Tucked off the road in Arnprior, near Stirling, is an unassuming sign for Steven Burgess Furniture. However, it points to a warehouse and workshop showcasing some of the best handcrafted furniture in the country.
A 5,000 sq ft showroom features kitchens, bedrooms and a range of smaller handmade items, all manufactured in the adjacent workshop.
Burgess started the business in 1996. From making doors and windows, customers began requesting tables and chairs, so he started to import pine and oak pieces from Eastern Europe to be finished at his Stirlingshire base.
He recalls: “With the recession, I had to figure out how to proceed and we expanded to interior design and soft furnishings. We opened the workshop in Arnprior to manufacture on site.”
There are now three main prongs to the business – furniture, kitchens and interiors.
The furniture includes Scottish oak and elm cabinets and stunning river tables, set with an inlay of jewel-coloured resin.
Burgess concedes that it is possible to buy cheaper versions but, he insists, not better quality.
He says: “Our river tables are an heirloom piece. The wood is Scottish and between 150 and 300 years old. We have a variety of resin colours, pigments and inks in order to create a one-off table to the customer’s specification.” Prices start at £8,000.
“The length of time we spend on each piece is much more than casting and sanding,” he adds. “Highly skilled craftsmen carry out the curing process of the epoxy resin, managing the colour and translucency, the polishing and burnishing.”
Steven Burgess kitchens are also designed and manufactured on site, and can be fitted anywhere in Scotland. Customers take advantage of virtual reality technology to show exactly how their dream kitchen will look.
Burgess describes them as “lifetime” kitchens, observing that his customers choose to invest in their homes and quality of life. The kitchens start from about £35,000.
The showroom is vital to the business. Burgess says: “You don’t have to use too much imagination. We offer the opportunity to see, feel and touch the products.”
Smaller off-the-peg purchases are available, but most sofas and armchairs are bespoke.
Burgess maintains his staff are key to the business. “We have craftspeople that started as apprentices years ago and our 12 employees are across the workshop, interior design service and showroom.”
The last year has been difficult, but it has allowed time to focus. “You do need to keep lean and efficient to trade out of what has been a difficult situation. But there is absolutely a demand now, and people are spending on quality.
“We believe our furniture to be the best in Britain. I travel the country looking for the right wood and buy speculatively, keeping it for the right customer.
“The quality of the raw material means that every piece is unique, and already has a history.”
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