We had our first hard frost last night, which means the gardening season is winding down. I just have to dig up my dahlias, colocasia, and cannas to store for the winter, rake up a ton of leaves, and — well, actually there are plenty of cold-weather chores, but once the temperature dips, my attention turns from all the things I should do in the garden to all the things I should do in the house.
Every autumn, I’m astonished at how many projects there are, left over from the previous winter. This year, though, I really mean to get at least three things done: have Roman shades made for my hubby’s study, get new curtains for the guest room, and reupholster a big, comfy wing chair in something cat proof. (Hope springs eternal.)
The astute will note that all these projects involve fabric, which means I get to browse in home fabric shops, one of my favorite browsing activities. Some people can shop for material online, but I like to know how it feels to the touch and to see how it drapes, and if it has some weird sheen or backing.
I have two favorite home fabric shops, both of them selling all sorts of top-quality materials at rock-bottom rates. At TWG in Middletown, you’ll find about 1,000 bolts in stock from big-name manufacturers ranging from Laura Ashley (if your taste runs to the demure) to Waverley for the traditional, to lush velvets and brocades that will delight your inner Liberace. They may not be the hottest, latest designs, but you can order those from the zillion sample books. The remnant room is a treat, too — I’ve made some lovely pillow covers from bargains I found there. They also make curtains, shades, swags and such, and do reupholstery. Sometimes the lady who answers the phone is in a bit of a tizz, but the young men who run the store are helpful and know their stuff. They’re also Orthodox, so the shop isn’t open on Friday afternoons or Saturdays.
Most of the fabrics in our home came from Decorator’s Fabric Outlet in Kingston. They carry about 500 bolts in stock, including Kravet, Robert Allen, and Lee Jofa, and just added Ralph Lauren to their line-up. If you don’t see what you’re after, there are sample books galore to order from. Owner Michael Chernick and his staff can help you, and there’s also an in-house designer who’ll come to your home to measure and offer ideas — free of charge. You can also get foam cut to size and furniture recovered. “Upholstery is most of our business,” Chernick says. “Draperies, slipcovers, pillows… ” Apparently, there are lots of people like me who just came indoors, looked around, and decided the nest needed a little tarting up: Chernick tells me the store gets super busy just before the holidays.