The Ledbury Studio Commissions
I’ve had the privilege of working with Charlie Smallbone on his kitchens for many years.
His new venture, Ledbury Studio is an exciting, beautifully innovative, and truly bespoke new kitchen company that has set out, to stand out, from the crowd.
Collaborating with Ledbury Studio is very organic and artisanal. This suits my approach to colour and paint effects beautifully. Charlie and I are constantly bouncing ideas around, seeing how far we can take contemporary paint effects, colours and styles and use them within the kitchens.
I believe as Charlie does, that a completely bespoke kitchen requires a completely bespoke approach to hand painting them.
Verre Eglomise (the art of reverse painting and gilding on glass) splashbacks that I am commissioned to make for Ledbury Studio, these are a typical example of how Charlie likes to infuse art, style and creativity into making his unique kitchens.
Here is my current portfolio of work for him.
The Wimbledon Kitchen
Charlie designed a minimal and industrial kitchen for the client to use not only as a family kitchen but also as a backdrop for her vibrant art collection and fabulous stained glass.
My brief for the hand painting of this kitchen was to compliment the pared back design but give the cupboards a depth of character, subtle interest and movement that would sit happily next to the zinc panels and oak drawers.
Paint Effect Design
I designed a layered paint effect of near black colours interspersed with subtle pearlescents. I broke the glazed paint layers up with meths then muted the whole effect with a badger softener, thus creating the ‘Black Pearl’ paint effect.
This is a wonderful example of a completely bespoke Ledbury Studio kitchen with all artisans working closely together to create a contemporary kitchen full of clean lines and soft textures.
The Muswell Hill kitchen
The kitchen design is mainly taken from the Ledbury Shaker collection.
To increase the sense of space and light, Verre Eglomise was chosen for the splashbacks.
The client had quite specific requirements for the design of the Verre Eglomise splashbacks which I had to interpret through the technique of reverse painted artwork, and gold and silver gilding.
Taking inspiration from Magnolia and Honeysuckle, I worked closely with the client to design a floral motif for the artwork on this very special commission.
This began with sketches then progressed into actual samples of the detail on glass and gilded. I then scaled the design up to the actual size for the clients approval.
The design was hand painted onto the reverse of the toughened glass splashbacks. There is quite a technique to it as you have to start with the detail in the design and end with the background. Both artists paint and gold leaf were used for this. Then the panels were water gilded with pure silver leaf, left to dry and distressed. Leaving a beautifully decorative antique mirrored effect and a totally unique splashback.
Attention to Detail
During the process of designing the artwork, the client and I even went as far as deciding what would be hanging from the rails above the artwork so as not to obscure the delicate detail in it.
Testimonial from the Client
“…Though I have to say the stand-out feature is the Verre Eglomise splashback. We knew we wanted a floral motif and Charlie went out of his way to achieve this stunning design. We love it.”
The Chelsea Pied `a Terre
“Just because a kitchen is bijou, it doesn’t mean it can’t be big on style” says Charlie about this stylish 5m x 7m open plan living space.
Charlie designed the kitchen hiding most of the functionality behind doors meaning that all you can see is a collection of handmade pieces of furniture. Allowing the family to really enjoy the multifunctional space.
I was commissioned to produce a triptych of Verre Eglomise panels for use as a splashback behind the cooker and sink. This complimented the pewter panels and stained ash cupboards and gave a softly textured reflection, creating a feeling of space and light bounce to the open plan living area.
I worked closely with the client to produce the exact ageing and texture of the pure silver leaf. This was achieved by using templated toughened glass panels. Using a solution of gelatine as the transparent bonding agent, the silver leaf was floated onto the reverse side of the glass, creating a delicate antique silvered mirror effect. It was then gently distressed giving a subtly aged finish to the whole effect.
Design and Collaboration
Using a triptych of Verre Eglomise instead of one large panel and dropping the height of the panels allowed for Charlie’s attention for detail to flourish. He added beading in between, a hanging rail and shelves above to fully integrate the splashback into the kitchen design. A great collaboration.
The Petworth Kitchen
The client wanted something different for her kitchen. Something to reflect her diverse interior design style. For this Charlie combined a range of elements including pewter, copper, textured wood and specialist hand painted cupboards creating a unique and eclectic feel to the kitchen.
The brief was to design a cohesive colour and paint effect to compliment the many varied elements in the kitchen. The light bounce and variation of colours within these elements meant that a truly bespoke approach was called for. Designing the paint effect on site in a meeting with the client and Charlie was not my preferred way of working but it really was the best solution.
Paint Effect Design
With colours and textures covering dark stained ash through silvers, golds, verdigris and a natural oak floor, there was certainly a challenge to find an appropriately cohesive colour palette for the paint effect on the cupboards.
I took my inspiration from lustreware pottery from the early 1900’s.
I used 3 layers of bespoke colour predominantly in aged greens and made up into glazes – 3 translucent and burnished coats over a cross hatched solid base colour.
This created a wonderfully soft and soulful paint effect with a glint of movement from the burnishing.
Collaborating with Charlie as I did on this occasion, completely on the hoof and on site, shows the respect and trust we have in each other that enables us to come up with the exact colours and paint effects that were required for this complex commission.
This is the absolute high end of hand painting where the colours and effects are designed exclusively for the client.
Ledbury Studio Showroom
Collaborating with Charlie on designing the paint and colour for his new venture was extremely inspiring. He allowed me to tip out all the meandering ideas and concepts that I had in my head and use them in a new and original way.
Ledbury Shaker Collection – Housekeepers Cupboard
For this cupboard I wanted to showcase the possibilities of use of paint effects on cupboards and give the whole look an extra bite with a blast of colour for the glazed interiors.
Paint Effect Design
Paint effects on kitchens don’t have to stay in the 90’s with lemon rag rolled cupboards!
I created a softened gentle movement in the paint for this cupboard.
I used quite an intense blue, with a touch of magenta in it, a bespoke and hand mixed colour, for the cross hatched basecoat.
I then mixed an inky translucent glaze and applied 3 coats over the base, dusting the glaze over the basecoat with the tip of my brush and varnished the cupboard with a varnish hand mixed into a sheen that gave a waxy glow to the finish.
Choosing colour for a completely bespoke kitchen should not, in my opinion, be left to a few pre-ordained colour choices nor a factory produced colour card with tiny paint chips to chose from.
The colours need to do their job properly. For Ledbury Studio, I wanted to add bites of colour to show how colour can accent or inspire a scheme.
The turquoise on the glazed internals of the Metallics Kitchen was created to enhance the beauty of the aged copper panels and stained ash cupboards.
Whereas the pink internals of the Housekeepers Cupboard adds a punch to the overall look of the cupboard.
Verre Eglomise Splashback
I love infusing art into kitchens. I had the idea of using Verre Eglomise for splashbacks mulling in my mind for ages. It wasn’t until this collaboration that I could finally develop these thoughts into a unique triptych of art infused glass panels for the splashback at Ledbury Studio.
Verre Eglomise Design
For this splashback I wanted to explore what could be achieved using gilded glass.
I chose to use pure silver leaf for the gilding. I like how the silver leaf reacts to different ageing and distressing techniques. I liked the idea of using 2 different applications of the silver. I love the simplicity of the middle of the panels where the leaf just speaks for itself moving into the distressed border and the border gives a wonderful depth and flow through the triptych.