If you’ve been following along on Instagram of late, you may have spied my recent sojourn to Southern California. It being one of only a handful of trips I’ve taken sans child, I was determined to indulge in my primary obsessions every single second; ie good design, good food and most importantly for this trip, major design shopping. Even though the Bay Area is a bastion of creativity, it is not the greatest spot for home decor shopping. In fact, it’s pretty bad (just sayin’). In contrast, Los Angeles is basically the west coast’s design mecca. Thankfully, Alaska Airlines now has the most trips up and down the west coast so I was able to hop a quick flight, grab a healthy snack in the Alaska terminal and head straight from LAX to design gems that stretch from Venice Beach to East LA. All in a couple hours. Definitely winning.
As I tippy toe ever closer to finishing up my house, I’ve moved into the treasure hunt phase. It’s the spot you get to once you have major things like beds, sofas and a rug or two in place. It’s simultaneously sweet as your home is pretty livable, and simultaneously crazy making because you know the design isn’t done yet. And it’s rurl hard to find the “perfect” piece. But this is the phase where you really inject your personality into your space. This is where you can differentiate from the run of the mill design clogging Pinterest these days. This is the time for the one of a kinds. The vintage, the found. The treasured. Thankfully, LA is awash in havens of antique, vintage and modern shops that offer pieces you can’t find elsewhere.
There is virtually any style at any price point to be found across LA, but I knew if I was visiting design mecca I had to start with the holy grail: Galerie Half.
Sprawled across a large and light filled showroom on Melrose Ave, Galerie Half houses a beautiful mix of European antiques, classic 20th century designs and the random, odd or rare primitive piece of furniture with derivations ranging from Japan to Africa.
Fair warning, Galerie Half is not for the home decorating faint of heart. These are unique and often highly coveted pieces and they come with the price tags to match. I mean, this is where Diane Keaton and Ellen shop. But it doesn’t hurt to browse, right??
Thankfully, I had a guide for my sojourn through this design treasure trove. It can be really hard for a mere design hobbyist such as myself to decipher good deals from over-priced insanity, authenticity from knock-offs, and to know what must-have is truly worth the investment. Interior designer Lauren Nelson (who you’ve read about here and here) is the queen at unearthing that special something from the piles of stuff. Thankfully, we’re friends (perks of the job!) and she agreed to guide me through these unchartered waters. It came in especially handy when we got invited to stroll down the block from the main Galerie Half showroom and got to step into their (multiple!) warehouses. This was where many a gem were laying undiscovered. I was like a kid in the most expensive candy store on the planet. I was real happy.
The rub? You can’t really tap the LA design treasure trove like Galerie Half online. You only see the teeniest, tiniest fraction of shops’ inventories on their websites. How can I best explain it? It’s like looking at that picture of Disneyland and thinking it’s just the big castle, when in fact there’s an entire wonderland behind those walls. I realize this is the cruel.
But after experiencing it firsthand, I know I’m going to have to hop an Alaska Airlines flight to LA much more frequently. Shopping LA is not like a casual stroll in the park. It’s more like climbing design Everest and I’m determined to reach the top. I kinda fell in love with a giant 19th century french mirror at Galerie Half that would be absolutely perfect over the fireplace in our dining room. But I think I have to visit it again just to be sure.
I’ve taken the liberty to round up a few of the best design destinations I saw on this trip and listed them all out below. And be sure to pop over to Instagram today. I’ll be sharing some of the design-savvy spots to eat and stay in LA.
DESIGN SHOPPING DESTINATIONS IN LOS ANGELES
6911 Melrose Ave
High end European antiques, mid-century designs, vintage art and lighting
6824 Melrose Ave
A massive mid-century inspired store filled with both vintage finds and original Lawson Fenning designs. A great section of ceramics and accessories, also love their lighting selections.
7221 Beverly Blvd
A sweet showroom chocker clock full of everything from textiles and pillows,
7418 Beverly Blvd
Garde is a go-to for all the super in accessories. Think Quan ceramics, tabletop accessories,
134 Glendale Blvd
This massive warehouse is stacked floor to ceiling with amazing mid-century gems. But I love that most are European and many are designers you haven’t heard of before. You’ll definitely find a gem here.
Hammer & Spear
255 S Santa Fe Ave
Another downtown location, this menagerie offers a plethora of vintage furniture, quirky accessories and unique finds.
1837 Hyperion Ave
I first discovered County Ltd at their West Coast Craft booth in San Francisco. They try to fly under the radar, but it turns out their store is jam packed with amazing vintage furniture finds, super cool lighting and kick ass accessories and art. Definitely worth a stop.
1724 Silver Lake Blvd
Also on the East side, this little jewel box of a showroom has a highly curated collection of vintage finds, cool large-scale artwork. You have to pop in because you just never know what kind of treasure you might find.
If you like this, be sure to check out our design travel guide to Portland, OR! What other cities would you like to see?
This post is in partnership with Alaska Airlines. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. thanks for supporting collaborations that have kept Apartment 34’s doors open