Resurgence of the Cook’s Table

The cook’s table was a classic element of a Victorian Kitchen and in recent years we have seen a revival of its popularity in the modern home.

One characteristic of country house style is simple but solid furniture – stand alone pieces that are incorporated for storage and display or food preparation.

Traditionally, country house kitchens were furnished by local craftsmen who designed and made purposeful pieces of furniture which were handed down from generation to generation. As a result, it is common to find a mix of period styles among the furniture of a country kitchen.  Similar in their practicality and durability, but with subtle variations according to the period and the budget, such pieces complement each other well.

In the ‘back of house’ of grand country houses, the cook’s table was a central piece of the working kitchen. It was used for food preparation but also sometimes as a dining table for the servants.

 

view of the Victorian Kitchen, showing cooks table and stove
The beautiful Victorian kitchen at Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton

 

Historically, the cook’s table was made out of pine, oak, elm and a variety of fruit woods, oiled or polished to bring out the natural graining and features of the wood. Others were colour washed, or painted using primitive paints made from locally available materials such as buttermilk and eggs mixed with earth coloured pigments. Interestingly, in the Victorian era, a number of deaths occurred as the result of a popular shade of green paint and wallpaper. Scheele’s Green, which was made using copper arsenite, fatally poisoned a number of people until the connection was later realised. Nowadays, this green pigment is produced without dangerous toxicity.

 

A kitchen and cook’s table, designed and made by Artichoke. Read more about the inspiration behind this design here.

 

With sustainability in mind, at Artichoke we always focus on the practicality and purpose of design. It is true that while the island has become a popular feature of  contemporary kitchen design, it can be obtrusive and can dominate a space.  A cook’s table offers an elegant and less obtrusive alternative – just as practical but bringing a romantic aesthetic with its history and rusticity. It’s a testament to the beauty of simplicity, affording elegance alongside functionally.

Artichoke’s wealth of experience and knowledge of period architectural detail and cabinet making affords us the specialist skills to deliberately design and make a variety of styles in a single suite of domestic rooms to give the impression that the rooms have evolved through various owners over time.  Such specific requirements are a perfect demonstration of the truly bespoke nature of our work.

The Walk In Pantry is Back

Scullery, walk-in pantry or butler’s pantry – we are all familiar with such rooms contributing to the status of an English country house.  While such rooms were traditionally quarters frequented by servants, modern day interior design sees them as everyday spaces used by the master of the house instead.  At Artichoke we enjoy bringing these rooms to life – planning their use and their fitted furniture to complement life in a busy 21st century home.

The Walk In Pantry – A Resurgence

We have experienced an increasing demand from clients commissioning authentic, high-end architectural joinery to support domestic spaces such as the pantry, designed in a way that is sympathetic and appropriate to the style and period of the house. When considering, for example, a Georgian country house, Artichoke has the knowledge and expertise to be respectful not only of the period of the house but also of the hierarchy of joinery – the design of such detail depending on the room – the upstairs being more elaborate than the downstairs or servant’s domain.

3D render of Artichoke designed butler's pantry
Artichoke’s design for a butler’s pantry

The Butler’s Pantry

Pantries are a relatively new invention in English country house architecture, chiefly appearing in Georgian houses as separate rooms annexed off the kitchen or near the dining room for food preparation and the storage of silver, valuable dishes, table decorations and cooking equipment.   Often the cabinetry was grand in scale to store the significant amounts of crockery and cutlery needed to entertain many guests over five or more courses.  Traditionally, pantries were much cooler than kitchens, often located in a north facing part of the house, making them the perfect place to store fruit and vegetables to prolong their shelf life.

An image of a Lutyens designed butler's pantry in Middleton Park

This is the butler’s pantry at Middleton Park. The house was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and his son Robert Lutyens in 1938 for the 9th Earl of Jersey. Pub Orig CL 12/07/1946

The Walk-In Pantry Today

Pantries provide a wonderful second space for food storage, food preparation and a shut-off room to hide used crockery and dishes when entertaining at scale.  They rarely need to be as big as their predecessors, chiefly because we don’t tend to eat as many courses or entertain as many people as regularly as they did 150 years ago.  There is also a growing awareness that many foods benefit from not being stored in the fridge.   These days, when kitchens tend to be the heart of the home, even in large, period properties, it is useful to have behind the scenes spaces where the mess and practicalities around domestic chores are hidden from view.  From a design point of view, it also means that some of the uglier appliances (such as the freezer or microvave) which look out of place in a period setting, can be hidden from view.

Wainscot Panelling and Panelled Walls

The History of Panelling

Wainscot Panelling, or Wainscoting, is a style of panelling which developed off the back of early panelling methods.

