A vintage store on Pico Boulevard that opened last year is giving furniture, art and decor from old homes across California a new life.
Almost everything in California Rediscovered is reused, whether it’s for sale or not. When Busy Bee Hardware closed on Santa Monica Boulevard in December 2017 after about 90 years, Allison and Tom Schmidt were called in to salvage whatever they could take. Busy Bee’s counter, doors and several of its displays now greet customers in the Schmidts’ store.
“We’re all about upcycling and reducing waste,” Allison said.
Buying vintage goods isn’t just good for the environment – it helps give a house character, she said.
“I love the way they look on bookshelves or tables,” she said. “Even if you have a clean, modern house, just to throw in that one vintage item is a nice touch.”
The Schmidts started decorating their own home with vintage pieces when they bought it more than a decade ago. But they didn’t stop at tchotchkes: Tom learned how to build furniture and lighting along the way and constructed many of the house’s furnishings from the materials they scavenged at salvage yards, estate sales, swap meets and even dumpsters.
The couple eventually ended up with more pieces and materials than they could keep in their home and began selling Tom’s handmade lighting on Etsy in 2010. As their online business grew, they began going to trade shows and met designers who asked them to build furniture and lighting for their stores.
The pieces sold well in home goods stores around Los Angeles and the Schmidts started looking for a storefront of their own. A space a few blocks from Santa Monica College opened up and they launched California Rediscovered at 2116 Pico Boulevard last June.
The store sells clothing, jewelry and home goods designed by local artists in addition to vintage pieces. Customers can commission furniture and lighting made from recycled materials, and Allison has started doing interior decorating and staging houses for realtors.
The Schmidts’ business may have grown over the years but Allison said they’re still relying on their own taste when it comes to choosing pieces.
“It’s really just whatever catches our eye,” Allison said. “If we think “this is a really unique piece” or “we can do something with this” then we’ll buy it.”
That approach means that customers have a huge variety of items to choose from when they visit California Rediscovered. An old test tube becomes a vase for a few flowers, model airplane plans from the 1940s look crisp as a framed print and glass honey jars are repurposed to hold cotton balls on a bathroom counter.
Pieces from local artists and homemade toys and jam are also popular with customers, Allison said, and the store regularly holds pop-ups for artisans to sell their wares (the next one is Feb. 9).
“We really think there’s something for everyone in the store,” she said.