Product Focus – Malden Sideboard

There are so many gorgeous pieces within the Black & Key range, that it is nigh-on impossible to choose a favourite. If I had it my way, I would kit the entirety of my home with the plethora of glamorous sideboards, console tables, and cabinets!

However, I fear that I would get into almighty trouble from my partner, who already adopts a stern glare whenever a new soft or hard furnishing appears in the house. I often take great amusement in how long it takes him to notice in most instances.

This week, I have decided to focus our attention on a divine item within the range; the Malden Sideboard. A fine example of British craftmanship at its very best.

Malden Sideboard

The cabinet carcase and doors of the Malden sideboard are shown here in burr Walnut veneer, although there are multiple materials you can choose from if you so wish. The burr Walnut veneer is a personal favourite of mine.

Varieties of Walnut wood have been used in furniture making for centuries. Walnut veneer in particular was incredibly sought-after and highly priced. This is perhaps why I adore this finish so much. Such a piece emanates luxury, quality and indulgence. Figured Walnut and Burr Walnut (also often referred to as Burl Walnut) were considered the most luxurious and attractive varieties (and we agree to this day!).

Burr Walnut veneer uis taken from the specific part of the tree where ‘growths’ sprouting smaller branches and/ or roots would occur. As these ‘growth’ areas were limited in both occurrence and size, larger veneers were hard to source and often on bigger furniture (tables, desks, bureaus, cabinets etc), these veneers would have to be carefully joined by matching up the pieces or blending them together.

The distinctive wrap-around frame is Raven oak, as is the interior of the cabinet. The door edges are mitered and conceal the carcase edge. Nack handles in Raven oak match the frame. The Raven Oak complements the Burr Walnut veneer, made in a multifaceted shade of black with just the slightest hint of texture on its surface, so to showcase the grain of the timber beneath. This adds a quality dimension to the wood, adding depth and interest, creating a certain sort of character within the timber, ensuring the detail isn’t masked by inky tones. As a result, the two differing wood varieties create a striking and contemporary piece, with a dramatic and sophisticated feel.

Contrast of wood varieties – Burr Walnut Veneer & Raven Oak

As a standard, this cabinet is supplied with two drawers and three adjustable shelves. 

I am still blown away by the detail on these doors – just incredible!

We make this piece in other dimensions, finishes and interior configurations, all of which are hand-made in the UK by our skilled craftsmen.

So, what do you think? Are you blown away by this piece just as much as I am. If so, have one of your own. You will not be disappointed!

Contact our team today!

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Meet the Maker – Jeremy Higson

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have been given an opportunity to interview one of Black & Key’s most experienced and well-esteemed craftsman.

Jeremy Higson from Evesham, Worcestershire has been in the carpentry trade for 35 years and comes with a wealth of experience, knowledge and advice.

I could feel the passion oozing from every bone in his body as he spoke to me about his experiences when making such beautiful works of art for Black & Key customers!

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How would you describe the experience of creating such beautiful and often bespoke pieces of furniture by hand?

I have a passion for making things. The work that I do on a daily basis cannot be classed as ‘work’ in the traditional sense. I find myself becoming absorbed in a project and can often become lost in the mechanics and processes of crafting. Whenever I am working on a piece for a client, time seems to go by so incredibly quickly, that before I know it, it is time to pack up and go home.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Every part of my job is challenging but the very notion of a challenge is what I love most about my work and is an element that I thrive off. The more challenging the project, the more stimulating it is for me. I get a buzz when a brief is complex and difficult.

What items of furniture have you made that you are most proud of?

I have been mastering the art of craft and carpentry for 35 years and so there are many moments where I have felt pride and accomplishment. In most recent times, I am perhaps the most chuffed with the mirror detail on the Petite Lombard mirror.

It perhaps does not look so impressive but the time, patience and skill it takes to piece all these elements together is incredibly intricate and complex.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that I can turn almost anything into something beautiful. Even materials that seem utterly mundane and hopeless can be worked with and manipulated into something pretty spectacular.

