The first ever The Country Life Bespoke Bible Country Life names Britain's top bespoke craftspeople, extraordinary practitioners from joiners and stonemasons to furniture-makers and metalworkers.
With the growing recognition among a new generation that handmade interiors offer a whole raft of benefits, from longevity and distinctive good looks to tailored design and perfect functionality, Country Life has gathered together no fewer than 71 leading practitioners in a range of different fields, from specialist joiners and stonemasons to furniture-makers and metalworkers.
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- Decorative artists
- Architectural stonework
- Orangeries & timber framed buildings
- Stone & ceramic
- Paint & plasterwork
- Rugs & carpets
Looking for something a little different? The companies and people from the Country Life Top 100 will also be worth If you’re starting a project from scratch, our list of the best country house architects will be indispensable, our list of best builders and craftspeople will help if you already have plans drawn; if it’s the inside that needs a revamp then our list of best interior designers and decorators is what you need; while for outdoor spaces, take a look at our list of best garden designers and landscapers.
As a specialist decorative painter, Lucinda Oakes can turn her talented hand to intricate and fanciful murals, screens, decorative panels, wallpapers and chimney boards. Much of her work is inspired by 18th-century art and shows the influence of her father, decorative artist George Oakes, who spent three decades working at the interior decoration firm Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler.
Combining skills as a decorative painter and interior designer, Amy Balfour undertakes commissions for heirloom products, from boxes and mirrors to chairs and larger pieces of furniture. She also paints interior spaces, such as doors and window frames, taking inspiration from Charleston Farmhouse in East Sussex and the work of the Bloomsbury Group, plus antique textiles and traditional folk art.
If a shell grotto is on your wish list, Linda Fenwick is the artist to know. She and her team combine native and exotic shells to create intricate motifs, undertaking large- and small-scale projects, such as mirrors and lanterns, to commission.
This family-owned company is known for bespoke, top-quality British stone flooring, paving and architectural detailing, all crafted at the firm’s workshop in Somerset. From Bath limestone, York sandstone, Welsh Blue Pennant and Snowdonia slate to Purbeck stone from its own quarry in Dorset, the company offers a complete service from sourcing stone to finished product.
01935 847333; www.artoriusfaber.com
Cast-stone products, made in Northamptonshire, are the focus of this company, which has been operating for about 50 years. In addition to a broad range of standard architectural stonework, from window dressings to balustrading, it also offers bespoke products to individual specifications, plus garden and landscaping items.
01604 770711; www.haddonstone.com
Clive Christian Furniture Co
Long known for opulent kitchens, this company is now under new ownership: British entrepreneur David Dare has taken off where founder Clive Christian left off. Its latest launch is an outdoor kitchen inspired by super-yacht design and a new — and equally luxurious — indoor collection is expected soon. All the furniture is made in Farnworth, Lancashire.
01204 702200; www.clivechristianfurniture.com
Bespoke kitchens with an innovative twist and patented features are the order of the day at this firm, founded three years ago by architects George Gardner and Peter Foulk. Each project is designed and made to order in its Hampshire workshop using predominantly solid timber from responsible sources, with a new collection of furniture pieces now available. Sister brand The Modern British Kitchen Company was launched earlier this year, producing custom designs with a contemporary edge.
01329 283123; www.elk-kitchens.com
A protégé of the late, great furniture-maker Mark Wilkinson, Nick Anderson has an impressive understanding of how to design kitchens and furniture for period houses and make them suitable for modern lifestyles — and keen cooks (Mary Berry is a fan). His firm is based in Wiltshire, where all the furniture is made, and each kitchen is ‘100% bespoke and 100% personal’.
01747 820449; www.guildandersonfurniture.co.uk
Mark Wilkinson Furniture
This company continues to create individual and hand-crafted kitchens in the tradition of its much-admired founder, the late Mark Wilkinson, who set up the brand in 1981. With an emphasis on fine timbers and elegant detail, there are six current collections, with each kitchen still made to order in Wiltshire.
