If you’re decorating your home, you can find much of what you may need on the north side of the city. And if you ask a designer where to shop, you may likely get a referral to one of these shops, which are just a sampling of what is right here in the neighborhood.
RUBY LIVING DESIGN
Owned by husband-and-wife team James and Dee Dee Littrell, Ruby Living Design is a popular destination for the do-it-yourself designer as well as the professional designer. Eleven years ago, the Mill Valley couple was looking to start a small side business, and ended up buying a local furniture store that was “limping along,” as James described it. The couple rebranded and renamed the store, and now has four Ruby Living Design locations throughout the Bay Area.
Ruby Living offers a wide variety of home furnishings — many custom order — and the design aesthetic is a blend of modern, classic, and traditional. “We like to take pieces maybe a little out of context, and make them work,” said James.
Many Ruby Living customers come in looking for sofas and chairs, especially those designed by Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams. Ruby Living is the only California store north of Beverly Hills that offers furnishings by these high-demand designers. The designers’ Alicia’s sofa, which is a staple on the set of The Good Wife television series, is one of Ruby Living’s biggest sellers. Customers also favor products by Verellen Home, Made Goods, and Oly Studio.
Working with the designers has been a surprising upside to running the business. “I thoroughly enjoy getting to know the designers and furniture makers,” said James. “These relationships are really gratifying — just as much as the business success.” (1525 Union Street; 415-922-2500, rubyliving.com)
If custom-order design isn’t in the budget, Leftovers, a consignment home furnishing store, is a must-see. The six-year-old store is now in its fourth location after a string of mishaps at other spots. “I feel like Goldilocks,” said owner Kelly Hensley. “The first store was too small, the second one leaked like crazy, I was forced out of the third with a severe rent hike, and now the fourth one is just right.”
So right, that Kelly bought the building. “We’re here to stay, and business is booming,” she said.
Customers never know what they’ll discover at Leftovers — maybe a retired sofa from Pottery Barn, or a midcentury modern credenza from a Danish designer. Whatever it is, Kelly strives to keep the price in check. “I don’t want you to not eat for six months to pay for a piece of furniture.”
In fact, Kelly just sold that credenza for $850, a price she insists would have been tripled at other stores. She also just sold a $12,000 custom-made Will Wick sectional sofa for $3,800.
But these are examples of her pricier products, because she mostly sells midline furnishings, even Ikea. Kelly learned this lesson from her mother, who owns Goodbyes, a clothing consignment store on Sacramento Street. “My mom always said, ‘Do you want to make a fast nickel or a slow dime?'” she recalls. “I’m not going to have an $18,000 hand-painted chair from China sitting in my store. People want to pay $900 for that chair.”
Because Kelly picks the right pieces, her inventory is constantly changing. In fact, some customers come in every weekend, because they know the selection will be different. And the revolving inventory is fun for her, too. “We get five to ten deliveries a day,” Kelly said. “It’s like Christmas morning every time you come to work.”
And for customers looking to sell goods, rather than buy them, Leftovers’ consignment terms are generous and fair. (1350 Van Ness Avenue, 415-409-0088, weloveleftovers.com)
But designing a home is more than just furniture — art and accessories are a big part of it, too. Cheryl Modica, owner of Modica Home, scours the country looking for artists creating unique products. A former buyer at Nordstrom, Cheryl knows her customers and delivers what they want.
Modica is filled with tableware, decorative pillows, throws, wall art, and even jewelry and handbags. Customers particularly favor a line of handcrafted ceramics by Vermont artist Laura Zindel. The nature-inspired pieces are decorated with original, hand-drawn pencil sketches.
Another hit is a collection of hand-pounded stainless steel tableware by Mary Jurek, an artist in Los Angeles. She aims for her pieces to emit a vibe of “old world meets modern day.”
But Cheryl is committed to supporting local artists, like Denise Fiedler, who uses vintage international magazines and newspapers to create collages featuring cities, animals, and even portraits of people.
It’s items like these that Cheryl hopes will keep customers supporting local small businesses. “I have things that aren’t sold on the Internet,” said Cheryl. “My things are unique. You can’t just find them anywhere.” (2274 Union Street, 415-440-4389)
A fixture in the city for more than 20 years, residents rely on Z Gallerie to find unique furniture and a fresh selection of home accessories every season.
And this season, the color palette is fun — shades of aqua, aubergine, cherry, lemon yellow, and mandarin orange, mixed with metallic elements. “We’ve taken natural elements this season and elevated them in reflective finishes and textures,” said a company spokesperson.
According to Z Gallerie, the San Francisco customer is drawn to the store’s textiles — like bedding, pillows, and throws that are high style and high quality, yet affordable. (2154 Union Street, 415-567-4891, zgallerie.com)