Juliet Fishenden

“So why hire a designer? The myth that designers swan into the house, bully the client into submission to have the latest trends – whether or not it suits person or house, charge a fortune and run a mile when things start to get tough is one that is hard to break. The reality is that a good designer listens to the client and tries first and foremost to truly understand their needs and aspirations. Not everyone wants a state of the art show house. Most want something that suits their lifestyle but they don’t necessarily have the time, the skills or the confidence to organise their ideas into a coherent space.

“I have always enjoyed meeting the client, seeing their home, their current furnishings, meeting the kids and the dogs and really trying to get into their lifestyle. Usually I go home afterwards, write copious notes, head through my vast library of fabrics, wall and floor coverings and paint samples and come up with the basics, ready for our next discussion. This new way of working through Zoom meetings has rather put paid to that and although I can chat forever on line with them it’s not the same as face to face and seeing their reaction when they handle fabrics, which are generally my starting point of any scheme. But one needs to move forward and it has it’s advantages once we get past the embarrassing moments of delay on Zoom, less time spent in travel means more time allowed for research, so it is beginning to become the norm. I have successfully finished a few projects without even stepping inside the homes or meeting the clients face to face, so here’s to a new way of doing things, at least for the foreseeable future.”

We asked Jane a few questions about her work.

How do you manage a client whose taste in interior design doesn’t quite line up with your own?

“I don’t “manage” my clients, it’s more the other way round, they “manage” me as I am working for them and trying to fulfil their dreams. I may gently guide them through the mire of indecision but I certainly never “manage” them.”

How much of your own instincts inform your work as opposed to those aspects in which you have been educated?

“Instinct and intuition are a designer’s best tools. I can’t really remember my education, it was so long ago and I always rebelled, went against the grain, so it was really just a stepping stone.”

In the next blog, Jane answers a few more questions on the practical working life of an interior designer.

Call Jane: 02380 812239
Email: jane@janemcintyredesign.com

Website: https://janemcintyredesign.com

Juliet Fishenden

In the second part of our blog on Interior designer Jane McIntyre, Jane tells us how she works with Made by the Forge’s curtain poles.

“Often a whole room is schemed around a curtain fabric so what you hang then on them is very important. There was a time when large, grand windows demanded huge wooden poles or ornate pelmets, but I have hung three metre high curtains on Made by the Forge’s poles in a Manor house and the effect was stunning. Equally, I am about to order some for a teeny cottage with even teenier windows and I will be putting the self same poles up there and know they will be perfect. I’ve also used the French poles once and am contemplating those for another project that requires an absolutely simple treatment.

“One of my most challenging jobs for the poles was in a 16th Century timber framed house in Winchester where the downstairs windows went to within an inch of the very crooked ceilings, leaving no room at all for poles. Persuading the client – who favoured fat wooden poles or pelmets – that the forged poles would work perfectly was a work in itself, then the builder fired off his own directive about the insubstantial lath and plaster walls being unable to hold the weight of curtains, let alone solid metal poles. As the curtains were heavy textured velvet with thick interlining – those houses are draughty however much heating goes in – this was a challenge!

“Not to be beaten, we put a baton all the way along the top of the window and 30cms either side, taking the line from the lowest point of the ceiling – this we fixed with many screws and a lot of Gripfill*. We put the top of the bracket as high as we could on this baton and packed out the base of the bracket to level it. The idea of this exercise was to spread the load across the wall rather than just in the places were the brackets would – or wouldn’t – fix to the wall. Applying my trademark “boofy” headings, or in rather more technical terms a 10cm heading above the tape, which flops away from the pole in a random fashion and in this case crushed in parts against the ceiling, all in all disguising the crooked space. Given enough width in a curtain can create a very dramatic and opulent feel. Four years later the curtains still stand and with the success of that window we went on to do the whole house with Richard’s poles.”

Call Jane: 02380 812239
Email: jane@janemcintyredesign.com Website: https://janemcintyredesign.com

*Other adhesives are available.

