Tucked away at the base of Potrero Hill and around the corner from the Design Center, Big Daddy's Antiques is a design lover's oasis. The metal warehouse building is punctuated by large windows near the roof line, and filtered, soft sunlight drifts in. It's quiet except for the soft sounds of far away music and the cooing of doves whispering from an array of vintage circus cages. The space feels contemplative and spiritual. The dusty light and tall ceilings are almost cathedral-like. It feels like here, anything is possible. Discovery is eminent.
The cavernous space is filled with European antiques, old doors, architectural salvage and objects of interest. A 15-foot-long model airplane is suspended from the ceiling, and I've seen a giant replica of a galleon atop a table. Doric columns soar upward, and industrial relics lay scattered around. Here, patina is prized and the chipping paint and years of rust make the objects here even more special. Items that lived former industrial lives, metal fruit baskets, large class fermentation bottles and apple picking ladders, all find a new home among worn leather sofas and antique medical cabinets. Giant old books are stacked in corners. An enormous stone fireplace mantel leans against the wall near the entry. Custom dining tables that seat 20 are available for order. Everything in the space has a history, and seems to hold magic.
Started in 1996 in Los Angeles, Big Daddy's has expanded into San Francisco and Seattle. Their sister company, Georgia Brown Home has retail locations in Aspen and Huston. Big Daddy's specializes in sourcing unique antiques from North America, Europe and Asia, and showcasing them in unexpected ways. The first Sunday of the month they can be found under a large array of white tents at the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. They also set up shop at the Rose Bowl in L.A.
I first discovered Big Daddy's years ago at the Alameda Flea Market. When I worked at the Design Center I would venture to this serene showroom when my own job was stressful and depressing. Now, I come here to find inspiration and to think of my home in new ways. There's always something unexpected and wonderful at Big Daddy's and the shear scale of the pieces and space is awe inspiring. Big Daddy's is a welcome respite from everyday life, and the mass fabrication that seems to rule it.
Don't miss the outdoor patio/small yard. Depending on what's currently in the showroom, the outdoor area can be full of creative planters, old wash basins and cute little plants. Rusty bicycles, motorcycles or a wagon wouldn't be out of place here. European stone sinks and Asian water troughs find new life as planters.
There's seriously so many amazing pieces to take in, you'll need more than one visit. Also, since they get shipments pretty regularly, check back often for new pieces. If you're not in the market for a gigantic set of French doors, be sure to take notice of their smaller accessories. Some items, like a series of vintage American and California flags they had for a while, are actually really affordable. Come in with an open mind, and you wont be disappointed!
Big Daddy Antiques
1550 17th Street
San Francisco, Ca 94107