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Client Retention
01st October 2016



Yet another client that has been with Carved Wood Design from day one and has maintained a happy working relationship over many years. Carved Wood Design forms a highly personnel relationship with all clients and produces original bespoke designs of supreme quality. It's little wonder that clients come back year after year.

Below is a five star review left by the client on the Carved Wood Design google maps page.

Review posted on
Feb 8, 2016
We have commissioned several pieces of work over the years, including a fabulous farmhouse kitchen, an exquisite dresser, and more recently a divine utility kitchen. We continue to use Carved Wood Design because of the quality of workmanship, attention to detail, and the highly original unparalleled bespoke designs that are unlike anything else on the market.
Absolutely Original Kitchen Furniture
13th September 2016


On a recent project the client brief was to create an original bespoke kitchen unlike anything else on the market. Carved Wood design listened carefully to the clients wishes and produced a handmade bespoke kitchen of such technical virtuosity and sublime craftsmanship that it will always be the only one of its kind anywhere in the country.

Below is the five star review the client posted on the Carved Wood Design google maps page.

Review posted on
Jan 26, 2016
Carved Wood Design built our amazing kitchen in 2014/2015. We cannot speak highly enough of the level of service and quality of craftsmanship. Impressive right from the initial design stage to the final installation. The final result is completely bespoke and the envy of anyone who visits our house. If you want something totally unique that will last forever then look no further.
Cheshire Farmhouse Bespoke Kitchen.
12th September 2016



The client originally commissioned Carved Wood Design to create a handmade bespoke kitchen over twenty years ago in a delightful Cheshire farmhouse. As ever the cabinets were built to last a lifetime, so rather than having to go to the expense of a new kitchen after so many years the client commissioned Carved Wood Design to make certain additions and change the kitchen island in order to create a more contemporary feel. This was a cost effective alternative to a new kitchen but only possible because quality design never goes out of fashion.

Below is a five star review posted by the client on my google maps page upon completion of the project.


Review posted on
Jul 18, 2016
Gareth has been working with us on various projects in our property over a number of years. The latest works have involved the redesign of our kitchen. The kitchen was originally designed by Gareth some years ago and we have loved it. We wanted to freshen it up and modernise it slightly, but didn’t want to lose the features that we loved so much in his original creation. It was also important to us that it remained in keeping with the farmhouse property. We are absolutely delighted yet again with the result. The new parts blend seamlessly with the old and we have achieved exactly the end result that we hoped for. Would not hesitate to recommend Carved Wood Design Annice, Cheshire
The Russians Are Coming.
21st August 2016




A recent commission for Russian clients in West London involved listening carefully to the client about her perception of British culture as a child growing up in Russia, in order to build a highly personal bespoke kitchen design that would fulfill her exacting requirements.

She confided in me that as a child she never had her head out of a Dickens book and dreamed of dark deep rich interior woodwork and finely carved details. Unable to find this level of work in London she approached Carved Wood to design and make her dream handmade bespoke kitchen with all the idiosyncrasies of her childhood dreams.

Below is a copy of the five star review the client left on my google maps page upon completion of the project.

Anna Volosnik Rating Review posted on
May 6, 2016
Gareth from Carved Wood Design has built more than a genuinely bespoke kitchen which fits the space as a glove. He has restored our trust in British craftsmanship and work ethics after the worst experience we had with renovating our house in West London by Wild West London’s cowboys. Starting from his first visit to take measurements we’ve been enjoying his genuine and “wholesome” attitude to our project. Apart from an amazing kitchen, we received a wealth of advice from Gareth in putting the whole kitchen space together which was priceless given his remarkable taste and experience. He has a strong artistic vision of the space which can be trusted but he was also keen to meet our idiosyncratic aspirations when coming up with the versions of the design. Our design included his signature carvings which continue to amuse everyone. And we can appreciate the attention to detail and high quality inside-out using the cabinets day-to-day. It feels that we are sorted with a kitchen forever and this is the one which is going to age beautifully. In our experience, the work that you get from Carved Wood Design is simply an extinct species in London, as far as kitchens are concerned, so we feel extremely lucky to have discovered his website online. It’s someone’s hard work, genuinely artistic vision, perfected craftsmanship and goodwill materialized in our home which is not only “money well spent” but more than it can buy. A happy client from Richmond, West London















