After owning a successful linen store in Westport for a dozen years, Carlin van Noppen started thinking about opening another one.
By Robin Jovanovich
After owning a successful linen store in Westport for a dozen years, Carlin van Noppen started thinking about opening another one. She scouted out locations in Greenwich but didn’t find a space that suited her plan; this summer, when she learned that a prime spot on Purchase Street (the former Learning Express) would be available, she grabbed it.
“There is something special about Rye,” she said in an interview in her new shop this week. “The tree-lined downtown, old buildings and lots of new restaurants to explore.”
Fig, which opened in Rye the last week in September, is a many-layered and splendid addition to town. They carry a range of bedding from John Robshaw to Matouk to Yves Delorme. And expect the unexpected, as the shop also sells everything from vintage furniture to p.j. harlow lounging pajamas, which they can’t keep in stock, to bath towels, to throw pillows to bundles of firewood.
“You never know what you’re going to find here,” she said with a smile.
What’s in a store name? “I knew I wanted to carry goods imported from Italy,” said van Noppen, “and when I learned that so many early Italian immigrants brought their fig trees with them, because they were among their most prized possession, I knew what to name my store.”
While van Noppen started off life as an English Literature major, she always had an interest in textiles and design. That interest is on beautiful display in the Rye store — on the well-made beds, the way the double-faced Alicia Adams alpaca throw is draped over a bench, the combination of colors most of us would never have imagined putting together that work!
When the subject turns to “pillow talk,” she has lots of advice. “One king pillow is all you need on a twin bed, because it fits exactly.” “A mix of pillows is what you want on a queen or king bed, and it’s nice if the décor flows in a minimalist way.”
Among her favorite things in the shop are: the 1,000-count sateen sheets by Sferra for winter warmth; monogrammed towels; the crispness of Matouk’s Lowell bedding; the handsome blue velvet chair that invites customers to have a seat and talk about what’s missing in their linen closet; and the silver and gold knit napkin rings that will dress up your table long after the holidays.
Fig has already attracted a number of clients in need of design services and, starting soon, the shop will customize headboards and sell a wide range of furniture.
While you can’t entirely take the Southern girl out of van Noppen, who grew up in North Carolina and Virginia and earned her undergraduate degree from University of Virginia, after 14 years of living in Connecticut, she says she’s a New Englander now.
Juggling two shops and two teen-agers isn’t always easy, but you can always find her at the Rye shop Tuesdays and Thursdays. Never on Fridays, however, “because I-95 is a nightmare and I can’t take the train from Fairfield because there is a six-year wait for a commuter parking permit.”