The Treasure Hunters
Bring warmth and character into your home, with eco-friendly, vintage, and repurposed finds. We’ve got the scoop on where to shop and what to buy from four businesswomen with a keen eye for hidden treasure.
The Eco Home
Greenhouse Design Studio
A former Pottery Barn buyer goes green, with home goods that are casual, traditional, and sustainable.
Wanting to spend more time with her kids and to pursue her passion for sustainability, Alamo’s Laurie Furber said good bye to her position as Pottery Barn’s senior vice president for merchandising. She then launched her Greenhouse Design Studio from home last fall. The retail website offers a carefully curated collection of home goods, vintage treasures, and small-batch artisan-made products, drawing on Furber’s honed taste and inspired by her European travels. Among the 400 products are nesting wine glasses made from recycled tempered glass, soy candles in reusable vintage canning jars, sustainable upholstery and furniture, and monogrammed table linens made from vintage sheets. The site is a one-stop shop for anyone wanting an eco-home makeover, from a vetted Little Green Book of architects, contractors, and landscape designers, to a Pinterest-style virtual project notebook, to Furber’s personal blog posts about maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. “You have to live it,” she says. “People trust that you’re giving good advice, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”
greenhousedesignstudio.com. —LeeAnne Jones
Furber’s Expert Tips
How to transition your home into a sustainable one.
Don’t do it all at once: You’ll make mistakes and create waste. If you’d like more efficient lighting, just replace each bulb as it burns out. Use that philosophy with every choice.
One of your first purchases should be organic cotton sheets. The cotton is grown with no chemicals or pesticides, and that’s what you want next to your skin. Follow with organic cotton towels and lead-free dinnerware.
Do your homework
Understand the life cycle of each product—from where the materials were sourced to how it’s made to what happens after it is discarded.
See the future
When you throw something away, it doesn’t go away—it just goes somewhere else. If you buy a new sofa with sustainable construction, donate or sell your old sofa to make sure it continues its useful life.
Cut some slack
Remember that everything you do has some impact, and you’re never going to be perfect. Give yourself a break and just do your best to make a better choice each time.
Überhip shop focusing on sustainable and artisan-made goods.
Great for: Wooden bowls, beeswax candles, vintage apothecary jars, Turkish hammam towels, and funky hanging lights.
Fun find: Red or purple cotton rugs with a glint of silver from repurposed mylar (such as potato chip bags) woven into the design.
5453 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 923-0543, atomicgardenoakland.com.
Earth-friendly home, kitchen, bath, and garden accessories.
Great for: Organic cotton towels, pillows stuffed with kapok, biodegradable rice-hull plant pots, and bamboo kitchen utensils.
Fun find: Funky, podlike liana spaghetti chair made from troublesome, tree-suffocating jungle vines.
1601 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 939-3794.
The Wooden Duck
Reclaimed lumber furniture retailer.
Great for: Bamboo, reclaimed teak, and old-growth Douglas fir pieces in styles from modern to craftsman.
Favorite find: The colorful Fermob French Garden collection made in an energy-optimized factory and perfect for outdoor entertaining.
1823 Eastshore Hwy., Berkeley, (510) 848-3575, thewoodenduck.com.
The Repurposed Home
Kim Berry & Carole Sinclair
This country-lovin’ duo designs furniture and home decor incorporating old barn wood and rustic farm tools.
In cowboy boots and a yellow ’51 Chevy truck named Goldie, the Farmyard Darlings—Kim Berry and Carole Sinclair—are spreading farmhouse flair to homes across the East Bay. Their shop, housed in a small cottage at Mt. Diablo Nursery, is filled with warmth and character, thanks to items that have what they call a “farmalicious” quality: lazy Susans made from retired wine barrel lids, stools out of tractor seats, and wagon herb gardens. The vintage goods are sourced during the Darlings’ travels throughout the West and then restored or reworked by local artists. They buy wood from old barns, designing stylish sustainable furniture that retains the material’s history and personality. In addition to custom dining tables, coffee tables, chicken coops, and porch swings, the pair offers stunning barn doors, which they tailor to clients’ styles and install indoors or out. “We bring warmth into people’s homes,” says Berry. “It’s amazing how you can go to a modern home and put our things with it, and it just softens the whole house.”
3295 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, farmyarddarlings.com. —Morgan Brinlee
The Darlings’ Expert Tips
How to find and make repurposed vintage goods for your home.
Start your hunt at home. Explore your attic or garage, taking forgotten treasures out of their boxes. You might be surprised at what you already own that can add historical significance and interest to your space.
