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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: Luxury Bespoke Cotswold Kitchen

The 1950’s and 1960’s saw many unique and remarkable houses altered from being single dwellings into smaller multi-occupancy units. One such building, a beautiful manor house was purchased by our client near to Stow-on-the-Wold in the heart of the Cotswolds. His dream was to restore the whole building to its former glory, reconverting it into one dwelling but incorporating modern luxuries to make it a dream home for the 21st century.

Selected to bring the kitchen to life

Langstaff-Ellis were chosen to bring the kitchen to life, combining our knowledge of historic and modern design styles with high-quality cabinetry and craftsmanship to add a liveable yet stunning completeness to the project.

“The house itself is stunning and the restoration very sympathetic” explained Langstaff-Ellis MD Edward Birks

“We discussed with the client how to design a functional but elegant kitchen to work within the traditional vernacular of the house and therefore created a modern shaker design that allows the beauty of the cabinetry to complement the building’s own historic features.”

Beauty in the detail

The beauty of this kitchen is not just in the major pieces of furniture, the impressive island with slatted vegetable drawers or the generous larder, but in the hand-finished details exhibited by every cupboard and shelf.

For example the solid oak shelving and wrap around oak interior of the cupboards are finished to draw the eye to the natural texture and grain of the wood and with tactile curves that are made to be appreciated down the generations.

The oak continues with solid oak worktops, drawer fronts and spice rack and again the detailing catches the eye with unfinished brass hinges on all the doors, designed to age and naturally weather down the years.

Impressive kitchen island

Yet it is the island that dominates the room, floating above the stone floor and covered in one huge Quartz CRL Verona worktop. With a plethora of storage space, including the attractive handleless vegetable drawers, a large breakfast area and the downdraft Bora Hobb, the island is at the very heart of this relaxed kitchen.

Complementary high-end appliances

Simple high-end appliances were specified throughout the kitchen, and hence in addition to the Bora Hob, the basin boasts instant boiling water with a Quooker tap while the oven and refrigeration are Miele products throughout.

Simple, minimal, beautiful

The pleasure to be found in this seemingly simple design is in the quality of the cabinetry and the forethought that has gone into the small details.

As Ed says “The beauty is entirely in its simple minimal look.”

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Shaker Design, Classic Contemporary Elegance

There is something calming about Shaker furniture, the classic lines and expert cabinetry have a warmth that makes any kitchen feel like home. As a design style, Shaker has so much to offer the modern kitchen, but the history of the style actually stretches back to an American ascetic religious movement of the 19th Century.

The Shakers or United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing as they were correctly known had guiding principles of simplicity unity and honesty. Furniture was therefore created along lean minimalist lines, with no unnecessary embellishments, creating pieces that perfectly fulfilled function, form and proportion.

At a time when the predominant European design aesthetic was for heavy, dark, ornate furniture the Shaker style, particularly for furniture sold by the New Lebanon community from the 1860’s onwards, was embraced by homemakers in the New World.

One of the aspects that characterised Shaker furniture was the quality of craftsmanship with an emphasis on high-quality joinery, something that we emulate today with our modern Shaker interpretations.

The original furniture would be made in cherry, maple or pine and then painted in one of four prescribed colours, blue, green, red or yellow however as furniture makers in the 21st Century we have the leeway to take the original aesthetic and reimagine it with interpretations that work perfectly to create contemporary luxurious kitchens.

Just like the Shaker craftsmen, we also believe in exemplary craftsmanship, in creating functional but beautiful furniture that is built to last the test of time.

One of the keys to this quality is in the part of the furniture you don’t see. Shaker cabinetry is created using in-frame design, a type of cabinetry construction where the door of a cabinet is inset within a wooden frame and the frame is fixed onto the front face of the carcass giving it long-lasting strength.

The fundamental build quality of a Shaker kitchen, therefore derives from its in-frame woodwork, something that we apply rigorous quality checks to, and with the precision we apply to our cabinet making at Langstaff-Ellis the calibre of our craftsmanship would be recognisable to our 19th Century forbears. While they would certainly recognise the characteristic beaded doors, functional lines and traditional detailing in our designs we hope they’d also appreciate our subtle adaptations for contemporary homes.

Our modern Shaker interpretations provide contemporary luxury options, including EuroCave wine cabinets, Quooker boiling water taps, Fisher & Paykel appliances, Bora hobs, Aga ranges and Belfast sinks, and where the Shakers themselves insisted on wooden door and drawer pulls we can offer a variety of stylish handles such as Butler + Punch.

Finishes aren’t limited to primary colours either, in fact our modern Shaker kitchens can be painted in any colour you choose including fashionable greys and darker hues as well as stunning neutral tones to complement your home’s unique aesthetic.

