Architectural salvage always makes trash-picking or dump-diving sound so hip, doesn't it? It's a great way to spend a Saturday, and Dallas has a few very good places to scrounge when you're in the mood for a trash-to-treasure moment. The caveat, though, is that for something essential--claw feet for a cast iron tub come to mind--where weight-bearing and fit must be precise, you might be better off looking for reproductions of antique hardware or fixtures. Bring your measurements and any portable piece of your project to Elliott's Hardware, Dallas' reliable old standby of an independent hardware store. Near the center of the store is a specialty department with bathroom fixtures--including tubs with claw feet, faucet and drain hardware--and several hundred samples of drawer pulls, doorknobs, handles, towel bars and the gamut of stuff from roughly the end of the 19th century through the 1960s. Knowledgeable people staff the area, as if to remind you that Elliott's other major specialty is service. They'll look at samples with you and pull out catalogs until the sun goes down. If they don't have your first choice for style or exactly what you need, they know where to get it for you or where to send you to get it for yourself.

The name says it all. What, besides a great cut and color, do we want from our salon? Gossip. We don't care if it's celebrity slag, local politics or bar tales--we just want saucy spouting while someone works our lifeless mop into a brilliant work of art (that is also easy to manage, of course). Behind the counter, in that classic Diane Von Furstenberg, is Nicole, and she can make or break appointments--so kiss her ass. Todd, the big man on Gossip campus, is devastatingly skilled and a known Dallas hair guru. Bastien, our cut-and-color magician, works our locks into a frenzy while making great conversation (how we love the good ol' three-c stylist). Vivid art for sale, first-rate product and a salon full of amazing stylists...now we just need a drink and we're set. Oh, wait, they usually have those, too. Complimentary, of course.

Readers' Pick

Sweet 200

2550 Elm St.

214-742-2500

Named after a Hindu mantric word, Om Imports is sort of like Sam Moon Lite: fewer crowds, less merchandise, lower prices. This smaller version of the monster shopping complex known as Sam Moon Trading Co. opened this year not far from its more famous predecessor. Om has similar sparkly jewelry and hair doodads, and there's a smattering of purses and other trinkets as well. But comparing Om to Sam Moon may not be quite fair, because Om has something the giant discount metropolis doesn't: friendly faces. A trip to Om's checkout counter is rather pleasant; sometimes they even give you a coupon and a free gift with purchase, which is a far cry from the usual scowl and rush job you get at Sam What's-his-name's. We're not really into meditation, but it feels like Om has some pretty good karma.

With the exception of sex toys, nothing depreciates more than furniture. That's why we've always purchased our major pieces at consignment stores. Our fave is Consignment Solution because of the great rotating inventory--couches, chairs, tables, beds, desks, wall art, the whole magilla--and the friendly help. We've bought a $3,800 leather couch from Legacy Trading Co. for $1,200, a pair of $1,200 chairs for $600 each, and several times we've found the perfect dining set only to see it was already sold. So only go there once we've furnished our dining room. Otherwise you, too, will become our furniture enemies.

Talulah Belle

We admit it: We're kinda girlie. We like sparkles and shimmers and baubles and fluffy feathery things that go "poof" when you touch them. That's why it is imperative we shop at Talulah Belle only after payday. Otherwise, this amazing ultra-fem boutique in a Lakewood shopping center will send our checking account into pink-sugar shock. It's not that the store is that expensive; it's just that we want to buy so much. Despite its somewhat cramped space, Talulah Belle is brimming with must-have accoutrements, from the sensible (handmade leather purses and stylish pumps) to the eccentric (pompom diva slippers and rhinestone reading glasses). Ah, the practical and the ridiculous--two things we truly appreciate.

Mom had a very basic style of cooking: grab a big jug of Wesson oil; pour a half-dozen glugs into a skillet; add food; apply heat. This is why we tend to avoid restaurants that advertise dishes "just like Mom used to make." If only the old girl had Oil & Vinegar, our arteries and appetite for home cooking might be in better shape today. This shop offers oil as a work of art, selling infused vinegars and imported olive oils and other types of oil served from large glass carboys displayed like sculptures along a glowing backlit wall. Goodies such as white truffle olive oil and orange lemon basil vinegar are among the offerings, along with eye-catching jars of olives, garlic, mouth-watering spreads, herbs and fancy dishes to serve them in.

We know you expect some lame marijuana joke in this space, and we wouldn't want to disappoint you. Some readers may score their herb on a street corner late at night, but when you're looking for something other than Cannabis sativa, Redenta's is your best dealer. Before Redenta's, we had no idea that there was more than one kind of lavender (they usually have five or six varieties on hand). If lavender's a little too grandma for you, try a "pot" (ha ha) of pineapple mint or pennyroyal. And being an organic garden center, they offer a plethora of tools and supplements to keep your herb of choice healthy and robust without the use of environmentally unfriendly chemicals.

The well-heeled crowd at The Fitting Room, Bea Harper's Highland Park alterations shop, was in a buying mood earlier this month. Harper hosted a reception for Shari Lidji and her Red Llama Studio's collection of custom quilts designed for dogs, cats and even human beings. Lidji took dozens of orders and sold out of every stock item she had brought with her. What makes these quilts special is their combination of wit, workmanship, personalization and good design. Lidji, who sewed her first custom quilt 10 years ago, works with the client to create a design unique to its recipient. She will even incorporate photographs or fabric from a favored article of clothing. In-stock designs start at $55, with custom doggy quilts starting at $85, baby quilts at $225 and adult quilts at $500. "Our quilts are special," Lidji says, "but not so precious that you can't throw them in the wash. Unless we're asked to use certain custom fabrics, they all launder easily."

Hundreds of years ago, maybe thousands, computer stores were staffed by smart people. You had to write your questions down before you went in the store so you wouldn't get snapped at. Now the big-box computer stores are staffed by people who got fired by Wal-Mart for not being smart enough. You hope they won't ask if they can help. Ah, but there is an oasis of know-how: Micro Center in Richardson, in the Keystone Plaza on the southbound service drive of Central Expressway, half a mile south of Spring Valley Road. They build their own line of computers, stock all the peripherals. Great deals. Lots of really capable salespeople. Can't last.

Readers' Pick

Fry's Electronics

Various locations

www.frys.com

It's possible we should be older in order to admit how much we like the area around Knox-Henderson. Sidewalk-strolling, coffee-sipping, feeding the birdies--kinda sounds like a midlife urban experience. Still, we love Smith & Hawken, and when we don't catalog-shop (another blue-haired pastime?) we head to the cool historic building at Knox and Travis where the best garden decorations, hardware, birdbaths, flower-bed edging, mailboxes, topiary frames and yard art of all types are there for the taking. Residents of Knox-Henderson remember the 1920s building originally housing a flower shop--how quaint! We do think it's cool that, besides all the amazing products, Smith & Hawken maintains a patio for people-watching and brings plants and some merchandise out on the sidewalk on Saturdays.

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