Custom Fronts launched at the start of the year as a stylish, sustainable kitchen design service that takes inspiration from nature. Founded by husband-and-wife team Rachel and Ian, it has attracted the attention of the design world, not least because the clean lines of their designs—made to order from their studio in Sussex—start at £29 ($39) per door.
Ian—who studied fine art and was previously a landscape painter—has many years’ experience creating bespoke joinery and installing kitchens. He found it difficult to source kitchens that weren’t either high-end and unobtainable, or “pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap.” Together, he and Rachel had the idea to offer an affordable alternative: handcrafted, sustainable, FSC-certified wooden doors and fronts that attach to tried-and-tested, low-cost Ikea cabinets.
The service offered is simple and seamless. If you have existing fronts you wish to replace, simply send the studio precise measurements and they will make up new fronts for you. If you are purchasing a new Ikea carcass, then the measurements have already been done for you and the hinge holes have been pre-drilled. You can choose from native or European hardwood, white oiled birch ply, or one of 14 colorways.
The studio is on the banks of the River Ouse, and the couple’s passion for the natural world is apparent in their pared-back, poetic palette. Muted tones such as Seven Sisters, Dungeness Black, Musk Mallow, and Downlands Path are named after the local landscapes that inspired them.
“Aesthetically, we’re not keen on edge banding,” Rachel explains. “We have very strong design ideas and we like to stick to them, but also, when you edge band a surface you create a point of weakness in the design. The edge will always be the first thing to go and it’s important to us that all our products are extremely durable and last for a very long time,” says Rachel. “Sustainability is really at the heart of what we do.”
The couple hadn’t planned to offer worktops, but, by popular demand, they have started to supply metal-topped birch ply surfaces that need to be cut on site by a kitchen fitter. Brass, zinc, stainless steel, and copper are all options. “We love metals because they are living materials that patinate over time and respond to how you use them. They take imprints of you, and you end up with something completely unique.”
All colors are spray-painted using a high performance, eco-friendly, water-based paint. The studio is also happy to match to any color you like, for a truly customized finish. “People spend a lot of time worrying about what color to use in their home,” says Rachel. Her advice? “Just look out the window. It will always feel right.”
More in the world of customizable cabinet fronts:
Finally, get more ideas on how to evaluate and choose kitchen cabinetry and hardware in our Remodeling 101 Guide: Kitchen Cabinets & Hardware.