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7th May 2019

Elle Decoration's 30th Anniversary edition feature with BarrJoinery founder Stuart Barr

This months Elle Decoration celebrates 30 years of stylish advice and inspiration from one of the leading interior design magazines in the country. For this anniversary edition, we were honoured to be chosen as one of their top five best bespoke joinery companies. 

Our Founder and Director, Stuart Barr, took some time out to discuss with Elle Decoration how to make the most of bespoke storage and the process we go through to design and make specialist cabinetry.

What should someone think of when commissioning a piece of built-in joinery for storage (whether that's a shoe rack in the hallway, shelving for the television/audio equipment or bookshelves, etc?

To be honest the earlier in the process a client contacts us the better. They need to consider the visual, functional and ergonomic requirements of the space and having an expert eye in the early stages, even if it is just to ask the right questions.

What is the typical process for bespoke joinery?

Most commissions from new clients start with a tentative enquiry. Once the interior designer understands that our joinery workshop can make (and design) pretty much anything, they can relax and let the BarrJoinery team make the ‘made-to-measure ‘ magic happen! Interior designers, design houses and clients who have used BarrJoinery services before tend to be the really brave ones and that's when we can really have some fun! When the commission comes from a designer, the team will convert creative etchings into production drawings - and if a design service is required the process will start with a briefing meeting - where the BarrJoinery designer will assess the space and get a full understanding of the clients visual and functional requirements.

What are the benefits of bespoke joinery like this (ie optimising space)?

The obvious benefits are of course maximising storage and functionality. Joinery pieces can be really clever… bespoke implement trays (carved out for specific pieces)… hidden breakfast stations, secret ironing cupboards and concealed home offices. We have some fabulous examples. It tends to be that the smaller the space, the more innovative the solutions. Recently we built an understairs coat cupboard and used a slideout coat rail for accessibility. On a much larger scale Wallingford Farmhouse, a whole house of carefully designed cabinetry and joinery, where upholstered joinery featured strongly and where the boot-room is designed to house riding equipment as well as everyday coats and hats. We find that the eaves of vaulted ceilings offer amazing storage potential which can be beautifully maximised by made to measure joinery solutions. Likewise, mesh fronted cabinets are on trend and are great for offering air-circulation whilst screening contents (e.g. AV units).


Any rules when it comes to timber type/finishes?

Really the key is to try to focus on the vision rather than the constraints - it is amazing what is possible. Bringing in other specialists - such as metalworkers, upholsterers and stonemasons has helped us create some fabulously individual commissions. BarrJoinery is lucky to be a part of the Barr Group - with the StuartBarr CDR construction teams on hand to work with us where required. In terms of timber choice, the world is our oyster. Sustainable sourcing is really important and also looking at any additional requirements. A great example is using cedar for wardrobe internals due to the timbers the natural moth deterrent properties, as seen below.

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