The contemporary Shaker style is a perfect evolution of furniture design principles that have been passed on for generations and across continents. For interior designers and homeowners looking to create timeless elegance in their kitchen, or elsewhere in the home our bespoke Shaker designs with their high-end craftsmanship and luxury finishes create the perfect contemporary answer.

Finally, if you were wondering why the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing became know as the Shakers, it was because of their ecstatic dancing during services!

For more information about working with Langstaff Ellis to design a beautiful shaker kitchen for 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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Langstaff-Ellis Case Study: Laureate Gardens Henley-on-Thames

Prestigious development in the heart of Henley

Located in the heart of Henley-on-Thames Laureate Gardens is a prestige development of 34 homes aimed at over 55’s based around the Grade II listed workhouse dating from 1790.

This development comprises 3 historic buildings and a contemporary new build, each with their own design challenges for the developers, architect and kitchen designers. Fortunately, a harmonious collaboration has resulted in beautiful exteriors and interiors with 34 individually designed kitchens by Langstaff-Ellis.

“We were originally contacted to help develop the kitchen concept by the developer, Amber Infrastructure, to ensure style and materials would be appropriate for the heritage of the buildings. Once the preconstruction stages were completed we were asked to create unique designs for each kitchen in the development and, as some of the homes were sold off-plan, we later created fully customised designs for six of the buyers.” – Ed Birks, MD Langstaff-Ellis

Collaboration; bringing the architects vision to life

As the layout and interior of each home within the historic buildings is unique Langstaff-Ellis worked alongside Nick Baker Architects to create spaces that enhanced the heritage features while creating contemporary open plan living areas.

“For the historic buildings we based the designs around a shaker style in-frame product, while the new build apartments accommodate a minimalist modern design, taking into account the ergonomics of the spaces and the demographic of the residents.” – Ed Birks, MD Langstaff-Ellis

The contemporary kitchens in the new build known as Masefield House have been designed to fit in with the comfortable luxurious aesthetic of the apartments, comprising a modern uncluttered flat panel design utilising oak channels behind doors to allow easy opening. The whole space being softened by a freestanding island and solid wood detailing contrasting with minimalist marble surfaces a bora hob and integrated Siemens oven stack.

The three other buildings within the development all have historic provenance, Austin Mews, now a complex of three 2-bedroom cottages dates from 1886 and was originally the women’s infirmary for the town. Tennyson House is the Grade II listed Victorian schoolhouse from 1872 now comprising eight 2-bedroom apartments and finally Wordsworth Court also Grade II listed comprising 15 new houses was the town’s workhouse before ultimately becoming Townlands Hospital at the birth of the NHS.

Developers & kitchen designers working in harmony

Each building presented challenges for the kitchen designers with very high specifications demanded by the developers and each home having its own unique dimensions. However Amber’s faith in Langstaff-Ellis was rewarded with the instillation of over 30 different complete customised high-end kitchens, within budget and to a tight timescale.

“When you work with a contractor for the first time there is always a bit of trepidation, you hope you’ve made the right decision and that the supplier is up to the task. In the case of Langstaff-Ellis we were blown away by their professionalism and the quality of their work. Asking a business to design, make and install 34 different kitchens in a new development was always going to be challenging, but when it is in a development combining new build and heritage buildings the challenge is multiplied.

The team from Langstaff-Ellis completely exceeded our expectations with their ability to create a variety of high-spec designs, finished and installed to an extremely high standard, all within our exacting deadlines. We’ve developed a valuable relationship and are looking forward to working with them on future projects.” – Ben Tanner Amber Developments

Bespoke design features

The kitchens within Wordsworth Court, Tennyson House and Austin House are based on contemporary in-frame shaker style cabinets made using traditional methods but spray finished to bring them up-to-date.

Created to be liveable and used, the kitchens incorporate subtle under pelmet lighting, integrated fridge freezers, integrated waste systems, boiling water taps, oven stacks, spacious larder units and Bora down draught hobs in the islands. These are especially impressive as they remove the need for ugly extractor units and associated ducting.

As the project progressed Langstaff-Ellis worked with a number of the off-plan purchasers to create individual kitchens to their specifications, introducing new designs, materials, worktops and appliances to meet their preferences.

“One of the big pluses of the systems we use is that essentially we could build a product unique to the development. I’m not aware of many other cabinet makers who have that capability.” – Ed Birks, MD Langstaff-Ellis

Handcrafted interiors for individual clients

At this stage, many clients then asked the company to design and build a range of other cabinetry for rooms throughout the home, including dressing rooms, bedroom cabinets, home offices, utility rooms, a/v cabinets and boot cabinets to complete homes in a uniform style prior to moving in.

Langstaff-Ellis is uniquely placed to work with individual clients, developers and architects on projects such as Laureate Gardens. With modern CAD systems able to translate designs into precisely cut cabinetry completed by craftsmen, the company can quickly respond to differing needs while retaining quality, aesthetic and cost control.

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