THE LAMENTABLE TRUTH ABOUT HANDMADE KITCHENS AND FURNITURE
07th January 2014




In the immortal words of Ab Lincoln - You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

These poignant words came to me whilst shopping last night. At every turn I was bombarded with handmade. Everything has suddenly become hand produced - hand cooked crisps, handmade soup, hand cut ham, handmade soap and finally and most laughable hand picked tomatoes. I ask you, is there any other way of picking a bloody tomato. It seemed paradoxical that some of the major retail outlets should be pushing the virtues of handmade, but of course its all about profit and people are happy to pay a premium for all things hand produced.

The connotation of integrity and honesty associated with the term handmade makes it highly desirable in marketing. Ironically the ubiquitous use of handmade has become the very antithesis of sincerity, the reality being that most products never see the human hand. Most companies are run by accountants and to make things by hand would seriously slow up production and dent the profit margin. Unfortunately there is no government standard, no method of verification, so consequentially most companies jump on the band wagon of handmade.

The handmade kitchen and furniture market is a prime example of this. O.K. perhaps the wood is carried from one machine to another but that doesn't make it handmade. The majority of kitchen brands profess to make handmade kitchens and most lie through their teeth, happily deceiving a gullible innocent public into the fallacious dream of incorruptible handmade integrity. Even most of the smaller bespoke kitchen and furniture making companies fail to tell the truth, singing the same old tune and that's inexcusable, in-fact its fraudulent. Its not surprising that most so called handmade kitchens look the same, from the major brands to the small producers, that's because its made the same way, on a machine. Unfortunately trading standards seem to be reluctant to get involved in the furniture industry, so the word handmade is used and abused on an industrial scale.

CARVED WOOD is different, it is truly UNPLUGGED. Everything is made by hand and it shows






I suppose the pertinent question is does it really matter if something is painstakingly made by hand or produced by technologically advanced machinery, after all they produce the same thing ? WRONG !!! The phrase chalk and cheese immediately springs to mind when comparing the two. When something is made by hand with feeling, love and emotion it embodies an unfathomable humanity, so, so lacking in its overly sanitized machine produced equivalent.

It should be quite easy for the viewer to spot the fakes, the real thing is very rare and if it doesn't look handmade then it probably isn't. Human beings perceive visual information not only on a conscious level but also in a subliminal way below the level of conscious awareness, its an intuitive thing, true handmade just looks right. For example, hand scraping the wood is very time consuming compared to sanding but allows the woods natural depth and beauty to show through, where as sanding compresses and brutalizes the wood making it look superficially flat. Hand draw knifing the moulds on the door sections gives a natural looking uneven line as opposed to its machined equivalent, a dead straight inorganic artificial line. Hand tooling the wood with a carving gouge on door panels and around relief carvings gives a beautiful natural glow to the wood rather than the usual flat looking machining techniques used by the majority of so called handmade furniture manufacturers. Although the viewer may be unaware of these subtleties they all add up to the sum total of the visual experience.

In a world full of Machiavellian tendencies its reassuring to know that deceit naturally reveals itself. YOU CANNOT FOOL ALL THE PEOPLE ALL THE TIME, especially when they're presented with the real thing.
















PLANNING A BESPOKE HANDMADE KITCHEN
13th June 2012




AVOIDING THE PITFALLS

1, A truly daunting task :-

It looks like information overload, the web is heaving with bespoke kitchen makers, almost like a virus, clinging, suffocating and overwelming the consumer with promises of integrity and a unique ability to save the planet if you buy one of their bespoke kitchens. On the face of it there seems to be so much choice, in reality the choice is very limited and the consumer has to sort the wheat from the chaff and there is an awful lot of it out there.


