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Leading the field in English interiors

A premium interiors company in the heart of the Chiltern Hills are the epitome of high-quality design and furniture making. Driven by a desire to create unique interiors for every client this blog explores the motivation behind Langstaff-Ellis, a very English company.

“We’re perched on top of a steep hill overlooking the Chilterns, there’s nowhere else in the world that looks like this, it is I suppose quintessentially English” so says Alex Langstaff-Ellis standing outside the factory and design studio his eponymous company has occupied since 2016.

The Chilterns are probably one of England’s most unexplored but beautiful regions, a 450 square mile expanse of rolling hills and characteristic beech woodland to the north of London, stretching from Hitchin in the east to Goring-on-Thames in the west, it is in many ways the ideal location for a premium English interiors company.

“Every morning as I drive up the hill, through the woods from Chinnor I appreciate the beauty of my surroundings,” says Alex “the way the light and the leaves change with the seasons is stunning, especially during Autumn when the experience of seeing the golden leaves all around is spectacular.”

Clearly Alex is a champion for the unique woodlands of the area, and it is that appreciation of the beauty of wood that informs both the customer service and English design aesthetic that pervades the interiors and stunning cabinetry created at Langstaff-Ellis.

“I like to think what sets us apart isn’t just our attention to detail, let’s face it every company will tell you that, but it’s the attitude we have towards the furniture we produce and towards our clients. I guess it’s that old fashioned sense of wanting to provide a perfect service, where the customer is happy at every step, but with the reassurance that we can back it up with knowledge, resources and skills as furniture makers.”

I suppose you could compare us to a bespoke Savile Row tailor. You don’t go there for the every day, but for something special, something unique perfectly suited to your needs, where you have design, material and colour options, and you know whatever gets made for you is created by experts and will fit perfectly”

Sitting in the design studio, the warm smell of cut wood pervading the atmosphere as the bustling workshop below goes about its highly skilled business, Alex warms to his theme,

“Think about classic British cars, Aston Martin or Bentley for example, even now they’re not showy, they’re understated but have an extraordinary elegance and build quality. We’re doing the same here in the Chilterns providing timeless understated elegance with extraordinary build quality, but in our case for homes.”

The quality of Langstaff-Ellis’s interiors is self-evident when you look at some of their recent projects, from the stunning modernist walnut cabinetry for a huge kitchen in Harpsden to the understated simplicity of the dressing and boot rooms for a manor house renovation in Stow-on-the-Wold.  That same elegance and extraordinary build quality can be seen throughout the Langstaff-Ellis portfolio.

Ed Birks the MD at Langstaff-Ellis and the man who guides the design and build process is equally proud of the classic English qualities of the businesses premium home interiors.

“We’ve evolved over the last few years,” he explains “as a young business we had to learn exactly what would set us apart from the artisan cabinet makers and kitchen companies. Where we are now is a completely different place, working at a fundamental level with clients, architects and interior designers to create unique home interiors.” Emphasising the point Ed goes on, “We’re there to fulfil a complete aesthetic vision for a home’s interior. That is why you now see our furniture in bedrooms, dressing rooms, bathrooms, lounges, dining rooms and utility rooms, alongside the kitchens.”

Our understanding of design brings a thematic unity throughout the home, in some ways you could say we’ve taken the idea of the traditional English country house as a model but crucially we’ve ditched the tired chintz and stiff formality, replacing it with modern design, finishes and materials to create a particular aesthetic.”

Supporting Langstaff-Ellis’s design vision is an impressive investment in both people and technology. As Alex will be the first to tell you, precision cutting and finishing machinery help to create much higher quality furniture with a build quality that is unachievable by hand alone.

“Even though we have nothing but admiration for traditional craftsmen, we realised early on that modern tools and techniques aligned to traditional skills allows us to deliver a much better product for our clients.”

For example, designs from the studio can be fed directly into our cutting machines, giving us precise control, without the inevitable variations even the best craftsmen create with hand tools. It’s one of the reasons why luxury developments use us, they know we’ll create beautiful precision furniture for every single home.”

