In store shot in Trove, Berkeley
(Photo by Ken Perkins)


Unique treasure hunt
In a city saturated with home furnishing megastores, truly original pieces are easy to spot but sometimes hard to find. Despite being a "premium outlet," Trove is one respite from assembly line assimilation. The deceptively large boutique at Berkeley's Gillman Village spotlights unique finds by local artisans and designers (pieces are priced at 40-70 percent off), and it occupies a space formerly belonging to a bakery. Owner Diane Haydon has retained the vintage quality of the building, keeping the cement floors and the rolling door where bread delivery trucks used to load, but she's added urban-cool flourishes: charcoal walls serve as a backdrop for brightly colored and richly textured ceramics, and skylights illuminate the reclaimed wood furnishings that are artfully arranged on the floor. Items change weekly, but a recent whirl through the boutique unearthed bowls made from jade, boxes hand-carved from stone, and vases so sinewy you'll want to plant your own flower garden so you'll always have something to fill them with. Keep an eye out for the ones made of resin encasing mosaics of peanut shells or seeds.

1310 10th Street, Berkeley | 510.525.7991;

Gingko Home Furnishings

Fresh and modern
Contrary to the dour retail climate, business at Gingko Home Furnishings has been fairly strong for at least the past six months. The three owners, siblings Joe and Sarah Chang plus Jerry Hsai, Sarah's husband, seem to be offering just what people want in their dwellings now.


Gingko interprets "timeless aesthetics in a decidedly contemporary mode,'' its Web site says. Expect a clean Asian look, with a nod to Arts & Crafts. The furniture is fresh and modern, "yet comfortable and familiar," Sarah Chang explains. Consider the popular Saito bed, which Chang characterizes as a "good combination of many styles. It's not generic, yet pleasing to many people.'' Design and manufacture of all the pieces is done by hand in Northern China, using the traditional carpentry technique of mortise and tenon - no nails.
Saito Bed at Gingko Home Furnishings
(Photo by Kerry Hiroshi Paul)
Interestingly, the advent of flat-screen TVs has drawn many clients to the store. Entertainment centers are top sellers. And once that becomes a fixture, it's only natural for owners to be inspired to revisit what they've done to the rest of the house. More purchases from Gingko are the harmonious result.

2496 W. El Camino Real, Mountain View | 650.396.7455;