Hill’s early interest in creating unique, elegant home interiors was spurred by his father who helped him build a workshop. At 21 Hill undertook an apprenticeship, but was soon breaking out on his own. He is now planning to expand his business further by adding a large extension to his current premises.
An unwavering commitment to outstanding quality and a reputation for craftsmanship of the highest standards has always been central to Hill’s business model. Everything begins and ends with the client.
“Right at the start I’ll have a meeting with the customer and then pick their brain about what they’re after,” explains Hill. “Then comes the drawing stage. I’ll take as much as I can from the information they give me to turn what they desire into reality, whether that be a chest of drawers, a TV cabinet, something for around a chimney, a wardrobe or furniture for a library or study.”
But it’s with kitchens that Hill has made his name. He takes a radical approach to the planning process and empowers his client by asking them to make a scrap book, over a couple of months, of all the things that they like. This provides him with a definitive idea of their style and the features that they respond to on both an aesthetic and practical level.
Hill now competes with some of the best kitchen makers in the world. He reels off an impressive list which includes Clive Christian and Mark Wilkinson, but is quick to add that he does not copy what they do: “I try to improve on it.”
“It’s about the quality of the work. There’s only so much you can do with a kitchen – they have been pushed to their boundaries already and there’s so much competition from high street kitchens.” What marks his kitchens out as different?
“We offer a bespoke service right from the beginning,” he proudly explains. “I go through absolutely everything with the client, from the way they cook to how they like to pack groceries in drawers and cupboards; the type of cutlery they have; whether they have a knife drawer or tea towels on display. It’s really important I understand how they use their kitchen.
“It’s not a case of how I fit our cabinets in their kitchen. We don’t do that at all. We build all of our cabinets around our clients’ needs. A lot of my clients love their kitchen and really enjoy cooking. As well as making it look stylish I need to ensure that it’s totally practical for them.”
As an example, Hill refers to the pantry cupboards he has recently created: two big doors made of the finest walnut which open up to reveal a work surface with drawers underneath for bread and vegetables. Condiment units on the back of the door maximise the space and add to the sleek, easy-access feel. User-friendliness is always paramount, stresses Hill.
“I’m working with a client now who doesn’t give a monkeys about the way his kitchen works. All he cares about is the way it looks, which grates on me because I know that if a woman walks into it she’ll suss it out straight away and ask who made the kitchen and why the drawers are in a certain place. It needs to work on every level.”
Creating storage solutions is one of Hill’s specialisms – and he has come up with some of the most inventive in the industry. Most recently, he’s created a state of the art knife block for a client who spent thousands of pounds on knives.
“A lot of people have very expensive knives,” says Hill, “and understandably they don’t want them rattling around in a drawer where they could get damaged.”
Hill’s solution was to grout out a tray for each individual knife. He placed a magnet underneath the tray so you can almost throw a knife in there and it is brought into position.
“I’ve never seen this done before,” he admits. “It’s pretty unique. The block was made of beautiful solid oak and we craved every single knife into it. Everything is done by hand. The end result looks fantastic and the client is delighted. Best of all there’s still room in the drawer in case the client wants to grow his knife collection.”
Hill finds that he gets many of his ideas from the young apprentices who work with him. He praises their “fresh minds”, and is always ready to stay later in the workshop if an apprentice wants to introduce him to a new concept. Learning, he finds, is a two way process.
Introducing…the wooden wallet
It was one of Hill’s apprentices who helped him create what are possibly his most revolutionary products yet: a collection of beautiful wooden wallets.
“It was about six months into one of the lad’s apprenticeships,” explains Hill, “and he asked to stay late so that he could make a wallet out of wood. I was intrigued so stayed around to watch. He was carving away at a bit of wood and eventually I took over and by 11pm we had the first wooden wallet.”
Hill’s product is almost totally unique. There are, he says, only three companies in the US and one in Canada who make anything similar – and those all have a big leather strap across them. The vital difference with Hill’s range is that they are made only from wood and he can guarantee that your credit cards are not going to fall out. He refuses to divulge the secret to this. “You’ll have to buy one to find out,” he winks. “But it’s very clever.”
Ther are 30 wallets in the range, all made with different woods.
Hill’s wallets come in a stuning range
of colours, which include:
This is as purple as purple can be.
The more oxygen it gets, the purple it becomes.
One of the most expensive woods in the world.
The quality of grain is incredible.
One of the densest woods in the world.
Used for bearings on ships.
A 700 year old wood formed in East Anglia when
tress fall over and are preserved in bogs.
It has a silky sweet bog smell to it.