Ask simple questions; is the owner of the business qualified in furniture making? Are the individual craftsmen qualified to advanced City and Guilds standard? How long has the business been established? Most importantly, is the company flexible enough to produce highly individual work above its usual comfort zone?

2, Avoid The Lookalikes :-

In an age of unlimited choice with so many bespoke kitchen makers to choose from, it is amazing how everything looks the same from the major brands to the small producers.


This lack of imagination is driven by an overriding desire to maximise profit at the expense of providing a genuine bespoke service. Bespoke should be highly personal to the individual, not the same as everyone else. If you are happy with the 'run of the mill', why bother going down the bespoke road? Choose a modular manufacturer, it is cheaper that way.


A good bespoke kitchen furniture maker should be able to work with the architectural peculiarities of the property and design requirements of the client to produce something absolutely unique and personal.

3, Check Out The Claims Of Handmade :-

Is it really made by hand? In the majority of cases things are not actually handmade, but produced on sophisticated machinery. People have a nostalgic view of all things handmade, naturally assuming the product receives greater care and attention, that it embodies the human spirit, and is aesthetically superior, all of which is absolutely true.


Manufacturers understand this and know they can charge a premium for kitchens and furniture labeled handmade. Ask to see the workshop, if it is full of machinery you can safely assume your bespoke furniture will not be made by hand. If a bespoke kitchen company is deceitful at the point of presentation, tread very carefully.

4, Is It Truly Bespoke :-

Bespoke means tailor made to the exact client requirements to fit perfectly within the given space. Not a series of standard modular sized cabinets haphazardly placed in a pseudo attempt at bespoke design.

5, Is It Really Solid Wood. :-

In many cases the the fronts (doors and drawers) will be made from solid wood but the inside will be made from a wood veneered mdf, chipboard or particle board ( particle board is a euphemism for chipboard and is used by many of the top brand bespoke kitchen makers). Wood veneers can be very convincing until the cheque has cleared and the underlying mdf or chipboard starts to swell from an ingress of water. Ask if the carcass, backs of the cabinets and in particular the drawer bottoms are made from solid wood (preferably oak) if not then it is not a solid wood bespoke kitchen, just another imitation of the real thing.

6, In-Frame Design :-

All quality bespoke kitchens should be of in-frame construction. A mortice and tenon solid wood frame should surround all doors and drawer fronts. This is the strongest form of construction and adds greatly to the overall aesthetic.

7, Beware The Sharp Suits :-

When the Armani suit walks through the door with the nicer than nice helpful attitude, you can be sure of one thing, this guy will not be making your bespoke kitchen. He is part of the presentation package along with the BMW and flash high street showroom, and that is what you are paying for, not the actual product.


Choose a small company, the guy planning your dream bespoke kitchen should also be the individual responsible for making it. This way nothing is lost in interpretation and all of your expectations should be fulfilled. Another dead give away to the get rich quick brigade of salesman is the SHARP INTAKE OF BREATH when they are confronted with a particularly difficult aspect of the anticipated design. Beware this sign, it basically means big bucks.


A good designer will look on unusual problems as an opportunity to be creative.

8, The Correct Planning Process :-

The bespoke kitchen planner should be able to empathise fully with the client, understanding the special personal needs of the individual and the practical requirements in terms of appliances and cupboard space, along with the ergonomics associated with the correct positioning of appliances within the given space.


The clients experience with past kitchen design inadequacies can be a valuble source of knowledge in avoiding future annoying design problems. The aesthetic design considerations are just as important as the practical ones. The main viewing positions must be carefully considered in order to create maximum effect and drama within the given space. Ask questions and make the designer fully aware that you will not accept the ordinary, always insist on the extraordinary.