Think outside the box when repurposing vintage items for modern spaces: Make bookends out of vintage typewriters or a shelf from a unique ladder, or turn a steamer trunk into a liquor cabinet.
Add some country
The easiest vintage item to bring into your home, no matter your style, is a custom farm table. Keep the wood raw for a country feel, give it a deep glossy stain for a traditional look, or paint it for a more contemporary design.
Look beyond an item’s worn appearance: Rust, tarnish, peeling paint, and knotted wood give a piece character. But if your treasure looks more worn out than worn in, make it over with a little polishing, sanding, stenciling, painting, or reupholstering.
A one-stop shop, with three acres of recycled goods, from appliances and building materials to clothing and furniture.
Great for: The merchandise might require some spit and polish, but it’s perfect for creative types.
Fun find: A wooden door designed with chrysanthemum inlay and a pair of 10-foot-tall solid redwood arched entry doors.
900 Murray St., Berkeley, (510) 841-7283, urbanore.com.
Vintage architectural salvage, from stained glass and ornamental plaster to farmhouse sinks and old hardware.
Great for: Power tool–savvy homeowners. DIY salvage tutorials are online, and the knowledgeable staff offers tips and tricks.
Fun find: A beautiful refinished Pacific Shasta claw-foot tub.
2400 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, (510) 204-0767, ohmegasalvage.com.
Discarded furniture gets a second life through quality restoration and creative redesign.
Great for: Those who’ve recently inherited family furniture.
Fun find: The Witney camp couch, a vintage loveseat reupholstered with a 1940s crimson red wool blanket and light gray denim.
2447 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, (510) 388-5830, mignonnedecor.com.
The Vintage Home
The woman behind Paris Flea Market and Room With a Past has an eye for shabby chic and Euro flair.
Donning her signature pink flowered hat, Susan Goodman oozes excitement as she reinvents her pop-up shops for just four days each month. The artfully staged warehouses in Livermore and Walnut Creek offer vintage furniture, collectibles, and repurposed treasures created by 38 crafty consignors that includes ornate wooden frames, burlap-covered pin boards, and tabletop French mannequins. A former Mary Kay sales director, Goodman was inspired to get an interior design license after watching hours of HGTV. She found she liked working with clients who wanted to add vintage to their homes and began shopping estate sales looking for old pieces to refurbish. She sold many on Craigslist—and ultimately decided to open her own business. She says, “There’s no better feeling than seeing groups of women showing up two hours early to get in line to shop at our store, to discover those treasures that will find a great place in their homes.”
Paris Flea Market, 535 Leisure St., Livermore, (925) 960-0400, parisfleamarket.com; Room With a Past, 1557 Third Ave., Walnut Creek, (925) 933-1903, roomwithapast.com. —Nicole Radlow
Goodman’s Expert Tips
How to incorporate vintage treasures into a contemporary home.
Mix and match
Don’t feel like everything in your house has to match—that’s so boring! The trend today is toward mix-and-match elegance. Consider buying items that reflect history yet are still beautiful.
Modern doesn’t have to mean sparse or uncomfortable. Add pieces that make your living spaces comfortable and homey, no matter what period or style they are.
Follow the pros
Read articles on home staging or style trends, and look at furniture catalogs and websites for ideas on how things can be put together. You will learn a lot from these experts.
Visit flea markets, estate sales, and antiques fairs. They may seem overwhelming at first, but you will start to identify certain styles that appeal to you. Do not overlook Craigslist for finding treasures that can be re-created into something grand.
Olde Towne Antiques Mall
The East Bay’s largest antiques shop is great for hunters willing to comb through thousands of vintage knickknacks and bric-a-brac.
Great for: Gently used collectibles of every kind.
Fun finds: 1930s Steiger and Kerr gas stove and vintage oil lamps.
3440 Stanley Blvd., Pleasanton, (925) 484-2446, oldetowneantiquesmall.com.
Alameda Point Antiques Faire
The largest antiques show in Northern California is open the first Sunday of every month and features 800 dealers.
great for: Pretty much everything—as long as it’s at least 20 years old.
fun finds: Decorative doorknobs, bronze sconces, and antique teacups.
Alameda Point, enter at end of Main Street, Alameda, alamedapoint antiquesfaire.com.
This year-old Temescal shop is perfect for anyone wanting an eclectic mix of vintage items for the home.
Specialty: 1930–’50s everything.
Fun finds: Italian chandeliers, vintage-fabric lamp shades, bright 1970s stacking kitchen canisters, furniture.
6395 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, (510) 541-1697, mixedpickleshome.com.