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Everything you always wanted to know
about shopping
and weren't afraid to ask Corky.

New York's master shopper, Corky Pollan, reveals the secrets of the city's boutiques, stores and galleries.

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DecorativeHardware

We've just moved into a prewar apartment whose previous owners stripped it of all the old hardware and installed cheap and ugly doorknobs, latches, and pulls. Where can I go for attractive replacements?

You're not wrong for caring about the hardware: Savvy renovators know that the value of an apartment can be significantly increased just by upgrading knobs, faucets, and spigots. The clever hands at P.E. Guerin (23 Jane Street; 243-5270; by appointment only) could actually custom-make copies of your building's original fixtures. This family-owned firm -- purveyor of the city's haute-est hardware -- has a foundry in Spain, so its craftsmen can make anything, including reproductions. Mostly, their work is brass or bronze, but they will also do nickel and stainless steel.

Though Kraft (306 East 61st Street; 838-2214) does most of its business with the pros -- architects, builders, and designers -- its salesmen are tolerant of the novice, and the prices are reasonable. Solid-brass pieces are the company's own designs, made for it in France, Germany, and Portugal, but customers can choose from seventeen finishes, included nickel and verdi antique.

Another trade-oriented but customer-friendly store, Simon's Hardware (421 Third Avenue, near 29th Street; 532-9220) is worth a detour for its selection. There's a whole department filled with doorknobs and locksets, and there are floor-to-ceiling displays of pulls and hooks in every conceivable style.

A homewares supermarket, Gracious Home (1220 Third Avenue, near 70th Street, 517-6300; and, opening September 28, 1992 Broadway, at 67th Street, 231-7800) is decked out with scads of pulls, knobs, and hinges in every style -- ornate to sleek -- and all sorts of materials, including Lucite. It's a great source for the do-it-yourselfer.

Luggage

After schlepping a suitcase around Europe this summer, I want one of those bags on wheels.

I've just confronted the rolling-Pullman problem myself. Experts say that the important things to check are the fabric (ballistic nylon is tearproof and the most durable), the zippers (should be industrial), and the wheels (Rollerblade or ball-bearing). Tumi was rated one of the best by Consumer Reports, but that was in 1995. Though it's still considered excellent, it's also one of the most expensive of the commercial brands, and no one will admit (at least openly) to discounting Tumi. The luggage pros give Andiamo and TravelPro high marks for performance and durability, and these two pass the checkout test with flying colors: They're covered in ballistic nylon and have industrial zippers and Rollerblade wheels. And TravelPro (made by the company that introduced the first flight-attendant bag-on-wheels) is considered the best buy for the money. Altman Luggage (135 Orchard Street; 254-7275) and Bettinger's Luggage Shop (150 Allen Street; 674-9411) offer deep discounts and will deliver in Manhattan.

Sleep Sofas

I just moved into a one-room apartment, and I need a sofabed. What should I look for, and who carries the best?

They're never as comfortable as regular sofas and they're a hassle to pull out and fold back, but they're a New Yorker's rite of passage. What you want are kiln-dried wood frames, a heavy-gauge-metal mattress frame, innerspring mattresses, and plenty of padding. My designer friends tell me that Avery-Boardman (979 Third Avenue, near 58th Street; 688-6611) makes the best in town, but it's a to-the-trade-only house. The good news is that the sleep sofas at Carlyle Custom Convertibles (1056 Third Avenue, at 62nd Street; 838-1525) and Carlyle Studio Collection (1375 Third Avenue, near 78th Street; 570-2236) are made in the Avery-Boardman factory and offer many of the same features: Frames are kiln-dried, springs are eight-way hand-tied, backs and sides are fully padded, and the innerspring mattress is supported by a woven steel frame. Even the folding mechanism is the same. The styling is traditional, but each of the styles can be had in five sizes, and you can add custom touches with piping and skirts.

Leather Furniture

That vintage Art Deco clubchair is so yesterday, but I'm crazy for leather furniture. What's great today?