9, Receipt Of Drawings :-

In many cases the client doesn't understand the drawings but is too afraid of looking stupid to question the design. A good designer understands this point and will spend a great deal of time explaining the finest detail. It is the clients absolute right to question, reject and make changes to the submitted design. A good bespoke kitchen designer will always be happy to work with the client's exacting idiosyncrasies, irrespective of the extra work involved.

10, Beware the scams :-

Sign on the dotted line today for a 20% discount. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Everyone likes a bargain but the price is probably loaded in the first place. A genuine company will give a fair price and keep to it and will not use incentive techniques to clinch a sale.

11, The Decision to go ahead :-

If the design is excellent, the price fair and the decision to go ahead is made, the client should expect to pay a deposit of 1/3 of the total, plus a progress payment of 1/3 when the kitchen is nearing completion. The final 1/3 should be paid once the kitchen has been fitted and meets with the client's every expectation. Some companies expect 100% payment at the start of the project, AVOID THIS LIKE THE PLAGUE.


12, Quality Control And Attention To Detail :-

Quality control and attention to detail, or lack of it, can make or break the overall design impact of the bespoke kitchen. The logs should be carefully selected for figure and grain, with the most beautiful figured wood used in the most prominent positions of the kitchen design. This can be the difference between something looking handmade and bespoke or just manufactured. Look at their past work, do they go the extra mile?

Carved wood design do go the extra mile and it shows in every aspect of the work.

















The AGA and Bespoke Handmade Kitchens
17th April 2012



Timelessly beautiful, quintessentially English and built like a tank the AGA is quite simply the heart and soul of any kitchen. Its ability to heat the room as well as cook, roast and bake make it highly desirable not only in country kitchens but also in contemporary spaces. Its inability to cook Yorkshire puddings and souffles, (as I'm reminded about on a regular bases by so many techno head cooks) surely is a small price to pay for beauty.

At Carved Wood the aesthetic is king and nothing comes close to the visual impact of an AGA. The build quality and design philosophy of AGA also harmonizes perfectly with the Carved Wood principal - MADE TO LAST A LIFETIME WITH NO BUILT IN OBSOLESCENCE. Even today every AGA cooker is still manufactured by hand by skilled craftsman, thats why they look so good. Molten Iron is poured into casting moulds before every AGA cooker is given multiple coats of vitreous enamel paint. The process taking place over a three day period, a world apart from the process used by modern cooker manufacturers - a quick spray paint.





Its been around since the 1930s, master engineered to take care of itself for generations to come. Cherished as part of family life the world over, a true icon of design, offering uncompromising quality and relevance as an alternative in today's idiotic sanitized quick fix market. But its not energy efficient I here you say, unlike other technologically advanced cookers. Perhaps not, but the AGA is made to last a lifetime, unlike other cookers which will be replaced after only a few years for the latest all singing, all dancing, energy efficient abomination. The fact that most hi tech appliances finish up in land fill after a very short life due to built in obsolescence and a fashion conscious public is an inconvenient truth covered up by retailers pushing the green agenda in order to maximize profits.

Carved Wood have been designing handmade bespoke kitchens around AGAs for many years. Its a hand in glove situation, an absolute pleasure to work with, something that adds to the aesthetic rather than detracting. At Carved Wood everything is painstakingly made entirely by hand, so working with anything other than an AGA is always a visual compromise. Great effect can gained simply from the choice of colour. A recent bespoke kitchen commission by Carved Wood in a country house in The Ribble Valley involved the use of figured Sycamore (a strikingly beautiful pale ivory coloured wood) A black AGA was chosen, creating drama and giving a timeless classical ebony and ivory feel.

Cost needn't be an obstacle to owning an AGA, second hand, they can be picked up on Ebay for as little as a few hundred pounds, if they are bought privately, rather than through the rip off reconditioning merchants.

My own AGA is a 1950s cream model called "The Old Girl", perfect for a 16th century farm house. She came from the farmers guardian a few years ago for £500.00 and she'll still be around in another 50 years, just like every Carved Wood kitchen, made without compromise to last a lifetime.















