A few weeks ago I mentioned having commissioned custom made fronts to fit an Ikea Besta sideboard we had recently purchased. Well my beautiful doors, tops and sides arrived, they fit like a dream and are beyond any pre conceived ideas that we had before they arrived.I am so pleased that I found Custom Fronts, not only that they are UK based but I support their sustainable, hand crafted, design led ethos. The attention to detail is exceptional, I have a bespoke piece of furniture for the fraction of the cost of a designer brand but with huge eco credentials.During the process of choosing the finishes and final dimensions for my cupboard doors, I had a chat to Ian and Rachel, the husband and wife team behind the brand and asked a few questions about how Custom Fronts came about, the sustainability behind the craft and where they see the business going in the future, this is what they told me.“We wanted to re-invent how kitchens and furniture should be. We don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. We want to offer something extraordinarily simple, yet extraordinarily difficult to find. Kitchens and furniture that are beautiful, sustainable, made locally, design-led, AND affordable. No-one else seemed to be doing it. Why couldn’t we? We come from humble backgrounds, and don’t have deep pockets. But we love art, design, creativity, the planet…and there are many more like us. We know it’s not just those who can afford it that want beautiful and healthy design in their homes!
We had a number of questions that we felt the interiors world just didn’t have answers to. So we decided to answer these ourselves.
Why can’t high-end design be inclusive, not exclusive?
Why shouldn’t beautiful, sustainable AND affordable design be available to everyone?
How do even high-end manufacturers get away with making their products from toxic MDF and other unsustainable materials?
Why must everything be wastefully spray painted with toxic paints, or wrapped in laminate and vinyls?
Scandinavian birch plywood is THE ideal materials for kitchens – why are so few using it?
Why should those without deep pockets have to settle for bland, shoddy products without beauty and creativity?
Why is everyone playing it safe?
We felt perfectly placed to provide these answers. We have the skills, we had the vision. But we felt scared, unsure…did other people have these questions too? Did other people want what we wanted? We still don’t know for sure. But we did know that we didn’t want to play it safe. We wanted to take a risk. Sometimes you have to trust your gut, so we went for it!
We love nature and beauty. We use gorgeous FSC certified birch plywood or bamboo for all of our products. Birch plywood is fast-growing and abundant meaning it is easily replenishable. It is low-toxic, and because it consists of several very thin layers of birch ply together, immensely less wasteful than solid wood. Beautiful bamboo is incredibly fast-growing, has a fascinating grain structure and is another perfect material. All our wood veneers are native species from FSC certified suppliers.
We use ultra low toxic and durable paint, an American brand “Mythic”. You could drink it, although I wouldn’t advise it! It’s not a fashionable brand, they don’t shout about themselves but we know this is the best on the market.
We make everything ourselves in our workshop in Sussex, we want to be proud of what we make with a simple, timeless aesthetic but also push the boundaries a little, we like using interesting colour palettes, woods and metal finishes. It might surprise customers, but we won’t say “yes” to everything. We have strong environmental and design principles and everything we do stays true to that. We won’t spray paint – it’s wasteful, usually toxic, and lacks the subtle texture and crafted look of hand painted. We will never use MDF and particle board. We won’t use tropical hard woods.
We have so many plans. Our only problem is time, not ideas! Our plans are to introduce our own bespoke furniture, Custom shelves, Custom tables, Custom stools, with very interesting “customisable” options of course.
We will also be moving to a beautiful rural workshop only 50 miles from London over the summer where we will have a showroom, we’d love you to come and say hello. It is just across the road from one of the most beautiful riverside walks in Sussex, which handily ends up at a scenic pub where you can enjoy a lovely pub lunch, a perfect day out.
And finally there is the possibility of a collaboration with a fascinating design firm so watch this space.”
Take it from me the finish is exceptional and I’m bursting with pride that I now own a Custom Fronts cabinet, I don’t think it will be long before I hear of many more of you owning a slice of of Scandi Ply delight too, or how long it will take before I want to update my kitchen!!