Shopping: Linen and Then Some In Great Barrington
By Dale Stewart
“Linen is the best fabric out there, not just because of the crisp, clean look it provides, but because it also keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer,” William Caligari says while showing the simple detail in a $600 sheet set by Libeco. “It’s soft, but it’s incredibly durable and versatile. I can use it as a wall covering, as drapery, and on a bed.”
Caligari is standing in his four-month-old storefront, Linen, the latest addition to the family’s Kennedy-like empire of all things home, with a corner on the Berkshires decorating needs. Brothers Jeffrey and William Caligari oversee a dizzying list of businesses that pepper the region: Both Great Barrington’s E. Caligari & Son, started by their great grandfather, and Caligari Hardware in Lenox, opened by their father in the 1950’s, supply the region with paint, wallpaper, upholstery, carpet, tile, and window treatments. Caligari Sanitary Supply and Taylor Rental loan out various necessities from wedding tents to moving trucks to landscaping machinery.
But it’s the youngest son, William, who added high-end to the family arsenal. “There are seven businesses in the family; it seems like we open a new business every ten years,” he says half-jokingly, “And it’s all about the long-term relationships we’ve made that we’re the most proud of. We’ve been working with Canyon Ranch for the past twenty years through William Caligari Interiors and the Drapery Workroom.”
William Caligari needs to become an expert in everything he takes on; he studied Interior Design at The New York School of Interior Design in Manhattan before re-joining the family business and adding William Caligari Designs. Prior to opening The Drapery Workroom in 2009, he attended the Custom Home Furnishing Academy in North Carolina, where he developed a deeper knowledge of fabric and how to use that information to manufacture draperies, bedding, and table linens. The Workroom handles a variety of projects, from hotel guest rooms and custom designs for his high-end residential work, to custom and semi-custom draperies, window treatments, pillows, bedding, table linens, and other fabric products. Linen also provides a professional ironing/pressing service, custom alterations, and monogramming.
Linen provides a little slice of ABC Carpet and Home in the Berkshires, with nearly a dozen brands, each one Caligari considers top of the line, such as towels from The White House ($75 & up); the Belgian line Libeco ($125 & up); the gold standard in linen, Eastern Accents; hard-to-find brands like Huddleston (coverlets, $250 & up); and local favorites Traditions, and Legacy Linens. Linen’s back wall serves as an idea board Caligari uses to showcase past and present design projects. It’s not uncommon to see an idea for a client end up in the store as pillows, custom headboards and ottomans, or cocktail napkins.
Caligari keeps tight-lipped about his clientele list, but has received much praise for his ongoing relationship with Canyon Ranch (both the Tucson and Lenox locations, as well as personal homes of the founders) and the recently completed a Crane AP 2.0 project for the Technical Materials division of Crane and Co. headquarters in Dalton, MA. He will say that shortly after opening Linen, former First Lady Laura Bush, with a friend and several secret service men, swooped into the 600-square-foot space and snatched up 40 white on white La Gallina Matta ($27) oil clothed linen place mats after seeing them on a table at a dinner party the night before. “We sent them out to the Crawford Ranch.”
An equestraian and avid athlete with a passion for bicycle racing, Caligari seems to never rest, saying, “I’d love more hours in the day.” He did manage to take a brief break to get married this past August and go to Vermont for stage races. His retail nod to his love of sports is a Libeco bicycle jersey in short and long sleeve versions. ($50 & up.)
Caligari hesitates to discuss his yet-to-be-launched home line. “I have a line that I haven’t branded yet, but I’m not in a hurry to do anymore expanding any time soon.” But there is a feeling that it won’t be waiting in the wings for long.
105 Main Street
Great Barrington, MA
Wednesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.