Fit for a king

18 Jul, 14

Kingsey Kitchens, in Buckinghamshire, has opened a showroom for its bespoke furniture

Kingsey Kitchens began making bespoke furniture 14 years ago and now manufacture for kitchens, bedroom, bathroom and offices too, both home and commercial. Managing director of the company Fay Branch explains: “We’d always made kitchens for other people but only really if it was a referral because we were making commercial furniture.” And, now, the company has opened a showroom which displays seven kitchens, demonstrating the breadth the company can offer with its bespoke designs.

Opening a showroom

The showroom displays a variety of bespoke furniture styles  but Fay believes the use of the word bespoke has been diluted, with many manufacturers or retailers claiming to offer bespoke products that are not actually bespoke. Fay comments: “I think there are an awful lot of companies out there who offer ‘bespoke’ and what they actually mean by bespoke is you can have a 600mm, a 450mm, a 500mm, normal sized cupboards and mean they will fill in the edges with the scribe so that it fits the whole of the wall.” She emphasises: “This isn’t truly bespoke, it’s just putting in a standard kitchen and filling in the edges with bigger pieces of scribe material.”

She continues: “We can make the cupboards at the top tall enough to go to the ceiling. If people want things slightly higher, say there is a tall lady who wants her worktop higher, we can do that. It is truly bespoke.” And Kingsey Kitchens’ believes its bespoke offering puts them at the same quality  level as brands such as Mark Wilkinson, Clive Christian and Smallbone. Fay states that while: “We don’t have the marketing budget or the brand recognition of the big companies, the quality is there, the experience is there and the [ability to create] bespoke [kitchens] is there.”

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But the company also offers furniture, with supplied doors from Italy. However, Fay Branch explains the reason behind the decision: “I felt because the cost of bespoke handmade kitchens is so expensive we were not able to give the younger people or the families their dream kitchen, because they only really had the sheds to go to. By buying in the doors, we were able to keep the price down and they can still have exactly what they want.” 

Standalone suits housing

However, she highlights the bespoke offering is important because of the local area, which the company is based in, as the construction of the local housing can affect kitchen design: “Locally there are a lot of thatched cottages and the walls are made out of a straw-based product that doesn’t take fixings very well. You can obviously put base cabinets against it but it won’t take a wall cabinet.” Fay continues: “We’ve come up with a few standalone pieces of furniture, which mean that whatever walls people have got, we can do it.” These freestanding pieces allow customers to utilise the entire kitchen space, regardless of the type of wall. And in order to offer a great finish, Fay employs trained fitters: “From a fitting point of view, to scribe in round ‘wiggly walls’ is difficult and that’s why our fitters are well trained in good scribing techniques.” She continues: “You can fit an expensive kitchen and it can look awful or you can fit a kitchen that hasn’t necessarily cost a fortune and it can look beautiful and expensive.”

And Fay believes that not only do fitters need to be well trained, but design staff should be too: “There are a lot of kitchen sales people who haven’t got any experience at all. Our design staff is fully qualified.” But while training is important, Fay also believes it does not beat having a rapport with the customer: “I think it is very important to have a rapport with the client about what they want. So many people try to tell customers what they want in the kitchen. We want to find out how you use your kitchen.” She continues: “Design is really a service provision to give the client what they want. It’s a choice of kitchen door. That’s where it starts, then it’s down to how they’re going to use the kitchen and we design it how they use it.” 

This article appeared in full in the July/August 2014 issue of Kitchens & Bathrooms News