Couple opens fabric and antique shop in Old Lyme
Old Lyme — Breathing a sigh of adoration, Rosemarie Padovano brushed her fingers against the animal-print pillow sitting atop the lolling chairs she'd reupholstered with periwinkle-blue fabric from Clarence House.
She fell in love with fabrics the first time she touched silk velvet.
Getting into interior design, and into fabrics, was a shift for Padovano and her husband, Marcello Marvelli: Her background is in sculpture, and his is in art history and art dealing.
"We came to interior design in a very organic way," she said. "It's not something I ever imagined for myself, but it's so deeply satisfying."
Last Saturday they opened Artemisia, a high-end, carefully curated shop of pillows, fabrics, antiques and paintings at 23 Lyme St., behind the Cooley Gallery.
"I love patina, I love things that show their age, and I love unique pieces, not just pieces that keep repeating," Marvelli said. Padovano said they're interested in selling items a person could have for a lifetime, and then pass onto his or her kids.
Her penchant for quality, and her view of Artemisia as a "destination shop" people come to with a purpose, is reflected in the prices.
Save the bars of soap made from a collaboration with the Hebron-based Wholly Goat Farm, leather-and-cowhide catchalls that go for $30 each, and the ability to accommodate a variety of requests for fabric by the yard, the items at Artemisia are not for those on a budget.
A fruitwood fauteuil armchair is marked at $2,500, and pillows are in $200 to $400 range. The paintings — by Fendry Ekel, Juliana Romano and Skyler Brickley — range from about $5,000 to $12,000.
Padovano recalls that on one of their first dates, Marvelli took her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and said, "You know how to tell a good painting? If it's a good painting you're going to want to lick the surface."
Marvelli is also a sailor, and some of the items for sale reflect this interest. A 19th-century English telescope, a chart magnifying glass and Venetian glass sit in an 18th-century bibliotheque.
Padovano and Marvelli travel a lot, getting antiques and fabrics from places as varied as Italy, Maine, New Jersey and Uzbekistan.
Padovano also goes back to New York City once or twice a week; her interior design projects include The Beresford apartment building on Central Park West and a townhouse in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Marvelli grew up in Florence, Italy. His undergrad studies were in literature and economics while he got his PhD in byzantine and renaissance art at the University of Florence, where he also taught.
"I got tired of academia, and I wanted to try something new," Marvelli said. He intended to come for a few months but stayed for 20 years, during which time he ran an art gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan. That's where he met Padovano.
She grew up in New Jersey, studied at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan and got her master's in sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University. She met Marvelli seven years ago, when she had a sculpture in his gallery.
After sailing up and down the Connecticut River in their small sailboat, they had a vision to move from New York City to the country, get a puppy and open a shop, Padovano said.
"We decided to move to the country, and we decided to bring all of our experiences of the past together," Marvelli said.
They're restoring the 1755 house they purchased a year ago on Sill Lane, a property with gardens designed by Frederick Olmsted.
Between the new town, the new home, and a new store with a new focus, Padovano said, "I kind of feel like in some ways my life really started now."
Where: 23 Lyme St., Old Lyme
Owners: Rosemarie Padovano and Marcello Marvelli
Hours: Thursday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment (917-797-7644)
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