What is your favourite Black and Key piece?

My favourite piece would be the Dazzle handles , especially when on the Radial cabinet. The contrast in colour and form is just fantastic! The handles themselves are made with mother of pearl that go through an intricate process in order to give them the finished look. Each section must be cut, washed, dried and then stuck in place by hand. This is an incredibly delicate operation that can easily go wrong. You must have patience with this type of work, but the outcome is worth the wait!

Radial cabinet with Dazzle handles

What is the longest amount of time spent on a piece of furniture you’ve created?

Unfortunately, this was not a Black & Key piece but I spent 3 months working on a George III desk for Carlton House.

How many processes do you encounter when crafting anything bespoke?

This is really dependant on the piece and the materials used. You could have 5 processes on one piece and 55 on another!

Does perfectionism get in the way of efficiency?

No, I am very fast! (Jeremy smiles widely). Fortunately, my 35 years of experience in the trade has meant that I can work both quickly and accurately. I have made so many mistakes over the years, but it is about what you do and how you go about putting it right.

Which material is the most challenging to work with?

Swiss Pear!! This type of wood is held in high regard around the world but it can be tricky to work with. There is a reason why we do not use it here at Black & Key!

Have you noticed any significant change in trends over the past year?

It is the change in colour, veneers and wood mainly. For a while the trend was cherry, then oak and then dark cherry, black and then to walnut. In terms of design, like most things, the style in which an item is made will go around with the times. Art deco and 70’s retro seem to be a popular style within this industry at present.

What materials do you enjoy working with the most?

I love working with any material. The harder the better! The trick is to be careful with whatever material you use to get the best and most out of them.

If you could craft anything in the world, what would it be and why?

If I could create anything, it would be to build a replica of the Roentgens Berlin cabinet from 1790. This would be a life’s work but fascinates me due to the inclusion of some incredible technology for its time. It is an example of one of the finest achievements of European furniture making. It was made by Abraham (1711–1793) and David Roentgen (1743–1807) and is a writing cabinet crowned with a chiming clock, featuring finely designed marquetry panels and elaborate mechanisms that allow for doors and drawers to be opened automatically at the touch of a button. Just remarkable!

Have you ever been given a brief and thought “How on earth do I pull this off? If so, what was it?”

Often! That is the challenge and the reason why I come to work! I would say the mirror was a little bit like this.

I just break down each project into bite size pieces and work through the processes issues that way, otherwise the task can become overwhelming.

***

I could have spoken to Jeremy all day about each and every piece he had made during his 35 year career, how he went about each project and watch him work, but I fear he would have grown tired of all my questions!

Yet, what an incredible skill to have, with a mindset so determined and motivated! I would like to thank Jeremy and the team here at Black & Key for all the blood, sweat and tears that go into making these items so incredibly beautiful and unique.

If you want to know any further information on any item within or catalogue or wish to talk to our team about bespoke pieces, please get in contact!

Craft the perfect Guest Room

You do not need a large family home with a designated guest room to offer a memorable stay, warm welcome and bonus host points to friends and family. With just a little thought and creative thinking, a space of any size can accommodate your guests using a range of multi-functional furniture such as storage beds, day beds or sofa beds.

As a guest room is not permanently occupied, it can be easily disregarded when it comes to thinking about soft furnishings and those little touches we pre-occupy ourselves with for spaces that are better utilised. We must not overlook these touches, as these can really make for an impressive and comfortable guest room.

Ensure that you use high quality beddings, adding a variety of throws, blankets and cushions to the mix (because we all love a scatter cushion). Personally, I could quite happily spend all my monthly wage on soft furnishings at Luxdeco. This will rank you higher in both the comfort and aesthetic ranking.

A full-length mirror is an obvious essential for any guest room, allowing your guests to preen and present themselves for any big (or small) occasion.  

Grand Lombard II mirror

It may be that you even wish to include clothing hooks for hats, coats, bags, or ties. When guests are in town for a formal occasion, the more clothing storage, the better!

