Style tips Archive

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

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

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

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.

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!