Interiors Archive

Juliet Fishenden

Now more than ever we will be considering the insides of our homes. We are all in them more and a lot of us will use this time to make simple improvements and get the paint pot out!

I first met interior designer Jane McIntyre online, as one often does. She came to my attention because Richard had been making some bespoke iron curtain poles for one of her clients. I took a look at her website and was immediately smitten. I loved her style and began following her interesting, colourful, quirky homeware objects that were appearing on her blog and instagram feed. The thing that was most apparent to me was her love of colour and her ability to use it to create luxurious spaces. Jane says herself:

“I hope to encourage my clients to be braver with colour, pattern and texture. I never push my ideas but I do so love it when clients thank me for steering them away from their comfort zone to a more exciting place.”

So, inspired by Jane I thought I would introduce a bit of colour to our own walls. Easier said than done! I found it impossible to make a decision, there are so many colours and variations of shades available that it made me scuttle back to the safety of an off white neutral. Knowing that Jane offers advice remotely I decided to call her and I’ve never looked back.

Newly decorated bedroom painted in Lagoon Water.

Finding the right paint for our old cottage walls was essential so on Jane’s suggestion I used the wonderful Pure and Original Paint from Holland, whose chalky depths – the result of much more pigment than a standard emulsion – sit particularly well with our beams and oak doors.

Images from www.pure-original.com


Fabulous to use, even though it prefers to be brushed and not rolled, this paint outshines any other that I have used and, surprisingly for a chalk paint, it is even washable once it has cured for two weeks. (Rather essential with two muddy boys!) The colours are remarkable, sultry, moody and gentle, all rolled into one. I took one very adventurous step (guided by Jane all the way) and painted the walls and ceilings the same colour in the children’s rooms – I was unsure at first but now we all love
 the way the room envelops you in a comforting feeling.

So far we have only finalised two rooms, but have started planning another three and I can’t wait to get started! Watch this space!

To contact Jane go to janemcintyredesign.com or call 02380 812239.  Jane can offer her services via FaceTime also.
Juliet Fishenden

In the UK. handrails need to be present where you have a set of stairs and, if the flight of stairs exceeds a certain width, there needs to be a pair of handrails, one on either side of the staircase

That’s roughly the rule when it comes to handrails, stair banisters and railings in the UK. Building regulations also stipulate the height at which a handrail should be installed. The codes also cover the design of handrails, treads and risers and other fittings such as spindles.

Handrails come in all manner of designs and materials but a wrought iron handrail is near as safe and secure as you can get. On top of being a very safe choice, when looked after properly, a bespoke handrail wrought from iron will last for years.

So, do stairs have to have handrails?

The short answer is “yes”. UK building codes require that staircases require at least one handrail. Part K of the Building Regulations set out the requirements for handrails.

If the stairs are less than 1 metre wide then a handrail must be provided on one or both sides. If the stairs are wider than 1 metre then a handrail should be installed on both sides.

The first two steps of a staircase do not require a handrail.

How tall should a handrail be?

Whether you’re installing a new staircase or renovating an old one, the height at which you hang the handrail is important. If the railing is too high or too low it won’t be much use or perform the safety function that it’s designed to do.

In the UK, Building Regulations state that the handrail should be fitted at a height between 900 mm and 1000 mm above the pitch line of the stairs or the floor of a landing. The pitch line is a virtual line, running up the staircase and sitting on the nose of the treads.

Does a stair handrail need to be continuous?

UK building codes require each flight of stairs to have a continuous banister. The handrail does not need to be continuous on the landings between flights.

It’s important to understand the exact definition of a “flight”. A flight of stairs is a series of uninterrupted series of risers and treads. This includes the risers of windings. Windings are treads that are used to change the direction of the staircase.

A continuous railing is required except where there is a newel post installed to act as a handhold. A newel post is the upright post which supports the handrail. Most commonly such a pillar is found at the top and bottom of a staircase but they can also be used for intermediate posts and on landings. Wall brackets are used to secure the railing to the wall.

Other areas which would benefit from a handrail

Bespoke handrails can be used for a variety of other functions aside from providing safety on a staircase. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, iron handrails adorning garden walls, terraces and balconies ensure a safe and secure barrier to be formed. There are separate sections of the regulations which cover railings installed on balconies.

Juliet Fishenden

Sheer curtains are making a comeback. They’ve found their new groove within Scandi or industrial interior designs mostly but whatever your style, sheers are available in a range of textures, fabrics and mounting styles, making them endlessly versatile and adaptable to suit almost any home and style.

