Lovers of knickknacks, repurposed furniture, and novelties of the mid-century modern or industrial kinds can find themselves spending hours within the three stories of The Blue Door, where one can find everything from a 30-foot-long American flag to an old-fashioned diving helmet to a Disney Studios set light. Open since December and located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, the store features an incredibly diverse array of vintage furniture, artwork, ornaments, and paraphernalia within an antique-store-esque, almost-museum-like setting. The building’s interior, including its brick walls, third-story rafters, and “dungeon door” entrance to a former boiler room, complement the collections with its original industrial- and vintage-style architecture.
“We have different dealers and designers, and so each one of them has their own little space,” said Brian Garwood, who owns and runs the store along with his girlfriend, Carolyn Petersen. “So starting out, we were kind of curating other people’s collections to be brought into the store. By using our guidelines and the vision for the store, we kind of handpicked select people that we thought would showcase well together.”
Constructed in 1922 as a car dealership, the building also served as a center for fish processing (an industrial-sized scale for weighing the day’s catch still sits on the ground floor) and, more famously, as a headquarters for Big Dogs Sportswear before opening its signature big blue door last year.
Among The Blue Door’s most unique, repurposed pieces of furniture is a coffee table whose top is made from a small portion of the bleachers of UC Berkeley’s original California Memorial Stadium. Salvaged from demolition several years back during the stadium’s renovation, the wood still features carved seating numbers. One of the strangest and most imaginative (yet oddly charming) items available is the seaweed-root ball chandelier. Held aloft by ropes, brackets, and hooks, the lightbulb is encased by a sizable hardened mesh of seaweed cut and shaped into a tangled sphere.
In addition to a gallery of modern artist Rick Doehring’s work, The Blue Door also features a rare, 1973 serigraph by graphic artist Peter Max. According to Garwood, the signed, psychedelically colored portrait of a woman’s head had never previously been on public display.
“One of our rules at the store is nothing can be cataloged, so you can’t order the same thing over and over and over,” said Garwood. “It has to be authentically vintage or locally handmade.”
The Blue Door, located at 4 East Yanonali Street, is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Call (805) 364-5144, or see thebluedoorsb.com.