Juliet Fishenden

Jane’s professional life is as colourful as the fabrics she loves so much. She’s been an entertainment promoter working with the UK’s top comic talent, as well as organising Torvill and Dean’s ice shows. She spent time in the fashion industry and is now running her own interior design company. We’ve had a decade long relationship with Jane so we first asked her how she found us…

“I found Made by The Forge quite by chance, long before the joys of social media were constantly sending us new links and feeds. I think it must have been a mention in a magazine where our paths crossed. I had been using forged poles for years, but when my current blacksmith (happily, also my partner) retired and moved to carpentry I couldn’t find anyone local who could come up with anywhere near his standard. Forging is one skill, but adding the design element is quite another and I was immediately impressed with the way Richard had interpreted this gap in the market. There was an abundance of metal poles around, but none capable of hanging the heavy velvet curtains which I was favouring at the time while still remaining sleek and simple.

“Another very important aspect of my choice to now only use Made by the Forge is that even if I could find a local artisan blacksmith with a great eye for design, of which I am sure there are many, I would be surprised if they had the overall ability to interpret my needs and meet my deadlines. Tying in all the finishing touches of a refurbishment can be tricky at the best of times. Knowing that Richard and his team will have the order on site exactly when it was promised, will jump to instantly and pop extra rings in the post if I have miscalculated and if I suddenly need another last minute pole, will do everything in their power to whizz that order through, is very reassuring. The prices are excellent, there are no hidden costs and I have no idea how they can offer such good shipping rates for such heavy items! And so the relationship was born, why would I look elsewhere when this works so well!”

Call Jane: 02380 812239
Email: jane@janemcintyredesign.com Website: https://janemcintyredesign.com

Juliet Fishenden

Our pledge to plant a tree for every order taken is something we take very seriously at Made by the Forge. While the Suffolk Wildlife Trust has recently turned more to rewilding areas, restoring them to their once natural state, we were alerted to a major tree-planting initiative in Norfolk. To date, Houghton Hall Estate has already planted 14 kilometres of hedging and is committed to planting for many years to come. We were taken with the idea of supporting the Estate by sponsoring the planting of trees to reinstate lost hedging. The hedging would be interspersed with oak trees left to mature thereby mimicking how the landscape would evolve if we’d not controlled it for our own needs for centuries. This in turn will encourage more nature to thrive making available different habitats for a whole variety of species.

In terms of working the land, the Estate is completely organic and provides the majority of organic carrots in the UK’s supermarkets. If you buy organic carrots, the likelihood is that they come from North Norfolk. A completely organic countryside is rare for nature so we felt very drawn to this enterprise. The owners farm the Estate in a considerate and responsible way. So while we pay for the trees, the estate is paying for the tree guards, canes and the actual planting. Each of our customers has a tree which is planted just for them making this country just that little bit more natural.

Our trees will be planted across a beetle bank the Estate has established (image below). Beetle banks are refuge habitats for predatory insects and spiders. These banks can exist mid-field or at the field’s side. They don’t interfere with normal farming practice. The creatures they home in winter significantly reduce pest species in crops as long as they are able to spread out over the fields from the banks in spring. The field we are planting across will gradually become a smaller field joining open farmland. The tree planting will improve the beetle bank and will consist of mixed hedging plants and the scattering of oak trees. The planting is planned for February 2021.

The benefits to nature are plentiful; many more species of birds will be encouraged to make their nests nearby with an abundance of food available. The area is already home to numerous pairs of Turtledoves. This, in and of itself, if you know your birds and their conservation status, is already an extraordinary achievement. There are Yellow Hammers in abundance and the banks encourage Corn Buntings and older declining farmland birds to make their nests nearby. For all the right reasons, the Estate is creating a haven for a great many species while still working the land. It’s a win-win situation and we are proud to support it. We hope you will be too.

Juliet Fishenden

To be recognised for your craft is a very special achievement and elicits a reassuring confidence in the work that you do. Richard appeared in Country Living magazine a few years ago in a feature about Made by the Forge, which celebrated his and our company’s work in preserving age-old ironwork techniques. Today those techniques are brought to bear to produce contemporary pieces valued by the discerning customer (that’s you by the way). They say all publicity is good publicity. Richard popped up again in Country Living a few months ago and in this November’s issue, there he is again extolling the beauty and timelessness of handcrafted ironwork. But the craft of all artisans is something worth celebrating.

