Lincoln Square – Strange Closets people, homes, travel and stuff Mon, 29 Apr 2013 17:29:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Chesterfield sofa at Smythson Yeats Sat, 23 Oct 2010 01:07:25 +0000

After finally putting my newly stripped and shined tanker desk back together and stumbling upon the perfect little sofa at Broadway Antique Market, my den is nearly complete. Successfully refinishing the desk even inspired a couple additional DIY projects, and I’m pretty happy with everything. When I finally dot my i’s and cross my t’s, I’ll share the photos. However, if I hadn’t already found a sofa, I’d be sorely tempted to buy the dark green leather Chesterfield I spotted at Lincoln Square favorite Smythson Yeats yesterday. If I were a designer, I’d buy it for a client and charge them extra for the special slightly aged effect, because reupholstering this piece would be a crime. In fact, it’s a steal at $1700, and there are many more deals like that. While you’re in the neighborhood, also check out Praha, Old Sau’s and the newly open men’s store Isle of Mann.

Smythson Yeats. 3851 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. 773.244.6365

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What’s new at Praha? Fri, 11 Jun 2010 18:01:11 +0000

Praha owners Todd and David were busy getting the shop together when I stopped by the Lincoln Square store late in the afternoon earlier this week. Business has been good, and torrents of shoppers taking advantage of Praha’s inspired finds at low price points had left the store a bit disheveled. Big city shop owners spend an inordinate amount of time hunting, modifying and displaying their wares in high-rent storefronts, so higher price points are the norm. Which is why Praha’s so great. Todd and David offer a mix of furniture and accessories with prices so low you’ll want to pay more. Tempting me on this trip were a vintage wood medicine cabinet emblazoned with a very “now” (and “then” come to think of it) red cross, a Danish Modern chair (for less than $200) and a number of interesting meters they scored during a recent visit to neighboring Iowa. Stop by this weekend. You’ll probably find a great deal, and you’ll most definitely enjoy meeting David and Todd. Click here for Praha’s Facebook page.

Praha. 3849 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. 773.549.1227

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This Week: Smythson Yeats and the Case of the European Bounty Mon, 02 Feb 2009 04:34:08 +0000 3230048495_5df8be91f3

Smythson Yeats owner Dick Rosen just received the container of goodies he bought during his recent European shopping trip (so help me God, if he complains about his job, I’m puttin’ my dukes up).   Take a look at this gorgeous antique buffet that was spirited out of a Paris flat (above), one of two priced at $1250.  Well-made, gorgeous, storied and priced-to-sell, I was never good at Geomebra, but I’d say that adds up to a good deal.

If you haven’t been over to Lincoln Avenue lately, there’s a little section of interesting shops clustered around Smythson Yeats and while I wouldn’t call the area a Chicago secret exactly, it certainly hasn’t been recognized in the same way that other design districts despite there being a plethora (score!! I’ve been waiting to use that one) of good deals, including a 3 piece deco sofa and chair set for basically nothing, a collection of sunburst mirrors and even a bit of circus memorabilia.  Who could possibly been prescient enough to predict the proliferation of something as underground as circus and carnival memorabilia, you’ll no doubt day ask yourself one day.

I suggest the following itinerary:

1.  Eat lunch at Cafe Selmarie (try the mac and cheese . . . scratch that, do have the MAC AND CHEESE; so good it deserves to be bolded and CAPITALIZED ( I’m capitulating to capitalization for the sake of community and commerce)

2.  Do your grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s.  All Trader Joe’s employees are chill, cool and happy (you can tell the way they banter with one another and toss cans and stuff).  At Trader Joe’s, big problems are small problems and small problems are no biggie (man).  Brought to you by Trader Joe; we’re not just selling a frozen mackeral, we’re selling a lifestyle.

Huh . . . JOE!  I didn’t see you there buddy.  Aww c’mon Joe.   I’m kidding!!!

Smythson Yeats is located at 3851 N. Lincoln Avenue (right next to Praha).  773-244-6365.









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This Week: Smythson Yeats Antiques Wed, 16 Jul 2008 05:18:00 +0000

“Tramp art,” the shop proprietor shouted, startling me as I examined a picture frame made out of a material I couldn’t quite identify. My brow furrowed, and his eyes widened – you could hear a pin drop; let the lesson begin.

As the shop owner shared the history of tramp art, I sensed that he could teach me much, that within him there existed a story for each object in the room. I looked past him and noticed all the globes, the vintage acupuncture chart; it was a bit like being in school, only this time, I didn’t want the bell to ring.

So now I know a bit about tramp art, which came to be widely recognized during the great depression (the first one, not the one we’re slipping into now) when homeless people began making functional art (frames, crucifixes, you name it) out of cigar boxes in exchange for food and money. Cool stuff, learning while shopping.

The frame is tramp art.

Smythson Yeats, even absent the schooling, is a charming little shop perfectly located on a stretch of Lincoln Avenue that includes Praha, Mod Life and a handful of old-fashioned, pre-Scout* antique shops which are stuffed to the rafters (literally) with just about anything.

But Smythson Yeats stands out, both for its well-edited appearance and for its eclectic mix of objects, which include high-end (and expensive) art deco furniture and lighting, vintage globes, objects Decoratus Absurdum and yes, tramp art. Unlike so many places that try to do too much, Smythson Yeats makes it all work.

