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.