1 The Perfect Piece for Your Home: A Bespoke Furniture Guide - The Battered Black Book

The Perfect Piece for Your Home: A Bespoke Furniture Guide

Finding a craftsman or artisan to create a one-off heirloom for your home is a rewarding process, and it needn’t be daunting. A truly bespoke piece of furniture is a collaboration between client and maker. This labour of love results in an exquisitely made possession as individual as its owner, and nothing elevates an interior like custom, artisanal design pieces.

But when it comes to commissioning a piece of furniture, where should you start? We speak with Alexander Shepel, founder of the multi-brand design studio and bespoke furniture-making business, SHEPEL’. With more than a decade of experience in the industry, Alexander explains how to commission bespoke furniture and the benefits it can bring.

Why should I invest in a piece of bespoke furniture?

By going bespoke, you can create pieces that perfectly suit your unique tastes, needs, lifestyle and environment. Whilst one-off pieces can be expensive compared to mass-produced furniture, the quality and longevity of hand-crafted items will far outlive that of high street options.

A bespoke piece can be the answer to practical problems, such as unusual layouts. We often craft joinery to solve design dilemmas which can’t be resolved with existing, off-the-shelf pieces. Commissioning something hand-crafted also presents the opportunity to support a maker you believe in and back a small business, rather than a ‘fast-furniture’ manufacturer.

What should I prioritise when commissioning a piece of bespoke furniture?

Case goods, like wardrobes and kitchen cabinets are at the top of the list when it comes to investing in custom design. When tailored to your home, these can stretch up to the ceiling and fit into awkward nooks, maximising every inch of storage space, and helping you to be more organised – whilst syncing perfectly with your existing design style.

If you’re contemplating designing a bespoke kitchen, always consider how your kitchen will need to evolve with your lifestyle. Your needs and tastes might change over time. Design your kitchen with the future in mind. Think about elements like adjustable shelving or multi-functional spaces that can adapt as your life changes.

How can I create a design brief?

One of the important parts of our work is identifying the desires and needs of the client through conversation about their habits and hobbies. We’ll ask you exactly where the piece is going to go and what functions it will need to fulfil. We’ll ask things like, do you anticipate this item getting a lot of use, or will it be more ornamental?

Next, we’ll explore your personal style and aesthetic preferences, asking questions such as: Is there a period you like or a particular design movement that speaks to you? Which materials do you find appealing? We’ll ask you to think about other pieces of furniture you have loved, and which design details you might like to incorporate into a new piece. We’ll also need to understand how important this piece is within the room as a whole – do you want it to be the star of the show or a functional object that blends into the background?

How can I make sure I choose the right maker?

A good furniture maker will take care of everything, personally visiting your space to take all the necessary measurements and get a feel for your style. We determine proper scale and sizing for your piece based on the layout of the room and your personal preferences. For bookcases, wardrobes, and sideboards, consider what you plan to store inside. This will guide our plans for shelf heights and drawer sizes.