From New Design to Vintage Finds, Abbot Kinney Continues to Be an Interior Designer’s Dream Come True
If you’re a tourist, you flock to it, enjoying its eclectic shops and fine restaurants. If you’re an Angeleno, you appreciate it, taking advantage of its offerings and variety. And if you’re an interior designer in the Los Angeles area, you simply live and die by it, relying on its plethora of design stores and veteran pickers, ready to provide the right piece for whatever it is you’re working on.
It is Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the famous Venice Beach 1-mile stretch of shops, eateries, and galleries that’s part bohemian, part modern, and entirely Venice-cool. And while the street has quickly developed a larger-than-life name for itself, it still very much caters to the creative independent designer. Shop after shop after shop peddles every design style and point of view a client could ask for. From Asian-inspired to Scandinavian-streamlined, from bold colors to stark modernity, the stores on Abbot Kinney really do have it all.
We could spend entire days perusing Abbot Kinney’s shops, but here is a short list of some of our favorite design-find treasure troves. Tumbleweed & Dandelion is a home décor and accessories store featuring an upscale, shabby-beach-chic vibe. Stop by Chariots on Fire for unique art—some of it crafted by local L.A. artists. Milkmade is stocked with on-trend textiles, along with apparel and lifestyle accessories. We are in love with Huset’s beautiful assortment of home goods featuring clean Scandinavian design.
To find out what makes Abbot Kinney such a charming location for shop owners, we talked to the principals at two popular design stores: Ilan Dei Venice and Venice Vintage Paradise.
Go Outside and Be at Ilan Dei Venice
When it comes to standing out among the throngs of retail shops on Abbot Kinney, Ilan Dei Venice has it figured out. The 4-year-old design store is housed in deconstructed shipping containers for a look that is bold and different, even by L.A.’s standards. IDV is one of those places where you don’t quite know where the outside of the store ends and the inside begins. Store founder Ilan Dei said, “We strive to make IDV a space where you discover the unexpected, where you can find innovative outdoor fixtures and furniture designed and built right here in Venice. We seek to make IDV community-centered by holding all kinds of workshops and talks, ranging from home-grown gardens to discussions of fabrication in Los Angeles. But above all, we want IDV to be a place where you want to Go Outside and Be.”
It’s not hard to believe that IDV isn’t Dei’s first foray into the design world. His primary design kingdom, the Ilan Dei Studio, is just a short walk from IDV and takes up an entire city block. The studio is an epicenter for brands looking to develop a unique creative strategy and a retail experience that surpasses the norm. Though the studio’s lure may reach a more corporate entity, the store is able to translate what Dei does for retail and big brands into something tangible and successful for residential spaces.
“I think we’ve created a store that celebrates the iconic midcentury notion of incorporating the indoors and the outdoors, but in a reasonably priced and approachable way,” Dei said. “A lot of our customers have great outdoor spaces—gardens, yards, pools, et cetera—that they want to enjoy with friends and family. We want to help them find simple elements that will quickly and effectively enhance the design.”
When asked about a specific piece or collection that has been catching designers’ eyes, Dei said, “The IDV aesthetic is lush minimalism, and I think you see that across all the IDV furniture. Our newest collection, called California Gold, includes an outdoor loveseat, sofa, and sectional made from powder-coated and bronze-plated aluminum. The bronze-plated pieces shine beautifully in the California sun, and they can be moved around easily because of the lightness of the aluminum. We’re really proud of this new collection and how it’s taken off.”
For Dei, the location is part of what makes his space so special. “Abbot Kinney is the place where people gather not only to eat and shop but also to run into friends and have impromptu meetings. It’s one of the most vibrant and exciting streets in Los Angeles, and I feel really lucky to have the storefront there.”
What’s Old Is New at Venice Vintage Paradise
While Abbot Kinney excels at offering shops that carry the newest and bravest in interior design, it’s also a treasure trove of vintage picks and antique finds, thanks to shops like Venice Vintage Paradise.
“You just have to come out and see the space,” store owner Jeanie Reynolds said. “We’re in a massive warehouse, just a block or so from the main Abbot Kinney drag, and we have everything. We’re a one-of-a-kind vintage store, with furniture, art, pottery, clothes. Really ’60s and ’70s bohemian, but super eclectic, and the items all work together. It’s very old-school Venice. After all, I grew up in Venice, so I try to keep it true to what I knew.”
For Reynolds, it’s all about offering an incredible array of vintage pieces at can’t-say-no prices. “It’s not like we sit down and write out an order and it comes UPS. We’re always out searching. We handpick everything because we want to give the community great things at a great price.”
And it’s not just the community that has taken notice. Set designers, prop departments, people staging houses—they all come to Reynolds’ shop. And her main customer? Interior designers. “They just love that there’s always new stuff, always unique items,” she said. ”Someone came in yesterday—a girl who used to live in Venice and moved to Austin—and she couldn’t stop talking about how there isn’t anything like this out in Texas. And from what I hear, there isn’t anything like it in most cities.”
Though Reynolds has an obvious knack for finding the perfect vintage pieces for nearly any need or any price point, she didn’t set out to be a store owner, let alone a resource for Hollywood.
“The store chose me,” she explained, laughing. “Years ago, a friend of the family owned the original Black Barber Shop, a beauty shop from the ’60s, on the old West Washington before it was renamed Abbot Kinney. One day they called me up and asked me if I wanted the space to open a store. Now, I had never set out to open a shop. I had always sold at the flea market. My experience with running a store was very limited, but I decided to give it a try. Sixteen years later, here I am. We’re in a new location on Abbot Kinney because the old barber-shop storefront was sold, and we’ve also got a small location that just opened on Lincoln Boulevard. But again, all of this just kind of happened. When one opportunity ends, it seems another pops up in its place.”
Now running her vintage empire with her business partner, Sal Torres, Reynolds still sees herself very much as a Venice Beach girl. “There is a great a sense of community here. You can be outside, you can stroll around and just be yourself, whoever you want. There’s no judgment here. We’re a community and we support one another. We’re always evolving, but we’ll always be artsy and unique. We’re Venice Beach.”
Walk the Boulevard and Be Inspired
With everything from new voices in interior design to experts at finding the best of midcentury modern, Abbot Kinney is one destination where, no matter the crowds, no matter the traffic, we’re willing to make a day trip. Because in an area so free with design and design thought, you just never know what you may find—and what you may not be able to live without.