In it’s first instance, wood panelling was developed as a practicality. It provided insulation and covered up any damp that infiltrated cold stone walls. Yet, it was soon recognised as a decorative technique, adding detail and warmth to a room. In the 13th century, Henry III imported wood from Norway and used it to line rooms at Windsor Castle.  As time went on, decorative panelling turned into a fine art.

Linen-fold panelling was a decorated and embellished style that became popular in the 15th century.  Boiserie panelling, which is ornate and intricately carved, became favored in French interior design in the late 17th century. This type of panelling lined walls, doors, cupboards and shelves and great examples of this style can be found at Hampton Court Palace in Richmond.

During the English Renaissance, wood panelling became simpler in design. In grand houses, applied pilasters appeared to provide an architrave which elegantly concealed the join between panels. Applied pilasters then became a common feature of classical Georgian interior architecture, punctuating walls to emphasise window positions and bring structure to a large space.

 

Example of Boisere Panelling in French Hotel
Boiserie from the Hôtel de Cabris, Grasse,ca. 1774, with later additions

 

Linenfold Panelling in a hallway
Traditional Linenfold Panelling

 

Example of a more simple, Georgian panelling style
An example of 18th century, Georgian style Paneling

Wainscoting

Furthermore, during the 18th century, a new panelling style came into fruition: Wainscot panelling. Product of Danish Wainscot Oak, this panelling was charactersied by only covering the lower section of a wall, leaving a dado above. Wainscot Oak produced large, knot-free boards that were attractive and easy to work with, making it more favorable than oak grown in Britain.

Wainscoting is still a popular panelling style today.

An example of wainscotting in a hallway
Simple Wainscot Panelling in a hallway
Wainscot Paneling in a Bathroom
Wainscot Paneling in a Bathroom

Panelling in Your Home

When decorating your country home, it is always important to consider it’s period and history; this should then be a used to influence your internal architecture and decoration style. For example, in Victorian houses, it would be acceptable to have Edwardian panelling. However, it would not make stylistic sense to have Victorian panelling in an Edwardian house as the chronology would be backwards. Panelling with sunk framed squares, or rectangles, was popular in the 16th and 17th century and is particularly appropriate for restoring a country manor house. The period of a building influences it proportions both externally and internally, and such considerations are central to our design process at Artichoke.

Nowadays, it is possible to panel walls in a variety of beautiful woods from across the world. Panelling can be made to suit both traditional and modern interior decoration. If you are interested in painted panelling, a more contemporary style, then a hard wood such as Poplar can be an appropriate choice. For panelling that showcases the wood grain, Sapele or soft wood, such as European Red Wood, can be effective.  For traditional paneling styles, mahogany, walnut and oak are classic. Using stains and polishes will age and give character to any wood. In softer rooms, such as bedrooms, fabric panels can be used to add texture and grandeur. In formal rooms, adding marquetry into panels can be striking and ornate.

Wainscoting lends well to darker, smaller rooms, where full walled panelling may be too oppressive. Leaving the top section of a wall to be painted or papered, offers an opportunity for color and pattern alongside a traditional panel.

 

wood paneling in a country house study
An example of full walled, Georgian style paneling in stained and hand-polished French Walnut, designed and made by Artichoke.  See more of this project here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showing the detail of the internal joinery
Panelling details by Artichoke

 

If you own a listed property, it may be appropriate to speak to your conservation officer or take advice from Historic England. In cases of preserving and renovating authentic panelling, working with a specialist is recommended.

As experts in historical architecture and period joinery, Artichoke can offer trusted, bespoke panelling design. Working closely with our suppliers, we have access to some of Worlds most beautiful timbers and veneers.

 

AN example of wainscoting in a bathroom
Painted Wainscoting in a traditionally styled bathroom.

 

To discuss your project with Artichoke, email us at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk

School of Furniture. Our First Graduates

The pilot course for Artichoke’s first free School of Furniture is now complete, and it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience for both the students and Artichoke.

The principle aim of our school is simple. Can we turn teenager’s ‘lights on’ to craft?

We set the school up to help inspire anyone who has a curiosity about craft (but has never experienced it first hand), or those who are perhaps not being fully engaged by subjects covered in school.

Our first group of students focusing hard on their work.

We are thrilled that not only all our students left having achieved the course goal (to make the wooden puzzle below), but they also left feeling inspired (and with all of their fingers!).

wooden puzzel
A completed wooden puzzle, made by one of our students.

One student in particular is now exploring a career in furniture making following his time at Artichoke.  This alone, was an outcome to be proud of and we look forward to helping to inspire him and others further in the years to come.

Artichoke cabinet makers and course tutors Wilma and Inigo with one of our course students. Peter.