Class sizes are small, so hurry over if you want a spot. Smythson Yeats is located at 3851 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood. For questions, call 773-244-6356.


A bit Decoratus Absurdum, don’t you think?

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This Week: Mod Life Wed, 09 Jul 2008 15:17:00 +0000

Fans of retro mid-century furniture will want to check out Mod Life, a sleek Lincoln Square showroom, which offers a terrific selection of mid-century furniture and accessories, much of which has been refinished, reupholstered and otherwise gussied up to show better than new. The space – bright, light and airy – is accentuated with pops of color (canary yellow, mandarin orange, icy blue) and tempered with a healthy dose of high-end charcoal fabrics and black accessories. I felt like I was in Miami, but I’ve never been to Miami so please draw your own conclusion.

I instantly fell in love with the pair of high-end, velvety gray chairs that sit in the front window; their clean lines are made a bit more formal by tufting and luxurious piping in all the right places.

Mod Life is located at 3856 N. Lincoln Avenue. For questions, visit their website, call 773-868-0844 or email

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This Week: FourSided Thu, 26 Jun 2008 05:00:00 +0000

FourSided is the most recent addition to the small and independently owned framing company that Todd Mack began more than eight years ago when he opened a shop on Broadway in Lakeview. A third store, TwoSided (which I wrote about several months ago) does not provide framing services and is primarily a card and accessories shop.

But calling owner Todd Mack’s vocation “framing” is like calling the Mona Lisa a sketch.

Mack’s an artist; give him a razor, ten minutes and a piece of matte board, and he’ll give you a piece that will make you consider tossing the art and framing the matte by itself.

Continued after photos . . .

Mack’s that good; and his talents extend to the retail portion of his store, which carries an eclectic mix of globes, maps, artwork, letters, bookends, curiosities and cards. There’s more, but my fingers are tired. Check it out for yourself.

FourSided’s merchandise is a bit whimsical, a bit Decoratus Absurdum and a whole lot of fun. Support the arts. Support independent business. Buy vintage (the best way to be green). And have fun.

FourSided is located at 5061 N. Clark in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. For questions, visit their website or call 773-506-8300.

The multiverse is back

You may remember that I promised no clowns. I lied. Why do bad things happen?

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This Week: Patina Wed, 18 Jun 2008 19:30:00 +0000
Who wants a hand?

Patina, an industrial-chic boutique, is one of those places that seems to hover just under the radar. Located in a slightly subterranean storefront on a slightly residential, slightly commercial stretch of North Damen in a neighborhood I can’t quite identify.

Owner, Alan Shull opened the store after gradually building his inventory over five years.* The result is an eclectic mix of furniture and accessories with an emphasis on mid-century, rural and industrial. And the prices can’t be beat (check out the chairs for especially good deals). Overall, Patina’s well worth the trip.

Patina is located at 4907 N. Damen Avenue in Chicago’s Ravenswood (?) neighborhood. For questions, call 773-334-0400 or e-mail

* So that’s what I’m doing in my basement.

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This Week: Ravenswood Antique Mall Thu, 15 May 2008 05:10:00 +0000

If you want to get a sense of where trends are going, you have to know where they’ve been, because, as they say, history repeats itself. Ravenswood Antique Mall is like a library if the card catalog were made real, if the words became tangible, physically browse-able.

If I were a buyer for a major store, this is where I’d go for inspiration, not to figure out how to follow the trend line but for how to take it in an entirely unexpected direction. If I were you, this is where I’d go to simply create an interesting and distinct space.

Continued . . .

Don’t get me wrong – if you’re trendy (in a good way, of course), and you want to participate in all that’s now, there’s plenty to find here. You’ll find blue glass (which results when the bold color trend, blue trend and colored glass trend intersect), horse heads aplenty, vintage Bertoia wire side chairs (and vintage is better than that knockoff on Ebay), Johnathan Adler-style Hollywood Regency and more. Many antique malls feel a bit cluttered, making it difficult to sift out the gold from the rocks. But Ravenswood Antique Mall is put together wonderfully, each piece spotlighted in a way that makes the hunt enjoyable and pleasing to the eye.

Check it out; you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, you may well find a friend. John and Jan and everybody I’ve met are extremely knowledgeable, friendly and fun. Tell them you read about them on Strange Closets.

Ravenswood Antique Mall is located at 4727 N. Damen. For questions, call 773-271-3700.

For a full set of thumbnails, click here.
Or, for a Flickr slideshow, click here.

This Week . . . Praha Wed, 23 Apr 2008 15:00:00 +0000

To me, the best stores aren’t fancy necessarily (but they can be) and they’re not part of a big chain. My favorite stores are owned by real people who show up every day and put their heart and soul into the space. When real people sell what they like, the result is a little crazy, a little charming and a little all-over-the-place; you never know what you’re going to find, and every trip becomes a little adventure. Praha’s that type of store.

Owners Todd and David have created a charming and eclectic space. You might purchase a new sofa one day and a vintage radio the next. And the prices are amazing. I found a very cool, vintage occasional chair and was surprised at the price – $40. Todd and David’s goal is to move the merchandise quickly, which keeps the continually changing store interesting for repeat visitors.

The two have hit on the right formula for the neighborhood – they’re celebrating their fourth year in this location.

Praha’s located at 3849 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. 773-549-1227

For a full set of thumbnails, click here.
For a Flickr slide show, click here.

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