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Why good quality furniture matters


Itís all about craftsmanship and longevity says one of the industry's leading bespoke furniture makers

When choosing furniture, whether you reupholster, restore or buy new, the quality of craftsmanship should be your number one consideration, says Tara Craig of interior design company and bespoke furniture makers Ensemblier. ‘Good quality furniture is a passion of mine,’ she says. ‘I’m a firm believer in working with the best craftsmen. If you invest in good workmanship you are investing in the future. It’s a long-term purchase, not a quick fix.’

For furniture making, upholstery and restoration she works mostly with British and French craftsmen. ‘They have a good understanding of upholstery,’ she says. ‘Colder climates mean thicker upholstery, so there’s a greater tradition of that. Other countries are better at other things. For instance, China is great at lacquer work, painting and carving. I get things made wherever the best maker is.’


A beautiful Ensemblier headboard and room styling by T.Craig

Renovation and restoration

One of her favourite activities is bringing old furniture back to life. A recent interior design project in Scotland uncovered many forgotten pieces which she had restored and recovered and, in some cases, sprung: ‘Some older sofas look elegant but aren’t comfortable to sit on,' she says. She also draws on the past, for example, she had a Regency-style sofa made that drew on an 1810 example for inspiration but updated it by adding springs and upholstering the arms and the back. 'It was a case of combining the skills of two different eras,’ she says.

The Hepplewhite sofa by Ensemblier

The beauty of a headboard

Tara has also spearheaded the revival of the headboard, which she sells independently or integrated into beds, and has designed a variety of shapes in a range of materials to suit different interior schemes. True to her ethos, they are traditionally made with wooden frames, hessian webbing and horsehair stuffing. ‘I’d like people to view headboards as another piece of furniture like a sofa or an armchair,’ she says. ‘There is a similar amount of work involved and the process is the same.’ And like sofas, headboards can be recovered and updated as interior schemes change. Anyone hesitating about investing in headboard will be pleased to know that she is currently adapting and simplifying some of her headboard designs to make them even more retail friendly.

A headboard can make a huge difference to a bedroom

The comfort of craft

Tara first became interested in furniture restoration and working with craftsmen when she studied for a postgraduate degree in Twentieth Century Design at Sotheby’s. She began her working life working purely as an interior designer, but found herself drawn increasingly to furniture: ‘My interest in upholstery came out of interior design but now it’s it’s the other way round.’

She has found that more and more of her interior design clients are actively seeking hand made furniture. This revival of interest in craftsmanship, she thinks, is a return to the Forties and Fifties and to notions of comfort and retreat. ‘My clients are requesting more embellishment, more cushioning,’ she says. ‘As though they want to quiet the noise of the world. Our attention is pulled is so many different ways today, there’s something about skill and craftsmanship that is stable and reassuring.’

Tara will be employing her roster of skilled furniture makers later this year when she launches seven new sofa designs. Each will be a perfect opportunity to invest in the future and to raise the flag for craftsmanship and quality.