Design's best friend

Four years ago this month, Raymond Long, a music writer from New York, unleashed his vision of the ultimate furnishings store on San Francisco. Den has become a destination as much as a shop in the once-more-on-the-rise Mission District, offering design ideas to homeowners in need of inspiration and an alternative to chain stores for buyers looking for unique work.

“I came to San Francisco thinking I would still be working in media,” says Long. “What I saw was a lot of people doing really beautiful work, but they didn’t have a place to show it.” Den mixes modern pieces by local furniture and accessory designers, works by artists, and vintage furnishings with classic looks, sometimes “reinterpreted” to give them a fresh look that’s neither old nor new―like refinishing a ’70s-era blond bureau in a contemporary deep walnut.

Long and his team price their wares to appeal to buyers who may not be rich but are looking to make an investment in “real” furnishings, and then display the pieces in regularly changing vignettes. Add to that an eclectic mix of tunes drifting around the space and you get a winning formula: Den has regulars who drop by frequently to see what’s new.

“I’m not going to have a personal relationship with Charles Eames―most of those designers are dead,” he says. “But to have someone come in here with great work, and to get involved in getting it out there, is a lot of fun.”

Shop here

Den (call for hours; 849 Valencia St., San Francisco; or 415/282-6646)

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