By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Walk into any of the new home-furnishing stores on Sunset in Echo Park and Silver Lake, and you’re more likely to hear talk of Danish modern and Design Center than deco and dinette sets. Credit the downtown loft boom, or the spike of interest in modern design and hand craftsmanship: An eclectic new sensibility has blossomed, making the area a destination for decorators and homeowners who aren’t just strolling into Now/Again or Den of Antiquity after brunch at Millie’s. Suddenly, it feels almost like a furniture district, and chances are that more and more businesses will continue to hop onboard. The following list is by no means complete, but it does include the newest shops in the area, plus a few reliable faves and a couple of tucked-away addresses where some of the best finds are hiding.
The Living Room
When Steve Melendrez was still a managing partner of Civilization in Culver City, he began to notice the number of Eastside addresses on the store’s invoices. Already a resident of Silver Lake for 13 years, he knew that his hood was “ready” for a high-end shop. Five months ago, he opened his doors in a former city councilman’s office. Readers of home-design mags will recognize names like Jonathan Adler (rugs and pillows), John Robshaw (bedding) and Vietri (dishware). Locals may recognize the names of their friends; Melendrez makes a point of carrying the work of L.A. craftspeople and designers. As I walk into the 4,000-square-foot space, my eye is immediately drawn to a spectacular terrazzo table, inlaid with precious stones and antique tile, by local artist Ulli Bogue. Melendrez points out pieces by other Angelenos: glass-bead chandeliers by Meredith Baxter, mixed-media art by Mark Hobley, and a cement bench made by a guy who just walked in off the street. Upholstered furniture from the L.A.-based Cisco Brothers and other companies is chic and, most importantly, comfortable; stacks of coffee-table books invite you to cozy up and take advantage. Melendrez is happy to report that his invoices now show Westside addresses. “One of my proudest moments,” he recalls, “was selling a sofa and a couple lamps to a lady in Malibu.”3531 Sunset Blvd.; (323) 665-5070, www.livingroomhome.com.
Formerly 2nd Thrift Store
When Edgar Romero and his father moved their business of five years to a new space in January, they didn’t bother to give it a name. Regardless, the place has something of a reputation as a source for modern designer pieces. Don’t let the haphazard (and possibly hazardous) piles put you off; that red-vinyl couch standing on its side is a Knoll original, and there are eight matching Eames chair shells hiding under a coffee table. 3323 Sunset Blvd.; (323) 665-7172.
Trend-conscious yet moderately priced, this spot has been open since 2003, when the block now anchored by Dusty’s restaurant was “a little rough around the edges.” Casa Victoria’s owners are in step with the current Hollywood Regency vogue, displaying dozens of chandeliers, glass coffee tables, and slim upholstered pieces splashed with graphic prints — and they don’t seem to mind that many of their customers are actually stocking up their own shops in pricier neighborhoods. New items come in every Wednesday and Saturday, keeping the floor fresh with anything from lime-green dining chairs to a fabulous pinwheel mirror from the ’60s that now hangs on my living-room wall. 3212 Sunset Blvd.; (323) 644-5590.
Screenwriter and novelist Ty O’Neill opened Plethoric with the idea that he’d be able to work on his writing during downtime in the shop. That was two and a half years ago, and now, with the quick gentrification of the block and the explosive popularity of Scandinavian midcentury furniture, which he imports directly from Denmark and Sweden, there isn’t any downtime. Although his biggest checks come from TV and film studios (he just sold a piece to the set designer of Ocean’s 13), O’Neill’s main customer is his own peer group, and he prices things accordingly. “A $5,000 sofa isn’t really their tax bracket,” he says, noting that a couch he prices at $1,550 would be $3,500 somewhere else. O’Neill also features work by local artists and carries vintage audio pieces whenever he can find them. Showing me an RCA Victor cabinet radio and record player — American, with Danish styling — he points out that you can tune your iTrip into it. “You can play your whole CD collection through a solid-walnut radio!” he exclaims. Clearly, he’s still trying to get the best of both worlds.3208½ Sunset Blvd.; (323) 660-1056, www.plethoric.com.
In this former TV-repair shop with a tractor on the roof, the focus is on industrial oddities: steel tables, metal files and “city attorney kind of stuff,” says the store’s owner, Jason Michaud. There’s also a collection of working neon signs from the ’30s through the ’50s, including a Howard Johnson’s pie man, a recent, rare acquisition. The idea behind Eastside Mercantile is that it’s a community store (i.e., reasonably priced). So while you’ll find the occasional Danish dining set, you’re better off looking for an old school desk, scratches intact. Believes Michaud, “It’s an antique, it should look like one.” 2943 Sunset Blvd.; (323) 662-4740.