Credit: Dean Fisher

Libby Alexander is one clever lady. Not only is she half of the duo that puts on the Vintage Bazaar—a hip, pop-up flea market held in different locations throughout Chicago—she also rivals MacGyver when it comes to constructing something cool out of seemingly nothing.

Take, for example, Alexander’s living room coffee table. It’s made of concrete and salvaged marble—and looks like something that might demand a high price tag at Design Within Reach. The project was something of an “impulse buy”; Alexander and her boyfriend, Ryan McCarthy, had gone to Lowe’s to price out a wooden shelving system. But when that proved to be over their budget, they opted to pick up a couple bags of Quikrete and make something with it.

The project took about 24 hours, which included curing the concrete. They cut a pair of concrete foaming tubes to standard coffee table height (30″), filled the tubes, and let it set overnight. Once the columns were solid, Alexander topped them with a marble slab that she lugged home for 20 bucks from a barn estate sale. The result: a totally unique coffee table that cost all of $65.

As you can see from the photo, Alexander shares my love of weirdo taxidermy and thrifting. She picked up the stuffed iguana for $20 at the Lincoln Antique Mall and found the amazing rattan rocking chair for $85 at Brownstone Antiques, a frequent haunt since she lives in Andersonville. The dog statue is one of my favorite things in her house—and she found it at a garage sale for $5.

Another thing Alexander and I have in common is dedication. She has a regular rotation of thrift and junk shops that she frequents at least twice a week, and she befriends the store owners so they know what she’s looking for. And if she doesn’t find it . . . well, she’ll probably figure out how to make it. —Dean Fisher