Which isn’t to say the business doesn’t have superb craftsmen, in fact, the team in the workshop boast some impressive credentials from prestigious English furniture schools, including the renowned Rycotewood Furniture College just down the road in Oxford.

“It’s important for us to support locally trained people, we’re part of the community,” explains Ed, “but it’s not just altruism, having a workshop team who are skilled furniture makers in their own right, combined with the tech we use gives us the ability to create and deliver complex cutting-edge designs that both look impressive in the home and will stand the test of time.”

It’s a rewarding experience visiting the Langstaff-Ellis design studio and factory. The business has a refreshing openness and willingness to adopt the best of the new, in terms of technology, but combining it with old fashioned English values of customer service and understated design, along the way creating a stunning design aesthetic all of their own.

Unashamedly at the premium end of the market, Langstaff-Ells fully justify their reputation as one of England’s leading contemporary interior makers.

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Langstaff-Ellis Case Study: Creating Luxury from Adversity

Accidents befall all of us, they even happen to our houses and when they strike restoring or improving on what came before becomes a matter of urgency. In the case of our client in the picturesque riverside town of Marlow in Buckinghamshire an unprecedented flood led to the ruination of the whole ground floor of the house, necessitating extensive repairs.

But out of adversity comes opportunity, and our client saw that they could remodel their kitchen and create a warm comfortable space that would provide all the luxuries that the previous kitchen lacked.

Bespoke design for a liveable home

Understanding the urgency of the issue, to make the house a liveable home once more, we moved quickly to design and build luxury bespoke furniture, complementing the cabinetry with high-end appliances that would make the kitchen the heart of the restored home.

“Being flooded is a horrible experience but our client did something special and grasped the opportunity to upgrade their ruined kitchen. We felt it was our responsibility to get the kitchen completed for them as soon as we could so the house could start feeling like a home once more. Within the client’s guidelines we were able to create a luxurious kitchen that combines effortless chic with practical functionality to be the warm heart of the home” Ed Birks Langstaff-Ellis

Traditional, elegant Shaker luxury

To stay in keeping with the traditional style of the house our designer delivered a classic Shaker kitchen, accompanied by luxury touches.

Finished in a warming Farrow & Ball Charleston Grey, impressively precise ceiling height cabinets completed with finely detailed Armac Martin Quizlet knobs and pulls create a sense of comfort and familiarity as soon as you enter the room.

The elegance of the cabinets and drawers extends internally, where walnut shelving and detailing provide a tactile and attractive solidity. Within the knife drawer for example, the internal tailoring has been finely crafted to accommodate each blade, while the beautifully realised dovetails are a reminder of the high standards of craftsmanship our client’s receive.

In the cabinets, wine glasses sit on specially made shelves while the larder units boast beautiful shelving inside the doors to accommodate oils, spices, bottles and jars

Adding to the comfort of the room we installed a classic AGA hob that projects homeliness and a deep traditional Belfast sink beneath the windows overlooking the mature garden. The sink conceals cleverly integrated waste and a state-of-the-art Qooker Flex boiling water tap.

CRC Carrara Quartz worksurfaces throughout the kitchen reflect the shining white porcelain of the sink.

Practical and impressive high-end appliances

Hidden behind a larder unit door is a huge American style Fisher & Paykel refrigerator. Fisher & Paykel create impressively engineered kitchen appliances designed to keep fresh food at their optimum preservation temperatures, and while we would normally showcase the smart design in this instance it was important to preserve the symmetrical shapes of the kitchen.

Enhancing the symmetry, we ensured practical and fun elements were neatly reflected, hence sitting adjacent to the refrigerator on one side is an impressive Eurocave wine cabinet and on the other, next to the larder cabinet is a Miele stack.

The full height Eurocave wine cabinet can hold up to 60 bottles at ideal drinking temperatures and makes a fun forthright statement about the purpose of the kitchen. The Miele stack on the other hand, comprising microwave and coffee machine, is all about touch of the button practicality, the simple straight lines of the units complementing the style of the cabinets.

