My Atlanta

My friend and fellow blog pal Becky wants to take us away to her part of the world for a moment to show us around her hood in Atlanta, Georgia. She will return later this summer to blog about design reality television so stay tuned to read more from the Beckster in the near future. Are you to ready to meet her? Hi, my name is Becky. A small number of you may know me from another blog I write called Hatch. I'd like to thank Holly for inviting me to contribute to decor8 from time to time. It's a blog I've thoroughly enjoyed checking in on every day for a few years now! I used to badger Holly to host discussions after all the design TV shows, and because she will be leaving this summer for Germany (no American trash television over there), she's going to let me lead future design TV show discussions here on decor8 with my personal observations. I think Top Design starts this summer so I'm looking forward to chatting with you all about the episodes.

First I thought I'd introduce myself by giving you a glimpse into my beloved neighborhood, Virginia-Highland. It is located in the City of Atlanta, and it's named after the intersection of Virginia Avenue and North Highland Avenue, which is my block. It's full of charming Arts and Crafts bungalows and Victorian homes, as well as unique retail stores and restaurants. I can walk to go pick up anything I need, and this neighborhood is a perfect example of "old urbanism." Old urbanism is what we had back at the turn of the century, and is what planners now call "new urbanism" when they emulate it today (see also "Seaside Florida" and "Smart Growth").

The neighborhood is full of popular restaurants and shops. Unfortunately, it's become such a popular destination that many of my favorites (I sorely miss Metropolitan Deluxe, 20th Century Antiques and the record store) have been forced out due to skyrocketing rents. I only hope that the Dean and Deluca-ing of Georgetown and the Abercrombie-ing of Harvard Square do not happen here. It's getting to close to the point where the independents can't afford to stay and only The Gap can afford to move in.

On the bright side of this extreme gentrification, in the past year or so a few independent home emporiums have moved in, and I'm so glad to have them. Having all this inspiration a skip away makes me feel extremely lucky, and I thought I'd share some of it with you.

On a typical morning, I'll walk up to the Post Office to drop off eBay packages, stop by The San Francisco coffeehouse for my morning brew, and drool over the windows at Amour and Company shown above. This shop, owned by Jayme Leffler, is full of gorgeous furniture, perfectly curated accessories, and a selection of books I believe another favorite blogger of mine, The Peak of Chic, would have on her shelves. Pieces vary from a large branch sculpture to Jonathan Adler light fixtures, from Corbusier wooden models to a yellow Hollywood Regency desk. Every time I stop in I feel thoroughly inspired and return home determined to give my own home the rich but light feel of the shop.

Down the street we have another new neighbor, Urban Cottage. This shop owned by Jessica Silverstein, has moved from Buckhead Betty territory and taken over a house right in the middle of the Va-Hi intersection. They manufacture all of their own furniture and they will completely customize it for you.

What I love about Urban Cottage is the huge range of items and the way they are arranged in the different rooms of the house, including the bathroom! In a black and white Regency-style bedroom, there is a selection of clothing from soft T's to a silvery sparkly dress. In another room they showcase local artists, like Carla Kaiser's pinch pots and David Kallman's color photography, as well as beaded necklaces from The Akola project (100% of the proceeds go to African women in need). On the lower level, there are intricately carved wood and iron antique Spanish doors available. This is definitely my favorite one-stop shop for all sorts of gifts - I can scoop up a unique gift, have it wrapped, and purchase the perfect letter press card to top it off in about 15 minutes flat.

Another recent addition is an outpost of South of Market. This store will custom upholster all kinds of furniture, stocks an array of beautiful throw pillows and mirrors, and most importantly it is chock full of unique French antiques that are mind-blowing. Unfortunately, most of them would blow my budget as well, but if I were going to pick one eye-popping piece to invest in and surround with my own flea market goodies and IKEA pieces, this is where I would go max out my credit card. The website is extensive, but nothing compares to the experience of visiting the store.

So decor8 readers, if you do happen to hit my 'hood, all of this shopping is going to make you tired (I haven't even mentioned the great clothing boutiques like Mitzi and Romano, Moondance, Honeybee's and Dakota J.'s). It's also going to make you hungry. Here are some of my favorite eateries, you just have to check out:

Noche - For the best silver margaritas on the block. Don't have more than two though or you'll wind up doing something you'll regret (or not, depending on how cute he is). Definitely do not shop or attempt to try on clothes afterwards! The tapas are delish as well. If you like annoying huge crowds of drunk people in tube tops, stop by on Sunday afternoon for cheap Dos Equis and Sangrias. Wahoo!

Moe's and Joe's - An old original Atlanta beer bar (their license is for beer and wine only). Stop by for PBR on tap and a grilled cheese. I also recommend the chili fries and the sliders. The Highland Tap - Martinis and steaks done to perfection, in a cozy cellar. Upstairs, Fontaine's has oysters, hush puppies, an extensive New Orleans-inspired menu and a bunch of pick up artists at the bar.

Murphy's - Everything from light plates to amazing entrees. The staff KNOW their extensive wine list, and the desserts are to die for. A good place to go when one's parents are in town and they are picking up the check.

Finally, the heart of the neighborhood, and perhaps the most convenient and eyesore ever, is El Chev, a.k.a the Chevron Station. Last May when out to dinner in Manhattan with the ladies from Dwell Studio, as I was describing my lack of domestic and culinary skills, Ashley from Texas said "Girl, tell me you did not just say you go grocery shopping at the Chevron station...HaHaHa...God, I miss Chevron stations!" What can I say, they stock a few oversized bottles of bad wine, lottery tickets, The New York Times and T.G.I. Friday's frozen mozzarella sticks and loaded 'tater skins. What more does any neighborhood need?

Thanks for having me everyone! - Becky