Clive Christian - My Favorite Top Tier Brand of Cabinetry
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed below are entirely my own. I was not compensated by anyone for writing this post. I am an independent designer with a lengthy professional relationship with Clive Christian, however, I work with other brands as well. I am not obligated to recommend this brand to anyone, but do so out of a desire to offer an exceptional product to a highly discriminating clientele.
If you've been following my website for a bit, you've probably noticed that my portfolio is predominantly made up of projects featuring the luxury cabinet brand Clive Christian. Perhaps you've seen their gorgeous advertising campaign in Architectural Digest over the years and have an interest in learning a bit more about them. Or perhaps you're just wondering how much a bit of British luxury will cost. Either way, I'd like to start at the beginning. The beginning, that is, of the man and the brand.
History of the British Brand, Clive Christian
Clive Christian, the visionary behind his namesake's brand, started the company in 1978. Prior to that time, he had purchased a 19th-century manor home in Cheshire and had become frustrated by the lack of kitchen options that suited the architecture and elegance of his estate home. You see, he believed in something that we all take for granted now...that luxury can and should live in the kitchen as much as anywhere else in the home. Those fabulous light fixtures you have over your island? You owe him, at least in large part, for that. He started hanging decadent chandeliers over kitchen islands back in the 70's and people thought that was outrageous. Pretty soon, though, it went from outrageous to fascinating, and then from fascinating to coveted...and then he had the makings of a luxury brand. He set up his first shop and manufacturing facility to make cabinetry that was as beautiful as it was functional. Luxe details and designs combined with elegant finishes to create kitchens that people didn't want to leave. Perhaps it was coincidental (or perhaps not), but people started feeling differently about their kitchens around that time. They wanted more from them than bleak utilitarianism. They wanted their kitchens to be the heart of their homes and they wanted them to be as beautiful as all of the other rooms.
Fast forward forty years and Clive Christian enjoys a prestigious international reputation as a bespoke cabinetry brand for clients who seek out their amazing quality and attention to detail. The company offers a wide range of designs from the traditional, bespoke English kitchen to the newer collections of contemporary designs. Each collection or range of furniture is quite unique in the design world. The traditional ranges are perfectly suited to historical homes and those that appreciate classical architecture. The more contemporary collections offer simpler lines while retaining that luxury tactile feel with amazing finishes and details. Clive Christian also offers something that no other cabinetry company can even come close to in terms of personalizing the project for a client...marquetry inlay. They have a dedicated department where they can create custom designs or monograms and inlay them with a variety of materials (such as exotic woods, mother of pearl, contemporary metals) into cabinet doors and panels. I often employ beautiful burls in walnut and oak on or inside of the cabinetry to create a truly luxe experience for my clients.
Why Buy Clive Christian?
When you are standing in a room, surrounded by Clive Christian cabinetry, it is overwhelmingly different from anything else you've ever seen. Scale, balance, and elegance are the obvious points, but how everything is engineered to fit together is really where Clive Christian reigns. Every necessary seam or joinery between cabinets is turned into an elegant feature. Every thought is given to how the door or drawer feels when it is opened and closed. The furniture projects an exceptional elegance and sophistication that outshines all other cabinetry. If you are fortunate enough to own a Clive Christian kitchen at some point, I assure you that you will feel that you own a small part of something really magical. A throwback to a time when people truly dedicated themselves to a bespoke craft. A nexus between artistry and bench-made luxury.
Clients are often dazzled by the cabinetry even as it comes off the delivery truck in various pieces. I can almost hear them let out a sigh of relief as the realization that their trust in this brand has been really well rewarded. However, the impressiveness does not end there as the lengths that the company will go to to ensure a masterful fitting of each project is evident in the duration of the installation. An average kitchen will take two weeks to install the cabinetry. (Compare that against the typical average of 3-4 days.) Every molding is scribed to the wall - never pre-cut at the factory. They believe that the proper fitting of a room on site is as skilled and important as the manufacture of the furniture at the factory.
As a bespoke manufacturer, all cabinetry is made to order in their factory in the U.K. The process begins with measurements. If it is a remodel, then the project preferably begins with site measurements. If it is new construction, the process will initially begin with the blueprints and later field verified prior to manufacture. Typically, the measurement process or blueprint review coincides with the design consultation.
The next step in the process is the initial design concept. Although I am one of the most senior designers to work with Clive Christian (ahem...18 years), there are several other locations from which to source it here in the U.S. as well. You may wish to visit the official website for a list of retailers. Since my entire Studio Blog is dedicated to the design process and the considerations that are undertaken during the process, I won't go into that in detail here. However, I do want to emphasize that I feel it is very important to research your designer well. As with any brand of cabinetry, the designer will either make the project-or break it. I have observed the highest quality of cabinetry being used on a project by a designer with a low level of skill and the outcome was just dreadful. So I suggest that you do not overlook the skill of the designer just because that person is associated or claiming to be associated with a luxury brand.
After the design process, which can take several weeks to several months, depending on the client, the order is submitted for manufacture. The lead times are usually around 10-12 weeks for production, plus another 4 weeks for transit time, as they are shipped via ocean freight in a sealed container, prior to being delivered into your home.
As mentioned above, the installation is a critical step and every measure is taken to ensure that the fitter is well experienced in the process of installing Clive Christian furniture. A typical installation time for a kitchen is around two weeks, but more complicated projects may require more time.
The Cost of a Clive Christian Kitchen
Finally, we have arrived at the question no one wants to ask, but everyone wants to know! Just how much is the world's most exclusive kitchen? Obviously, there is a great range depending on the size of the room, interior fittings, finishes, etc., but if you called my design office to ask me this question, I would tell you that my average kitchen the last few years has fallen into the $250,000 range. To be clear, that is the cost of cabinetry and installation alone. It does not reflect construction costs, electrical, plumbing, countertops, appliances, lighting, flooring, or plumbing fixtures. So you can see how a project can quickly near a $500,000 mark, especially if a luxury range, such as La Cornue, is purchased. I will also clarify that the $250,000 average, is not really an average kitchen. Those projects were large spaces and had an unusually high level of intricate design detail and/or premium wood species. It is possible to design a decent sized kitchen with Clive Christian for closer to $175,000.
Clive Christian can be used for any residential project involving fitted cabinetry. I have designed bathrooms, dressing rooms, libraries, and more. While my design business does extend to working with other brands of cabinetry at times, the projects that are the most worthy of showcasing in my portfolio are usually Clive Christian. If you would like to view more images featuring real installations of Clive Christian kitchens, bathrooms, and dressing rooms, please visit my portfolio.
If you would like to inquire further about a particular project, I encourage you to reach out to my office. If you haven't already, be sure to sign up below to access an exclusive library of products and resources that I use in my design business.