Extending the design into the dining room

The kitchen is an impressive room in its own right but flowing from it is a dining room where we were asked to create furniture that continued the themes and colour palette, but would also provide the room with its own focus and energy.

Occupying one whole wall we created a full-height storage and display unit that cleverly conceals an elegant cocktail cabinet and at its heart a unique bespoke wine rack.

The walnut cabinet includes pocket doors that open and slide away while in use but can easily be closed to hide its contents during the day. Internal sensors control discreet lighting within the cabinet that refracts through the glassware creating a magical glow.

The whole unit has plentiful storage including beautifully finished dovetailed walnut drawer boxes.

The bespoke wine rack in walnut is a masterful piece of design and cabinet making. Large enough to store over 80 bottles but a perfect piece of furniture even when empty, the unique design is both convenient and elegant providing a talking point for guests where they can ponder the appropriate Vintage for dinner.

A winning design that brings the house back to life

“This was such a satisfying project for the designers and craftsmen at Langstaff-Ellis. Helping our client to reimagine their home after the flood and to fast-track the project through has been challenging but incredibly worthwhile. Seeing the house brought back to life and knowing we were able to contribute furniture that will stand the test of time is a huge reward for all of us.” Ed Birks Langstaff-Ellis

For further information about creating a luxurious and elegant kitchen or dining room contact Langstaff-Ellis using the details below.

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Langstaff-Ellis Case Study: Home Cabinetry Henley-on-Thames

We know Langstaff-Ellis enjoys a great reputation for designing and building amazing kitchens, but many of our clients use our cabinetry skills to transform other parts of their homes. A recent project at a new development in Henley-on-Thames took in two home offices, a dressing room, bookcase/AV cabinet plus kitchen.

The development at Laureate Gardens on the site of the Victorian era workhouse takes in old and new buildings; Langstaff-Ellis have designed and built unique kitchens for all 34 homes. A number of the new owners have been so impressed by the quality of work in the kitchens they have commissioned the company to create bespoke interiors in other rooms.

In their new home in the Wordsworth building of the development our client recognised that working from home is now a fact of life. Therefore we were asked to design two separate offices, one to be fitted into a bedroom space and the other in a walk-in cupboard.

The apartment in the Victorian building has been sympathetically designed but because it is in an older building has very little uniformity in its walls, which meant we had to undertake a lot of complex 3D surveying in order to, get the precision in the designs we require.

In the larger office the main feature is a striking bookcase with spacious storage cupboards fitted beneath the antique beams of the end wall. The bookcase constructed from solid oak dovetail boxes is finished in a bold Royal Navy Blue from the Little Green Paint Company and a clear satin lacquer with industrial style handles from Buster + Punch.

In the same style the bespoke desk with side return fits cleverly into a corner, maximising the use of space. For extra comfort and a touch of luxury the solid oak worktop has a tactile Forbo linoleum inlay, making it a comfortable setting for all those Zoom calls.

The office in the smaller space was in many ways a more complicated piece of design and construction due to the constraints of the room. The Rock Maple doors, frames and full height cabinets with ovolo molding are finished in a light colour to generate a feeling of space, while the cabinets and shelving maximise storage space.

“What the photos don’t tell you is just how complicated this project was from a logistical point of view. Everything for both offices had to be carefully transported up two flights of stairs and constructed on site, however we’re really pleased with the results, they work perfectly in terms of form and function and most importantly as practical spaces for our client.” Ed Birks MD Langstaff-Ellis

Adjacent to the master bedroom the developer had left a blank space designed to be a walk-in wardrobe. Our client could see the potential and asked us to design a dressing room with spaces for his and her clothing and shoes.

To maximise the potential of the space we designed full height cabinets in a wood grain laminate, with a combination of push to open drawers and contrasting half and full height hanging spaces. To complete the dressing room we integrated lighting into the hanging rails and made life easier for our clients with pull-out trouser racks.