01380 850007; www.mwf.com
An iconic name in the interiors world, Neptune offers a kitchen-design service with four collections, which can be painted in any of its 28 colours, plus a bespoke service from its Wiltshire workshop, with units custom-made to fit any space, however awkward. Furniture, from dressers to wardrobes, can be painted in your choice from the paint collection.
01793 934011; www.neptune.com
Celebrating the centuries-old tradition of Florentine metalworking, family-owned Officine Gullo creates professional-style range cookers, cooking appliances and tailormade luxury kitchens in Italy. Each kitchen is fully customisable in composition, size, colour and finish.
020–7036 1632; www.officinegullo.com
Since 1992, this much imitated kitchen maker has championed a pared-back aesthetic in kitchens, inspired by Georgian joinery. Bespoke kitchens, sculleries and pantries are made in its Suffolk workshop, using paint colours similar to those used in Georgian, Victorian and Regency English country houses, bearing fitting names, such as Milky Tea and Boiled Dishcloth.
020–7486 2674; www.plainenglishdesign.co.uk
Tracing its roots back to 1978, this company blazed a trail in the hand-painted kitchen market. Now, it combines classic collections with contemporary, luxurious offerings for an international audience, as well as furniture for other spaces, including wine rooms, dressing rooms, study and media rooms. All furniture is made to order in its Wiltshire workshop.
020–7589 5998; www.smallbone.co.uk
Tom Howley is design director for the bespoke kitchen company he founded in 2004 and which is now part of BHID Group, with all furniture made in Glossop, Derbyshire. There are now 18 showrooms nationwide, showcasing a consistent approach to well-balanced and elegant cabinetry with smart detailing.
0845 646 0690; www.tomhowley.co.uk
Established in 1937 by Charles Percival Hart, there’s little this retailer doesn’t know about the world of luxury bathrooms. Expect expert advice and bespoke design services at its 15 showrooms, including at the impressive — and atmospheric — flagship store underneath the Victorian railway arches at London’s Waterloo.
0345 600 1950; www.cphart.co.uk
Catchpole & Rye
Known for its immaculately crafted cast-iron baths forged in Kent, this esteemed company offers an in-house service to deliver a wide range of custom products, now also including traditionally styled showers, washstands, taps and heated towel rails.
01233 840840; www.catchpoleandrye.com
Since its beginnings in 1988, Drummonds has succeeded in making traditional designs relevant to the 21st century, working with A-list designers from Martin Brudnizki to Susie Atkinson on inspirational designs. It offers expertly crafted cast-iron baths, brass fittings and china sanitaryware, made in its three factories, with a range of bespoke services and finishes available.
020–7376 4499; www.drummonds-uk.com
Specialising in classic British bathroom designs spanning authentic, period-style ranges from 1900 through Art Deco to 1950 and beyond, Lefroy Brooks offers hand-cast and forged taps in finishes of your choice, as well as luxury chinaware, baths and marble vanity consoles.
01992 708316; uk.lefroybrooks.com
It’s two centuries since Samuel Heath’s Birmingham foundry began operating and it continues to produce solid brassware today, including traditional and contemporary bathroom accessories, taps, showers and door and window furniture of top quality, with an impressive range of finishes to create custom looks.
0121–766 4200; www.samuel-heath.com
The Water Monopoly
Justin Homewood set up his business on a Sussex pig farm 30 years ago, selling antique baths, basins and loos. Now, The Water Monopoly is based in London and enjoys a leading reputation for the quality of its antique stock, restoration skills and new in-house designs, inspired by original finds and made in the UK.
020–7624 2636; www.thewatermonopoly.com
West One Bathrooms
Dedicated to luxury bathrooms, this family-owned retailer has a 40-year history and a top-notch reputation. Each of its eight showrooms across London and the South-East has a designer with access to an extensive product choice, including exclusive and bespoke ranges.
0333 011 3333; www.westonebathrooms.com
Established nearly 20 years ago, William Holland is known for traditionally crafted copper baths inspired by French antique bateau designs. The company also offers a range of tubs in different metals and finishes, plus basins and kitchen sinks, as well as designing and making one-off luxury baths.
