I’ve never been to the Big & Tall shop, at the corner of Post Road and Turkey Hill.
But when Tom Roth invited me to his new store next door, I couldn’t resist. Who needs pants in size 80 waist, or a shirt with a 26 1/2-inch neck, when you can wander over to Montage?
The name — a combination of modern and vintage — is as clever as the store itself. Montage is filled with home furnishings, period lighting, original art and jewelry by local artists.
Each piece is vintage — from mid-century modern and Art Deco to mod — and has been restored to its original condition, in a Norwalk studio.
Tom (the owner of Norwalk’s Weathervane Hill, a fabrics and furniture store) and his creative partner Robin Babbin (whose background is in graphic and textile design) have created the perfect antidote to the same ol’/same ol’ places — you know, stores with furniture that looks fantastic, until you get it home. And realize not only is it not special, but you could have bought it anywhere.
Tom and Robin — longtime Westporters who travel the world looking for unique stuff — sell unique pieces. Each one has a story — and they tell those stories to customers.
So, says Tom, in addition to home furnishings, Montage sells “conversation and history.”
Plus, it’s green: Every piece has been recycled.
There’s a sofa from an IBM factory in the 1950s. A pair of 1940s Deco club chairs. Slipper chairs from the ’60s.
Montage is heavy with “Mad Men”-style bar carts, cocktail tables and the like. Tom and Robin like the designs from that era — and so do customers.
Tom relishes “the hunt. Robin and I are always looking for new and interesting pieces,” he says. Once they find something, the next challenge is remodeling or refinishing it, to “make it wonderful.”
He points with pride to a rosewood table. “It’s better than new!” Tom says.
“We love finding things with good bones,” Robin adds. “Those are the pieces we can bring to life.”
Customers include interior designers, and homeowners looking to update. Like Montage pieces, each customer has a story to tell — what she’s looking for as she redecorates, and why. Tom, Robin and interior decorator Heidi Lyme listen closely.
Everything is sold on approval. “If you can fit it in your car, take it home and try it out!” Tom says.
From the outside, Montage looks like a small store. Inside, there’s more room than you think — and more furniture, lighting and artwork than you’d ever imagine.
Each is unique, and special. And Tom, Robin and Heidi can’t wait to tell you the story behind every single piece.