It seems to be a trend nowadays for people to fill their homes with twee little knick-knacks or random odd objects meant to bring a bit of quirk. That's not to say I'm above it. In my bedroom hangs a painting of the ugliest redhead you've ever seen, wonky naked boobs hanging low. We can blame Zooey Deschanel, Urban Outfitters and a number of other hipster-minded tastemakers for the popularity of this aesthetic. Regardless, it's fun and adds something unexpected to your place. If you're looking to add more weirdness to your home, here are a few places to check out:
I recently talked to Isaac Martinez, owner of Urban Remains, a company that the elementary-school teacher and his wife created to sell pieces from their very strange collection. Over the years, Martinez has amassed things like Civil War-era prosthetic legs, medical instruments and 19th-century French armor, and now he's getting rid of more than 100 items to make room for more. They're all interesting conversation pieces for people who like to decorate their homes as if they were 18th-century aristocrats who murdered prostitutes for fun. Or history buffs with an eye for the unusual.
"My stuff is definitely not for everybody," Martinez said. "A lot of people are freaked out by the things I have. I guess some of the items I collect can be considered dark, but a lot are historical."
View Martinez's pieces by scheduling an appointment at 619-977-3287. You can also scope some of the goods at urbanremains.jimdo.com
Speaking of old-timey oddities, local artist Winona Cookie creates interesting artwork and décor with a steampunk aesthetic. Her collages feature Victorian imagery, art-deco embellishments, flying machines and umbrellas. They look like screenprints of George Méliès films—beautiful and eccentric. I especially love her Coney Island Bathing Beauties. Cookie takes old photos of Victorian women posed coyly in their swimsuits and mounts the cut-out ladies onto black foamcore so they sit upright on a shelf or table. The beauties make for a fun, decorative piece that would look adorable in a bathroom. The best part is that they go for only $8.50 or
$10 on her Etsy page.
Vintage Religion (3821 32nd St. in North Park) specializes in art, antiques, gifts and décor inspired by world religions and cultures, including countless objects featuring Frida Kahlo, crucifixes and Catholic-inspired jewelry from the Vatican Library Collection. But things do get weirder. If you're looking for a phrenology head statue or a resin raccoon skull to put on your coffee table, here's the place to go. Vintage Religion also holds regular antique sales in the lot next door and workshops on everything from Dia de los Muertos sugar skulls to jewelry-making.
Lux Art Institute (1550 S. El Camino Real in Encinitas) recently added conceptual artist Brian Goeltzenleuchter's line of products, Contraposto, to its gallery store. In the past, Goeltzenleuchter created scents for art institutions and individuals as part of various art series. He's continuing his work in olfactory art with this line, which features fragrances inspired by art genres and locations around the world. Want to smell like cubism? His Les Cubistes home and body spray apparently captures the movement with notes of wood and spice. He also sells soaps and candles shaped like famous art pieces, like the head of Michelangelo's David. Shop for these artsy oddities at Lux or at cphomedecor.com.
Sometimes the best things are the ones that have no real use. Make Good (2207 Fern St. in South Park), the store with ties to The Handmade Revolution, stocks nothing but handmade goods from local artists and designers. The shop has tons of cool stuff, but I found myself drawn to a plushy, felt pan dulce made by Tijuana artist Juanita Banuelos. I asked the shopkeeper what it was—as in, what's it for. She looked at me blankly for a second and said, "Um, nothing specifically. You just hang it on things." It's cute and looks just like the Mexican sweet bread it's modeled after. Perhaps I can have an entire pan dulce-themed Christmas tree. That would be pretty cool.