Bespoke furniture makers Shaker Dresser

Bramhall Furniture | Case Study Bramhall 2

A client, who lived in the Bramhall area of Greater Manchester

The Brief

Contacted via Whatsapp, the client, who lived in the Bramhall area of Greater Manchester wanted to know more about having a tv cabinet built in to their joint dining room kitchen. A time was set and a visit scheduled. Their house dated to about the 1970’s and had been done up by the current owners to a modern styling. Bold colours and clean lines gave it a very contemporary feel, apart from maybe the children’s bedroom, where chaos rained. As with any house, it still needed some work and that is where Bramhall Furniture came in.

Ill-fitting flat-pack furniture still dotted in one or two corners of the house, a temporary measure for when first moving in. It wasn’t filling the space to its maximum potential or being the statement it could be in this contemporary house.

The customers wanted a tv cabinet to fill their back wall, where the flat pack stood menacing the room. Their vision was to have small cabinets running along the bottom of the wall to hide away toys and everyday clutter. At the one end they wanted a space to store a computer for a little bit of light work when at home, but be able to shut the doors and forgot about it. Above the small cabinets, the tv was going to be placed in the centre, surrounding that would be shelves, with tall doors. More storage for dining sets and books.

The Consultation

The customer had been exploring Pinterest and Instagram and had a clear idea of what they would like. So, the consultation was straightforward. Measurements of the area were taken and a rough estimate provided. An email address and phone number were taken to send a more detailed breakdown of the quote after the initial consultation.

The whole meeting only took ten minutes and upon leaving another request was made.

“Can we have a new door under the stairs?”  It was a plain white door, probably original from when the house was built, only they had been getting damp problems under the stairs and the area needed ventilation. The customer asked if we could install a vent or replace the door with one.  The door itself was not suitable to for having a small vent installed due to its hollow design – screws would not bite. Instead a new door was made using Oak veneer. The light coloured wood blended in with the contemporary style of the home and instead of using ugly plastic vents. Holes were drilled through the door and gold-plated sockets were used to decorate the new ventilation system. Adding a touch of finesse to a utilitarian function.

But while you have a cabinet maker over, you may as well get a quote for the rest of the house. So, a quote for a single tv cabinet turned into a small facelift involving a window board, two doors, a shoe shelf, wall paneling, and another wardrobe.

The customer was happy with the quote and booked their place in the queue. A 10% deposit was paid and waited for their turn. It can be a waiting time of anywhere between 1 and 3 months depending upon the time of year.

The Designs

When the work was about to commence, a second visit was arranged to remeasure and confirm design ideas. Over email, scale drawings were sent to give an idea of design and size. This is often the problem-solving stage where idiosyncrasies of the house have to balanced out with design. During the build of the TV cabinet, we had a socket that was left of centre and placed far too high. It was needed to plug in the tv. It needed to be placed behind the panel in which the tv bracket is mounted. The original design of having three cabinets along the bottom would have hidden the socket behind shelves and made it impossible to access at a later date. The design was redrawn to have four cabinets running its length, which made the shelves narrower. It allowed access to the socket, but still allowed a small area for working with the computer.

The Construction Process

With the customer happy with the design, the second installment was paid and the timber was ordered in. The building and painting took around two weeks in total. The cabinets are built in the workshop using sheets of material that are 122 x 244 cm big. It is a two-person job to lift some of them. The makers, follow a cutting list, which has all of the component parts on. They cut all the pieces required and end up with something resembling flat-pack furniture. The individual parts are screwed and glued together to create the bespoke furniture, in this case, a tv cabinet and a wardrobe.

The Painting Process

With the cabinets assembled they are marked and dismantled. Back in a flat pack format they enter the spray booth and are painted. We give furniture two coats of base paint and then two layers of topcoat. The customer wanted their wardrobe to be painted Farrow and Ball Cinder Rose, it was for their daughter’s bedroom. However, when two layers of topcoat were applied we discovered it was still a bit patchy and so a third was applied. Some colours naturally apply better than others and in this case, Cinder Rose was proving to be a bit more work compared to Farrow and Ball Railings, which the TV cabinet was painted.

The Fitting

Upon the day of fitting a small team arrived at the house and began to lay dust sheets and unload the tools and cabinets. The furniture, still in its flat-pack format is easier to carry into a house and less likely to cause any damage than a fully formed cabinet. The unloading took an hour and then the assembly began. The team focused on the TV cabinet first.

The base units were put into place and screwed to the wall. Holes were cut into the back to allow access to the plugs. Above the base units we placed a 22mm top and then above that we installed the shelves that flanked the TV. To keep the tv bracket in place, we screwed two thick pine batons behind the cabinet and then screwed the tv bracket to that. Fibreboard doesn’t have the grain-like real timber and therefore the hold. It was a belts and braces measure, but nobody wants a tv falling off the wall.

Where the cabinet meets the wall, we cut the facias to the contours of the walls to tie in the cabinet and give it that built-in look. To cut once facia can take up to an hour. The cabinet had six to fit. When the superstructure was installed, the touching up process began. Filling, sanding, and painting. A small airbrush is used to touch up the paint and give it that smooth finish. Using a paintbrush on sprayed units often leaves brush marks.

The next job was the wall paneling in the bedroom. The walls had already been stripped of paper and the plaster wasn’t in a very good state. We used 6mm fibreboard, which has been pre-sprayed in the workshop to cover the walls. This gave it a smooth finish, like a freshly plastered surface. The panels then began. We had 75mm wide strips of fibreboard, which were cut to size and spaced out evenly. The strips covered the joins in the 6mm base. Although a plan had been created, when we came to put it into action, we found the squares felt too big for the room, so we cut more strips and made the squares smaller.

The shoe shelf was retrofitted into a small cupboard that was originally designed for coats and a new door oak veneered door was fitted to it. We also cut a new door for under the stairs to match.
Ventilation was a problem, causing damp under the stairs. An air vent was required, but most you can buy are plastic and look really ugly. We came up with the idea of drilling holes through it and using shelf sockets (used with the banjo brackets) to neaten the rim of the holes.

The work took 10 days to draw up, cut, build and paint all of the work in total. The fitting at the customer’s home took another 9 days. It should have been 8 days to fit, but the paneling needed a bit of extra attention, and other little problems needed to be solved along the way.

Customer Feedback

Afterwards the customers were ecstatic, saying in person they were happy we went that last little bit to properly finish the work. And formally writing

“Thank you so much to you and the team for doing such a good job at our house … my wife and I are very happy everything done (especially the shoe cupboard)  :)”