Special thanks to Artichoke makers Wilma and Inigo, and to our production manager John, for their enthusiasm in setting up the course and for teaching our first students.  We’d also like to thank Axminster Tools for their generosity in providing our students with great hand tools to use during the course.  Last but not least, thanks have to go to Kai Holmes, design technology teacher at the Kings of Wessex Academy in Cheddar, for providing such a great group of students (and for helping steer us through the minefield that is children’s education).

Other blog posts on how the school was set up can be found below.  If you are a furniture maker and would like to set up a school yourself, we’d be delighted to invite you here to meet our course manager and course tutors and share what we’ve learned so far.

The Artichoke School of Furniture

Creating Britain’s Future Makers

 

 

 

Creating Britain’s Future Makers

We’re now in the third week of Artichoke’s School of Furniture.  The free course is an initiative launched by Artichoke with help from the Kings of Wessex Academy. Our aim is to introduce local teenagers to our craft and to teach them some basic fundamentals of working with hand tools.

Artichoke cabinet makers Wilma and Inigo oversee the first intake of the Artichoke School of Furniture

For us at Artichoke, the journey is proving to be fascinating and it has been a pleasure to watch the students learn. No doubt, we’re also learning from the process ourselves.  This first year of the course is acting as a pilot, and as it progresses we will naturally develop and improve the course content and it’s structure in response to what worked, and what didn’t.

Artichoke’s cabinet maker and course tutor Wilma helps a student.

We’d like to pass what we’re learning onto other makers, and perhaps inspire them to start their own free course too.  If you’re a cabinet maker and you want to find out more about how Artichoke’s course was modelled, do get in contact with andrew@artichoke.co.uk.  We’d be happy to share what we’ve learned with you.

Removing waste with a chisel is a fundamental skill all cabinet makers learn.

Artichoke in Country Life Top 100

Country Life magazine has listed Artichoke among the best craftspeople in Britain as part of its annual Country Life Top 100 Country House specialists review.  This is the second year Artichoke has been listed.

We are in illustrious company.  Also included in this year’s list are ADAM Architecture, Craig Hamilton Architects and Joanna Wood Interior Design, plus many other professionals we have worked alongside with our clients over the last 25 years.

Country Life magazine is a magazine perfectly aligned with Artichoke’s focus on creating heritage through sympathetic joinery design.  The title has deep connections to Sir Edwin Lutyens, an architect we admire greatly having worked on several of his houses.  It also is one of the few magazines with a focus solely on English country house architecture, interiors and rural country pursuits.

The full Country Life Top 100 list can be reviewed here.

country life top 100

 

To see some of the stunning work we have completed please click here.

To discuss your project with Artichoke, email us at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk

 

Profile: Tim Hellier, Managing Director

Tim Hellier, Artichoke Managing Director
Tim Hellier, Artichoke’s Managing Director

Tim Hellier joined Artichoke as Installations Manager 12 years ago, and was responsible for the successful completion of every Artichoke project until his promotion to Managing Director in 2018.  Prior to joining Artichoke, Tim worked as a respected furniture designer and cabinet maker.

Before discovering his love of furniture, Tim held a passion for photography and was trained by Peter Parks, one of the UK’s original natural history programme makers.  During his film making career, Tim worked with the marine natural history company, Image Quest, where he worked with David Attenborough on the Blue Planet series – filming the marine and coral footage.

Tim is also a trained pilot, gaining his licence following the RAF flying scholarship he was awarded when he was 17.

 

tim hellier in a canoe on a wide river
Tim midway through the Yukon River Challenge in 2017. He came second in his class

Tim is also a keen rower and was Captain of rowing at Radley College.  In 2017 he entered the gruelling Yukon River Challenge in Canada, a 3 day race over 440 miles between White Horse and Dawson.  Tim came second in his category, raising over £7,000 for The British Heart Foundation, Artichoke’s chosen charity.

 

For more information on the range of project management services we offer, from design, installation and finish, please click here

Working with Weldon’s Beautiful Floors

Artichoke strives to design beautiful rooms which sit comfortably and elegantly into their surroundings.  However we cannot do this alone.  We work alongside many other trades such as decorative plaster specialists, specialist finishers and lighting companies in order to deliver these spaces immaculately.

Weldon is one business with whom we have formed a close working relationship over many years of collaboration. Our companies share many similarities. Both were founded in 1992, and both are driven by a passion for innovation, design, and an uncompromising pursuit of excellence. Our most recent collaboration was in a former Georgian hunting lodge. For this project, Weldon was contracted to design and make the hardwood flooring for much of the ground floor.

 

Two georgian panelled doors on a wooden floor
A beautiful pairing. Artichoke doors on a Weldon floor.