DESIGNING FOR BANG & OLUFSEN
09th April 2012



Bang & Olufsen have a legendary reputation for design excellence, attention to detail and superb craftsmanship.

It was a great privilege for Carved Wood to be asked by Bang & Olufsen Wilmslow to design and create a T.V. cabinet for the new Beo Vision 12-65 T.V.

The client brief was to work with clean lines and come up with an understated design rather than my usual eccentric designs based on frenetic natural movement in nature. This was difficult, having an innate aversion for all things conventional, simple and clean. Restricting my imagination was like caging a wild animal, brutal and cruel but essential in the interest of pacifying the "less is more brigade". Compounding the design problems was a restriction on height, length and depth, whilst at the same time providing the necessary utility of DVD storage, blue ray player, sky box and beo system.

The part of the design that interested me the most on the Beo Vision 12-65 was the wave design of the speakers, beautifully simple based on a natural wave shape. This gave me something creative to work with, coming up with a breakfronted design incorporating two breakfront posts and two corner posts handcarved from Walnut in a wave shape to mirror the detail on the speakers (breakfronting is a technique used in furniture design to create better proportions by breaking the line of the cabinet with a step out ). In order to give a modernistic feel I chose a combination of Rippled Sycamore and Walnut, the rich chocolate brown colour of Walnut contrasting dramatically with the pale ivory colour of Rippled Sycamore, reflecting the T.V. screen design of simple black frame surrounding an illuminated lighter screen.





Rippled Sycamore was an ideal choice, the ripples so reminiscent of ripples in water, intensifying the Bang & Olufsen wave design of the speakers. Marron Emperador Marble seemed an appropriate choice for the top, looking almost like a fusion of the two wood colours of chocolate brown and ivory and the veins of the Marble harmonizing well with the ripple figure of the Sycamore. With the design nearing completion and the clean lines rhetoric still ringing in my ears, I felt I had to do something for the good of my soul, some indulgent gesture to make the minimalists puke. Of course! Sculptural handles, a naturalistic form, soft, gentle and feminine allowing the user intimate contact with the wood.

All is forgiven !!!















BESPOKE HANDMADE KITCHENS: FINDING THE REAL THING.
15th March 2012


Negotiating the minefield

In an age of information overload and the incessant demand for instant gratification, it is not surprising that consumers rarely search beyond the first page on the major search engines. Sadly, the first page of the search results for general terms such as handmade kitchens and bespoke kitchens tend to be full of companies specializing in how to appear on the first page, rather than experts in the field of bespoke handmade kitchen design. There are many despicable and fraudulent ways to appear high in the rankings, so the first page is not a good starting point. For generic searches, start at page at page 20 and work back. Alternatively use highly specific search terms; for example, 'beautiful bespoke kitchens uk' . This approach will throw up more specialized companies who's emphasis is on the quality of the product as opposed to search engine ranking.

Beware The Brands

People tend to trust brands, particularly during a recession, perhaps in the belief that they represent integrity, quality and a safe pair of hands. With bespoke handmade kitchen design this could not be further from the truth. Apart from paying for the presentation and not the product, the brands are simply not flexible enough to cope with individual idiosyncratic desires, preferring to sell a more rationalized product rather than offering a true bespoke service.

Small is beautiful in every sense of the word. Only a highly specialized small bespoke kitchen furniture making company can provide a personal service flexible enough to cope with every imaginable permutation within a bespoke concept.

Choosing The Right Bespoke Kitchen Company

Having trawled through the sea of mundane, prosaic lookalikes, you may have been lucky enough to find one or two companies specializing in highly individual handmade bespoke kitchen design. This is the most difficult and time consuming part of the whole project, but well worth the effort, in the long run it will save you a great deal of money and heartache.

