PictureKaty Balthazar

Over the five-plus decades since she moved to Mill Valley, one constant for Katy Balthazar has been her love for “junking,” as she endearingly calls it, a zest for hunting for antiques.

That love was passed down to Balthazar by her mother Joan, and through all the twists and turns in Katy’s career – from a mom raising two kids and running a day care out of her home to real estate agent to massage therapist to elderly caregiver to bookkeeper for a piledriver in Sausalito – the high points have come when she was able to “go junking without the guilt,” she says with a laugh.

That guilt-free junking came in the early 2000s, when Balthazar had her antique shop Vintique on B Street in downtown San Rafael.

“I caught the antique junking bug at a young age, and it’s stayed with me,” Balthazar says. “It combines art, and history and science – I just love to hunt for antiques and to learn about each piece. Being able to make a business out of it is amazing.”

And now it’s happening again, with a twist: KatyBirds, Balthazar’s vintage party rental company, looks to bring style, romance and flair to weddings, showers, parties or special events in a unique, elegant and rustic way. From flatware and glassware to props and lighting, KatyBirds has a range of options for vintage rentals large and small.

Balthazar happened upon the idea for KatyBirds through her friend Erica Henderson, whose Tin Roof Farmhouse vintage rental company began in Marin and is now located in Grass Valley. It gave Balthazar the perfect way to marry her love for antiquing and her own artistry.

“This allows me to continue to explore my love of antiquing, and I don’t even have to sell them – just rent them out,” she says. “And I can incorporate my own artwork into the event.”

Balthazar moved from North Beach in San Francisco to a home on East Drive overlooking the Boyle Park Tennis Courts in 1962 when she was four years old. Those tennis courts made an indelible impression on her family, as her mom was a big tennis player and her daughter Tarrin Dougery is now a tennis pro at Tiburon Peninsula Club.

Balthazar, who went to Park School, then Edna Maguire when it was a middle school and then to Tam High, recently moved back into that childhood East Drive home.

“Its been great to be back there,” she says. “KatyBirds is a big leap for me, buying the inventory and opening my showroom in Sausalito. But I’m thrilled to be making this happen.”

The 411: KatyBirds is on Instagram and Pinterest, among others. Come check out her vintage glassware at the Mill Valley Chamber’s April 22 Mixer with Kiddo at The Image Flow, with food from Sol Food.

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