In the living room, we designed and built a full-height classical style bookcase and AV cabinet with hidden recesses for cabling, integrated lighting, and reflecting our client’s interests, specific shelving for their DVD collection.

Langstaff-Ellis had already built the kitchen in our client’s home but on moving-in they had some specific requirements. Therefore to complement the existing units we designed a bespoke sideboard cabinet and bar. Comprising dovetail drawer boxes for storage with a small Caple wine fridge and a beautifully executed oak wine rack, completed by a Carrara marble worktop the unit is a simple elegant solution that enhances the kitchen as a comfortable living space.

For Langstaff-Ellis the project has been incredibly rewarding but what we most enjoy is the satisfaction of our clients.

“We discussed our requirements for cabinetry with Langstaff-Ellis staff on site, and they then produced detailed design proposals within a short time. Their proposals were attractive and innovative and demonstrated that they had listened carefully to our requirements. They also responded rapidly to tweaks before producing the mutually agreed final designs and quotations. The company then provided a detailed timeline for the construction, delivery, and installation of the cabinetry. They duly delivered and installed all the items on time.

We are absolutely delighted with the quality and aesthetics of the cabinetry…Our overall impression of the company is that the staff were a delight to work with, and were very polite and thoroughly professional throughout the project.” Mr & Mrs M Henley-on-Thames

For more information about working with Langstaff Ellis to design a perfect kitchen or integrate our designs into your home please contact Langstaff-Ellis using the details below.

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A Day In The Life: Matt Crisp Workshop Supervisor

Having trained at the renowned Rycotewood Furniture College in Oxford and with experience gained at joinery and bespoke furniture makers, Matt joined Langstaff-Ellis in 2016, becoming Workshop Supervisor shortly afterwards.

8am: The whole team arrives early and we have a meeting first thing. As supervisor, I plan the schedule and allocate jobs. We normally have 3-4 projects on the go at any one time so the team have a good idea of what they are doing and where we are in any particular project, but it’s important for me to ensure we are running to schedule and that any questions raised are dealt with efficiently so we maintain our high standards at all times.

The morning meeting is an important part of our day, it’s not just about what we have to achieve that day but also our chance to discuss technical challenges and helps create a real team bond.

If we have a new project this is our chance to discuss the logistics, challenges and deadlines. What is lovely about making bespoke furniture is that no two jobs are the same so there is always something new to challenge our skills and get us thinking.

For example, I remember one of my early jobs at Langsatff-Ellis when we had to create some beautifully curved cabinets for a kitchen island. It took a lot of thinking and technical creativity beforehand to achieve the result the designers were asking for, but we were all so proud of the end result.

Since we’ve been all back in the workshop after lockdown the meetings are socially distanced which means a bit of shouting across the workshop at times but it all helps to create a bond between us and a real family atmosphere.

10am: I spend the morning going around each workbench to make sure everyone is happy and resolving any problems before getting back to my own bench.

I still enjoy the hands-on process of making a piece of furniture more than anything else, it gives me a real buzz to work with my hands creating something completely bespoke. These days I’m probably only hands-on 40% of the time but it always reminds me of why I love what I do.

We have a break at 10am for a cup of tea, which is always a good chance to have a chat and review what we’re all doing.

1pm: I enjoy the post tea break hours, it’s a really good chance to get my head down and concentrate on the work at hand. Right now I’m in the middle of making a whole library, it’s incredibly satisfying work and I know it will look stunning once its completed. These few hours always fly by for me but probably provide the biggest sense of achievement.

If we’re working on a big project such as the fabulous one we recently completed at Laureate Gardens in Henley there’ll be a real buzz in the workshop as we all apply ourselves to meet the deadline on time. I enjoy the sounds and smells of a busy workshop and couldn’t imagine sitting in an office!

Because we’re based in the middle of the countryside in the hills above Chinnor there aren’t many options for lunch so we’ll bring something in and sit at our benches. But again it’s a good opportunity to review progress and if necessary adjust the workflow to ensure the afternoon runs smoothly. There’s always some fun too and because my brother is now part of the team there’s quite a lot of humour in the workshop.

