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Finding unique, beautiful things with which to furnish your home is no trick; finding them for under $100 is a triumph requiring patience, knowledge, decisiveness, willingness to explore dusty corners, and luck. Here's some help for your hunting.

America Dural Among rare mahogany Empire settees and Saarinen chairs, this Huron Avenue shop -- named for the owner's childhood nanny -- offers a selection of cruise-ship cutlery. This "hotel silver," heavily plated, has a high pewter content and a satisfying heft. Individual knives, forks, and spoons engraved with "France," the name of one of the glamorous steamships that once crossed the Atlantic, cost $15 each, or add eight to your flatware collection for $96. 143 Huron Avenue, Cambridge, 617-661-4100 Zimman's People with sewing machines have worn a path to this downtown Lynn building, where the home-decor fabric, passementerie, and accessory selection is extraordinary. The prices for designer fabrics are lower than retail; climb down the creaky stairs to the bargain basement for very affordable remnants. Another plus: The knowledgeable sales staff will guide you through design decisions and help with measurements. They'll even help you choose remnant fabric to create a fresh new dining room look with place mats, chair seats, window valences, and a runner -- all for less than $100. 80 Market Street, Lynn, 781-598-9432, Appleton Antique Lighting Lamps and fixtures from the Chestnut Hill shop of Jane and Loukas Deimezis illuminate carriage-trade homes as well as the august halls of Harvard, King's Chapel, the Wang Center, and Symphony Hall. In a vast basement workshop, they do repairs, while accessories are displayed among the chandeliers, sconces, and lamps of the street-level showroom. From a line of discontinued Victorian lampshades, one well-constructed fringed beauty retails for $52.50. 801 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, 617-566-5322, Baranzelli Silk Surplus Two words have the cognoscenti scurrying to this Charles Street shop: discounted Scalamandre. Well-heeled homeowners and museum houses such as The Breakers and the White House have long relied on Scalamandre fabrics and trims for historically correct upholstery and drapery; the lush colors and superb quality are equally at home in contemporary apartments. Closeouts of the famous trims that retail at $80 to $100 per yard (and up) here cost $40 per yard. 113 Charles Street, Boston, 617-227-1515, Cambridge Antique Market Located across the road from the Lechmere Green Line station, five floors of an old brick mansard-roofed mercantile building hold more than 150 dealers' worth of everything from high-end antiques to just plain cheap stuff. Some great side and end tables that recently clustered near the entry, all under $100, are most likely gone. In other words, if you like what you find, buy it -- it probably won't be there when you go back. 201 Monsignor O'Brien Highway, Cambridge, 617-868-9655, Circle Furniture Outlets This local chain's two excellent outlets are chock-full of returned, overstocked, dinged, or discontinued merchandise. But look out for a steeply discounted item or two among the full-priced offerings at their retail stores, too. A recent find: a few Ekornes leather storage ottomans in the retail stores for $99.59 (manufacturer's retail price: $995). Bargains reign at the two outlets: Some swear by the one at corporate headquarters in Acton, but others say the Cambridge site is best. 19 Craig Road, Acton, 978-263-7268, and 281 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, 617-876-3988, The Furniture Consignment Gallery Price-watchers love the markdown system: Every month, for three months, consigned objects are reduced by an additional 10 percent. However, the merchandise does not usually stay on the selling floor for long, probably because pieces are arranged in attractive vignettes instead of the usual consignment-store jumble. While most goods cost considerably more than $100, a lovely gilded mirror was recently offered for just under that. 756 Washington Street, Hanover, 781-826-5114, Gourmet Pottery Owner and proprietor Dinny Myerson furnishes her Moody Street storefront with things she likes: turquoise and cobalt plates from Morocco, ceramics hand thrown and glazed by a reclusive Maine potter, Haitian wall art fashioned from recycled oil drums. For $95, a large piece will bring drama to any room. 365 Moody Street, Waltham, 781-642-1212, Isla Beach House Sigrid Olsen's individualistic sunny sensibility informed her eponymous clothing line; now she turns her artist's eye to painting and home decor with a store on Gloucester's Rocky Neck. A 12-inch nickel-and-glass hurricane lamp has a considerable, sleek presence. For indoor or outdoor spaces, it sells for $85. 