Take a little inspiration from your favourite boutique hotel, and stock your guest room with all the essential amenities. Ensure you have quality, fresh towels and toiletries. Even if your guest room does not have an en-suite, you won’t fail to impress with trinkets such as this! Plus, this means that people will leave the rummaging of your toiletry cupboard for another day. If you need a little guidance, perhaps opt for the Urban Apothecary toiletries – just divine!

Stock a console table and place a small stack of books and magazines nearby, enticing guests to put their feet up and relax for a few moments.

Frank Console Table

Last but most importantly not least, so that your guests can enjoy endless hours on social media or adding to their Pinterest boards instead of racking up those much-needed snooze hours, ensure you have a handy bedside table ready and waiting along with your wifi password, a lamp and preferably a nearby power socket. Never again will your guests have to crawl around furniture on their hands and knees, hunting for outlets!

Rogers Lamp Table

Enjoy and good luck! You know where we are if you need any additional inspiration.

Crafted by You

There is a common misconception that premium quality and perhaps bespoke furniture is the domain for the wealthy, for those with a interest or whom are directly associated with the interior trade. The truth of the matter is somewhat different.

Many of our customers have found that by spending a little more time, focus and money to get furniture that not only meets their needs but also their tastes and styles, means that money can be saved in the long run.

By having a say in the way something is made and processed, you create an immediate synergy and long-lasting attachment. You have designed and acquired something that is so intricately in sync with you and your design and colour scheme that is surpasses anything else that you may have purchased in the past and indeed anything you purchase in the future.

Bespoke and special pieces become precious, and are items that is often cherished and passed through generations to come. Made with sturdy hands also mean that there is no need to replace or mend.

Furniture made to order using your own ideas and input will carry a sentimental value that you just will not get elsewhere.

Bespoke console table in figured sycamore, Noir ebonised detailing and polished nickel base. the console has a secret drawer.

At Black and Key, we are honoured to be part of a journey that witnesses an idea go from design draft, concept, build and then in situ. Our UK craftsman will work on pieces to ensure they carry an extra special personal touch that just cannot ever be replicated in mass production. Nothing feels better than a guest complimenting your very own bespoke item, admiring its uniqueness and beauty. Even if it is not to their taste, items from us will always provoke the ‘wow factor’ because it carries something that little bit different.

Often we are asked if a product can be tweaked to incorporate a particular wood, finish or fabric. Most of the times the size needs to be modified so that it fits perfectly within a customer’s intricate design scheme.

WHY GO BESPOKE?

We are grossly spoilt in the retail world with a plethora of interior design houses, online homeware shops and even supermarkets dipping their toes into the furniture world. It is therefore easy to question if it is worthwhile going to the extra trouble of considering and requesting bespoke or customized furniture.

It’s certainly possible to curate stunning interior schemes using mass produced furniture, but more often than not, it is the element of individuality that sets a scheme apart. This may be achieved through art, or soft furnishings but customised furniture has the power to add an extra depth of quality and class. Bespoke furniture, customised to meet individual design specifications shows an uncompromising attention to detail! It results in a high end finish that is actually surprisingly achievable for both commercial and residential projects.

An additional benefit is that we work sustainably. If this is something that matters to you, it makes sense to furnish your home with items that stand for the same values as you do.

So what are you waiting for? If we can help with any query or request please contact us – mail@blackandkey.co.uk or on (0)20 7351 7989

Tidy Home, Tidy Mind

There has been much talk about mindfulness and mental health over recent months and I believe there is be a correlation between your environment and the function and emotional state of your mind.

Your house is considered your haven yet, let’s face it, we all go through stages where items become littered across the home.

Am I right or am I right?

How does this often make you feel?

Yes, I thought so – tired, demotivated, fed up, swamped, out of control?