01305 251930; www.williamholland.com
Founded nearly 40 years ago as a dealer and restorer of antique English fireplaces, the company is still run by managing director Paul Chesney. The business has expanded to become a leader in contemporary, historic and bespoke designs, plus antique pieces, as well as wood-burning stoves and gas, electric and ethanol fires, and even a range of luxury outdoor heating and cooking solutions.
020–7627 1410; www.chesneys.co.uk
Expect a covetable collection of reproduction and antique chimneypieces at Jamb’s quietly elegant showroom on London’s Pimlico Road, SW1, on display with grates and accessories, lighting and furniture. Drawing from its extensive archive of antique designs, the company offers custom-made fireplaces in a range of fine marbles and English limestones.
020–7730 2122; www.jamb.co.uk
Owen Pacey’s unerring eye for the unusual and special has earned his Shoreditch-based company a strong reputation as a treasure trove of original and reproduction fireplaces, fur-niture and lighting. Bespoke, restoration and fitting services are all available.
020–7251 8844; www.renaissancelondon.com
Specialising in luxury outdoor furniture, this company draws on more than 25 years of experience to design and manufacture oak and chestnut tables, seating, benches and outdoor kitchens from its Hampshire base. Bespoke services allow you to create a site-specific piece for your garden.
01420 588444; www.gazeburvill.com
Known for fine classical furniture and mirrors, Jonathan Sainsbury draws on four generations of experience in antiques and fine art to create individual pieces, from an entire interior scheme to a one-off mirror, alongside the Jonathan Sainsbury Collection of more than 300 designs from the 18th and 19th centuries.
01258 857573; www.jonathan-sainsbury.com
Widely admired for his distinctive furniture and lighting designs, which blend a contemporary aesthetic with a classic and mid-century sensibility, Julian Chichester also offers custom and bespoke services to help you create a personal piece for your project.
020–7622 2928; www.julianchichester.com
Founded by furniture designer David Linley, now Earl Snowdon, in 1985, this luxury gifts and furniture company offers a full bespoke service for furniture and accessories, adopting a collaborative approach to your project.
020–7730 7300; www.davidlinley.com
Maker & Son
As a grandson of design luminary Sir Terence Conran, Felix Conran plans to carry on the tradition of pioneering products for the home. Joining forces with his father, cabinetmaker and furniture designer Alex Willcock, the range of luxuriously comfortable sofas, chairs and beds — including custom designs — are made from natural and sustainable materials. This autumn, the company will be branching out into the world of lighting.
0800 024 6100; www.makerandson.com
Founder Rupert Bevan began his career as a gilder and restorer, using his expertise to develop a bespoke interiors company renowned for its expert and artistic use of materials and finishes. Distinctive furniture and mirrors are created to commission, from scratch.
020–7731 1919; www.rupertbevan.com
A leading champion of British craftsmanship, founder Lulu Lytle and her team collaborate with saddlers, blacksmiths, cabinetmakers and upholsterers — as well as employing the company’s own rattan-weaving workshop — to produce custom-made furniture, lighting and fabrics with a natural elegance and playful touch. Individual commissions are also undertaken.
020–7730 6400; www.soane.co.uk
Founded by Bruce Hodgson in 1992, this joinery specialist has an enviable reputation for craftsmanship, design and a deep understanding of period joinery and architecture. As well as kitchens, it also increasingly creates a wide range of exquisite interior joinery, from libraries and wine cellars to gun rooms and boot rooms.
01934 745270; www.artichoke-ltd.com
Distinctive Country Furniture
Bespoke period joinery and furniture, from wainscot chairs to oak staircases, are the speciality of this company, which was founded in 2001 and is still run by Brian Purnell from his workshop in Somerset. All the work is traditionally made by a team of experienced craftsmen, with Mr Purnell himself particularly expert in 16th- and 17th- century-style interiors.