77 Rocky Neck Avenue/Madfish Wharf, Gloucester, 978-281-1766, Johnson Paint The Bentley of interior paints is Farrow and Ball's pigment-rich, environmentally friendly, almost matte, English-made Estate Emulsion. This latex paint is beloved by interior designers for its unparalleled hues and by painters for the easy, satiny application. Seventy-year-old Johnson Paint Co. is the only area retail store that stocks Farrow and Ball paints. Try the cute little sample cans for $6.50 before you pick your color. A gallon of Estate Emulsion covers a 9-by-12-foot room and costs $79.50. 355 Newbury Street, Boston, 617-536-4244, Main Street Antiques and Main Street Marketplace Savvy hunters know that multi-dealer antiques shops are where the bargains lurk. This is certainly true on Main Street in Plymouth, where two such two-story shops, four doors apart and belonging to the same owners, offer great variety from a range of sources. A sturdy wicker table, just in time for summer dining, costs $50. 46 Main Street, Plymouth, 508-747-8887 The Marketplace at IKEA At the store that gave inexpensive home design a good name, stay on the main level instead of riding up the escalator, and you'll find The Marketplace. This is where the company displays accent pieces and home accessories and where a sale is always going on. Occasionally, there's even a piece of marked-down furniture. Recently, a large (almost 2-foot-square) mirror framed in solid birch was $29.99. And a big box of candles was priced at $1.99. 1 IKEA Way, Stoughton, 888-937-5800, Marshalls The store that offers designer clothing for less is also an excellent source for discounted pots and pans. For example, Le Creuset, the enameled cast-iron French cookware that comes in wonderful colors and cooks like a dream, is often available for half the retail price. Thus, a 2-quart cobalt-blue French oven can cost $92.50 instead of $185. 1 Worcester Road, Framingham, 508-872-2684, and other locations, New England Demolition and Salvage Homeowners shopping for plumbing fixtures and architectural elements for antique houses soon learn that old is not only better, it is often the only option that will fit and look right. In 140,000 square feet, owners Harry and Jeanine James display bathtubs, sinks, millwork, windows, and various other house parts. Raised-panel interior doors, elegant forbears of their modern hollow counterparts, cost about $50; an old doorknob can cost $10 or $60. 73 Cove Street, New Bedford, 508-992-1099, Pier 1 Imports The harsh truth about furniture is that quality costs. The hallmarks of good furniture are dovetailing, mortise-and-tenon joinery, hand-tied springs, hardwood frames -- in other words, skilled labor and fine materials. If you want quality, skip the inexpensive new stuff -- unless it's rattan. Far more affordable than wood, rattan is a mainstay of this company. In their clearance sections, a Chinese-inspired rattan side chair was selling for $79.98. 425 Washington Street, Woburn, 781-935-8854, and other locations; Portland Architectural Salvage This four-story industrial building near Route 295 is the reason architects, builders, interior designers, and historic preservationists drive to Portland, Maine. Although some things cost dearly, many do not: Vintage shutters with cutouts are available for about $100, and cast-iron-filigree radiator covers, at $75, can also function as shelves, decorative wall panels, and outdoor tables. 131 Preble Street, Portland, Maine, 207-780-0634, Red Tag Sale, Boston Design Center Showrooms at the Design Center offer a dizzying range of home decor products to the trade (and to members who pay a yearly fee), but the Design Center throws open its doors to the public at no charge in April for its annual Red Tag sale. This year, a jade box that originally cost $250 was for sale for $20. 1 Design Center Way, South Boston, 617-449-5506, Salvation Army Thrift Store All the Salvation Army's 20 Massachusetts Family Thrift stores have a changing stock of donated items, but for an especially good selection, try the main warehouse and its attached store on the southbound side of Route 1 in Saugus. Recently, we spotted a wooden five-drawer chest with a $79 price tag. 209 Broadway, Saugus, 781-231-0803, The Stock Exchange A stringent consignment policy, combined with a practiced eye for craftsmanship and design, results in a quirky, charming store that's a favorite with interior designers. Recently, a set of blue-and-white Willow Ware dishes for 12 was offered at $75. Another excellent buy spotted recently: a pair of down pillows from Restoration Hardware, their tags still attached, for $60. 3 Beach Street, Manchester-by-the-Sea, 978-526-8878 Witch City Consignment Joseph Bayles, owner of Salem's largest consignment store, touts the ecological and the economic advantages of buying used furniture. "Instead of sending that perfectly good piece of furniture to the landfill, you're recycling," he says. "Cheap brand-new furniture has no intrinsic value," he adds, "but a mahogany chest of drawers will still be desirable after you're done with it." Such a chest of drawers was for sale in his shop recently for $95. 301 Essex Street, Salem, 978-744-4433, Regina Cole is a freelance writer in Gloucester. Send comments to

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