The benefits of de-cluttering your home can be outstanding:

1) More space

Just through the process of de-cluttering, you will find that you have freed up significantly more space. There may even be areas of your home that you forgot existed. Use your space wisely. New homes in the UK (in particular) are now the smallest in Europe and, whether you live in a new build or an older property, the chances are that the extra space could come in handy. My previous blog on B&K storage options for those of you with limited space, may be useful.

2) The ‘feel-good’ factor

The process of ridding your home of clutter can be incredibly therapeutic, as you’re tackling something you’ve probably put off for quite a while. Improving your physical environment will elevate your mood tenfold, allowing you to regain a sense of control whilst minimising stress.

3) Your loss can be your friend’s gain

The cynics amongst you may think that this is simply moving clutter from your house to someone else’s. Well … either way, giving that unwanted slow cooker to your friend at least gives it a chance of being used, and best of all you look generous and thoughtful. Perhaps, you have some furniture that a friend could up-cycle or re-use. Perhaps it could even mean space for a brand new B&K Ecto table?

4) You can help a worthy cause

Charitable donations are always welcome, and in the process, is allowing you to give something back to your wider community. If you do not think yourself, a friend or a relative is going to use any of your unwanted items, there is definitely a charity shop that will value them.

If you want to take a stand against a cluttered home and achieve success with it, you need to talk tough. Be resolute from the start – tell yourself ‘this is it,’ and you’re taking no prisoners.

Make sure you tackle the process bit by bit. Trying to do too much will put you off and you make a good start but will never finish. The ‘big de-clutter’ is daunting enough as it is. Go for it room by room, bit by bit, working as thoroughly as you can! It will be worth it in the end!

Lastly, don’t get caught in the ‘What if!’. You haven’t used the chair auntie Maude gave you in years. In fact, you don’t even like the thing, but perhaps one sunny summer’s afternoon someday, you’ll take it to an upholsterer or have a go at revamping it yourself. No. Remember, ‘someday never comes’. If you haven’t used something for a very long time, accept that in most cases there’s a reason for that.

Once your decluttering is done, you will feel great – you may even re-evaluate what you need in the home. Perhaps some more storage options, or some new furniture.

Here at Black & Key, we are dedicated to helping you find what you need for your home, crafting it just the way you like it! So, perhaps some time next week, once we have finished basking in the hot weather, we can all jump on the de-cluttering band wagon and look for that next piece of furniture that will fill a newly empty space!

Work from home

Working from home is becoming an increasingly popular trend for those who are self employed or for those with an employer.

Having your own home office or space is your opportunity to display and fashion your environment to suit the way in which you work best, heavily influencing your productivity.

If you’re going to be at your most productive, you’ll need to create the right environment. The kitchen table might seem like an easy option but as well as the risk of having to scrape last night’s dinner from the bottom of your laptop, there is often a plethora of potential distractions. The washing; the dirty bowls, the postman walking past the window.

If space within your home allows, try to devote a room that becomes ‘your office’. A designated work room invariably provides you with the most suitable environment to do your best work in. It also means that, at the end of the working day, you can shut the door and ‘leave’ work in every respect.

At Black and Key, we can design and build a working environment to suit your needs and space. Take a look at our bespoke partner’s desk in Macassar veneer with marquetry detail and Midnight leather top. The perfect addition to ensure you make the most of your space with both a practical and stunning piece. If storage is an issue, we can help with that too, with a plethora of options and designs to help de-clutter any working space so that you can do the best job possible whether at home or in the office!

Storage Hunters

Unless we have the luxury of building our own home or being a dab-hand at DIY, it is often hard to work around the awkward spaces that we inherit. We are often quickly left in a messy and cluttered space which can cause unnecessary stress. Therefore, here at Black and Key, we are keen to aid in your stress relief by providing beautiful and practical pieces for your home that will optimise both space and storage.

  1. Heston Secretaire

The doors, sides and frame of the Heston secretaire are shown in figured walnut laid in diamonds and the internal shelves in figured walnut. The bi-fold doors fold back completely against the sides. An internal flap is supported by a pull out shelf is lined in seal grey leather.