As our lives become more defined by what’s on our screens, real-world pieces take on more importance. It’s lovely that so many people are sharing our Instagram images but a handmade Portière rod curtain pole keeps a very real and cold wind out of your house. Its real-world worth is actually measurable not just dependent on ‘likes’ and ‘clicks’. ‘Likes’ and ‘clicks’ send out supportive messages but ordering with us gives you something palpable, physical and real to appreciate. Stay safe everyone.

Juliet Fishenden

A company that offers a lifetime guarantee is a company that has great faith in its products. Made by the Forge’s handcrafted ironwork is made to last and made to a world-class standard. Its business model is the epitome of the idea gaining traction now known as ‘buying once’.

Living in a modern, technological world, we have moved away from the traditional practices of building products to last. We throw away toasters, printers, kettles and phones because we can afford to. When was the last time we darned a sock or even mended anything? We are reliant on our consumer needs being met but for the planet’s sake, that road has a destination at which none of us want to arrive.

Finding those products that only need to be bought once will become more of a priority and wrought ironwork stands the ravages of time extremely well. Although wrought iron has been around since the days of the Roman Empire, it took off in the U.K. in the late eighteenth century. There are three hundred year-old iron gates still standing in some of the stately homes of the country, testaments to both the iron and the care taken in its upkeep.

There are many estimates of how long ironwork can last. Indoor ironwork would seem to have an advantage, in terms of longevity but the moisture in the air indoors is just as much of a problem over time. The by-product of iron’s exposure to air and water vapour is of course rust but rust can be dealt with easily keeping your ironwork in tip-top condition for decades. So how long does ironwork last? Long enough for Made by the Forge to promise you a lifetime’s guarantee.

“Environmentally conscious shopping is as simple as buying long-lasting products.” https://uk.buymeonce.com

Juliet Fishenden

Over the past few months, many of us have enjoyed taking the time to browse online or flick through magazines for interiors inspiration. Whether you scroll on platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest or pick up the latest issue of the major home décor magazines, elegant cottage kitchens are everywhere. It’s no surprise that fresh takes on the French-inspired, rustic kitchens are a mainstay of stylish interiors magazines, given their warm, inviting style and ease of maintenance.

On Instagram and Pinterest, homeowners and renters alike are making some simple changes to transform their kitchens, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Many interior gurus have taken to painting their existing kitchen furniture to give it that cottage kitchen feel. Classic navy tones, soft greys, duck-egg blues, cream hues or light sage greens can all be perfect colours to create a classic, rustic look, which gives dated kitchens a new lease of life.

Finishing touches

If you’re thinking of revamping your kitchen, don’t forget the importance of finishing touches. From freshly-painted cupboard fronts to bespoke hardware, a few simple tweaks can make a huge difference to the overall look of your kitchen space. Changing dated wooden hooks and handles for iron pull handles can really transform your kitchen.

Stylish storage

To help create the illusion of space some opt for open-fronted storage; taking the doors off cupboards or putting up shelving units for crockery and glassware is a nice way to create a relaxed, lived-in feel. Open-fronted cupboards, shelves and dressers make it easy to access crockery and cookware, as well as reducing the time it takes to put things away. Just make sure that you use strong, iron brackets to support your shelves, this is particularly important in the kitchen, where pots, pans and crockery place a heavy load on cupboards and shelving. Iron kitchen racks can be sturdier and more hard-wearing than wooden or MDF cupboards, and are just as suitable for offering a rustic take on suburban style as they are for showing off the countryside charm of cottages and rural homes.

Hang pots and pans

If cupboard and shelf space are at a premium in your kitchen, wrought iron hooks are a fantastic way to store your pots and pans, keeping them off surfaces, whilst contributing to that cosy cottage ambience. ‘S’ hooks on metal brackets are a lovely feature, often used in traditional country cottage kitchens; made from handcrafted wrought iron, brackets and hooks can help to create a handmade personalised feel in a kitchen, whether you’re renovating or simply sprucing up a tired, old kitchen.

Rustic-style textiles

Varied textures and fabrics are a quintessential feature of a chic cottage kitchen. If you’re choosing curtains in your kitchen area, then you might like to consider a handmade curtain pole. Linen curtains in muted tones are a great choice, combining the rustic style of natural fibres with the understated elegance of wrought iron French-style curtain poles offers a modern, stylish take on farmhouse style. Natural linens, understated colours and bespoke metal hardware look fantastic with natural stone or wooden flooring, creating a rich array of textures.

