Design Spotlight: Taking Personal Stock

By Anh-Minh Le

Near the entrance of Emily Joubert in San Francisco, green Tamegroute pottery from Morroco tops a sideboard that proprietor Judy Sieber discovered at Round Top Antiques Fair. | Photo courtesy of Kat Westerman.

For its proprietor, the second iteration of the Emily Joubert shop is near and dear.

Standing in the vacancy that was a GapKids for decades, Judy Sieber instantly recognized that it was right. For years, she had been searching for a spot to house a second outpost of Emily Joubert, the Woodside decor and gift boutique she opened in 2004. “Within the first five minutes, I could completely imagine it,” she recalls of her initial impression of the retail space in San Francisco’s Laurel Village. “I knew it was meant to be.”

And that was before Sieber discovered a sentimental connection to the site: In the 1940s, her grandmother, for whom her shop is named, resided on California Street — the same thoroughfare on which the Emily Joubert sequel debuted in late October. That the new store introduces a collection of antiques and vintage items distinguished by the Emily Joubert Estate tag — French armchairs, an amethyst-colored chandelier, iron consoles, artwork and more, available only at the San Francisco location — seems apropos. “My grandmother would buy lots at a time at Butterfield [auctions],” explains Sieber. “She loved antiques and fabrics and design.”

Beyond its namesake, this is a family affair. When we spoke the week prior to her opening, Sieber was in Round Top for the Texas town’s big fall antiques show. Her older son, Jack, was flying in to drive a truck full of last-minute acquisitions to California. Her younger son, Wyatt, has been tasked with transport duties, too. Since day one — literally, when a 6 a.m. Sunday drive-by of the former GapKids venue spontaneously happened — her husband, Mike, has also been involved. “Anything not having to do with the visuals, all the behind the scenes, he’s been very helpful,” says Sieber.

The collective effort has yielded a shop that Sieber describes as “modern, country, French,” adding: “It sounds funny that I’m country in the City.” Unlike in Woodside, where 3,000 square feet are split between indoors and out, the 3,500-square-foot San Francisco store is entirely indoors, arranged with room vignettes.

Judy Sieber

“It’s more of a reflection of my grandmother and what she loved — a little more true to who she was.”  — Judy Sieber

“I wanted it to feel like you’re coming into my grandmother’s home,” says Sieber. Entering on California Street, there’s a kitchen scene on one side and a living room setup on the other. Elsewhere, an enamel trough sink salvaged from Visitacion Valley Middle School anchors a display of European cleaning aids from the likes of Bürstenhaus Redecker, Andrée Jardin and Savonnerie Fer à Cheval.

Toward the back — past apparel, jewelry, stationery, apothecary and kids’ sections — the cash wrap features a handcrafted reed roof above the register, the work of Virginia-based master thatcher Colin McGhee. (Customers can special-order their own thatched roof through Emily Joubert.)

During his maiden visit to Emily Joubert 2.0, interior designer Grant K. Gibson, who has lived and worked in the neighborhood for 17 years, eyed “a pair of antique French lanterns that I keep thinking about,” he says. “I hope that they are still there the next time I go in.” He observes that Sieber’s store is special “in that she mixes new products with objects from all around the world. She is always shopping, and it has a unique, layered feeling.”

Indeed, in addition to scouring markets and auctions, over the past year Sieber has traveled to various trade shows, including in Paris and Atlanta, to source goods. Régime des Fleurs perfume, Alix D. Reynis ceramics and jewelry, and Botanical Collections pottery are now in stock at both locations — joining longtime Emily Joubert favorites, such as Maison Louis Drucker bistro chairs and colorful outdoor furniture by Fermob.

Sieber anticipates that her inventory will evolve, especially in the first year. (For instance, a dishware collaboration between French cook and writer Mimi Thorisson and Alix D. Reynis is expected to arrive soon; preorders are encouraged.) And Sieber is keen to host events, like the book signing for photographer Gray Malin that occurred opening weekend. “I’m trying to complement the existing retailers around here,” she says. (Among them are Allison Caccoma Decoration, Hudson Grace, March and Sue Fisher King — all on nearby Sacramento Street.)

“In Woodside, I’ve really focused on what the community needs and wants; they tell me what they’re looking for,” Sieber continues. “With San Francisco, it’s more of a reflection of my grandmother and what she loved — a little more true to who she was. Which is fun for me.”

Emily Joubert

3491 California Street, San Francisco Hours: Tues–Sat, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

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