• Julian Angus

Commissioning Bespoke Staircases, Joinery and Furniture


A screenshot of pinterest showing ideas for a bespoke loft conversion staircase
Pinterest Mood Board

Commissioning from a bespoke maker can be daunting at first, but rest assured it can feel the same from the point of view of the bespoke maker! Remember that makers do what they are doing because they like to make. Whether making furniture, staircases, bespoke joinery or garden buildings, the commissioning process is a necessary evil.


A cad drawing showing design for a bespoke staircase
3D CAD drawing

A key factor in designing anything is having a joint understanding of budget. Now I hasten to add this is not about trying to extract all of this budget from said client, instead it informs the materials and design that are considered. There is plenty of open water between a perfectly functional bookcase made from painted plywood, and a dovetailed one made from native hardwoods. Both have their place, it is just a case of working out which place we are in, with each client and job. If I can gain some idea of where a client's expectations are we can all save a lot of time!


3D visualisation of a staircase
Computer rendering

When a designer hears “I am looking for a bespoke staircase..”, believe me, the mind can go to some very diverse places! This is the moment I must shush my brain and try to listen to the customer. As client, you can help this process by trying to work out what is important to you. Is price your main driving factor, are you trying to match something in your house, have you seen something you like and would like to draw inspiration from, are you trying to make a huge statement, or are you simply trying to solve a problem? For a commission to be successful, this part of the discussion is vital, the more I have to work with, the quicker we can come to a sensible conclusion. I sometimes use Pinterest like a mood board to share ideas this helps everyone think about aesthetic, and lets me see what catches a client's eye.

An oak loft conversion space saving staircase
Complete bespoke staircase

And so it is the job of the designer/maker to try and find a solution which treads the delicate balance between cost, aesthetic, functionality, and profit, whilst also charming the client and giving the confidence that you will deliver, easy. (not.)






Or to simplify my process is as follows:

Enquiry

Initial discussion

Initial drawing and price

Further discussion

final drawing and price

agreement

50% deposit

Manufacture

Delivery

50% final payment

but that is all a bit dry...

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