Valued veneers: fine-grained finishes for dream dressers!

A Jali made-to-measure dresser is the true heart of a home – and even more striking with a real wood veneer finish.  Our new box dressers are proving very popular – and they’re not even on our website yet! Our new dresser Designer is our response to the requests of the many customers who asked us if they could have something different and just a little bit special…

Jali bespoke dresser in real oak veneerWe can’t get exactly what we want by using your current online Dresser Designer, they said. Could we have soft-close drawers as well as cupboards and shelves? Well, of course! Wider shelf-space and cut-outs for our audio and TV equipment and all its cables? Certainly. A ‘tongue-and-groove’-effect back, rather than a plain one? Consider it done. Customised spacing for shelves, even in different sections? Fine. Oh, and the option of recessed skirting? No problem…

Our resident design genius Jim has been hard at work on these requests and more. The results of his extraordinary brain, eye and hand co-ordination, plus his awesome programming skills, can be seen – and played with – here. There are some tweaks still to be made, and to describe them as kitchen dressers doesn’t totally do them justice, but we think you’ll agree that it’s a pretty amazing piece of design software all the same.

And some pretty amazing furniture has been created using it; dressers, of course, but also stunning wall storage units, TV and media units, sideboards and neat home-office work-stations…

Jali bespoke white TV unitJim has put a huge amount of helpful information in the new Designer, so it’s a good idea to check it out it before you start designing your own piece for real. It will really help you understand the almost endless possibilities of the new system. Follow the incredibly useful step-by step online guide to designing your own dresser starting here.

Then to get a feel for the new system, just choose one of the examples on the first page and click the “Customise” link under the image. Click through the “Next” buttons on the right of the Designer and you’ll come to the “Advanced mode” screen. This gives you the choice of staying in “Easy mode” or exploring all the extra refinements you can make via the “Advanced” part of the design process.

In “Advanced” mode, you can do lots of clever things: remove a base section to create a desk, for example, design an asymmetrical unit or have holes cut in the back for cables. And the “Finish” button on the Designer, in both modes, gives you several options, including a primer, an oak or walnut veneer or a “mixed” finish for your dresser. This last lets you choose a primed dresser with a real oak veneered top; we can even provide a top-coat for the non-veneered surfaces but you’ll need to contact us for details.

section options for new Jali bespoke dressersAs the new dresser designer is still a pre-production tool, you’ll also need to contact us to confirm how much the final unit will cost, and the way you’d prefer it to be delivered. In the final step of “Advanced” mode, Jim has even provided a “Build” button that tells you how big each of the sections that make up your unit will be. (A section is an individual cupboard, or shelf unit, or drawer unit, as seen above.) You can use this to work out whether you will have any problems getting the sections into the room for final assembly, because of awkward narrow stairwells or doorways, for example.

At this point, rather than having the unit built up into sections, you can opt to receive the whole unit flat-packed for self-assembly. We’ll then change your order from a dowelled-and-glued assembly to a cam-and-bolted one (like the fixings in most kitchen cabinets). It’s important to note that some of these fixings may be visible, but we make them as unobtrusive as we can!

You’ll find a list of all the features of our new furniture here. And don’t forget that we’re here to help, from 9.00 to 5.30 on weekdays. As Jim says, we don’t use robot receptionists or call centres, so you’ll get through to one of us straight away!


A new vision on shutters, as Spring comes in!

It was lovely to get a message from some Jali customers in the Netherlands recently, saying how pleased they were with the new decorative shutters they’d bought for their little Dutch cottage. They also asked if we would like a photo, with a windmill in the background? Of course we said yes please, we’d be delighted!

It seems particularly good timing as today, Friday 20th March, is this year’s Spring vernal equinox, one of the two points in the the year when day and night are of equal length. From now on, our days will start to get longer than our nights, so it’s time to look forward to much more daylight coming through our windows…

Jali decorative shutters in Heusden, the NetherlandsOf course, not everyone is lucky enough to have a charming Dutch windmill just across the way, but choosing shutters for just the lower half of the window means you get the benefit of privacy without losing the entire view, wherever you happen to live. Our customers told us that “a lot of tourists walk past and admire the shutters”.

