From the Forge – News Archive

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

There has been no period of time in human civilisation equivalent to this present moment. Right now, we understand that our actions as consumers have reached a tipping point and if we do not check our continued and unthinking usage of materials such as plastic, we will be responsible for vastly negative and irreversible effects on the planet. Responsible and discerning people know this and are slowly changing their attitudes towards the products they buy.

There is one material in everyday use that due to its longevity and strength is not actually consumed. It is used and can be re-used, re-purposed, re-made and recycled over and over again. An investment in this material is never wasted. It can be built upon by successive generations. At Made by the Forge we call this material ‘iron’.  In other areas of manufacture it goes by the name ‘steel’ and as a metal in the construction industry it is one of the most recyclable and reusable metals in the world.

Steel’s inherent strength does not wear out from overuse. It does not creep (become deformed due to physical stresses) or buckle. If you have products from Made by the Forge and you move house, your ironwork can move with you. If you choose to recycle it, it will be reformed into something else, never losing its practical use in other areas. In short, environmentally, you can’t go wrong buying an iron/steel product. At, you’ll find nothing but…

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
  Oast houses are buildings which were designed for drying hops out as part of the brewing process when crafting beer. Historically these Oast houses were found in Kent and Sussex where the hops were predominantly grown. The making of beer has since evolved so you don’t need a hop kiln anymore so many of these interesting buildings are being converted into houses. These fabulous buildings make for very interesting living spaces.
One aspect of these buildings that is slightly tricky is the curvature of the wall so we have recently been asked to help out with the difficulty of completely curved walls by The House Company in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.  Interior designer Tracy Newson knew the only realistic way forward was made to measure, bespoke, handcrafted curtain rails
and for those you come to the specialists at Made by the Forge.
“Customer was delighted and so was I.”
We were thrilled to be able to help with the solution which was completely curved, hand forged curtain poles to fit the curves from finial to finial. The finished look was effortlessly stylish and the beautiful handmade curtains set the iron poles off and the windows perfectly.
If you have an Oast House and you need some help for your curved walls, click on the link and then click on the Curved Bay diagram for all the information to price up bespoke made to measure curved curtain poles.
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Juliet Fishenden

There is something so very special about seeing the interior of a French home. These spaces are casually elegant while embracing any natural or period features. The look is incredibly sophisticated while appearing effortless at the same time. It is beautiful and practical. On first impressions, it may seem an impossible task to recreate this look in our own home, but the good news is that by simply following a few rules, you too can recreate this fabulous French interior that you love. Below we explore the secret to French interior design.

Keep it simple

Many homeowners think that French interior design is all about bold and elaborate designs, but the truth is far simpler and more subtle. The basic rule is to keep things as simple as possible. Collect items of furniture that you love and mean something to you. Mix old features with new accessories and make the space work for you and your family. That is what is at the heart of French living.

Make use of original features

The heart of French interior design lies in its rich history and the use of any original period features or architecture. So, if you have an original ornate fireplace, wall sconces or antique tiles, use them in your interior design. These features give the room that authentic and effortlessly lived-in look that is central to French design.

Pay attention to windows and doors

Window dressing is central to French interior design. Curtains adorn every window and door, helping to create that feeling of comfort and safety. French-style curtain poles can help to enhance this look with the use of elaborate wrought iron that gives the room that rustic, yet modern touch. You can also use door curtain poles, such as portiere rods to hang heavy curtains above any door. This type of French curtain pole is elaborate and will help to create a stunning feature of your chosen door.

Make old things look new

You don’t need to buy expensive new pieces of furniture or accessories to achieve the French look. The secret here is to buy second-hand furniture, or use what you have, and then update them. Recover those old dining chairs in new fabric or give them a neutral colour stain. Trawl antique shops for accessories such as cups and saucers, cushions and throws, then mix and match what you have.

Don’t be afraid to add colour

It is a common misconception that when embracing French interior design that you must stick to a neutral colour scheme. This is simply not true. If you love colour, then don’t be afraid to use it. Incorporate a brightly coloured sofa into an otherwise neutral room. Paint one wall an accent colour or add coloured tiles to your kitchen floor. If you prefer the overall look to be in neutral shades, then add a pop of colour in your choice of accessories.

If you are wanting to embrace French interior design in your own home, then we can help as we sell a wide range of French-style curtain poles and door curtain poles, including portiere rods. To learn more, please do browse our website today.

Juliet Fishenden

At Made by the Forge we believe in putting back what we take out. The art of crafting iron means working with the elements of fire, air and water and we feel truly at one with nature and have a huge respect for it. Our love of the environment has led us to pledge to plant a tree for each order we take. We collaborate with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust every year and have planted thousands of trees with them to date.

“Some of the trees donated through your support being planted at Carlton Marshes on Friday. Volunteers are from a local company called Starfrost.” Michael Strand SWT, November 2019

Our tree planting pledge is a serious commitment to offset the carbon generated by the manufacture of our products. It is an unfortunate fact that any modern human production process or industry creates carbon. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and generate oxygen.

Everyone as individuals can do their bit for the planet. As campaigner and primate researcher Jane Goodall is always underlining, you may not think it’s a big help to switch off that light but if a billion of us do it… The latest item in the battle against single use disposable plastic is the ecobrick.

