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Q. I've inherited a green Teco vase, about which I know nothing. What's the story with Teco?

 A. Teco is art pottery that was made in Terra Cotta (now Crystal Lake), Illinois, from the late 1800s to the early 1920s. The name comes from the first syllables of "terra" and "cotta." The company that produced Teco pottery, Gates Potteries, was an offshoot of the American Terra Cotta and Ceramic Company, owned by … Read more

Q. Where can I find mattresses in non-standard sizes? Do they have to be custom-made?

A. Owners of antique daybeds or Euro-sized twin beds can rest easy, and so can nonstandard-size people: mattress solutions abound in and around Chicago. The Verlo Mattress Factory Store, which has several area locations, custom makes mattresses for round beds, cribs, and platform beds, as well as for people tall, wide, or both. Tom Wisniewski, … Read more

Q. We're redoing our kitchen and want a refrigerator that doesn't stick out past the counter. Is this going to be a big deal?

A. "Built-in" is the term you’re looking for. Built-in, shallow-depth refrigerators are 24 inches deep, including the door, and so, in all likelihood, are your counters. The term to beware of is "freestanding." A freestanding, shallow-depth refrigerator has a 24-inch-deep cabinet and two-inch-deep doors, meaning it will stick out two inches past your counter. Built-ins … Read more

Q. We're not happy with the mantel over our fireplace. How would we go about getting a new one?

A. If you have something specific in mind, consider having a mantel created just for you. Many custom woodworkers take on such projects, and can also create surrounding alcoves, bookshelves, and paneling. A local business that specializes in fireplace woodwork is Emerald Mantels (1901 W. Belmont Ave., 773-244-0041; emeraldmantels.com). Everything Emerald sells is handcrafted and … Read more