This is great storage as a drinks cabinet or office work station, filling the compartments with stationary, files and folders. This will hugely decrease the cluttered appearance that an office space can conjure.

2. Link Modular Bookcase – Triple

The modular Link cabinet, produced in the UK by our highly skilled craftsmen, consists of one or multiple display and storage sections. The base storage section comprises doors or drawers while the upper section is for display. With a solid back and open sides it appears light and elegant.

Shelves in the top can be in glass or other finishes, depending on span. Individual cabinets can be produced in 50 mm increments from 800 – 1350 mm wide and bespoke heights, and linked together as required. Cable management and double backs with access panels (for instance to affix a TV screen) are also offered. The depth can be adjusted if more storage is required.

The perfect focal point that is both stunning yet practical.

3. Yardley Sideboard

Pictured is a bespoke piece based on our standard Yardley sideboard with radial Macassar doors, Noir feet and Nack handles. This Yardley conceals a large TV screen with a remotely controlled lift mechanism allowing focus to be on the key features within your room, de-cluttering the often garish focal point of the television.

4. Marilyn Ottoman

The Marilyn ottoman offers capacious storage and is lined with Cedar of Lebanon. This timber exudes a delicate fragrance and discourages moths. The ottoman is shown above with a Noir ebonised finish to base and shadow gap.

We can upholster in a leather from our collection, assist with the selection of a suitable fabric or upholster with customer’s own fabric. This is the perfect piece in a bedroom, hallway or living room, to store throws, blankets, towels, linen or even toys and games!

5. Heston Cabinet II

The Heston II was developed from our original piece, giving the option of additional storage space which can be fully customised to suit any requirement.

 The bi-fold doors fold back completely against the sides. An internal flap is supported by a pull-out shelf and the horizontal surfaces of the cabinet are lined in leather. All horizontal surfaces have been finished with Parapan ® as this resilient material can be wiped clean very easily. The second cabinet contains a wine cooler. The ventilation grille complements other similar features in the room, and the Loop handles designed by Black & Key to complement this unusual detail. This is perfect for living room/kitchen storage for drinks, bottles and glasses!

Which storage idea is your favourite?

There are lots of ways to add storage space to a room. If you need some help to increase storage space in your home, we are always happy to discuss this with you.

Modern v Contemporary

When people talk to us about modern and contemporary design, we are often lead to believe they are the same thing.

The key differentiation between the two is that a modern design refers specifically to the architectural style that was popular between the 1900’s and 1950’s. Yet a contemporary design will refer to a style that is trending in the present time period. You can also distinguish between the two when looking at the architectural lines of both styles. Modern homes will adopt straight, and well-defined angular lines, whereby a contemporary style will often display bold and sweeping curves.

The Creation of Modern Design

Modern designs will reflect the modernist interior design movement of the 20th century. The world had experienced significant change in this century, with the industrial revolution and world wars. The aim of the modernist movement was to develop a brand new cultural norm that was out with the old and in with the new. Trends before this time saw elaborate styles with heavy textures, dark wood tones and carvings. This was to be replaced with minimalism and open spaces.  

Example of modern straight lines with our extendable Vulcan dining table

Contemporary Design

Contemporary design is defined by a style that belongs to the present, reflecting upon the trends that are popular right now. This therefore means that contemporary designs are fluid and ever-changing. The very notion of contemporary design was first evolved during the 1970’s and has stuck ever since. Yet what was considered contemporary in the 1970’s is now positively vintage.

A Contemporary Home Style

A contemporary living space of today will be a calming, light and open space with neutral colour palettes preferred. Curved lines are a key feature with minimalistic furnishings and features, allowing the room to speak for itself. Floors should be carpet-less, using bare vinyl, wood or tile and new age materials are essential, so lots of glass and metals.

Curved lines of a contemporary style with our bespoke banquette

Makes good use of Lighting

Good use of lighting is crucial in creating a contemporary home and directs your focus to key features. Lighting should be utilised to bring attention to statement pieces, reflecting off bright walls to create an open and airy environment. Natural light is also a must with plenty of large, frameless windows, helping to bring nature inside.