At the forge we encourage each member of our team to find one plastic bottle (sizes vary from 500ml to 2 litres) and stuff it full of dry, clean plastic over time using a blunt stick or the end of a spoon. As soon as you cannot jam any more plastic in, pop the top on and voilà, an ecobrick. To check it’s full, you should be able to stand on it without its shape changing. They are then sent out to places where they can be used for creative and practical projects like making modular furniture and even buildings. There will be an ecobrick collection point near you. Add brick-making to your list of talents!


Juliet Fishenden
We are soon to be putting up our stand again for the one and only October Interiors Show on Monday 14th October 2019. We hope to see lots of our current trade customers and hopefully meet lots of new faces. We will be launching a brand new selection of 16mm poles and finials on our stand plus our range of 20mm and 25mm wrought iron finials, poles and accessories. Online shopping is so easy but the act of actually seeing for oneself, touching and feeling something is all part of the deciding experience. So if you are thinking of coming along to the show please do come and see us.  We love a chat about a good project!
The show is hosted by The Curtain And Blind Makers Friendly Forum (CABMFF) and is a Trade-only, soft furnishings, workroom and interior design trade show. Registration link below:

The show provides an opportunity to see the latest collections and products. It’s the biggest and best south west show that draws attendees from all over the UK. There really is something for everyone, from emerging designers and smaller companies right through to international fabric and wallpaper companies.

Refreshments available at the racecourse’s in-house cafe. There’s ample free parking.

Exhibitor list is currently updated daily and is available on the registration link page.


Cheltenham Racecourse

Evesham Road


GL50 4SH

View Map

Looking forward to seeing you there.


Juliet Fishenden

The great and revered Henry Ford of the early US motor car industry famously said “Any customer can have a car painted in any colour he wants, as long as it’s black.” When it comes to curtain poles, you can’t go wrong with a natural beeswax or matt black finish. At Made by the Forge, it’s our signature ironwork colour.

However, we’ve had many requests to provide a choice of different colours to suit complimentary interiors.

To that end, we have launched three different colour options, available by special request, for our best selling Grand Cannonball finial and matching 25mm curtain pole; gold, copper and antique bronze. If your window space tends towards the colour scheme of triumph and flamboyance, then go for gold. Gold finial… there’s a song in there somewhere. Copper suits the darker end of the spectrum while antique bronze gives the pole and finial a connection with metalwork from a bygone age. All three colours are subtle, attractive and contemporary while retaining a classic distinctiveness.

Colour choices for interiors are hugely subjective. There is no right or wrong in terms of colour preference despite your own personal tastes (which, we are sure, are discerning and well considered). The three shades were specifically designed to compliment the most prevalent interior colour schemes. We hope that the range has a colour to suit your own living space. If not, remember that matt black – which goes with anything – remains an option. To paraphrase the great Mr. Ford, “You can have a 25mm curtain pole and Grand Cannonball finial in any colour you want as long as it’s black, gold, copper or antique bronze.” Contact us now.

Juliet Fishenden

The French have always had the reputation for style and knowing it when they see it. The well known French Rod or French Pole is a design classic, one that we respect but also make in our own distinctive and unique fashion.

Interior designers, discerning individuals and first-rate curtain makers, like Magenta Interiors, all choose our French Style Curtain Poles. They look traditional, classy, superbly crafted and they do their job.

“Made by the Forge is my first stop for the best French poles on the market.” Magenta Interiors – Bespoke Soft Furnishings

There are no finials to choose as each end curves ninety degrees back to the wall where the pole slides into a bracket. The advantage of such a pole is that it is much more efficient at keeping out drafts.

You can install a French style curtain pole for a curtain over a window or a door to keep a howling wind at bay. Depending on the age of your home, (or of your cosy gite in the south of France if you are so lucky) there’s always a draft looking for a way in. The curtain on a French Style pole will then create a more complete shelter from the wind.

Why not consider adding some ‘va va voom!’ to your room?

Juliet Fishenden

Cannonball in beeswax finish – above

It is famously reported in a meeting held in 1909 that the great American entrepreneur Henry Ford once said of his new fangled automobile that the customer could buy a car painted in any colour they wanted… “as long as it was black.” He was on pretty solid ground. In popular culture there are frequent reports from newspapers and hipster magazines announcing that they have discovered the ‘new’ black as if the colour could be dismissed by a mere pretender to the iron throne.

Button finial on a 25mm pole – above

Black is primal. Black is, sartorially, slimming. Black is to ironwork as red is to blood. Black also never goes out of style. At Made by the Forge, we have honed our blacksmithing skills (the clue is in the name of our craft) to produce world-class curtain rails. Finishing them in either matt black paint or the dark sheen of natural beeswax seems like the equivalent of icing the cake or dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s. It’s giving our iron curtain poles the look that will enable them to effortlessly blend in with and enhance your window treatment.

Ram’s Horn finial on a 25mm pole

Let’s face it. The colour is part of what makes our ironwork so attractive. Black is as cool as it gets which is a wonderful irony given the word’s origin in ‘blacksmith’. The ‘black’ in ‘blacksmith’ arguably refers to the black fire scale, a layer of oxides that form on the surface of metal during heating. How cool is that?

Grand Cannonball finial and 25mm pole – above