Home rule: How Smallbone can transform your entire living space

Words by
Zoe Dare Hall

20th May 2021

A year of being effectively grounded has led the luxury design brand’s discerning clientele to seek out the company’s whole-home bespoke services

Say “Smallbone” and most people think kitchens — the world-class and hand-crafted kind, ranging from the classic elegance of the Iconic collection to the contemporary opulence of Icarus. But this past year of lockdown has seen high demand for the company’s “whole-home solutions”, says Smallbone’s sales director, Nick Bell. “We can do anything from utility rooms, dressing rooms and boot rooms, through to libraries media rooms and wine lounges. We can do the joinery, we’ll choose wall colours, advise on soft furnishings and put together lighting and flooring concepts. We effectively act as the client’s interior designer if they aren’t already working with one,” he says. 

This is an increasingly popular service offered by Smallbone, and “demand has never been greater than in the past 12 months”, says Bell of the head-to-toe solution that can bring every client’s unique design vision to life. This is also the concept behind Smallbone’s new Knightsbridge Luxury Pavillion, highlighting the whole-home direction the brand is moving towards.

It’s not a trend he attributes particularly to the pandemic. The wealthy know what they want and can afford to have it. “They want the best in terms of design and quality craftsmanship at home,” he says. As Smallbone counts the likes of CEOs of FTSE companies, sports stars and self-made successes among its client list, Bell is well versed in working with discerning individuals who recognise that owning beautifully hand-crafted, tailor-made furniture is perhaps the ultimate luxury.

But there’s no doubt that a year of lockdown has made us all evaluate our living space, leading many to undertake ambitious renovations or commission new additions to their houses. 

Home rule: How Smallbone can transform your entire living space
The Icarus range creates a contemporarily opulent kitchen, complete with that all-important wine storage

Personalisation is a key feature for those wanting an entire Smallbone home. Besides the desire to have a one-off, this trend towards customisation is all about showing off the provenance of an item, imbued with personal meaning, such as reflecting the owner’s passion for travel or art, for example. 

For those who don’t go for the whole home design, the kitchen remains the main focus for Smallbone clients. They’re not all multi-millionaires, Bell adds. “Many of our clients aspire to have a Smallbone kitchen in their forever home because they appreciate the value of bespoke design and expert craftsmanship. They are prepared to wait and invest in their home, which is typically a client’s most important asset.” 

Of course, the past year has been one largely without indulgence — no eating out, no travel, no theatre trips or shopping sprees — but there’s a definite sense of pampering and, indeed, theatre in some of the ways that home-owners are upgrading their homes. Smallbone’s Icarus kitchen is a prize example, with its distinctive glass cabinet as eye-catching as a designer light installation suspended above the central island. 

Kitchen appliances have acquired bragging rights too — something that wasn’t the case when Smallbone started more than 40 years ago. These days, clients are much more savvy about fashionable brands to populate their kitchen with, in addition to having knowledge about the kinds of top-quality materials that can shape their space. In the case of worktops, for example, Smallbone clients can choose from a variety of finishes for a tactile feel; granite surfaces can be honed, leathered, polished or flamed, with each result producing a completely different aesthetic.

“The Icarus kitchen has a glass cabinet as eye-catching as a designer light installation suspended above the central island”

You might imagine that home offices would have shot up the wish-list of rooms awaiting an overhaul. But while Smallbone has designed “many a study”, as Bell says, there hasn’t been as much of an uptake as you’d think. “Most people work on laptops and do it from various rooms around the home.” After kitchens, dressing rooms have been particularly popular in 2020, with a focus on luxurious styling and bespoke storage and presentation solutions. His and hers, naturally, are high on the list — his with dark-stained woods and for her a lighter, more elegant space, with hand-painted features and perhaps a bespoke central island with softly illuminated glass to showcase her favourite items. 

The adjoining master bedroom must be minimally furnished for maximum relaxation. For so many of us, tired of months of Zoom meetings, it has become the one screen-free sanctuary in the home. And the trend for master bathrooms is “incredibly pared back”, says Bell. “Even classical bathrooms with lots of ceiling marble and highly customised furniture, such as a marble-clad vanity unit, have a modern twist.” 

Home rule: How Smallbone can transform your entire living space
Toning layers of timber, metal and glass in the striking Modernist range

Boot/utility rooms and pantries are in high demand among Smallbone’s clients, too — a sign, perhaps, of all that extra walking (and snacking) that families have been doing to break up the long periods of working and schooling from home. And drinking... “Wine storage is also really popular,” says Bell. “Our clients like the ultra-high-end bar feel — dark-stained timber with fluted glass and bespoke metalwork,” he adds, while others will seek to turn an awkward under-stairs nook into a beautifully lit wine store, or incorporate striking storage — such as the Icarus wine cabinet, a piece of art in its own right — within a tasting room with bespoke joinery. 

One room where homeowners are really splashing out is the media room. “It’s a must-have for 2021,” says Bell. “We supply our clients with the very best technology to meet their and their family’s specific needs, then design and handcraft beautiful cabinetry for it to be housed in, to ensure the aesthetic of the space is maintained.” 

As featured in the new Smallbone Luxury Pavillion, there is also Samsung’s The Wall, an 8K screen measuring 6m wide. The wall-size television also converts into an interactive digital canvas that can be used to display art or photos. 

Whether it’s with elegant understatement or fabulous flamboyance, Smallbone’s clients have certainly used this past year to indulge themselves at home. 

Smallbone is one of the official partners of Sphere's spring 2021 issue.