Noe Valley Voice December-January 2010

Store Trek

By Karen Topakian 

Store Trek is a regular Voice feature profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce two Church Street businesses that live within feet of one another: Design Quarter, offering an eclectic mix of furniture and art objects; and Re:Construction Salon, a hair salon for women and men.

Debbie Cole and Dan Quita are among the five partners who have opened Church Street’s Design Quarter, a shop specializing in repurposed furniture and art.   Photo by Pamela Gerard 

Design Quarter
1478A Church Street at 27th Street


When the five co-owners of Design Quarter, Noe Valley’s newest home furnishings store, opened their doors last July, they made a point of announcing their goals to the community.

“Our philosophy is one of minimizing negative impacts on our environment by reusing, refurbishing, and recycling objects that would otherwise be discarded. We pride ourselves on our honesty and integrity, and will never sell reproductions or misrepresent the age, source, or composition of the items we sell,” they pledged in a sign in the front window.

Located on Church Street at 27th Street in the former home of Lynn Antiques, the shop also vowed to be “a store with options,” says co-owner Debbie Cole. That part should be easy. 

Cole and her partners have divided up the small rooms in the 1,000-square-foot split-level space and crowded them with their individual collections of chairs, tables, lamps, wall hangings, kitchenware, jewelry, and art—both old and new.

“We can do whatever we want in our space,” says Cole.

A former owner of the Pickled Hutch antique store, Cole fills her room with vintage glassware, linens, and furniture, including such items as a French antique upholstered chair ($250), metal barware (under $50), and half-aprons that could be worn by Mad Men’s Betty Draper ($25). She also has eye-catching art.

“Can’t you see this in a baby’s room or a loft?” says Cole, pointing to a six-foot purple letter A ($250).

Dan Quita, who trained as an architect in the Philippines, specializes in rebuilt, redesigned, and repurposed pieces. His space features huge wall clocks three feet across ($545 and up), which he put together using parts from older clocks. “And they work,” he says with pride.

He shares his space with Napa-based artist Gypsy Beggs, who custom-designs, paints, and reupholsters furniture. A mahogany chest and nightstand that she cleaned, sanded, and painted a lime green has a price tag of $895.

Co-owner Cathy Sweetman, who has been in the antique business for more than 30 years, is an expert in California art and a collector of crystal-drop chandeliers (starting at $650).

Sharon Dunham, a Duncan Street resident, occupies the fifth room, mostly with American collectibles, such as Depression-era bowls and plates, and wrought-iron garden furniture. Cole says Dunham “definitely has a following.”

Eight jewelry designers rent cases in the store, displaying their own look of vintage and contemporary jewelry. Barbara Wray, one of the designers, makes necklaces out of glass beads and African trading beads, says Cole. Another has been known to design jewelry for the TV show Dancing with the Stars.

Cole met Quita last summer when she bought one of his clocks on Craigslist. At the time, Quita was closing his three-year-old store on Ninth Avenue (called Design Quarter), and Cole was looking to open one in Noe Valley. They soon honed in on Church Street and took Quita’s store name with them.

Cole says the five owners trade off on manning the store, with help from their friends and families. Cole’s niece Jenny Cardoso sometimes fills in for her. An artist in her own right, Cardoso sells small painted canvasses, custom murals, and brightly painted children’s chairs ($35).

To kick off the holidays, Design Quarter held a party and fundraiser, donating a share of the store’s proceeds to Rocket Dog Rescue. Says Quita, “It’s part of our commitment to the community.”

The store will pour champagne and serve cookies on Wednesday, Dec. 15, from 4 to 7 p.m. Design Quarter’s regular hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Ashley Whitfield brings 11 years of experience in hair design to her latest creation: Re:Construction Salon.   Photo by Pamela Gerard 

Re:Construction Salon
1504 Church Street at 27th Street


The décor of Re:Construction Salon takes a no-frills approach to design. “I have a lot of male clients,” explains owner/stylist Ashley Whitfield, who opted for a gender-neutral space.

Whitfield calls it a “comfortable, serene, quiet, nice environment; minimalist but tasteful.” And she’s right. From the walls painted a “cool cloud color” to the slate-gray concrete floors to the soft-focus photographs of San Francisco by photographer Todd Matthew Clapp, the space resonates calmness.

Re:Construction Salon opened in the former home of When Modern Was at 1504 Church Street on June 1, after less than a month of renovation. Whitfield chose the location because a “concentration of my clients are here—in Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, Mission, Castro. A lot of my clients live closer to here than to Hair Play” at 1599 Dolores Street, where Whitfield worked for four years.

A local herself with an address at 21st and Valencia, Whitfield walks to work. She says many of her clients do too. Often they are moms and dads who stroll by and stop in to make an appointment.

Whitfield’s services include cutting, styling, and applying color, which she considers her specialty. “I love the marriage of both,” says Whitfield, noting that she doesn’t do relaxes or other hair treatments using “extreme chemicals.”

Women’s haircuts are priced at $70 and men’s at $55. Coloring prices are based on the length and volume of the client’s hair, she says. A root touchup costs $70; add $15 to $25 more for all-over color. Partial highlights start at $85 and full at $120. Whitfield gives new clients a 20 percent discount on their first visit.                         The salon sells Pureology shampoos, conditioners, and styling products, as well as Osis and Bonacure hair-care products.

With three chairs and a washing station, Whitfield could accommodate more stylists, but for now “I’m enjoying it being quiet and just being me.” She plans to reassess her staffing needs in June.

Her 11 years of experience, including seven in Orange County, have taught her the importance of good customer service. “I like making my clients happy,” says Whitfield. “It’s basic cut and dry.”

Re:Construction is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. The shop is closed on Sunday and Monday.