To date, we haven’t made much noise about our bespoke service. In truth, it started small. We were creating things like simple filler panels to complete a kitchen scheme. It wasn’t quite a service at this stage, more of a possible solution where none other existed. But it felt like there could be more to it.
That meant we needed people. Specialists and craftsmen. As we write this article there are 22 people who work purely for the bespoke team at our Wiltshire head office. Ten of those are carpenters, a handful more focus on finishing. We have a couple of apprentices, one person who takes care of all of the administration, and one designer. And by the end of April there will be more. It turns out, bespoke is a service that’s more in demand than we’d first anticipated.
Bespoke, to us, is something that we create outside of our ‘standard’ collections. We use the same design principles, the same exacting criteria, and the same level of technical expertise. It’s proven most popular in kitchens, where a Neptune designer might suggest that a bespoke cabinet would work better for a specific project. It could be a case of simply altering the size if the dimensions of the space are making it tricky to achieve the perfect layout or wisest use of space. We categorically don’t believe in ‘it’ll have to do’. We create what works. It could be that there’s a gap at the end of a run and a customer doesn’t want one of our breadboard and tray blocks or tea towel rails, instead they wish that the cabinets were that bit wider. So we make them wider. Or narrower as the case may be. Or shorter (low cottage ceilings can often get in the way). Sometimes, it happens the other way around and a customer has thought up a new cabinet creation that they desperately want to have in their home. Together, we’ll explore the design and make it happen. And if it can’t, perhaps for safety reasons, we’ll find a happy middle ground and design something as close to their original design as we can.
But bespoke has started to tiptoe into other parts of the home. It’s entered the realm of freestanding furniture found in living rooms, hallway, bedrooms and beyond. Slender sideboards have begun to transform into squares, leaving their original rectangular silhouette behind. Shelving systems have started to shift around, reconfiguring themselves to sit beside hidden drawers or hutches. Awkward nibs and gaps have become awkward no more, as we mapped out storage concepts that could fill them to the millimetre. They don’t call it made-to-measure for no reason. We recalibrated an entire house, making 15–20 pieces of cabinetry that meant every nook and cranny suddenly had a storage purpose. And they were only five people in the team at that stage.
Construction isn’t everything though. When we design a custom piece, it could be that a customer wants the internal cabinetry painted in two colours; the backdrop in a darker tone and the sides in something paler. Or they might have fallen for the Chichester cabinetry but prefer the internal exposed oak of the Suffolk. It can be just as much about small alterations to satisfy personal preference. Our approach is to adapt our existing collections to come up with something that specifically answers your wants and needs. But we’ll always do it in a way that ensures the Neptune aesthetic is never lost. We want it to feel like the very best of us and you.
We’re excited about bespoke. It feels like it’s going to be something big. But not just yet. Currently, we only offer it on our Chichester, Suffolk and Henley collections. The plan, in time, is to extend it to Limehouse, and then if the interest remains, we’ll look to offer it across all our furniture designs. We’re growing the team but it’s not something we can rush. Finding the right people isn’t always a straightforward search and we can put our hand on our heart and say we would never take on a project that we don’t have the manpower to fulfil to the Neptune standard. But we wanted to tell you about it, because it’s real, because sometimes excitement is hard to contain, and because it’s for you after all.
That’s the true beauty of bespoke.