Recently I enjoyed an unusual, solitary experience on a day in San Francisco when shops were closed because of a holiday. This allowed me to wander undisturbed down one of my favorite streets in Pacific Heights. The area is predominantly residential with many beautiful Victorians and some modern lofts perched above the occasional boutique. A neighborhood most of us can only aspire to, the shops cater to the most sophisticated and high-ticket clients.
An antique tobacco rack makes a wonderful contemporary window dressing
When but on a day like this could I peek and peer to my heart’s content without anyone thinking me strange? I could easily take photographs as well, which on busy days could rouse a shop owner to become suspicious of my motives!
Repetition of the same type of item – like these wood utensils – makes a bold design statement
I was looking for MARCH, which reopened last year in a new incarnation focusing on kitchen, pantry, table, and open plan living. The windows display rustic, yet elegant and minimalist pieces. (My favorite “glimpse” was an oversized, hanging, tobacco drying rack.) It feels very contemporary but with large scale, hand-hewn items like butcher-block tables, and classics like a huge AGA cooker. The interior space is light and bright, with white subway tile and woodwork creating a clean, minimal canvas to display the fabulous items here – practically like visiting an art gallery! The furniture and accessories seem to float in space.
The ordinary, everyday kitchen objects are not only functional, but exquisite. And they seem to resonate with historical significance. I particularly loved the display of wooden utensils hanging along one wall. MARCH also boasts a “Pantry” section with a signature line of jams, vinegars, and spices.
Sam Hamilton, the owner of MARCH who once interned at Chez Panisse, wanted to use her shop to highlight San Francisco’s contribution to food culture — slow food, locally sourced – and to draw attention to the independent, stylish shopping of Sacramento Street. Mission accomplished… this is sophisticated design right in the heart of San Francisco!
At ANTHEM, a family owned shop with a whole team of design professionals, founder Janelle Loevner has created a wonderful gallery of eclectic items gleaned from all over the globe. There is something here to inspire the designer in everyone!
ANTHEM facade offers its own design inspiration
Based on its façade, ANTHEM feels very neoclassical, but with clever twists on old classics. It, too, had a bright white interior — a backdrop that allows the impact of the antiques, furniture, and accessories housed within to shine. The emphasis here is on neutrals, natural materials, and layered metallics. Loevner has added exotic details to contemporary design and displays items ranging from African kudu horns to Spanish hand-woven textiles.
Next trip I’ll definitely poke around inside these stores to explore more thoroughly, but as I suspected, even window shopping at unique and trend-setting boutiques offers its own design inspiration!
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