With the newest breed of leather sofas and chairs resembling Pillsbury Doughboys (all puffed up and covered in stuff so unnaturally soft you have to wonder what it could be), I have a yen for leather that looks and feels like the real stuff. And I'm a pushover for styles that hint at libraries in great old houses, like Ralph Lauren's tufted and oversize Writer's Chair covered in distressed leather, and his regal tufted-and nail-headed North Hall Queen Anne-ish armchair. They're available at Polo/Ralph Lauren (867 Madison Avenue, at 72nd Street, fourth floor; 606-2100), and Bloomingdale's (1000 Third Avenue, at 59th Street, sixth floor; 705-2000). Also appealingly bookish is ABC Carpet & Home's (888 Broadway, at 19th Street, fifth floor; 473-3000) distressed-leather sofas, replete with nail heads. But if your style cravings demand something more moderne, check out Le Corbusier's classic leather sofa on a chrome-plated frame at Cassina USA (155 East 56th Street; 245-2121). More radical? Ralph Lauren's new chaise (at Polo/Ralph Lauren and ABC) -- all woven leather and stainless steel -- looks hot, hot, hot.

Lighting

We just moved into a new apartment, and it's dark. I need lighting -- hanging lights, lamps, the works. My furniture is pretty eclectic. Where should I look?

Attempting to single out just one store makes me break out in a sweat. So many styles, so many sources. Don't go to Remains (19 West 24th Street, Second floor; 675-8051) looking for the ordinary: This neat gallery is a secret resource for many of the city's top interior designers when they need plummy vintage hanging lights. Hundreds of globes of every age, style, and size hang from the ceiling and owner David Calligeros can marry them to all manner of fittings -- nickel, copper, brass.

Looking like stalactites, glittery hand-blown Venetian-glass chandeliers cover every inch of the ceiling in the Parlour Cafe at ABC Carpet & Home (888 Broadway, at 19th Street; 473-3000), and there are hundreds more hanging from the ceiling on the fourth floor. A kind of chandelier Eden, ABC stocks at least 500 mostly European nineteenth-century beauties at all times: crystal, iron, wood, gilt, milk-glass, and alabaster globes, in addition to the Venetian glass. Also on four is an excellent selection of table and standing lamps.

An antidote for anyone grumbling about the disappearance of the old-fashioned neighborhood store, Barry of Chelsea Antiques (154 Ninth Avenue, near 19th Street; 242-2666) is appropriately dusty and cluttered, and, like the best of the old-time stores, is presided over by an owner -- Barry Lewin -- who is a pundit of what he sells. Among the hodgepodge of his lovingly restored lighting is Art Deco milk-glass hanging lights, thirties schoolhouse globes (some looking like inverted wedding cakes), sconces of every age, desk lamps, and twenties boudoir lamps.

Nowhere is there a greater concentration of Art Deco hanging lights and sconces than at Uplift Lighting (506 Hudson Street; 929-3632). The store has been around for twenty years, so most items are originals, but there are some nicely executed reproductions, too, and these are clearly marked. Adding to the overhead clutter are hand-painted globes from the twenties, and retro glass and brass hanging lampshades.

The fourth generation of the Liroff family oversees City Knickerbocker (781 Eighth Avenue, near 47th Street; 586-3939), a seemingly endless jumble of converted gaslights, Victorian sconces, crystal chandeliers, thirties floor lamps, and retro sixties fixtures. But it's not all vintage: The leaded art-glass lamps are new and Kenneth and Scott Liroff (the present owners) do nifty reproductions using old molds, so this is the place to come if you need six identical hanging globes.

An Italian company known for producing the most technologically advanced lighting, Artemide (46 Greene Street; 925-1588) has a sleek SoHo outpost where you can see the full range of its designs. Artemide, which enlists a coterie of international architects, artists, and craftsmen, creates everything from conservative desk lamps to funky luminaires in zillions of color variations.

Trendy lighting by top European designers is jammed into Lee's Studio (1755 Broadway, near 56th Street, 581-4400; and 1069 Third Avenue, near 63rd Street, 371-1122). In addition to the usual modern icons (Artemide's Tizio lamp and Koch & Lowy's Footsteps and Delta), there are reproductions of Art Deco classics.

The Bowery is known for lighting bargains, but you have to be prepared to sift through a lot of junk, and it's a good idea to shop around and know prices before you look here -- that bargain could end up costing. Two of the area's largest lighting emporiums are Lighting by Gregory (158 Bowery; 226-1276) and New York Gas Lighting (195 Bowery; 529-2651). The former fills four stores (formal to casual, everything from chandeliers to wall sconces to standing lamps to track) at a full range of prices, some surprisingly high-end. Gas Lighting has a more traditional selection of mostly brass and bronze chandeliers and brass floor lamps.

Lingerie

I'm tired of Calvin Kleinish boy-girl underthings. I want sexy lingerie.


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