News 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

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

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

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.

 

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

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 madebytheforge.co.uk, you’ll find nothing but…

Juliet Fishenden

As you probably know, Made by the Forge pledges to plant a tree for every order received. We take this pledge very seriously. In February this year, hundreds of trees were planted thanks to all you wonderful people who ordered ironwork from us last year. The funds to do so were recently donated to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust for landscape trees to be planted around the development at Carlton Marshes Visitor Centre, car park and children’s play area.

Carlton and Oulton Marshes range over a one hundred and fifty hectare nature reserve in Lowestoft. They are collectively a lowland reserve in the Broads National Park. This consists of meadows, wet grasslands, reed beds, marshes and woodlands. We chose to support the planned tree planting needed at Carlton Marshes to help the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s overall goal to make this reserve a very special place for wildlife and people. The volunteer team is putting in one exterior rabbit fence using chestnut posts and the trees are scattered within.

The Suffolk Wildlife Trust arranged the tree planting at Carlton Marshes, which will go some way towards this amazing location becoming an even more special place to visit. The marshes are open to anyone who wants a wild, outdoor experience. And who doesn’t?

The images were kindly supplied by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. “Thank you once again for your terrific support” Michael Strand, Suffolk Wildlife Trust.