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Photos by Patricia Chang for Racked
It's hard to look away from the wallpaper in the BellJar. The store is full of eye-catching details, but that wild, printed wallpaper is a showstopper. "I swear, people ask about the wallpaper more than anything else in the store," BellJar owner Sasha Darling admits. "The wallpaper was actually on my mood board and I could not remember where I got the image from, so I had to search high and low for it. I finally found it online and had it shipped from Germany. I love it because it's so art art nouveau but also very psychedelic."
The wallpaper, however, is just one of many delights in this Mission boutique. There are also the French doors leading to the bathtub filled with soaps and salts, the antique display cabinets, and the rehabbed pizza parlor tables that now display housewares. (And, of course, the mounted animal heads— just "some old pals" that Sasha thought might like to hang around in a lovely spot.) It all meshes perfectly to win the Racked Award for Most Beautiful Store.
Design-obsessed Sasha says that the look of the store just naturally evolved. "I had this loose idea that I wanted it to feel a bit like an old apothecary kind of general store where you might go to buy healing potions and snake oil, and then it just kind of evolved from there… It definitely has the essence of my very early ideas." Many of the pieces in the store, like the bathtub and the clawfooted tables, spoke to her from salvage yards in Los Angeles. Others, like the mounted heads, continue to speak to her. "The water buffalo's name is Hank, and I adore him. I like to think he is the wise old man in my life that helps keep me and the store grounded."
While Sasha's shop shares its name with the Sylvia Plath book, she says the name is less about the book and more about the mood of the store. It's "a place where precious things are contained and displayed, and that's what bell jars are used for; to contain people's objects of fascination. Since the store had that kind of psychedelic, magical garden look, it just felt right."
Almost seven years after Sasha opened BellJar, the store continues to feel right. Whether you're looking for a cute dress to wear to a party, jewel-cut soaps, or a pair of earrings, this is a gorgeous little place to buy gorgeous little things.