Posts by Mary Jo Bowling

Growing up on the East Coast, John Bissell was enchanted by the weathervane perched atop his grandmother's cottage on Martha's Vineyard. Its form was a large wooden sailing ship, and the image captivated his young imagination. Years later, he's designing and producing weathervanes through his new Los Angeles-based company—and he thinks he might be running the only business of its kind on the Left Coast.

For several years I've been ducking down Fern Alley off Van Ness Street  to visit a little store whose name I never knew. The small space was packed to the rafters with estate goods and shopping there was like combing through 1,000 attics stuffed into a four-room flat. For the next several months, that business has a new name (Tenenbaum's Emporium) and a new Van Ness Street location (the old American Rag store between Bush and Sutter Sts.). Best of all, all the goods are 50 percent off.

  Soiree, a stylish stationer and gift boutique, has moved to cozy digs on Sacramento Street in San Francisco. The store, known for a Kate-Spade-meets-Jonathan-Adler aesthetic, seems to operate under a simple tenet: Everything looks better with a monogram.

The media has gone bed bug crazy in recent months, and all the hoopla got me thinking: Does my habit of buying used furniture at estate sales and flea markets put me at risk? Dr. Gail Getty, an entomologist at University of California, Berkeley, says yes. She has some simple techniques for protecting the person who loves to shop for vintage furniture and home accessories.

You might imagine the shopping pros at Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Napa Style traverse the Central European countryside looking for the lovely vintage items that dot their new wares. But in some cases, Europe comes to their Northern California desks thanks to Stacy Borocz's company Europe 2 You.

When the large aluminum doors of Mountain View’s Computer History Museum reopened in January, senior curator Dag Spicer was easily able to guess the age of all who entered the “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing” exhibition.

Sonoma County designer Louise Mann uses many adjectives to describe her latest textile creations: bold, tattered, shredded and kinetic. But however you categorize it, there’s one word she doesn’t want used in connection with her fabrics: perfect.

I really love estate sales, and sometimes I'm so enthusiastic about the goods I think I frighten the organizers. Perhaps it's unnerving to have a stranger call up out of the blue, say she's going to write a blog about your sale and then proceed to get all exercised about the wares. But people, I'm talking about a sale in an abandoned church featuring religious items and vintage designer clothes! Whose voice wouldn't raise a few octaves?

After several years, it seems like wallpaper is becoming less of an of-the-moment trend and more of a fixture in interior design. Today we have wallcovering news from both NoCal and SoCal.

Due to the economy and the proliferation of the Internet, a lot of interior designers have added web-based services to their menus. If you want to tap into a pro's expertise, but you don't have the money to cover the cost of hourly billings and you are willing to do the legwork, this could work for you. Los Angeles interior designer Windsor Smith has launched such a program that has a great user interface and offers access to to-the-trade sources.