Lightweight and transparent, sheers are made from a variety of fabrics, including polyester, cotton georgette and organza. They’re also available in different header styles, including grommet, back-tab and rod pocket, they’re easily adaptable to suit your home.

Hanging a sheer curtain between your solid/opaque drapes and your window is a great way to let some sunlight into your space without sacrificing any privacy. Function aside, the combination of sheers with heavier drapes looks great and has some real potential for creativity in your interior design.

The best way to hang sheer curtains with heavier drapes is to hang two separate curtain rods. Use one of our made to measure curtain poles as the primary, room facing curtain rod as it will be the most visible and will be supporting the weight of the drapes. The curtain rod supporting the sheer curtains will be closest to the wall and will be covered by the drapes and curtain pole in the front.

When you are installing both poles, make sure to keep in mind the amount of space you leave as you don’t want the two different sets of curtains to interfere with each other.

The most common  way to arrange a sheer curtain with a solid curtain is to let the sheer curtain hang loosely in soft folds while the solid curtain is swept to either side. The sheer curtains are typically left to fall straight while the solid curtains are held back on either side using curtain holdbacks or a tie.

Sheer curtains were made to be paired with the elegant French style curtain pole. Curving ninety degrees into the wall, the sheer curtains will add some much-needed protection if your windows are susceptible to cool draughts.

Timeless and classy, draping sheers over French doors with a French curtain pole also adds a light and airy feel to any room, brightening it up with some chic on a sunny day. Pair with some heavy velvet drapes for intimate evenings while still keeping your look contemporary.

Bay windows are also a great place to hang sheer curtains, as bay windows tend to be larger than most other windows and control a lot of the light that comes into a room. Ideal for a window seat in the front of your home, sheer curtains can add a Nordic feel to your room. Perfect for a sunny day when you want to enjoy a cup of coffee with the warmth from the sun, they’ll filter the light to reduce glare.

For evening privacy, try a mid-length cotton drape in warming olive tones, they’ll complement a warm white drape and amp up the cosy factor whilst staying on-trend.

Juliet Fishenden

No matter the size of your kitchen, more and more people are looking for more working space on their kitchen countertops. However, it can be difficult to boost space without having to sacrifice some of your favourite items, and spaces can often end up looking too clean and unlived-in. Here are a few tips to increase your kitchen storage space, without cluttering your countertops.

Boost your storage with a pan rail

Rails offer a practical and aesthetically pleasing path for turning empty wall space into a handy storage option. A mounted pan rail is a fantastic kitchen addition as it allows you to have the pans and accessories you use most often within arms reach but never in the way. No more digging around in cupboards filled with pans and lids! Plus, the cupboard or surface space that was once home to the pans can now be used to store other items. A kitchen rail also adds a decorative element to a space, allowing you to hang those pans that didn’t come cheap in pride of place. In fact, pan rails have become a popular look for kitchens due to their ability to keep surfaces neat without a kitchen looking empty and unlived-in. Our kitchen rails are available in a great range of styles and sizes to suit your kitchen décor and design, and the hooks make it easier than ever to reach for your favourite implements when cooking.

‘Just wanted to say a big thanks for the wonderful rail for our client . It was installed today and looks superb.’ Tanya, Sola Kitchens (image below)

Get creative with your cupboard space

Kitchens are full of cupboards fit for the purpose of storage, but have you ever considered how you could maximise the storage within them? More and more people are getting creative with how they use their kitchen cupboards, creating interiors that optimise their organisation and allow them to fit more inside – eliminating much of the clutter that can gather on kitchen counters. 

Due to their awkward size and shape, pan lids are one of the key culprits for wasting valuable cupboard space. Try mounting a pan lid organiser onto the inside of a cupboard door, or in the interior. This enables you to easily mount pan lids in a way that you can clearly see them and grab them when necessary. 

Deep drawers offer another opportunity to optimise storage. Try using dividers to fit the drawers, creating cubby holes that allow you to categorise different items into easily accessible sections. Making these small adjustments inside your cupboards can cause a ripple effect that leaves your entire kitchen looking neater and more organised.

