventure and has two giant floors of everything from vintage clothing, to turntables, to some pretty great furniture finds and home accessories. I saw this vintage modern lounge chair for ten dollars (granted it needed cushions, but for ten dollars, no problem) and got six of these fun chartreuse dishes for a dollar! I'm not going to lie, it kind of smells like moth balls in Thriftown, and you're going to need to dig, but trust me, there are some good finds here.

And over on Valencia Street, one block west of Mission, it's just a cornucopia of vintage, thrift and modern furniture stores (not to mention the clothes and shoe shops). There's Architectural Elements for new furnishings and accessories; Paxton Gate which carries really cool garden and architectural elements and fragments, like moldings, fretwork pieces, urns and columns; the ultra-hip Monument, which stocks extremely hard to find pieces of vintage furniture in pristine condition (like these below) and Therapy with both clothing and cool furniture finds and modern kitsch.

I hope I've shared the flavor and feeling of The Mission. It's not on most tour guides, but it's not to be missed if you like getting the real feel of a city and its culture.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pardon no posts.

Blogger is running amok tonight and the photos have gone haywire. I have new posts ready to go, and as soon as Blogger straightens itself out, I'll be back up.

San Francisco Ceramics.

Ceramics and graphic artist Diana Fayt is one of my favorite San Francisco talents. Moving to San Francisco in the early nineties, like many artists Diana made her way as a server, at Firefly restaurant (another San Francisco favorite not to be missed) for a decade, while experimenting with her printmaking and ceramics, culminating in the beautiful work she creates today.

Diana has also been venturing into the world of graphics and illustration on and off for the past few years, most recently creating a gorgeous 2007 calendar printed on Japanese paper, which was featured in the December issue of Domino.

Each year Diana gravitates towards different colors and color combinations, but also stands by her old favorites. This year it seems to be all about green, orange, and red, a much brighter palette than we're used to from Diana, but I quite like it. But then, I like all her work!

To keep up with Diana's newest work, gallery exhibits and workshops, drop in at her blog, One Black Bird.

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