3pm: As the afternoon rolls on I like to check the progress of all the projects. We’re really proud of the quality of our furniture in the workshop so I’ll make sure everything is finished to the highest standard before it is wrapped ready for delivery to site.

Fortunately, I work with a great team of craftsmen and often my quality checks are more about admiring the excellence of the work than criticising it. It’s always a pleasure though when I can tick off a quality check on the system and pass a piece for delivery to site.

Unfortunately, I don’t get out to as many jobs to install the furniture now as I used to due to my role in the workshop, but when I do get on site it still gives me a real thrill to see the smiles on the faces of clients as they see the completed furniture in situ for the first time.

4pm: Towards the end of the day I check the progress of the work at every workbench to make sure we’re on track and to help plan the workflow for the following day.

This also tends to be the time when we’re loading vans ready for delivery the next day, and as a lot of our pieces are pretty large and sometimes quite heavy we have all hands on deck – the last thing we want to do is damage something so it’s important to be extra cautious and treat our work as precious cargo.

The last task I have each day is to make sure the whole workshop and every workstation is clean and tidy with tools put away and dust and shavings swept up. If the workshop is neat and tidy it’s so much easier to start the following day.

If it’s a Friday we finish at 4 o’clock, which is a really great way to start the weekend, otherwise we’re in the workshop until five. Often there’ll be some planning to do at the end of the day and I’ll have discussions with the designers, all of which puts us in a good place to start efficiently the following morning.

Everyone in the workshop is really proud of what we do, it’s such a satisfying job seeing something you’ve created as a team take shape. Knowing your contribution is valued both within the company and by the clients is really rewarding.

5pm: Once I’ve left for the day I’ll go out and enjoy the local woods and hills on my mountain bike if the weather is good, or I’ll do some work on the classic VW Golf I’m restoring, all of which clears my mind and helps prepare me for the following day creating high-quality bespoke furniture back in the workshop.

For more information about creating bespoke furniture for your home please contact Langstaff-Ellis using the details below. 

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Top Ten Considerations When Creating A Home Bar

The finest contemporary homes are being created to accommodate an enjoyable variety of rooms that enhance the pleasures of entertaining. From capacious dining areas to the modern audio-visual room creating spaces for welcoming friends are our stock in trade, but the trend we are enjoying more than any other is the welcome return of the Home Bar.

We’ve worked on numerous Home Bars and have a sound idea of the elements you should consider when creating one; this then is our guide to the ten major considerations for creating your perfect Home Bar.

1. Style

In many ways the Home Bar is all about style, alongside a reflection of the owners’ unique taste. It’s a place that conjures a convivial mood for enjoying cocktails, aperitifs, parties, after dinner drinks or even a well chosen cigar. So it’s worth considering how you’re going to use the bar and what mood you want to convey.

If you’re like us you’ll want somewhere snug and comfortable, we’re big fans of wood paneling, discreet lighting, an impressive drinks cabinet and comfortable but striking furniture. Think of the classic American bars, amongst our favourites are the Campbell at Grand Central in New York with its huge marble bar-top, and Melbourne’s Everleigh with its clubby sophisticated interior.

If you prefer something more funky and modern consider seamless lines, interesting shapes and influences of gleaming wood and chrome. We love the Dog & Badger in Medmenham, Buckinghamshire with its sleek mahogany and cedar bar evoking the sweeping lines of a classic Riva Launch from the Italian lakes.

2. Lighting

No one likes walking into a halogen bright bar; bad lighting is the biggest mood killer any bar can have. So it’s really important that you install integrated mood lighting.

Discreet lighting throughout the bar can create an intimate atmosphere, perfect for relaxing. We’d recommend hidden lighting within the cabinets and storage spaces. Soft lighting picking out reflections and shadows in glassware helps create a mood while subtle lights can be integrated into any piece of bar furniture but look especially good glowing from within the bar top itself.