01935 825800; www.distinctivecountryfurniture.co.uk
For some 40 years, this firm has been crafting top-notch period-style furniture and architectural joinery — from oak doors to panelling, libraries to staircases — with a bespoke service available. The company has particular expertise in authentic 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century interiors.
01935 826659; www.stuartinteriors.com
Made-to-measure beds have long been the speciality of this company: The Savoir No 2 was originally created for The Savoy Hotel in 1905. Beds are still made to individual specification today, with a ‘wildest-dreams’ service also available.
020–8838 4838; www.savoirbeds.com
Known for luxuriously comfortable mattresses, handmade to order using individual calico pocket springs in its Plymouth workshop, Vispring was founded in 1901. Today, it can make its mattresses to distinct sizes and shapes, useful if you have an antique bedstead requiring cut-out corners or an extra-wide or extra-long bed.
01752 366311; www.vispring.com
Wrought Iron & Brass Bed Co
Based on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, the venerable Wrought Iron & Brass Bed Co is a Royal Warrant holder and member of The Guild of Master Craftsmen for its classic iron, brass and nickel beds. Each bed is handmade to order in its own workshop, with bespoke service available.
01485 542516; www.wroughtironandbrassbed.co.uk
In its two showrooms, opposite each other on Chelsea’s King’s Road, expect to find an excellent selection of 19th- and 20th- century-inspired English, French and American lighting, plus antique lamps, door furniture and alabaster dish lights. Lights can be custom sized and designed in tiered configurations of your choice; the company also accepts commissions to create entirely new designs.
020–7736 8490; www.charlesedwards.com
Sculptors Chris and Nicola Cox create exceptional lighting and furniture from their London atelier. Pieces are often inspired by the flow and structure of natural design and employ a fine range of traditional and modern craft skills, with custom versions and bespoke designs available.
020–3328 9506; www.coxlondon.com
Hector and Emma Finch run a company known for its smart and expertly made lighting. Having started off as a dealer in antique lights, the company has evolved to offer its own collection of classic, mid-century inspired and pared back contemporary designs, with custom options on selected ranges.
020–7731 8886; www.hectorfinch.com
Also listed here under fireplaces, Jamb’s quietly elegant showroom on London’s Pimlico Road has a beautiful range of lighting and furniture.
020–7730 2122; www.jamb.co.uk
Established in 1988, this company is celebrated for its sophisticated, inspiring — and often quirky — lighting and furniture designs and focus on British craftsmanship. Pieces can be tailored to suit your individual requirements, from changing sizes and finishes to fully bespoke creations.
01420 23005; www.portaromana.com
A longstanding ability to create elegant and contemporary products inspired by antique design has enabled Michael and Lucy Vaughan to develop a 38-year-old business known for the quiet luxury of its decorative lighting, textiles and furniture. Products, including an impressive variety of lampshades and modular chandeliers and lanterns to custom measurements, are designed in Vaughan’s studio and made or finished in its Hampshire factory.
020–7349 4600; www.vaughandesigns.com
Orangeries & timber framed buildings
Marston & Langinger by Alitex
When well-established greenhouse manufacturer Alitex acquired Marston & Langinger six years ago, lovers of elegant conservatories and garden rooms breathed a sigh of relief. Now, the brands combine design and engineering strengths to offer large, bespoke glass structures in timeless aluminium.
01730 826900; www.marstonandlanginger.com
Founded nearly 35 years ago by a team experienced in the repair of traditional timber buildings who transferred their knowledge to crafting new structures, this employee-owned business now specialises in an impressive range of oak-frame houses and garden rooms, as well as extensions, cabins and barns.
01803 732900; www.carpenteroak.com
This Berkshire-based company holds a Royal Warrant for its bespoke exterior timberwork. Expect a start-to-finish service for garden buildings, stables and indoor arenas to a simple oak swing or an outdoor oak bar.
0118–989 3576; www.creativetimberwork.co.uk
The team members call themselves ‘engineers in wood’, such is the focus on elegant, timber-frame house extensions, including conservatories, orangeries and garden rooms, all manufactured in Somerset.
