Noe Valley Voice February 2007

Store Trek

Store Trek is a regular feature of the Voice, profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce a new face on Church Street's antique row.

When Modern Was
1504 Church Street near 27th Street

Once upon a time, everything old was new. Hence the name of Church Street's latest shop, When Modern Was, which offers a unique collection of antique and artistic objects for the home and garden.

Dona Taylor, co-owner of Gallery of Jewels on 24th Street, joined with Kimberly Karnes, an interior designer who lived on Elizabeth Street but now resides on the Peninsula, to open the shop in the former Mia's Flowers space the week before Christmas. The two longtime friends purchased the space last fall, gutted it, and redesigned the interiors to create what Taylor describes as the home and garden version of her jewelry boutique. The store straddles the line between showroom and gallery, furniture store and gift shop.

"We have a modern twist on an antique store. These are not your grandmother's antiques," says Karnes.

The majority of the store's inventory comes from professional and local consigners. Recent acquisitions include a retro chaise lounge in leopard-print fabric, a metal birdcage, an 18th-century painted wardrobe (selling for $2,400), a wooden rocking crib, delicate crystal lamps, and colorful vintage glassware ranging in price from $18 to $45.

But to describe the shop simply as an outlet for antiques would be misleading. Taylor and Karnes have chosen to include an eclectic array of new art, furniture, jewelry, and gift items from a bevy of Bay Area artists and designers. Katie Gilmartin's cheeky linoleum prints appear throughout the space, while rugs from Palo Alto's Medallion Rugs pepper the walls. Flannel pajamas printed with flying pigs rest atop baskets of Rubii lingerie sets, while handpainted Pashmina shawls grace a table showcasing ceramic Asian statues. Along with an extensive selection of vintage jewelry, the shop also carries local designer Amy Levine's beaded baubles. Monthly art shows featuring local artists are also in the works.

In addition to the retail offerings, the shop offers a home and garden redesign service. Karnes and Taylor will come to a client's home, rearrange furniture and accessories the client already owns, and fill in the gaps with items from the store.

"They can live with them for a while, choose to purchase some or all of what we have there, and create a whole new vibe and feel for their home," Karnes explains.

The store will hold a wine and cheese opening reception on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 3 to 8 p.m. The public is invited.

When Modern Was is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

--Lorraine Sanders