Maximise storage space with shelving

Consider one of our bespoke shelves with iron brackets for an entirely new, bonus surface to organise your kitchen clutter. They are especially great for storing all of the everyday items, such as tins, jars, bottles and cookbooks that you would usually reach for on your work surfaces. Whether you install a shelf directly above a countertop or above the cooker, everything will be within reach but your counter will look clean with extra space for food preparation. If you like having spices where you can see them while you cook, try adding a spice rack to your new shelf. 

Organisation can completely transform your kitchen from a tight and stressful grind into a wondrous space where inspiration can strike at any moment. 

Juliet Fishenden

Here at Made by the Forge, we pride ourselves on the excellence of our handcrafted products so it makes perfect sense to use video to show our customers the best way to get our curtain poles and shelving up to make your windows and walls stand out. Once again we invited filmmaker Alan Miller to shoot and produce our videos. He has over thirty-five years of experience in the film and television industry and it’s great to have the benefit of his knowledge.

We put aside half a day to shoot three videos. Any one who’s been involved with these sorts of projects knows that it’s never as easy as the finished video appears. It helps enormously that Richard is very relaxed on camera, a one-take wonder even. Alan is a one-man production outfit but he’s not gifted as a hair and make up artist, so you’re getting Richard as Richard, no frills. He’s always ready for his close up.

The three videos are straightforward enough. How to (1) Put Up A Curtain Pole, (2) Put Up A Recess Pole and (3) Put Up A Made by the Forge Shelf. We hope you find them useful. How To videos online can be enormously helpful and even encourage you to do the work yourself. We hope ours are short, to the point and informative.

Juliet Fishenden

Handcrafted, stylish and strong are some of the words describing the fabulous shelf brackets we are making here at Made by the Forge. Recently we received an email, from a high-end interior designer, with the opening line;

“I need to order some more of these wonderful brackets!”

Praise indeed and we’ve had countless interior enthusiasts raving about them. They are incredibly versatile and can be used with any wood of your choice. At present, we don’t supply the actual shelves but after encouraging feedback, we’re making enquiries into providing the wood along with the shelf brackets.

These hand-forged, dark iron brackets have been successfully situated in both modern rustic interior spaces and contemporary ones to great effect. A customer kindly sent an image of her newly installed shelf brackets. They are particularly stunning because of the creative backlighting in her kitchen, a great idea.

The image below shows how our customer Emma furnished her glamping pod with a shelf under the TV so the handsets were all tidily off the floor.

“I’m really pleased with your lovely ironwork, and it’s made all the difference in terms of the finishing touches to both my own property over the years, and now to my newly completed glamping pod – The Owlery. Everyone is extremely complimentary. Thanks again for providing such an excellent service.”
Best wishes
Emma
Loch Sunart Yarns & Buttons

So deciding to put up one or more handy wall shelves is easy with our made to measure brackets. You choose the width of shelf for your needs and we make the brackets just for you. The raw metal is finished in a natural, locally sourced beeswax which gives the iron a beautiful sheen. The brackets can also be finished in a matt black paint according to your needs.

“I have just ordered 6 brackets for my newly decorated office space and am so looking forward to getting the contents of my office out of the boxes and up off the floor. I am the sort of person who likes to be able to see where things are so they are easily found!”

Ordering with us is easy. We have experts at the end of the telephone or an email whichever you choose.

Caroline Brett

Made by the Forge plants a native sapling for every order received. 2018 sees a new series highlighting the virtues of the British trees the company promotes as a major part of its ethos.

Hazel (Corylus avellana)

The hazel is the smallholder’s godsend. It grows relatively rapidly on rough and wet soils that aren’t much use for other crops. Commonly it’s found in hedgerows and in the understory of oak, ask and birch woodland.

Hazel sticks are flexible, strong and long lasting with multiple uses. Crofters and smallholders use them for sheep hurdles, baskets, walking sticks, thatching spurs, netting poles and even coracle boats. In spring, hazel is so bendy it can be knotted without breaking.

The trees were traditionally coppiced for their repeated growth of sticks every 6-10 years.  One tree or stool (cut clump) could last several hundred years.  When left to grow naturally, they can reach 12m and live for 80 – 100 years.

Hazel was grown for large-scale nut production until the early 1900s. Cultivated varieties (known as cob-nuts) are still grown in Kent.

The nuts are a favourite food of squirrels and dormice. Hazel nuts help these rodents fatten up for winter and in spring the leaves are an important source of food for caterpillars that squirrels and dormice also relish. Woodpeckers, jays and nuthatches also enthusiastically collect hazel nuts in autumn.

