I’m a staunch supporter of buying local – hell, I practically yo- del it from the mountaintop. Still, whenever I need to purchase cur- tains, I mindlessly hop in the car and head straight to Target. My only line of defense is that it’s cheap and easy... kind of like my last boyfriend. All joking aside, when I bought my first house two years ago, I discovered that dressing 26 windows (of varying sizes) is both expensive and daunting. I tackled a few rooms and invited some friends over. When one clapped her hands and shrieked, “I have the exact same curtains! Did you get those at Target?” I threw up in my mouth a little and decided to expand my horizons.
I entered Artéé Fabrics & Home one week- day morning after having claimed a parking spot on the street directly in front of the downtown Pawtucket store. (Artéé and I were getting off to a beautiful start.) Upon first glance, the rolls upon rolls of fabric appeared a bit intimidating; upon further inspection, however, they proved to be well-organized and meticulously hand-selected. I spotted General Manager Lori Rothemich at the back of the huge shop, buzzing this way and that, lugging giant rolls of fabric with ease. “I don’t need a gym membership with this job,” she joked, and went on to explain that a huge delivery had just come in.
Rothemich informed me that they were smack-dab in the middle of a 20 percent off sale, which applied to every fabric in the store. I immediately took it as a sign from the universe that the time was now for me to curtain my sunroom: I pictured its deep red walls, Persian carpet and vintage mustard chairs. I perused the racks, looking specifically for that particular room, while stopping to admire several fabrics I loved but which didn’t quite “go.” There were Ikats in all the colors of the rainbow, and leopard prints both subtle and bold. I traced my hand along the softest silks and the most delicate rhinestone-studded satins. Finally, I settled on two similar designs: both were thick cotton blends, one in a shade of off-white with chocolate brown details, the other crisp-white with charcoal embellishments.
As she’d politely left me alone to browse per my request, Rothemich returned quickly to my side when I was ready to discuss my chosen patterns. “One of the nice things here,” she said, while hoisting the off-white fabric roll from its saddle and placing it on an empty receptacle beside the white one, “is that we have the ability to compare anything side-by-side.” She pulled on each of the fabrics so that they hung down several feet; I took a step back and examined them as if they were hanging in my own home. “You don’t get this with fabric swatches,” she said with a smile. Indeed, Artéé Fabrics goes above and beyond the department stores offering custom window treatments, bed linens and pillows and extending to custom lighting and furniture upholstery.
On my way out, I stopped to admire a regal stripe in silk taffeta, and Rothemich nodded her head to indicate that she liked it too. “We have so many solid colors that stripe combinations are endless,” she said. “We can make them however someone wants, with diamonds, trim, embroidery – all the bells and whistles. We really cater to the customer, but without the big markup.” Many of her patrons are interior designers; they flock to the store, knowing great style when they see it. I’ll be back soon... I know great style when I see it, too.