And it’s not surprising that the town of Huesden, where our customers live, attracts a lot of tourists – it really does look amazing. Here’s an aerial view courtesy of Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, via Wikimedia Commons:


Luchtfoto's - Heusden - 20111737 - RCE

A small fortified town to the west of Den Bosch, and situated on the river Meuse, Heusden has the remains of a medieval fortress and is surrounded by rings of defensive moats and ramparts. Restoration of the town began in the 1960s; it also has an attractive harbour and marina, as well as beautiful houses, canals and those iconic windmills…

If the advent of spring is making you look at your windows and the world beyond them in a new way, grab your tape-measure out, zip over to our website and design yourself some stunning shutters. There’s a choice of lovely fretwork designs, with inclusive flat or sideways fittings to suit different types of window frames. You’ll find full details on measuring and fitting here – you’ll see why it’s so easy to catch the shutter bug!


MDF, a material with benefits – and beauty!

Many people are surprised to find that MDF, the material we use to make Jali furniture, has its origins in nature – it comes from forests. But so do traditional hardwoods, I hear you say. Well, yes, at Jali we would love to make everything from solid hardwoods, but it’s just not the way things should be done today. To protect the environment, hardwoods should only be used when there is no alternative. And MDF (medium density fibreboard) is a very good alternative!

Jali grey and blue bespoke dresser with oak veneer topThere are many reasons why it’s far better for the planet to use MDF. For a start, 100% of the tree is used, which is not the case for hardwoods. MDF is made by steaming the softwood chippings of birch and larch until they’re reduced to fine wood fibres. These fibres are then bonded together with resin and pressed. The result is a board with a smooth surface, which is much more stable than softwoods. As the entire tree is used – even the bark, which fuels the steaming process – MDF is also an environmentally-friendly product.

FSC logoSecondly, all the MDF we use is approved by the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council). This means the trees used to make our MDF are planted and managed in an endlessly sustainable cycle. Added to our lean manufacturing processes, designed to avoid wasting energy and materials, this means less damage to the planet and a better future for all of us.

The ultra-smooth surface of units made from our high-quality MDF means they take paint exceptionally well, and can be re-painted time and again, as fashions and tastes change. So Jali furniture is designed for a lifetime’s use – or even longer! It also looks wonderful when our real oak or walnut veneers are applied. The combination of real wood veneers and painted surfaces (plus our signature fretwork, as below) really do add up to something a bit special…

Jali bespoke cupboard with blue paint finish and real oak veneer topWhen it comes to buying furniture, making an environmentally-conscious decision has never been easier. In terms of design, our products are beautiful as well as practical, so no need to sacrifice looks in favour of doing the right thing by our increasingly fragile eco-system. So embrace this amazing material and all its benefits. Spoil yourself without spoiling the planet – sounds pretty good to us!


How to get the latest Fusion look – with no confusion!

Want to create the latest Fusion look in your own home? A pair of Jali decorative shutters in pattern 2172 (below) is a beautiful starting point for what the John Lewis website calls “a rich cultural diversity of influences”. At the other end of the scale from pared-back minimalism, this new approach celebrates pattern (especially geometric shapes), colour and texture to create sensual, vibrant surroundings. It’s a combination that needs a few rules if it’s not to become too busy, fussy or overstimulating – the idea is to make you feel serene and laid-back, not baffled and confused…

Jali bespoke decorative shutters shown with additional products from John LewisThis link will take you to a page with a short, inspirational video on the John Lewis website to help you get the look. The key advice is to keep background colours neutral, then add abundant pattern, texture and some pops of rich colour to bring the scheme to life. The use of metals such as copper and brass with smooth or punched surfaces, woven textiles and basket ware are also recommended to add a handcrafted, low-tech, global village vibe.

To combine intricately detailed pattern with really useful, practical features, look no further than Jali’s signature fretwork. It’s recently been used in made-to-measure fretwork panels for headboards (on a TV show) and hallways (for a magazine shoot, below), as well as in doors, shutters and folding screens.

Jali fretwork panels in hallwaySome of the Jali fretwork patterns are based on designs still popular in the cultures that first created them centuries ago, as well as further afield. There’s a good reason why they’ve survived so long – they’re timelessly beautiful and still appeal to modern tastes with their balance of simplicity and complexity, curves and lines, positive and negative spaces.

In addition, these patterns can be created very crisply and precisely using the latest computer controlled cutting equipment. At Jali we use cutting machines known as CNC routers (CNC stands for ‘Computer Numerical Control’ – for more information about our manufacturing process, see the ‘About us’ page on the Jali website). So, in fact, it’s another brilliant fusion, of ancient decorative art and the latest high-tech manufacturing processes – a marriage made in interior design heaven!

All the fretwork patterns shown above are on the Jali website here. We now offer a topcoating service as well as priming (call us for details on 01227 833333), so once you’ve found your fusion look, pick your perfect fretwork partner(s) and go gorgeously global, without having to bother the World Bank…