It’s a common assumption that specialist techniques such as woodcarving and gilding are only used in conservation and restoration work. Not so, says Christine Palmer, director and co-founder of London-based Carvers & Gilders. “We love creating new applications for the techniques and evolving the design process by working with clients on new ideas for specific spaces.” Sculptural wall appliqués look sensational in contemporary interiors, for example, as do decoratively carved door panels. And the company will also tackle any size or complexity of mirror frame (example seen in first picture) or screen/room-divider (detail of a mirror carving, first picture).
Palmer initially visits clients’ homes in order to “design with positioning in mind”. Then, working with her small team, she creates both practical and purely decorative pieces. Recent commissions have included a carved limewood over-mantel sculpture shaped like a sweeping curtain (similar designs around £5,000) and wardrobe doors decorated with an appliqué of carved bamboo branches (from £2,000 per panel). And, for the awkward spaces between three large windows, the company created a pair of “icicle” mirrors with decoratively carved 4ft-long frames (£3,000-£8,000 each, depending on complexity).
One client requested a pine bedhead, with water-gilded edges, carved in a naturalistic style that echoed the room’s hand-painted wallpaper (around £9,000), while thistle-shaped pine finials (around £450 each) were specially carved for the curtain poles in another property. A gilded, carved pine “sunburst” ceiling rose, designed to encircle an existing fitting, was commissioned for a period house decorated in a contemporary style (similar designs around £3,800).
Meanwhile, the company also works with the Royal Collection, Historic Royal Palaces and English Heritage to carry out historically accurate restoration (such as on the Adam bench, second picture) for properties including Windsor Castle, Woburn Abbey, Harewood House and Hampton Court. And, occasionally, accurate copies to complete a set of period chairs, mirrors or tables are made for private clients. As a member of the Master Carvers Association and Guild of Master Craftsmen, this royal warrant-holding company has one eye on the past and the other firmly focused on enabling contemporary homeowners to enjoy this specialist work too.