In coppiced hazel woodland, the open wildflower-rich habitat supports many species of butterfly, particularly fritillaries. It also provides shelter for ground-nesting birds such as the nightingales, nightjars, yellowhammers and willow warblers.

Hazel is ‘the magic tree’. A hazel rod is believed to ward off evil spirits, it was a popular witches’ wand and reputedly good for water divining. Nuts were carried to ward off rheumatism. In Celtic legend and Ireland it’s known as the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ as well as a fertility symbol. There are many versions of an ancient tale where nine hazel trees grew around a sacred pool. Salmon (a fish sacred to Druids) ate the nuts and absorbed the wisdom.

Today the wise snack on hazelnuts which are loaded with health benefitting nutrients including manganese, magnesium, copper, zinc, iron and numerous vitamins and anti-oxidant qualities. They have been proven to help prevent heart disease and improve brain function.

Juliet Fishenden

As a manufacturer of designer, lighting, Made by the Forge acknowledges trends in the interiors industry. The word ‘trendy’ is sometimes used derogatively as much as it is simply describing something of current popularity. Trendy is by definition impermanent, fleeting and in some fashion, the very opposite of the hot forged, designer lighting which we guarantee will last a lifetime. But given that, it is very satisfying to find out that the Farrier’s Cage Five Bar Long, designed by Anthony Dickens is, ‘trending’!

In this month’s issue of Homes and Gardens, there’s a long feature on Kitchen Trends for 2018. Kitchens have always been the home’s beating heart, warm and inviting, a place to socialise, a place to create. Well, nothing says contemporary like the Farrier’s Cage Five Bar Long and there it is, front and centre on pages 148 and 149 of the quality interiors magazine. To see the full article click the link here.

The overarching trend, the general theme of the article states that “This season’s sharpest kitchens are going incognito – the latest schemes seamlessly blend functionality with the look of a contemporary living space.” This says to me that the kitchen has become just as important as any other room in the house on which to stamp a personalised statement. With its right foot in the traditional blacksmith past and its left on the cutting edge, The Farrier’s Cage Five Bar Long is perfect for such a space. Long may it trend!

Juliet Fishenden

All of us in the U.K. have lived with wrought iron for most of our lives. It’s found everywhere. Ancient ironwork smashed into pleasing shapes, structures and intricate patterns is still with us, the march of time barely giving it a second glance. Wrought iron opens our beer bottles, clads our ships and provides France with her most enduring icon.

The industrial revolution may have turned our heads towards the new mechanical means of production but handmade, handcrafted ironwork still holds an incomparable allure. In fact, in the 21st century, wrought ironwork and its blacksmiths have returned with some vigour as the desire for material permanence has trumped the built in obsolescence of the poorly made product.

Frame grab from Ugly House to Lovely House with George Clarke © Channel Four Television

The last commercial wrought ironworks factory closed in 1974 but despite this, the skill of ‘working’ iron (‘wrought’ is an archaic form of ‘worked’) is still with us and the products highly prized and appreciated for their quality. From the beauty of the Farrier’s Cage Five Bar Long to the humble handle, iron still just works.

Juliet Fishenden

In this modern, interconnected world of ‘Now!’ or even sooner, it pays to keep an eye on what the current groundswell of opinion is, what people are thinking and what’s trending. To us, a trend is an ephemeral thing, born fast and soon passed. But it pays to know what is currently of particular interest. Made by the Forge’s products have a timeless quality to them, built as they are to last a lifetime. Wrought ironwork has been taken up by contemporary consumers who recognise that authenticity and superior craft can bestow on – even the most humble product – a veneer of ‘cool’. Turning to a search engine of choice, I was surprised to see one aspect of ironwork poking its head above the parapet as a modern object of desire.

The definition of a balustrade is as follows; a railing supported by balusters, especially one forming an ornamental parapet to a balcony, bridge, or terrace. The elements of a balustrade are; the handrail and its parallel baserail; the spindles are the supporting rods attaching the rails and the extra supporting pillars are known as newel posts. To you and me, we call all that ‘a stair rail’.

Over the centuries, ironwork has been spectacularly wrought into ingenious designs (just visit Barcelona and let your eye wander up the frontage of buildings) and there doesn’t seem to be any limit on human imagination when it comes to decorative ironwork. At Made by the Forge, we favour simple lines and clean designs, an approach that has acquired the word ‘minimalist’. But whatever your preference, whatever your own unique design, we can make it a reality. Get creative!