3. Finishes & Work Surfaces

We get especially excited about working on a bar because the combinations for different finishes and work surfaces are endless. We’ve already mentioned how fabulous mahogany can look as does walnut, but think of the possibilities for creating something truly individual with the bar-top. Wanting a classic Zinc bar is understandable but there are so many other finishes to make your bar unique such as copper, polished concrete, slate or cherry.

It’s fun to contrast the finished bar itself with oak surfaces for shelving while the cabinetry favours discreet smoky shades.

4. Furniture

In a bar you need to be comfortable and if you’re creating your own space you can be expressive too. If you’ve ever wanted to create your own perfect bar stool this is your opportunity. Depending on the size of your Home Bar you could also have a few tall or low bar tables with comfortable bucket seats or leather armchairs, created especially for the space.

The fun part is thinking about the upholstery, for example we came across a bar in Madrid where every stool was covered with beautiful cowhide, though personally we like to be more subtle favouring rich fabrics and antique leather.

5. Mirrors

Mirrors always look good in a bar, they give the room a feeling of space but can also be used to enhance the ambiance. They can be used in clever ways such as behind the shelving where glassware is displayed or in cocktail cabinets enhancing the soft lighting within, but large mirrors can also be a feature on their own.

Amongst our favourites to use when creating a bar are antiqued or smoked mirrors that create a feeling of luxury, giving the whole room a discreet impression of space.

6. Storage

Every home bar needs ample storage, which is where creative cabinetry plays such an important role. Think about everything that needs to live in the bar; spirits, beers, wines and mixers; cocktail making equipment, sharp knives, ice buckets and chopping boards; glassware that can serve everything from a Martini to a Craft Beer; and even books containing your favourite cocktail recipes. You also want the cabinets and shelves to look great but be functional too.

Our recommendation is to never underestimate the storage you’ll need, but make sure the units are fantastic pieces of furniture with wonderful dovetails, subtle pocket doors that can slide away and discreet lighting. Think too about the ironwork; handles need to complement the style of the bar, which is why we love the industrial styles of Buster & Punch.

7. Wine & Beer Fridges

Every home bar needs refrigeration; wine, beer and mixers need to be kept cold, as do garnishes for cocktails, so a good fridge is an essential investment. And we’ve always thought Vodka straight from the freezer is always much better too! Don’t forget you’ll also need copious amounts of ice so a fridge that can deliver straight into an ice bucket is also worth considering.

No one likes the distraction of a humming appliance so consider low noise level options, we recommend Gaggenau at the luxury end of the market, but if you’re after an efficient workhorse Fisher & Paykel can’t be beaten.

8. Wine Storage

A specific wine fridge is a brilliant addition to any Home Bar and can also be an interesting focal point. Modern wine fridges are not just for whites either, multizone fridges are available from companies such as Eurocave to keep red and white at different temperatures with capacities from as small as two bottles up to 100+.

Many Home Bars combine a wine fridge with an elegant wine storage and display unit, that can be handcrafted to accommodate as many bottles as you need.

9. Sinks & Ice Troughs

All the best bars have a lot of sink capacity, not just for washing up but for storage too. One of our favourite bespoke items to create is an ice trough, which can be filled with ice to keep beers and spirits suitably chilled.

You should also consider hot and cold water options. The latest innovation from Quooker, the CUBE combines their existing boiling/cold tap with a Sparkling water option to deliver filtered chilled sparkling water straight from the tap.

10. Dishwasher

Perhaps the most practical part of your Home Bar is the dishwasher. Someone has to clean up at the end of the day, but there’s no reason why you can’t have something stylish that integrates well into the overall design of the bar to do the hard work, which is why we recommend Fisher & Paykel Dishdrawers. Each discreet Dishdrawer is a self contained dishwasher but they can be configured in stacked units if extra capacity is needed.

Everything in your Home Bar should be elegant and stylish right down to the dishwasher!

For more information about creating the ideal Home Bar please contact Langstaff-Ellis using the details below.