01278 764444; www.davidsalisbury.com
English Heritage Buildings
More than 30 years of producing oak-frame buildings have given this company a well-earned reputation for its garages, extensions and leisure buildings — from an orangery to a pool house and a pergola for an outdoor kitchen. It offers a ‘dream home’ turnkey service.
01424 315274; www.ehbp.com
Known for bespoke oak-frame buildings, this company designs and constructs whole houses — including the UK’s first oak-frame home with Passivhaus certification in 2017 — as well as garages, annexes and extensions, including orangeries and conservatories, all using sustainably sourced green oak.
01432 353353; www.oakwrights.co.uk
Specialising in the design and manufacture of oak-frame structures from garden rooms, oran- geries and home offices to garages, annexes, stables and barns, this family-run business will move into a new, larger and purpose-built factory in early 2022. As part of a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, the new facility will incorporate a biomass heating system and solar panels.
01384 296611; www.primeoak.co.uk
Vale Garden Houses
This family-owned company has been designing and building traditional bespoke conservatories, orangeries and rooflights for 40 years. Each structure is made in its Grantham factories in Lincolnshire, using Vale’s own roof system, which combines timber and aluminium. Design, pattern-making, joinery, glass installation, metalwork, powder-coating and painting are all handled in house.
01476 564433; www.valegardenhouses.co.uk
Westbury Garden Rooms
Custom, classic, glazed and timber buildings are on offer from this family business, founded in 1988 by Jonathan Hey. Orangeries, conservatories, garden rooms, kitchen extensions and pool houses are designed, planned and manufactured in house.
01245 326500; www.westburygardenrooms.com
Winterborne Zelston Fencing
Expert in traditional cleft fencing and handmade gates and stiles, made from responsibly sourced coppiced timber from English woodlands, the company is also known for its bespoke garden buildings, bothies, boathouses, bridges and chicken houses.
01929 459245; www.winterbornezelstonfencing.co.uk
Stone & ceramic
Also listed above for their architectural stonework, this family-owned company in Somerset is known for its bespoke, top-quality British stone flooring, paving and architectural detailing. Among the many types of stone on offer is Purbeck stone sourced from its own quarry in Dorset — a company that offers a complete service from sourcing stone to finished product.
01935 847333; www.artoriusfaber.com
It was 1843 when the 2nd Earl of Burlington laid the foundations of this company, still run by his family, to quarry the stones found in the fells near his home, Holker Hall in Cumbria. The range includes naturally beau-tiful blue-grey Kirkby stone, distinctive blue and green slates, and limestones, available to order for flooring and all kinds of interior and exterior uses.
01229 889661; www.burlingtonstone.co.uk
Craven Dunnill Jackfield
Many consider this the place to come for traditionally styled, decorative tiles. Founded in 1872, the firm continues to operate the oldest surviving purpose-built tile factory in the world from its base in Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire, combining modern and traditional production techniques to manufacture bespoke wall, floor, decorative art and faience ceramics.
01952 884124; www.cdjackfield.com
From its enormous showroom in Knaresborough, near Harro-gate in North Yorkshire, Lapicida has established itself as a market leader in the supply of luxury floor tiles and surfaces, offering an extensive range of new and antique natural stones, ceramics and porcelains. Its custom service allows clients to realise their own designs in everything from statues to baths.
01423 400100; www.lapicida.com
One of the largest suppliers of natural-stone, porcelain, ceramic, patterned and outdoor tiles in the UK, this company is headquartered in Monmouth and now has more than a dozen showrooms, stretching from Exeter in the south to Wilmslow in the north. It also offers cut-to-order slab materials, which can be used to fabricate vanities, bath surrounds, worktops and other bespoke pieces.
01600 715444; www.mandarinstone.com
A specialist in natural-stone and porcelain stone-effect floor tiles, this family-run enterprise has been offering expertise on all matters limestone, marble and travertine related since 1995. There are two showrooms, with a third opening shortly, and bespoke stonework is available.