What is Modern Style Interior?

Modern design takes inspiration from the international style of architecture that was developed during the 1920s and which continued to evolve during the 1970’s.

Makes use of Straight Lines

A modern styled interior is comprised of clean, straight lines in comparison to a contemporary design which makes use of bold, sweeping and curved lines. Crisp, sharp and bare, modern homes utilise space just like contemporary designs, they have open layouts and natural light.

Which style would you or have you adopted?

We would love to hear from you!

Back to black

Black is back and it said to be one of the top trends in home decor this year. From black furniture, black fixtures to walls, it creates a compelling and forceful statement within your space.


Rogers side table

Take a look at how sultry and elegant this side table is, the perfect addition to any space in the home.
The boldness of  black merged with avant-garde design aesthetics is bringing clean lines and sophistication back into the office.

We’re seeing a rise in black coloured pieces within the home, especially to date in 2019, whether its from the stools you’re sitting at, counter tops your dining on, or cabinets you’re storing in, it makes for a sleek and modern ambience in your home.

The Rogers table is shown in Noir with polished nickel detailing and optional leg capping and with a low-level shelf.

The table can be produced without the low-level shelf. It is available in most of our veneers and liquid metal finishes, and with the optional detailing in polished/satin nickel or antique/polished brass.

This item is on my wish list. It should be on yours too!

Have a wonderful bank holiday weekend.

Beauty & Bespoke = Black & Key

New furniture can often transform an often tired or dull space in your home. The beauty of bespoke is that it is completely unique to you and you alone. The ‘one of a kind’ nature can be incredibly special and will leave both you and your friends/guests in awe. You will feel a sense of pride towards a piece where you have had design input which can be perfectly integrated with your existing/new interiors.  

There are so many flatpack choices on the market in 2019. This is nothing new but with the age of IKEA appealing to those with a limited budget, flat pack is becoming prominent for an easy yet contemporary style within the home. However, the option of choosing bespoke is becoming just as accessible, both in convenience and budget. After all, what is exhilarating and exciting about a unit or coffee table that thousands of others have integrated into their home?

Here at Black & Key, we are keen to offer a range to suit those with a light or heavy purse. With the help of our new designer Alfie, we are keen to produce beautiful bespoke furniture to the masses, offering a tailored look and feel but without the hefty price tag. Imagine choosing your own custom design (along with our expert advice of course) that will complement your additional interior desires and wishes.

Still not convinced? Let us look at how Black & Key can really make a difference to your space:

1)     Bespoke furniture can fit seamlessly into the smallest, most awkward of spaces that you’ve struggled to utilise previously. Extra storage for these spaces is incredibly useful, as well as creating a room that is both functional and stylish.

2)  Whilst thinking of storage ideas, bespoke options are endless!  You will have full control over the layout of shelving, drawers and racks to suit your individual requirements and taste.

3)    Materials & Finishes – Finding it impossible to get furniture to match? Bespoke furniture can bring your whole room together with matching or complimentary colours, varnishes and materials. Keep your interior design scheme flawless and sophisticated with perfectly co-ordinated pieces.

4)    Price – Additional and reputable branded furniture producers can create beautiful furniture but with a huge profit margin to go with it. Mass made and often widely distributed, you will question how such prices can be justified. With handcrafted bespoke products from B&K, you are certain to be provided with the very best in British craftsmanship. The price needn’t be excessive, but what you receive at the end will truly blow you away!

5)    Service & Aftercare – Have you incurred a problem with your wardrobe? Sofa? Chair? Have you been left on hold for minutes on end? A hefty phone bill? Talking to someone from a call centre thousands of miles away. At Black & Key, our service and aftercare is top notch, with our friendly team based at our main office in Worcestershire. We are on hand to provide guidance on any query without fuss!

With all these benefits, give us a call on 020 7351 7989 or drop us an email at  mail@blackandkey.co.uk  and see how bespoke furniture could improve your home.

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