When Richard Miller took over Halstock, the Dorset-based furniture and woodwork firm, in 2005, it was still making £50 chopping boards alongside £50,000 kitchens.
He took stock and decided to focus on the company’s speciality, pairing some of the most skilled cabinet-makers, veneerers, finishers and fitters in the country with leading industry specialists, to entice customers requiring bespoke gun and media rooms, timber wine cellars and, of course, kitchens. Holland & Holland now advises on Halstock gun rooms, Berry Bros & Rudd on wine cellars, Ideaworks on audio-visual/software solutions and Grand Cuisine on kitchens.
The resulting change in approach means that today, Halstock’s projects range from £60,000 to £1.5m (although a rather nifty free-standing chess and backgammon table was commissioned recently for about £4,000, second picture, created by operations director Roger Evans, who was trained as a cabinet-maker by John Makepeace). And the projects produced by the 50-strong team are impressive indeed.
A recent kitchen features a curved solid and engineered elm island, plus matching solid American black-walnut units with Qstone worktops – the seemingly implausible design of the entire kitchen being possible thanks to CAD technologies and CNC machine cutting.
A wine cellar of Welsh slate and French oak (first picture) commissioned for a central-London client features soft-close drawers and convex timber drawer linings, plus details such as bespoke index-card drawer handles that document each wine. A rash of on-trend dressing rooms include carbon fibre, olive wood, shagreen and mother-of-pearl finishes.
Years of working to individual briefings mean the team has systems in place that reduce the headaches that often occur during commissioning processes. A sliding pricing scale is based on specification, so that it can be reduced or increased with ease and without changing the design itself. 3D software shows clients exactly how a design will look before it is built. And they can get as involved as they like, says Roger Evans. “If they know exactly what they want, then we may only make relatively small suggestions on how to improve the look of specific details or reduce the cost – but if a client is more open-minded, then they can get more involved in the creative process. Some love the fact that we even show them the different joints and hinges we can use.”