Today's kitchen is the nerve centre of family life; the hub where the whole family tends to congregate. This needs to be reflected in its design, and how that design is carried through. The craftsmen at Marylands Joinery understand this in the wide variety of kitchens they make and install, from galley-style for flats or cottages to large kitchen-breakfast rooms in country houses.
The history of the company gives some idea of the dedication of these Marylands joiners. The seven staff have worked together for more than 25 years, three of them having served their apprenticeships at Marylands. Over those years they have designed and made kitchens, free-standing units and bedroom furniture for homes all over the country, including those of some celebrity clients; they also make fittings for Oxford colleges.
A lot of our business comes through personal recommendation," explains Pat Cooke, who runs the team, "Satisfied clients pass us on to friends, often in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire and London, or even as far away as Scotland.
The personal service you receive at Marylands starts when you arrive at the workshop in Chislehampton, deep in rural Oxfordshire, yet no distance from the city's ringroads and the M40. Parking is no problem, and being in the heart of the country - a friendly woodpecker may well be watching over your arrival - means there are no distractions while you settle down to planning your ideal kitchen.
It can be hard for clients to visualise what their finished kitchen will really look like," says Pat, "so we always go to their home, discuss their needs and ideas as well as their budget, then go away and put our suggestions down on paper with costings.
Going over our proposals on the spot is a great help - sometimes we find we can give clients even more for their money than they expected. We also, of course, offer advice over the most suitable materials and fittings as well as the latest appliances. Having given our client a firm quotation for the whole project, we make sure none of the costs escalate and take great pride in seeing that the job comes out strictly on budget.
When the overall format of your kitchen is agreed, it is time to choose your wood. Marylands work in a variety of hardwoods, including maple, ash, English and American oak; they also produce hand-painted finishes. All of their suppliers are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which means that the wood only comes from sustainable sources, a factor that is of increasing importance to Maryland's clients.
The job is now set out on the bench at Chislehampton and you will be welcome to see your joiner at work. Everything is hand-crafted with traditional dovetailing joints, and the use of only the best materials and the most suitable fittings. This ensures that your Marylands kitchen or free-standing units and bedroom furniture will give you endless years of joy and satisfaction.
Many Marylands clients who move house are so reluctant to live with any other kind of kitchen that they immediately return to Pat and his team in Chislehampton to have one made for their new house. "We've even had one client who came to us three times. She moved house twice and couldn't bear to be without her Marylands kitchen," Pat chuckles.