To set your interior apart from the flat-pack catalogues, you don’t need to spend a lot of money or even install a new kitchen from scratch. Whether you’re looking to lend a new lease of life to your old kitchen, transform this important space in your home, or offer a personal touch to a mass-produced kitchen, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. So, choose a muted, elegant tone for walls and cupboards, and accessorise with handmade fittings to create a chic, bespoke look in your cottage kitchen.

Juliet Fishenden

Measuring A Window For A Curtain Pole

It’s extraordinary how much gets done around the house when you are actively discouraged to leave it. What about that window you’ve been meaning to spruce up for ages? How difficult can measuring up for a Made by the Forge curtain pole be? Answer? Not at all… Just three simple steps… W. W. W. – Where, Width, Work out…

  1. Where is the pole going to go? Stand back, look at the window and check there are no beams, light switches or fittings in the way of a straight mount above the window. Ideally the pole should be mounted 15cm above the top of the window. If you have a low ceiling, it should be mounted halfway between the ceiling and the top of the window.
  2. Width of the window to be measured.
  3. Work Out 10% of the width of the window for each side’s drawback (the area the curtain hangs in when not drawn). Remember to allow for the thickness of your curtains and add one of two centimetres if necessary.

Also remember to take into consideration the length of the decorative finial at both ends, the size of your choice can be found on the finial’s product page online. We suggest adding one curtain ring for every 10cm of pole. Be sure to order an even number for symmetry.

For a video of Richard showing you these points, please click here. As ever, any questions, give us a call on +44 (0)1473 487118.

Juliet Fishenden

There is no other room in the home that benefits more from space saving ideas and practical answers to questions – that take in both efficiency and style – than the humble kitchen. And in these days of lockdown, these food spaces can be turned into stylish kitchen sanctuaries with a little clever planning. Made by the Forge offers a range of handmade ironwork accessories and space maximising products, guaranteed to last a lifetime and that’s just as well as style never goes out of fashion…

So, where to store all those specialised utensils… Yes, you can put them in a drawer but then they are out of sight, mind and accessibility. Hang them on the wall with your pots and pans on a kitchen rack and everything is ready to go but out of the way at the same time. A bespoke sized Kitchen Rail with as many hooks as you need is the perfect way to turn a wall into a storage area. Based on what you chose to store on the rail, you can christen it what you like… a Saucepan Hanger, a Saucepan Rack or even the more emotive name of a Frying Pan Wall Rack!

“..the depth of the brackets was just right for holding the pan lids. Cheers!” Daniel

Not normally associated with kitchens are wall shelves but these shelf brackets can take the heavy loads. On the wall displays are a great space for all your cookbooks and kitchen items that either don’t hang well on rails or insist by their nature to sit proudly on their own like plates, plants and storage jars. Give your kitchen a space gift facelift with our stylish racks and rails.

 

Juliet Fishenden

Our personal and business ethos is self-sufficiency, caring for our planet and one of the ways we give back is to plant trees. What makes the company unique is its pledge to plant a tree for every order received. We make sure that what the company takes from the Suffolk environment, it puts back into the Suffolk environment.

Donated Trees Planted at Carlton Marshes

Just before the lockdown, we were extremely fortunate to check in with Suffolk Wildlife Trust, specifically Carlton Marshes, their flagship nature reserve situated on the south west edge of Lowestoft.

How many trees planted?

What we didn’t know until we arrived was just how many trees you, our customers, have enabled the trust to plant. Michael Strand, Community Fundraising Manager, said that “…as part of the restoration work to create a 1000 acre wild destination area, the Trust is providing new access  opportunities for visitors in and around the new visitor centre. This includes landscaping a corridor of native trees and shrubs to help safely guide people towards the centre who enter the reserve by foot and to act as a scrubby wildlife corridor along the fringes of the wild play area and car park.”

Tree Species Planted

Species planted in the fields of Carlton Piece and Burnt Hill by volunteer teams from Essex & Suffolk Water and Suffolk County Council late last year include hawthorn, blackthorn, dog rose, spindle, hazel and guelder-rose. Thanks to Made by the Forge’s customers, Suffolk Wildlife Trust has planted approximately 1800 trees at Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve. 1800! Pat yourselves on the back, everybody.