Weldon is committed to delivering the highest standards of quality and service. A fact born out by their two Royal Warrants, a mark of recognition to Her Majesty The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and also HRH The Prince of Wales.

Weldon specialise in marquetry and parquetry floors, as well as the most heart melting antique floors. Their skill and reputation has led them to design and make floors for Buckingham Palace, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Blenheim Palace and Windsor Castle.

 

Bathroom with a slipper bath and dark wooden floor
A Weldon chevron patterned aged oak floor.

By sticking rigidly to their core principles of beauty, endurance and quality, Weldon has maintained incredibly high standards of craftsmanship throughout its 25 years of trading. These efforts are matched by their efforts to give back.  The provenance and tractability of raw materials is fundamental to Weldon’s approach, and they are dedicated to obtaining new timber from sustainable sources. The Company has planted over 3,000 trees in the last 10 years, providing more sustainable timber supplies in the UK.

Artichoke is slightly late to the party in this regard, although we are now proud to have set up the Artichoke School of Furniture, a series of five free introductory courses designed to introduce local school children in Cheddar to the basics of our craft. The first fully booked course starts in April 2019, and we couldn’t be prouder.

It has been immensely enjoyable sharing the first quarter of a century of our journey with Weldon. If you’re in the process of renovating a period building (or building a new one), you could do no wrong by speaking with them.  We couldn’t think of a better foundation on which to fit our furniture.

The Artichoke School of Furniture

At Artichoke we believe what we do enhances people’s lives. Our vision is that in 100 years, English design and craftsmanship will have continued to flourish, and our interiors will be celebrated by future generations.

We count ourselves very fortunate to have found our craft, although much of the team have discovered Artichoke via rather circuitous routes.  Among our ranks is an ex prison officer, an ex ad man and an ex paramedic.  Despite our eclectic backgrounds, we are united in the belief that the skills we are lucky enough to have learned should be passed on.

To help realise our vision, we are delighted to be launching the Artichoke School of Furniture. A series of free introductory courses for Somerset teenagers, who are interested in learning the basic skills of furniture making.  The aim of these courses will be to try and light the first spark of enthusiasm for cabinet making.

The initial five week pilot is being run for youngsters studying at the Kings of Wessex Academy in Cheddar, before being rolled out to the wider community.   The course will be run by Artichoke cabinet makers Wilma and Inigo, and accompanied by Kai Holmes who teaches Design Technology at the Kings of Wessex Academy . The students will be in excellent hands.

 

Artichoke cabinet makers Inigo and Wilma

Wilma completed the one year Williams and Cleal furniture course before joining Artichoke in 2018.  Prior to this she was a Prison Officer in Bristol.  Inigo began his furniture journey in France,  first as a restorer in Paris before completing his apprenticeship at La Bonne Graine.  He eventually began  his own furniture making business while simultaneously running evening classes for French teenagers.

 

A set of tools from Axminster
Kindly provided by Axminster Tools. A great kit for budding students to begin their making journeys with.

Learning the skills which which make our our craft so compelling is hugely fun, but we cannot run a course like this without a great set of tools.  We are particularly grateful to the amazing team at Axminster Tools who have generously provided our students with the use of the most amazing starter kit any budding maker could wish for.

We have great hopes for the Artichoke School of Furniture, which first started as a gem of an idea in 2017 and has largely been driven by our production manager, John Hampton, a deeply passionate and committed craftsman.  We have since been notified of other organisations also looking at grass routes education.  The Carpenter’s Company, of which our company founder Bruce Hodgson is a member, has a long tradition of delivering high quality education training in building crafts and building conservation.  The Furniture Maker’s Company, a livery company dedicated to supporting furniture making trade in numerous ways is also hugely proactive in this area.  We hope our combined efforts help us achieve our vision.

The first course starts in April 2019, and we can’t wait to report on our first Students’ progress!  We will report back.

To see some of the stunning work we have completed please click here.

Profile: John, Production Manager

John Hampton, Artichoke Production Manager

Our production Manager John, first gained a BA Hons in fine art painting at Winchester School of Art. After finishing his degree, he first worked as a technician before moving to London to become a display and lettering artist at Simpsons of Piccadilly. He then moved on to work as a prop maker and carpenter for the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

Following his time in London, John moved to Somerset, and joined a team of other expert makers who were commissioned to make a pair of large oak installations for the modernist British sculptor Sir Anthony Caro. The installations were installed into the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Bourbourg, Northern France, seen below.    

John joined Artichoke in 2011 as a maker and now leads our skilled team in the workshop.

 

The pulpit designed by Sir Anthony Caro
Pulpit in the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Bourbourg. Made by John and colleagues for Sir Anthony Caro

To see some of the stunning work we have completed please click here.