Demand an original design, a true one off, the only one of its kind. This will test their true metal, a genuine company will look on this as an opportunity to be creative and relish the chance to come up with an original handmade bespoke design rather than selling you on the usual commercially produced nonsense. Look very closely at very aspect of the work, if its not made by hand and it looks similar to everything else on the market, simply walk away.

The Design

Designing to suit the architectural peculiarities of the property, along with considering the practical and emotional needs of the client is an absolute prerequisite to a successful bespoke kitchen design. Close liaison between the client and designer is imperative at the design stage. This fusion of practical client requirements and professional know how on the part of the designer is the hallmark of a true bespoke kitchen.

Always get involved at this stage, don't be shy, this is your dream.

Choice Of Wood

Always insist on wood from the U.K. or Northern Europe, the colours of which suit the light conditions of the U.K. perfectly, and you can also rest assured that it is from managed forestry. Avoid tropical wood, you can never be sure of the source.

The choice of wood used depends upon three factors :-

Type and age of building - For a 16TH century farm or manor house, English Oak would be the ideal choice. This would harmonize with, and reflect the structural elements within the building. For a Georgian or Victorian house a closer grained fruit wood could be used like Pear or Cherry giving a more sophisticated feel. For contemporary buildings Sycamore would be an ideal choice because of the pale colour and lack of discernible grain.

Available light - Dark woods like Walnut can create dramatic effects especially in open airy spaces with plenty of daylight but in small areas with low levels of daylight, always choose a light wood.

Client Preference - Always the most important consideration and eclipses all of the above.

Choice Of Worktop

Wood - The most beautiful and authentic of all work surfaces. Wood is naturally warm and has a timeless traditional quality, but never goes out of fashion. The ultimate wooden surface for the kitchen is Sycamore, used traditionally in milking parlours because of its sterile nature which prevents the proliferation of bacteria. Very close grained and hard, the Ivory colour reflecting light perfectly. Maple is a good cheaper alternative but Oak should never be used for kitchen worktops it is far too open grained.

Granite - The most robust of all work surfaces and far more practical than wood, particularly around the sink and cooking area. Dark Granites are great for adding drama but also absorb light so not so good for kitchens lacking natural daylight. Light Granites will reflect light, adding greatly to the light intensity of the room, so good for small kitchens. Available highly polished or honed. Polished granite has greater colour intensity, but honed Granite is more natural and subtle.

Marble - Far more beautiful than granite, although considerably softer. Only two marbles are suitable for kitchen worktops, pale Carrara Marble and the dramatic dark brown Marrone Imperial.

Man made composite worktops - Avoid at all costs. A beautiful handmade bespoke kitchen and a man made worktop go together about as well as strawberries and creosote.

Great Investment

Having suffered both the pre and post purchase trauma, you can now relax, your new handmade bespoke kitchen will add value to your home and should provide years of happiness.
















WINTER
06th February 2012




Flowers of ice
Hide the heavens
No more blue sky
A silver dust
Buries all the fields
And sinks the green mountains
Once the sun
Comes out on the one
Mountaintop
Even the cold
That pierces the bone
Is a joy

Muso Soseki (1275-1351)
SEEKING BEAUTY
31st October 2011

Cold winds can never freeze, nor thunder sour
The cup of cheer that beauty draws for me
Out of those Azure heavens and this green earth
I drink and drink, and thirst the more I see.

To see the dewdrops thrill the blades of grass,
Makes my whole body shake; for here's my choice
Of either sun or shade, and both are green
A chaffinch laughs in a melodious voice,

The banks are stormed by speedwell,that blue flower
So like a little heaven with one star out;
I see an amber lake of buttercups,
And Hawthorn thorns the hedges round about.

The old Oak tree now looks so green and young,
That even swallows peach a while and sing:
This is the time of year, so sweet and warm,
When bats wait not for stars ere they take wing.

As long as I love beauty I am young,
Am young or old as I love more or less;
When beauty is not heeded or seems stale,
My life's a cheat, let death end my distress.