01509 416557; www.mystonefloor.com
Paint & plasterwork
Locker & Riley
Decorative plaster mouldings, coving and cornice are the focus of this 40-year-old specialist, which uses the skills of its master craftsmen to restore heritage fixtures and create fine new pieces.
01245 322022; www.lockerandriley.com
Rose of Jericho
Known for the manufacture and supply of traditional paints and lime mortars, there is little that this Dorset-based team doesn’t know about the materials used in the conservation, repair and decoration of traditional and historic buildings. The firm can also advise on and provide materials tailored to the needs of individual projects.
01935 83676; www.roseofjericho.co.uk
Stevensons of Norwich
Specialising in the design, manufacture, restoration and installation of plasterwork, Stevesons of Norwich has an international reputation for its work, tackling complete plaster ceilings to finely crafted details. Stevensons also offers a bespoke design and moulding service.
01603 400824; www.stevensons-of-norwich.co.uk
Rugs & carpets
Founded in 1783 when William Brinton opened his first mill in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, today, Brintons is The Queen’s supplier of carpets and continues to manufacture woven designs, including plain Wilton and patterned Axminster. Through its commercial arm, it offers a fully bespoke service for larger residential properties, all the way up to castles and, recently, Kensington Palace.
01562 635665; www.brintons.net
Luke Irwin offers a collection of hand-knotted rugs, including many inspired by the natural world, and a new range made with organic vegetable dyes. Rugs are all made to order, with choices to be made regarding size, colour, weave, textile and design.
020–7730 6070; www.lukeirwin.com
From its showrooms in south London, SW8, and Notting Hill, W2, Sinclair Till supplies a choice selection of flooring, including custom carpets, hand-knotted rugs and linoleum. The company’s new showroom on Pimlico Road, SW1, will open soon.
020–7720 0031; www.sinclairtill.co.uk
The Rug Company
Modern rugs made using traditional methods are the focus at this company, founded by Christopher and Suzanne Sharp in 1997. Choose from an extensive array of rugs, including those by Paul Smith, Kelly Wearstler and Tim Gosling, which can be tailored to suit your requirements, or opt for the Bespoke Service to create a completely new piece.
020–3369 3912; www.therugcompany.com
Having worked with antique carpets at Sotheby’s, Veedon Fleece founder Adam Gilchrist says he was only too aware of the quality required to create rugs that would last for generations. The result is a collection of distinctive designs, hand-knotted in the company’s workshops in Nepal.
01483 575758; www.veedonfleece.com
Architectural Bronze Casements
Sister company to Vale Garden Houses, this firm supplies and installs windows, doors, screens and secondary glazing, from its factory in Lincolnshire. Products are made to order in Architectural Bronze, a high-tensile, durable alloy that develops a pleasing patina over time.
01476 249494; www.bronzecasements.com
The London Crown Glass Company
Passionate about restoring and repairing historic buildings using authentic materials, Christopher Salmond set up his company in 1991 to supply conservation glass where replacement is necessary, including hand-blown and period-style window glass.
01491 413227; www.londoncrownglass.com
‘Almost anything imagined can be made,’ says the team at this door-furniture and architectural-ironmongery specialist. Each piece is handmade in its foundry in Hastings and the firm, which was founded by J. D. Beardmore in 1860, also offers The Beardmore Collection of authentic period and contemporary designs.
020–7351 5444; www.beardmore.co.uk
Luxury metal hardware, lighting and furniture, handcrafted in its foundry on the South Coast, are the speciality of Collier Webb, which was founded by the late Cedric Collier some 40 years ago and is now run by the second and third generation of his family. A bespoke service is available.
020–7373 8888; www.collierwebb.com
This designer and manufacturer of bespoke staircases and balustrades works nationally and internationally from its Yorkshire base, thanks to its reputation for distinctive work in a range of materials (BISCA is an acronym of Brass, Iron, Steel, Copper and Aluminium).
01439 771702; www.bisca.co.uk
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